Social Justice Poetry

Dr. King Makes Me | A Social Justice Poem by G. Louis Heath

Dr. King makes me
smell mint, yes he does.
You may call that sick
but it’s true. He makes me smell mint.
You may even say I’m oblivious,
insensitive, politically incorrect.
But mint had its way with me on April 4, 1968,
that day of days, that sorrow of sorrows.
I walked that day on campus past a mint garden
where I basked in the fragrance.
Soon I heard a radio on the street, words from Clio,
news flash burning away afternoon fragrance.
I could not believe what I heard.
A crazed bullet had martyred Dr. King.

Over the years, at Dr. King Birthday events,
I have smelled mint, stronger and stronger
as each year passes.

—–
On April 8, 1968, I was walking onto the University of California at Berkeley campus from where I lived at International House. Over the years, I had come to look forward to the spring fragrance of mint in a University garden. Just as I sauntered into the most intense mint fragrance, the shot heard round the world forever linked mint with the assassination of Dr. King for me.

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