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I will not get in line.

I will not toe the line.

I will not put my ass on the line.


I will step over the line.

I will step out of line.

I will draw a line in the sand.

It’s a fine line.



Call me a nonconformist,

but I will not get in line.

Not for concert tickets when I was 16,

nor a pound of bologna at the deli,

a paper number 22 in my hand.

Not in Disney World for Space Mountain.

I did not get in line for walking meditation

behind the brown robed Buddhist monks,

nor with green sashed Girl Scouts

marching in the Memorial Day Parade.



My daddy taught me not to toe the line

when he brought me to a civil rights rally

when I was 7.

I remember the face

of the angry white cop who said

get out of line

and take your family back to the suburbs

where they belong.

My daddy said to him, sir,

I will draw a line in the sand,

but this is exactly where my family belongs.



I read the news today, oh boy,

and saw a picture of teachers

on the picket line.

They held signs demanding better pay,

a signed contract after 4 years without,

money for school supplies

so they don’t have to buy their own pencils.

They marched in fierce solidarity and

not one stepped out of line.

They yelled at the scabs,

do not cross this picket line,

get your ass in this line.



Will I get in line at the pearly gates of heaven?

Will I get in line with Saint Teresa of Calcutta,

José Andres,

and Volodymyr Zelenskyy?

Will I stand in line with Robin Williams?

Behind a holocaust survivor named Rose?

Have I earned my place in that line,

surrounded by white clouds and angels,

with trumpets blowing?

It’s going to be a fine line.

Melanie Civin Kenion

Melanie Civin Kenion is spending her retirement writing poetry, traveling as much as possible, and playing Rummikub with her grandson.

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