Old Man at Our Yard Sale in Jonesboro
It did cross my mind I could garrote you
as you stood there so proud to tell me
Yeah, downtown they used to tar
and feather lots of black folk.
You saw the rental truck out front,
and guessed we were moving.
That what happened
to your wife, terrible, terrible.
I stood there, pinned down by your dead eyes. Words
coiled out of you, slow poisonous.
Frank Barnet, owned the hardware
back then, he killed one, asked, did you say
such and such. He said, Yes, I did. Frank
emptied out his gun into him. One we hung.
Boll Weevil he was called. He stabbed dead
this officer. Well, we took that negro and lynched him.
Three days he swung before anybody cut him down.
Right then I almost hit you and would have, but for a glimpse
of your horrific ignorance. You drew back, grimacing
a gap-toothed grin and dropped my daughter’s jump rope
back onto the sales table.
Oh, Oh, you said, Alright Sir, you
have a nice day, hear?
Richard Messer has published in The Sun and the Black Warrior Review and other reviews. Fisher King press published two of his books of poetry. My book of prose and poetry, Murder in the Family, published by Larry Smith at Bottom Dog Press, was awarded the Nancy Dasher award by the College English Association of Ohio. I have published an additional book, a memoir, Down the Big Rivers, from Three Forks Montana to New Orleans Louisiana, 2015, Genoa House Press.