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The Individual Comes First. A Person Serves Society By Living Up
to His Potential
Poem by Ally Malinenko
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The Individual Comes First. A Person Serves Society By Living Up
to His Potential
Poem by Ally Malinenko

(page 1 of 93)







Keywords: eleventh transmission, poetry, fiction, photography, visual art, spoken word, film, socially engaged,
political, human experience, writing, satire, photojournalism, activist art, activism, socially conscious, art

The Individual Comes First. A Person Serves Society By Living
Up to His Potential

by Ally Malinenko

They crowd at the desk because their assignment is to read a
biography on a Great American
and then write an essay on it.
The first girl wants one on Barack Obama.
He’s the president she tells me, with confidence.
Yes he is, I say.
He’s the first black president, the girl says following me to the
bookshelves.

Let me find you a book on him,
I tell her and I rifle through the stacks
on this, one of the few
waning days of the school year.
Soon it will be summer
and the these kids will be in here nonstop
and I will ratchet up the wine
I drink after work
waiting on the Fall.

I’m going to be President one day too, the girl with the curls tells me.
That’s great, I’m about to say as I dig through the shelves
but before I have a chance
the boy next says, You can’t be President. You’re a girl.

So, the girl responds, hands defiantly on her hips.
I like her stance. Feet squared, hip thrown out a bit.
You’re stupid she tells the boy.
No you are.
No you are.
No you are.
No you are.

I put up my hands.
Anyone can be anything they want to be in this country
I tell them.
That’s the great thing about America.

The girl smiles, sticks her tongue out at the boy
snatches the Obama book out of my hand and stalks away.

The boy eyes me.
I ask him what book he wants.

What do you do? he says
What? I ask
What do you do?
I do this, I say pointing at the room.
I’m a librarian. I love books and reading.

He frowns.
Doesn’t sound like much.
If you can do whatever you want
why not be rich?
Why would you work here?
Seems kind of lame, he tells me.

I pull the Steve Jobs bio off the shelf
shove it in his hands
Here kid, I tell him. You’ll like this one.

And I walk off
thinking
screw the wine.

It’s a whiskey sort of night.


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