“Blue Was Once My Favorite Color” By Mike McQuillan

August 26, 2020

By Michael McQuillan

Stars and stripes blue field so cool nation great they say

what cloth symbols stash in childish minds adult racism belies

blue was once my favorite color as on clear and sunny days

but that means danger now as police use force to kill

though not before the torture that brings the bigot’s thrill

pine green restores my sullen mood recalling Christmas cheer

a fleeting consolation as white supremacists in blue

profane their oath of service to destroy what I hold dear

shelve your racial bias be careful with your knee

if Lincoln’s freedom prose was just for show there’s no democracy


That’s old stuff tattered parchment with texts too long online

I don’t like their formal language, I’m seasoned on the street

I’ve had the latest training, my mastery’s complete


Brothers sisters know your rights with cops but keep your wits intact

those white-skinned guys are wearing blue but all they see is black

I’ll try to help when sirens scream though they chase me too

it’s like the south up north there’s little we can do


Neither loving-kindness nor complying with an officer’s command

assures you’ll walk away black friend when they stop and frisk for nothing

jam you up against the wall then cuff you for their pleasure as you tumble toward a fall

they bargained with the devil who gladly took their souls

as all men in blue pretend they’re heroes when the truth is no

that bigots are among them oh how fearful they must be of difference

we know isn’t different after all


Black Lives Matter glows in gold with murals trending citywide

but summer heat and traffic will make paint on pavement fade

will our Mayor then propose a tickertape parade?


Hope you’re not a smoker pal but if loosies are your thing you’re at risk like Eric Garner

to a cop who’s out for blood, ignoring rules ignored by peers who watched the victim die

did the “vast majority of good cops” have no openings on their schedules that day

or did they know there’d be no backup in the future on a stairwell in a slum

where they’d find themselves alone to face a criminal with a gun

if on a Staten Island sidewalk in the sunshine merely once upon a time

they intervened with dignity and strength, conscience at the fore

to save the black man’s life and put blue boy on the floor


Protests point direction but demands just stiffen spines

form a coalition launch pursuit of common ground

paint pictures with descriptions make posters music or a play

draft a manifesto or through choreography display

what social justice looks like that would make all lives so fine

collaborate where we agree to make those points complete

elaborate in detail ensuring that’s concrete


Have we handled housing, health and culture? incomes, dignity?

poverty correlates with crime there’s no need, happily, for arsenals

as policing unlearns punishment we release our rage and fear

restorative justice can concurrently appear

hard work will be worth it

let’s take the moral stand!

blue was once my favorite color

to restore it would be grand

Michael McQuillan, former US Senate aide, and Peace Corps Volunteer, for 19 years taught history. He writes often for the History News Network and Harlem World Magazine.

Send your poem to harlemworldinfo@yahoo.com with poetry in the subject line.

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