Mr. Green by Thomas Martin Sobottke


clarendon hills one

Mr. Green walked about the town
a tower of a man, with long sinewy arms and legs
swaying evenly
with each footfall on the ground.

His baseball cap slid back on his brow
so that beads of sweat after a hard day’s labor
not trouble him now.

No one understood just why he was there
in that green ball cap
green work shirt and slacks,
a frantic, terrified woman made the call
received by police
racing in their squad car across the tracks,
lights flashing, sirens and all.

They yanked him right off a departing train
and demanded to know his right to be there
since such a dangerous suspect could not hold free reign
in the little town that before held not a care.

It mattered not that he was going home
to a wife and two children
a neat house and a yard,
with dinner growing cold,
and Mr. Green breathing hard.

It mattered not that Mr. Green was a U.S. Navy vet,
a member of the optimists club
gainfully employed with no criminal intent,
no, they dare not release him yet.

Back to the station house
where for over two hours
they stabbed fingers in his chest
telling Mr. Green what they thought of him
not granting him any rest.

The police were puzzled as to what was the charge,
just what he had done to panic the woman
clean out of her wits
when she had seen him ambling along
right down the sidewalk looking so proud and so strong.

Mr. Green was given his forty whacks
and told not ever to come back
to the little town and its terrified population,
sent right back to catch his train at the station,
for you see Mr. Green was black.

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