ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came from the January 21, 2014 bonus Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] janetmiles and [personal profile] perfectworry. It also fills the "nonjudgment" square in my Wordsmith Bingo card. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the series Walking the Beat.

"Every Step Toward the Goal"

Dale had never expected
to see Beaubrun again, much less
find the Dominican teenager
carrying armloads of books
to and fro in the Jamaica Plain Library.

She was all the more surprised
when a rough-looking man
knocked a stack out of his hands
and Beaubrun didn't hit back.

The librarian shooed the offender out
while Beaubrun silently knelt
to pick up what had fallen.
Ruffians could be hard on the ones
they suspected of selling out.

It made Dale wonder
what had changed for Beaubrun.
She crouched down to help
gather the scattered books.
"Need a hand?" she offered.

Beaubrun startled.
"I, uh, I don't mean any trouble,"
he said quickly.

Dale smiled. "I saw.
You're not the one making a mess,
you're the one cleaning it up."

Just then Kelly came back
with a variety of biographies,
lesbian romance novels, and
a coffee-table book of home design.
She set them on the nearest table
and greeted Dale with a query.

Beaubrun watched the exchange
with a baffled frown.
"Are you two ... talking?"

"Yes. Kelly is Deaf.
She's asking if you and I
know each other," Dale said,
leaving the answer up to Beaubrun.

The young man lifted his chin.
"She arrested me once,"
he said to Kelly. "I was in a gang."

Dale made quick introductions,
then glanced at the book titles.
"It seems that your interests
have changed," she observed.

"Yeah, I took some classes in prison,"
Beaubrun said. "Can't afford college now,
of course, but the library's free."

"What subjects do you like?"
Dale coaxed.

"History and Literature," said Beaubrun.
"I never knew guys like me could write poetry,
you know? But there's some here in Spanish,
and I'm into restorative justice too. I thought
maybe if we could just get the kids
out of the gangs and back into the community ..."
He shrugged. "Might help. Some."

"I think that's an excellent idea,"
Dale said with a firm nod.

Peace Meeting, Kelly signed,
and went to rummage in her purse
for Axel's contact information.

Dale put the last book onto the stack,
one she recognized from the Picture Peace
collection in the children's section.
Then she braced her cane
and climbed to her feet,
knee popping on the way up.

"You okay?" Beaubrun asked,
frowning at her as he stood.

"As close as it gets," Dale said.
"I'm retired now. I have to find
new ways of keeping the peace. There's a
Social Justice Book Discussion Group
that Kelly and I attend sometimes."

Beaubrun settled his books and then said,
"I saw a flyer for that, and thought I'd
come check it out. I just moved in
and I'm looking for things to do."

Kelly handed him Axel's business card,
flipping it over to show the back where
she'd written details about the Peace Meeting.
"Thanks," said Beaubrun.

The librarian announced that
the Social Justice discussion
would begin in five minutes.

Come sit with us, Kelly invited,
which Dale echoed aloud,
and Beaubrun accepted.
Together they headed
for the discussion room.

It was never easy to move
into a different community,
to set aside an old life for a new one,
to strive for integrity instead of retribution.

Every step toward the goal of justice
requires sacrifice,
Dale thought,
but it's worth it.

* * *


"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Beaubrun is a Dominican name. No etymology was listed online, but one possibility exists in the two roots of the name: beau (beautiful or good) and brun (brown or dark).

The Jamaica Plain Library has a collection in the children's section named “Picture Peace,” with books on peace, respect, and creative conflict resolution. Adult programs include a Social Justice Book Discussion Group, a weekly English/Spanish Language Exchange Group, an annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration, and sundry other activities.

Dominican Spanish is one branch of the Spanish language subfamily, with a tendency to soften or omit some consonants.

Restorative justice focuses on repairing the harm done by crime. Here are some online resources, along with a detailed description from the Boston Theological Institute. Such approaches tend to have better practical results than conventional punishment, with a lower rate of repeat crimes. Mending relationships and providing better problem-solving methods is an effective way of improving communities.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-25 02:10 am (UTC)
perfectworry: like magic play aces stay with me go places (universe & you)
From: [personal profile] perfectworry
I loved this poem and, as a librarian, I can't wait until next time I visit home (Cape Cod) so I can get a chance to visit the JP branch and check out the "Picture Peace" materials for some ideas for my own library collection.

At last...

Date: 2014-01-25 07:08 am (UTC)
thnidu: glowing light bulb. tinyurl.com/33j2v8h (light bulb)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
...I have pinned down the song that kept teasing me as I read your title here: The old union song Step By Step.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-25 07:48 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Like. Have I mentioned that my mom's a librarian? She's running the library in her assisted living community, at age 93. Libraries are Good Places.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-25 02:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janetmiles.livejournal.com
I like the way this one came out. Three cheers for Beaubrun!


Date: 2014-01-25 02:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad you liked this.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-25 06:25 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Good on Dale for accepting her former ... customer. :)

Social justice is often won one soul at a time.

Thank you!

Date: 2014-01-25 06:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad you enjoyed this.

>> Good on Dale for accepting her former ... customer. :) <<

Dale seems to be more focused on practicality than morality. If someone's not causing a problem, she tends not to have a beef with them.

>> Social justice is often won one soul at a time. <<

So very true.


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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