Jasper TX

In memory of James Byrd, Jr.

Marilyn Buck

[This poem is read on the CD by Samsara. MP3 of this poem]

1958
Saturday bare feet dusted red
on East Texas roads
shrieks slice heavy summer air
white children play
fearless in pine-shadowed lanes
till darkfall
we’re called in
behind screen doors

Sunday sermons spill
out windows
in sticky heat our
washed feet bound in oxfords
& patent leather swing
while ladies in flower-priny print dresses
bob hats perched on dishwater curls
in prayer to God …
some other God?
than the one down the road
in churches where Black families
pray for deliverance
from nights of crossburnings
or lynchings
          amen

1998
pine-drenched night
once barefoot white killer-boys
play drag-a-Black-man
tear sleepy red roads awake
with dusty devils of terror
behind their pick-up
James Byrd's bound feet carve
a bloody ribbon
his screams cut off
by the lynching chain
dancing in the dirt

James Byrd could not
get behind a screen door
in time

1998
published in BLU Magazine and Rescue the Word


poems © the authors
compilation © The Freedom Archives