Reflections on Race Writing Contest Winner

Photo of Marcia Hurlow
Marcia Hurlow
Oct 27, 2020

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Marcia Hurlow has won our poetry writing contest on the theme of Reflections on Race with her piece "DECONSTRUCTION.”

Marcia L. Hurlow's first full-length collection of poetry, Anomie, won the Edges Prize. She also has five chapbooks. More than 300 of her individual poems have appeared in literary magazines, including Poetry, Chicago Review, River Styx, Nimrod, Poetry Northwest, Stand, Cold Mountain, Zone 3 and The Journal, among others. Last year she received the Al Smith Fellowship for Poetry for the second time, and this year she will be a participant in the Kansas City Arts, Inc. seminars.


—June 2020

Last night my son threw a can of red paint
across this statue’s vest and waistcoat.
Yet this general never bled for anyone,
not his soldiers or his family, not
his slaves who risked their lives to serve him
dinner on the battlefield. Red paint,
unlike red ink, won’t cross out the lies.

We come tonight to tear down the statue
limb by limb. The right arm here holds a book.
Not shown: his whip that tore the dark flesh
of a hundred people and their humanity.
With knotted cable and a dozen souls,
we topple the man from his pedestal.

Dented and broken, he lies in the street.
One young woman lifts the end of the sword
and with it flees from the pepper spray.
I wonder what she’ll do with it, no room
for ploughshares, no bargains for second-hand
disgrace.  I find some fragments of the beard
and slip the pieces into my purse.
This time there will be no reconstruction.

Reviewed by Library Staff