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January 2012

2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Awards

Poetry: High School

Third Place

Back to Black
Teireik William
12th grade, Pittsburgh CAPA

I work at a movie theater. I see hundreds
of people a day, from countries all over the world.
Each day these people come and pay hard earned American
money to view a movie of their choice.
My manager, George, calls me over and tells me to take my break.
I leave.
He is a white
man and he refers to me as
“Hey you,”
but I don’t think too much into it
because all I know is that I am hungry.
I rush out of the theater and find
a small pizza shop on the South Side.
I walk
in freezing and grab a menu.
The man working cashier quickly
takes the menu from my hand and hands me a different menu.
It is visibly and physically lighter than the original menu,
it has dark grease stains and finger prints
from perhaps the other people he has snatched menus off of.
I don’t think too much into this
because all I know, is that I am hungry.
I place my order for sit-down and I take a seat in the bright, red, plastic booth.
Waiting for my food, time passes quickly and now, I am late.
Still, I wait.
45 minutes passes and out comes the cashier laughing.
He is holding my order in his hand but it is wrapped in paper and in a plastic
For take-out.
He brings it to my table and sternly and casually says,
I put your food in bags, just in case, you want to leave.
I look around and see the other booths filled with people eating
on trays and paper plates.
I don’t think too much into this
because all I know is that I am no longer hungry.

View the complete list of the 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Award winners.

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