Becoming Acquainted*

Reading about recent riots
In some of our cities and
About your interest in
Milwaukee’s own racial situation,
I wonder

                                    They will tell you this city
                                    is a swimming pool.
                                    Find the deep end.
                                    Find your legs.

if there is some way I could help
or become involved…I believe

                                  They will use words like “hood”
                                    like “ghetto.”
                                    Don’t smirk.
                                    They are always smirking
                                    waiting for you
                                    to smirk
                                    with them.

the only way of preventing
further disorders is
to become acquainted

                                    They will show you car crashes.
                                    Find the potholes.

with the complex situation
in which these disorders
have arisen

                                  They will tell you Lake Michigan
                                    is snug in her valley.
                                    Find the lifeboats.

So if there is anything
I can do
please write

                                    Find others.
                                    Get to work.

P.S. I am a white college student and a Catholic
*Mike LaValle, July 25, 1967

—Ryan Hurley