Sunday, August 28, 2011

cotton gin.(for Emmitt Till)

one name
two words
and almost sixty years later
it still doesn't add up
your face before and after
should remind us always
of the twisted logic of bigots
found in the sneer of supposed supremacy
rope and bullets
and the embrace of cold Southern soil
some days
i remember seeing your face in that coffin
watching 'Eyes On The Prize' when i was nine
being told, 'don't look away son'
knowing you didn't have that chance
in a darkened barn in Tallahatchie County
with demons enslaved by antebellum logic
and mason jars of moonshine
not knowing your name
Emmitt Till
would live in their flesh

one name
and two words
and the weight of a cotton gin
and we wonder why the nation hates math
authors asked
what was Mississippi afraid of then
ask that question again
when election time for our president comes
ask that question
when Black men are still dragged behind trucks for fun
you haven't haunted them nearly enough
because there are those who still believe
racism and hatred will always add up
the devil's arithmetic
still burns like straight gin
the image of you mangled in a coffin
like your name
doesn't relieve the burn at all
but the fire this time and the next
will cleanse everything

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