Loving That Other Man
Former-slaves built Jerusalem with hard
But for their children today it
sanctuary from misery.
thickens after a day of showers
revelations. A full moon rises high.
Nathaniel Turner knew such an evening
Day of Reckoning came nearer
August Revival. Like Baldwin
knew men turn away from true being
fleshly ecstasy—incest, & pride
marketing of hearts & souls—all
small comforts & manliness. I am
naturalist. I know evil when
discovered wears the mask that
11 August 2006
* * *
Sonnet for 22 August 1831
slipped away unknown into dark
forests often as black men did so long
secret coves like Booze Island
Loco woods & converse in tongues
on dripping hot roast pig, smoking yams
moonshine & brandy, we could win all.
will know what we put down or
cross we pick up. A faith communion
fuel acts heroic—sacrificial.
our master’s grasp & driver’s whip,
of fears & reckonings, wingéd flights
the dark purple skies will birth a
love & a daring defiance. For
determined men can rock the world.
23 August 2006
* * *
Rivers Run Into Oceans
than a month of dangerous nights in
dark forest had come & gone since his
men fell to bullets or from the rope.
heads without eyelids rested on
at plantation crossroads; skeletons
as signs of those pleasures taken by
fastidious insects, birds, dogs & men
the woods—mothers, fathers, babies.
terrible hours on cool autumn days
haunt their kinsmen after almost two
centuries. We’re under fence rails concealed
cave with God—tears fall for the dead.
minstrel moments of servitude pass
embrace our turn for martyrdom.
28 September 2006
* * * *
Meditations on the Moons
hides out in the forest of Cross Keys
The carnage has ended—only
silence remains. The 2nd moon
August Revival comes into view
behind dark clouds. It’s not loneliness
belly that drives him to spy out
farmhouses nightly. He listens at doors
windows. Darkness fills the candlelit
Masters have rekindled their slavish
routines: truth remains twisted as grapevines.
breezes are in the autumn leaves. He
his work’s unfinished: he must rescue
sacramental blood that fell to earth by
sacrificing himself on the 3rd moon.
6 October 2006
* * *
Wanted Alive, Not Dead
He knew his blood must fall to earth like red
dew from heaven on leaves of corn. This debt
due he had to pay. The community
he loved would thrash him like wheat all along
the route—whips with nails; needle punctures; feet
fists thudding on yellow flesh; curses hurled.
This torment he must endure for their sake.
Cross Keys wanted to know the origins—
dust storming brigands on horseback hacking
away at white flesh—men, women, children.
He needed a scribe to re-mark pages—
tales dispersed at home & afar—a means
for his reentry to the human fold.
His vision of Christ was unforgiving.
20 October 2006
* * *
Crickets Sing His Song
thicken dark over Jerusalem.
come & go. A gust—pines dance, their limbs
green needles sweeping the air. A breeze
pear tree shimmers the yellow leaves like
love flesh. Crickets chirp by my window.
cell, the moon will not shine for him tonight
will stars twinkle through the jailhouse bars.
is his second night in prison chained—
& ankles. He desires no escape.
was the destiny he freely chose.
ruse was at work, & Mr. Tom Gray
bought into his scheme—his visions shall
broadcast near & far. His final sword
into the Serpent is his death song.
31 October 2006
* * *
Drowning Noise with Silence
mind moves to its fullness like the moon
glows purple in his dark cell. He prays
without cease. He tracks back over the ground,
metaphysical turf & prologue
traversed after Thomas Gray stepped from
autumn sun to the chirping chorus
crickets crashing leaves by his window.
thanks God he’s not like his white father
sought to resolve slavery between
sheets. . . . The pen waits to drum out echoes
dead bones in the shadows of madness. . . .
tale is silent beats bleeding the stink
church men—their death stamp on holiness.
His gospel blues won’t hang on
2 November 2006
* * *
Eyes Bound to Lies
near full moon set & rose behind clouds
2nd interview. The crickets
silent. The chilled air sharpened his mind
sharper than the razor edge of his sword.
voyage through this hell was near complete.
setting sun shone bright & cast shadows
through the bars onto Gray’s pen & paper.
blue eyes the slaughter of children made
blacker than a million sinister
midnights—children who’ll never sing sunlight
mad luxury of their whiteness.
unholy fantasy stilled his heart.
crossed that Nottoway years ago:
life falling, ever falling like leaves.
3 November 2006
* * * *
Dying Echoes of Dead Words
full moon frost night he will leave his cell
slipping from chains/shackles, like dirty clothes
stroll the woods where the Spirit who speaks
prophets—chastens men to sacrifice.
Hunting dogs will sense his haunting presence
whimper in their pens fearing his grandeur.
will pass through fields of boll-filled white fleece
purple light. Shadowed tombstones, symbols
nigger luck, gained on black backs & blood:
wisdom will sound darkness with “Who? Whoooo?”
father lies there. Fires will blaze tonight.
from chimneys will bellow to the stars.
sleep cozy now with doom at their door.
rainbows glisten from the morning lawn.
4 November 2006
* * * *
Birthed in a Conundrum
heaven purples with stars twinkling clear
this autumn forest. No sound stirs
cold full moon silence. Frost thickens white
leaves & grass in the blue hours before
midnight. He reads again Gray’s “Confessions.”
sleeps soundly without dreams. Mockingbird
a sun overture. Jailers march him
his cell. At the courthouse crows rally.
Icy-faced judges are suffused with guilt.
cave eyes are horror without remorse
. . .
mouths rusty hinges that open & close.
dark mirror mystery outrageous
beyond their scalpels. They are losers—
righteous spirit blossoms yet from thorns.
5 November 2006
* * *
Blues in the Cosmos
falls in the southern sky. Dogs bark
rising of the moon. The seasons
through the calendar pages quickly.
the glow of autumn, then frost, showers
I’m sweating. The earth is soaked in
tears of joy & despair. The noose
our destiny. Crickets sing. Rooster
before daybreak. Naked vibrations!
are witnesses, a greater audience
he who walks. They are no clockmaker
withdrawn, sightless, uncaring of a work
at eternity’s beginning.
don’t come/go without signifying.
healed when Mockingbird sings in the sun.
9 November 2006
* * * *
Days & 40 Nights
hovel, we slaves, trembling. It’s been weeks
the sun shone clear, or the rising moon
appeared through the trees, when dew drops fell on
blown, un-bagged brown leaves. It keeps raining.
water keeps rising—the rain keeps falling.
should’ve known, we all should’ve known, it’s no
routine stroll—picnic to hang a prophet,
man, even Ben Turner’s boy.
vault of heaven turned black, clouds & winds
gathered—the black sky cracked, the earth rumbled
he fell from the rope and hung still like
scarecrow. In fright the gathering scattered.
surgeons keep busy with their scalpels
we wade gospel waters of end time.
10 November 2006