Cotton and the Lynching Tree Gang

 

cottonfolk art down in louisiana

 

there was a gang of them holding us down

we were no match for such fierce cruelty

we fought back best we could but they

had friends in high places with last

words to say we had the right to last rites

sometimes

if bodies could be

found or were whole enough to recognize

sullen petulant times in the harsh grace of

cotton riding with joe turner & jim crow

in the shadow of the lynching tree that

would stretch forth through centuries to come

becoming legacy and millstone

around the slender neck of equity

marking us like the melanin

no place for us

in the world after cotton

sugarcane railroads and telephone poles

forever set apart by the sins of

founding fathers who were not

saints merely flawed men building

fences around stolen things preaching

law and justice as they slaughtered and divided

spoils manifest greed exceptional ignorance and

superior suppression spoon feed through religion

god bless us swinging in the wind bloated

birds picking at our eyes as a chorus wails

lamenting our bloodied escape while they are still tethered in

terror seeking north stars even ground singing to

remind the Godz where we have landed after falling

through cosmology do you hear us

brave voices raised in a terrible storm

the dust knows

ink lies

cotton has memory

slaved sharecropped

for no crops

jim crow left but joe turner stayed

incarceration is the new plantation

we got 13th amendment blues

mementos of literacy test

grandfather’s clause

black codes

merciless black robes

poll tax

spooks in sheets with a craving

for carving black genitalia

at picnics

hoping not to get picked

we remember the struggle

muffled through cotton  we recall the swinging

bodies in the shadow of long days melting into the

void of endless nights trying not to be

seen remembering

quietly carrying

the leaky  bags of body parts trauma and overwhelming

grief down hungry streets

past the fences

on the other side

of knowing

we were born free

with dignity

and

everything

there was a gang of them

we fought back best we could

they got friends in high places

with cotton on their breath

saying last words

we got the right to last rites

sometimes

if the bodies

can be found

or are whole enough to recognize

 while cotton dreams wide awake out loud

of us falling down

About Ayodele Nzinga, MFA, PhD

I create; therefore I am.
This entry was posted in August Wilson, North American African Perspective, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Cotton and the Lynching Tree Gang

  1. Highfrequecyart says:

    Excellent effort of capturing the atmosphere of the terrorization of our past. No words can truly capture the speechless moments of the dire helplessness but you cause me to stretch my spine and shiver as I look toward the heavens.

    Like

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