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FURTHER READING
Poems about America
1492
by Emma Lazarus
A House Divided
by Kyle Dargan
Abraham Lincoln
by Abraham Lincoln
América
by Richard Blanco
America
by Claude McKay
America
by Walt Whitman
America
by Robert Creeley
America
by Herman Melville
America [Try saying wren]
by Joseph Lease
C'est La Guerre
by Danniel Schoonebeek
Gate A-4
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Handshake Histories
by Jeff Hoffman
I am the People, the Mob
by Carl Sandburg
Imagine
by Kamilah Aisha Moon
Last Century
by Wyatt Prunty
Like Any Good American
by Brynn Saito
Passing Through Albuquerque
by John Balaban
Psalm
by Vanessa Place
The Blank of America
by Terese Svoboda
The House-top
by Herman Melville
Poems about Identity
A Legacy
by Prageeta Sharma
Dream In Which I Meet Myself
by Lynn Emanuel
Escape
by Elinor Wylie
For Crying Out Loud
by Terrance Hayes
Happy first anniversary (in anticipation of your thirty ninth)
by Bob Hicok
Imaginary June
by C. D. Wright
Instructions on Damaging the Monster's Cloak of Invisibility
by Bradley Paul
Mirrors
by Tada Chimako
Mrs. Cavendish and the Dancer
by Stephen Dunn
mulberry fields
by Lucille Clifton
My Teacup
by Alli Warren
On Anti-Biography
by Will Alexander
On Disappearing
by Major Jackson
Self-portrait as Thousandfurs
by Stacy Gnall
Sympathy
by Edith Franklin Wyatt
The Fare-well Letters [excerpt]
by Evie Shockley
The Purpose of Ritual
by Melissa Broder
Woman in Front of Poster of Herself
by Alice Notley
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Black Laws

 
by Roger Reeves

Fuss, fight, and cutting the huckley-buck—Dear Malindy, 
Underground, must I always return to the country of the dead,

To the coons catting about in the trees, the North Carolina pines 
Chattering about sweetening bodies in their green whirring?

Do these letters predict my death—some sound of a twig 
Breaking then a constant drowning—a butter bean drying

Beneath my nails? Casket, rascal, and corn bread cooling board. 
Dear Malindy, when the muskrats fight in the swamp I knows

It’s you causing my skull to rattle. You predicted my death 
With my own baby teeth and a rancid moon beneath our legs.

No girl, my arm still here. The antlers on the mantle yet quiet. 
All the ocean’s water without me and yet in me. Never mind,

Malindy. They already shot the black boy on the road for dying 
Without their permission. Yes, gal, I put on my nice suit. And wait.
About this poem:
"'Black Laws' is in conversation with so many things at once: Paul Laurence Dunbar and his dialect poems, the folk music group the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jonathan Ferrell, lynching, John Berryman, elegy, and, most of all, the easily eradicable nature of black folks' lives in America. Every day I wonder if I'm next—the next Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, or Jonathan Ferrell. I wonder who will sing for me when I'm gone."

—Roger Reeves






Copyright © 2013 by Roger Reeves. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on November 11, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.
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