The South Berkeley
Branch Closes
They closed down the branch
That served black neighborhoods
Now, the elderly from the
Harriet Tubman Homes and the
Sojourner Truth Manor
Have to taxi to
The middle aged
Urban professionals'
It will take extra pains for
Them to make deposits and withdrawals
Located near latte cafes
And ice cream parlors
Boutiques, art cinemas
Gourmet supermarkets
And salons
You can get your legs waxed
There for forty dollars
There will be even longer
Delays when I cash my check
They will make phone calls to
See whether I am whom I say
I am
The bank manager will look
Up at me as the clerk shows
Her my signature
The bank guard will glare at me
I have been their customer
For over 25 years
I won't go anywhere near
Their new location
I stick out like a sore
Thumb in this neighborhood
Plain-clothes men will follow me
Wherever I go and
Video cameras
VHS my every move
Pale pale women will dog my path
Traveling from my house
To this part of town
Will become a Freedom Ride
--- "The South Berkeley Branch Closes"
Ishmael Reed
From 75 Poems On Retirement
Robin Champan, Judith Strasser, Editors
©2007 University of Iowa Press
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