|Drawing of fugitives running from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Image source: A Guide to the History of Slavery in Maryland (The Maryland State Archives, Annapolis MD and the University of Maryland College Park, MD)|
Black blood rushes from city
after city; running is now a crime,
guilty or not, the verdict is the same
and so is the punishment; backs
broken, heads smashed,
necks choked, chests exploded,
organs silenced; hope ended.
There is no escape, no plea, no trial.
Every black man is now afraid he wears an invisible
target only dashboard cameras can capture.
Hanging-noose ropes are strung around
the killing scene; black sons set in buckled asphalt.
The community fears that American history has
reversed itself, the Fugitive Slave Acts
Philip C. Kolin, University Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Southern Mississippi, is the editor of The Southern Quarterly and has published more than 30 scholarly books on African American playwrights, Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and Edward Albee. Also a poet, Kolin has published five books of poems, the most recent being Reading God's Handwriting: Poems (Kaufmann, 2012), as well as hundreds of poems in such journals as the Michigan Quarterly Review, Louisiana Literature, South Carolina Review, Christian Century, Spiritus, Seminary Ridge Review, America, and has co-edited Hurricane Blues: Poems about Katrina and Rita (Southwest Missouri UP, 2006) with Susan Swartwout.