Temple Coleman, Grade 11
Parker Denson, Grade 10
A blue dot in a red state.
That’s what they call my city.
Maybe their right.
But I feel like a blue dot in a red world.
Not like a democrat,
Just a different color,
I don’t match.
In fact, I clash horribly.
But is my city really a blue dot?
Or is it just slightly classier than the rest?
Because if Birmingham is a blue dot,
Why do I clash with it?
Margaret Schedler, Grade 11
Grown down in the blackbelt
between the Spanish moss
and rotten cotton fields.
Legacy and history as rich and dark
as the soil beneath the poplar tree.
Lives separated by redlines
Cut deep like a thumb, sliced.
Separating one identity with a red welt
That weeps some blood and poverty
down the swollen knuckle,
till it pools at the thick roots.
Raised by Blue-Dog Democrats,
but still Democrats.
Alabama winter, wet and windy.
Dean preaching inside a hooded pulpit.
Southern lisp, spitting down upon the nave:
Forgiveness, vengeance, and crucifixion.
Southern charmers dressed in mother’s pearls
and modern innovations:
Rebellion, equality, and agency.
Beat down over Sunday brunch
with a southern drawl, directed
at the women who speak like men.
Lost in cheap air-conditioning,
government housing, and the patriarchy.
Drilling lessons of white hoods, white robes, white men-
into the soft surface of a forearm,
and learning to fear the generations of old:
Fat tobacco farmers and angry white mobs.
Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Creek:
Their heritage removed from the root
and struck with the heels of Southern forefathers.
Antebellum homes built upon their battlegrounds,
villages, and graves until Sherman took them back
and set the South on fire.
Family reunions in Mississippi mid-summer.
Melting down into the sandy swamp at 100 degrees.
The taste of chlorine and the feel of cold water wrapped-
around a Southern body.
The taunts and jeers at that same Southern body
when she reveals too much skin and when she covers it up.
Fall in Tennessee when the oaks drop their leaves
but the air toasts a person inside-out.
Classroom disputes over the right to exist in
a body with two breasts and a uterus-
as if it were a disability or disadvantage.
Fighting for respect under the title: woman.
The stigma of a Southerner in the North
like a bad smell, bad taste, bad news.
Taking up space in academic institutions
where caricatures of dumb, incestuous hicks
are all that can be seen when a Southerner speaks.
The mouth opens and “I Wish I Were in Dixie Land” croaks out.
Baptized in home-brewed sweet tea and the sound of cicada,
down, way down in the South where women there have
fought, loved, lost, lived, and died, leaving their legacy behind.
Sexism may suggest the Southern female is no feminist:
Too nice, pearled, and perfumed,
letting the patriarchy suckle at their bosom (look, now it has a face!).
But a feminist has no face, nor a single body.
The figure looms and laughs.
The Northern feminist sees a cutout and gags,
gnarled on objectivity and how a woman wears her face.
While the Southern feminist sees the world split open,
digs the pit out like a peach, and declares it defeated.
James Stephens, Grade 10