Sacred Ground

This small centipede ambles along
the arm swatch of my light-gray sweater,
as a violin bends the air with sweet
and sometimes melancholy notes

at the Peace Coalition potluck lunch;
so few of us sitting at picnic tables
when you get right down to it,
perhaps the ones who will stand calmly

unbending at the barricades
once they’re erected and tires are burned,
but today we share pasta salad, pesto spread
on flatbread, chocolate coconut macaroons,

the likes of other good eats, along with sun tea,
LaCroix sparkling water, take your pick,
over conversation of being with Carol and Janet
at the protest of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who spewed forth

his racism and brutality meted on immigrants
here in our own backyard at Rancho Canada,
addressing the women Republicans of Salinas, CA,
boyhood home of John Steinbeck,

who must have for the duration of Joe’s speech
rolled over in his grave while belling forth
word for word The Grapes of Wrath,
a story the centipede in its silence
doesn’t seem to care about, or need to.

These coastal sands are the squirming
little creature’s stamping ground,
shade of morning glories
or succulent ice plant shelter

from the occasional storm,
the little bug knowing
what to do without thinking:
to crawl here and there

foraging without malice.
With the tips of two fingers,
I slip him or her off
my sweater and down onto the sandy dirt

to go on with ambling about,
safe for now from the boot
of oppression, ear to the ground,
listening to this particular patch of earth at peace.

About the Author: King Grossman is an award-winning poet, novelist, and writer of short prose. His poems and short prose have appeared or are forthcoming in The Round, Licking River Review, Crack the Spine, Forge, Tiger’s Eye, DMQ Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Qwerty, Burningword, Ignatian, Drunk Monkeys, The Paragon Journal, Pennsylvania English, SLAB, Slag Review, Midwest Quarterly, The Borfski Review, Carbon Culture Review, and Nebo. He lives in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California with his wife, Lisa, dog, Bogart, and sun conure parrot, Sunny.