|from Jet Magazine, September 15, 1955 via JetCityOrange.|
Sixty years ago today
I started my life as a corpse,
the corpus indelicti of
America the Mournful.
I am sure you have caught me
on the tv, in newspapers, or over the net.
Ten presidents since Generalissimo Ike
have taken my Jet photo
out of their Oval Office drawers
every time America has a nightmare
about whether black lives matter
and prayed it would never come to this.
You may have caught me
in the faces of black boys
whose smiles have turned to pus
because of police clubs or stray
gangland bullets .
You could have seen me, too,
in crowds demanding justice
for Rodney King, Trayvon Martin
or Eric Garner. Did you hear me
in a recent poetry slam on YouTube
protesting the death of a black man
or boy every 28 hours in a Second
Amendment America where violence
has gone through the roof?
You may have also picked me out
weeping on CNN or Fox
when the Mother Emanuel Six
were laid to rest and
the state flag came down
in South Carolina
and all the peckerwoods
could do about it was whistle Dixie.
I plan to be at the Smithsonian
next year when they unveil my coffin.
Hope it does not debut on August 28th.
I am not sure America has enough tears left
for me and the ravages of Katrina.
Philip Kolin is the University Distinguished Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi where he also edits the Southern Quarterly. He has published more than 40 books on Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, African American playwrights as well as seven collections of poems. His most recent book is Emmett Till in Different States: A Collection of Poems forthcoming in November from Third World Press.