Saturday, June 2, 2012

White Power/White Flour!



White Flour

by David LaMotte

The day was bright and sunny as most May days tend to be

In the hills of Appalachia down in Knoxville, Tennessee

A dozen men put on their suits and quickly took their places

In white robes and those tall and pointed hoods that hid their faces

Their feet fell down in rhythm as they started their parade

They raised their fists into the air, they bellowed and they brayed

They loved to stir the people up, they loved when they were taunted
They didn’t mind the anger, it’s exactly what they wanted

As they came around the corner, sure enough the people roared

But they couldn’t quite believe their ears, it seemed to be support!

Had Knoxville finally seen the light? Were people coming ‘round?

The men thought for a moment that they’d found their kind of town

But then they turned their eyes to where the cheering had its source

As one their shoulders crumpled when they saw the mighty force
The crowd had painted faces and some had tacky clothes

Their hair and hats outrageous, each had a bright red nose

The clowns had come in numbers to enjoy the grand parade

They laughed and danced that other clowns had come to town that day

And then the marchers shouted, and the clowns all strained to hear

Each one tuned in intently with a hand cupped to an ear

“White power!” screamed the marchers, and they raised their fisted hands

The clowns leaned in and listened like they couldn’t understand

Then one held up his finger and helped all the others see

The point of all this yelling, and they joined right in with glee

“White flour!” the clowns shouted, and they reached inside their clothes

They pulled out bags and tore them and huge clouds of powder rose

They poured it on each other and they threw it in the air

It got all over baggy clothes and multi-colored hair

Now all but just a few of them were joining in the jokes

You could almost see the marchers turning red beneath white cloaks
They wanted to look scary! They wanted to look tough!

One rushed right at the clowns in rage and was hauled away in cuffs

But the others chanted louder, marching on around the bend
The clowns all marched on too, of course, supporting their new friends
“White power!” came the marchers’ cry, they were not amused

The clowns grew still and thoughtful—well, perhaps they’d been confused…?

They huddled and consulted, this bright and silly crowd
They listened quite intently, then one said “I’ve got it now!”

“White flowers!” screamed the happy clown, and all the rest joined in

The air was filled with flowers, and they laughed and danced again

“Everyone loves flowers, and white’s a pretty sort
I can’t think of a better cause for people to support!
Green flower stems went flying like small arrows from bad archers

White petals covered everything, including the mad marchers

And then a very tall clown called the others to attention
He choked down all his chuckles and said “Friends I have to mention

That what with all this mirth and fun it’s sort of hard to hear
But now I know the cause that these paraders hold so dear!”

“Tight showers!” the clown blurted, as he hit his head in wonder
He held up a camp shower and the others all got under

Or at least they tried to get beneath, they strained but couldn’t quite

There wasn’t room for all of them, they pushed, but it was tight!

“White Power!” came the mad refrain, quite carefully pronounced

The clowns consulted once again, then a woman clown announced

“I’ve got it! I’m embarrassed that it took so long to see,

But what these marchers march for is a cause quite dear to me!”

“Wife power!” she exclaimed, and all the other clowns joined in

They shook their heads and laughed at how erroneous they’d been

The women clowns were hoisted up on shoulders of the others

Some pulled on wedding dresses, chanting “Here’s to wives and mothers!”

The men in robes were sullen, they knew they’d been defeated

They yelled a few more times and then they finally retreated

And when they’d gone a kind policeman turned to all the clowns
And offered them an escort through the center of the town

The day was bright and sunny as most May days tend to be

In the hills of Appalachia down in Knoxville, Tennessee

People joined the new parade, the crowd stretched out for miles

The clowns passed out more flowers and made everybody smile

And what would be the lesson of that shiny southern day?

Can we understand the message that the clowns sought to convey?

Seems that when you’re fighting hatred, hatred’s not the thing to use!

So here’s to those who march on in their big red floppy shoes

(based on true events of May 26, 2007 – ©2007 David LaMotte)

I learned about the above children's book through an article Virginia Mennonite Conference Peace Advocate Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard submitted to the June issue of the VMC paper "Connections."

Special thanks to poet and author David Lamotte for kindly giving me permission to post this.

You can order the book at

Post a Comment