It was hotter then. It was darker. No sir, it was whiter. Just pick up a paper.
You would never suspect 66% of the population was invisible. You would
never even suspect any of its people were nonwhite until an elusive Negro was
arrested in Chicago or the schedule for the annual Negro Fair was published or
a popular Negro social studies teacher was fired for an insubordinate letter to
the superintendent and a spontaneous rebellion sprang up in a Negro classroom
in the form of flying chairs and raggedy books and a pop bottle thrown at a light
fixture, and then, the lists of long long suffered degradations backed up and
Parades without permits/ Boycotted stores
Funeral home turned into a Freedom Center
Kids arrested en masse and put in a swimming pool
V died during Operation Enduring Freedom
A bottle a day, she got annihilated/ Two packs a day
Always preoccupied with last things/ Always a touch eschatological
Always took a little tabula rasa with her caffeine
When I asked the neighbor if she knew the woman who lived there in 1969/
Oh yes she said/ She knew her
She didn't trust me and I didn't trust her
I don't blame her though/ Everything
was so confusing/ She stayed to herself
She was overwhelmed/ That poor woman...
She was right/ We were wrong
They've got souls/ Just like you and me
INTERPOSITION AND NULLIFICATION
The marchers are approaching the town of Hazen
where not so long ago an earth scraper turned up
a mastodon skull and a tusk on the military road
In Big Tree: People are turning in
Only sure thing were the prices:
Grown-ups know the cost of a head of lettuce,
a fryer, a package of thighs; a $500 bag of seed
covers about 5 acres; it takes 20 square feet of cotton
for a medium-size blouse; where nothing is planted,
nothing much grows. The dirt is hard-packed.
The trees were gone by the first war. The first to go,
the most marvelous one, the red cypress,
made beautiful instruments. The fields,
not gone, but empty. Cotton turned to soybeans.
Mussels from the river turned to salvage.
Fishing for tires on the silted-up water.
Some are left digging an old bur out of their foot.
Some go up/ Some go down [Big Tree church sign]
A race-free conversation hard to have back then.
Back then, the hotdog wagon doubled as a brothel.
I am 11 years old but I know all the facts of life because I live in a dirty
neighborhood. My problem is that in our family we get pregnate quick. My
sister got pregnate when she was 16 just by sitting next to a boy in church. Can
DEAR YOUNG MISS,
No, somebody must have moved.
People study the dingy chenille clouds for a sign.
People did what they have done.
A town, a time, and a woman who lived there.
And left undone what they ought not to have did.