3 NEW POEMS FOR JUNETEENTH

After Ahmaud Arbery 3.23.20

His arrival here
cut one background
from another.

Five hands sprung 
from each of his wrists. 

I wipe the ashes
off the armoire. 
I light a new stick of incense
Morning Star Mellow Pine.

He sits on my sofa
deliberately.
The muscle spasm in his leg
ribbons the room.
 
From the corner of my eye
his sweatshirt
slung over a chair back.

His Oral-B toothbrush
facedown.

~

Black and White Thinking 6.17.21

At the end of a long day Civil Warrin’, 
Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson 
sat together in a plush loveseat
and soaked their feet in the same tub of Epsom Salts. 
And they murmured, they murmured to each other 
and puttied in 
and sanded off 
and painted over 
the great flaw they shared, 
that hardy, ubiquitous facade they shared
with every slave holding heart. 

My therapist told me, 
Black and White thinking
is the first of ten
cognitive distortions.

Growing up privileged and white 
in Montgomery meant 
there were no Blacks
outside and beyond
my service partition; the solution 
to a Confederate calculation--
witness the cleaning gesture 
of a brush 
that’s filled with paint.

In this stanza a Black person
doesn’t ring me up at Books-A-Million,
doesn’t fry my chicken at the frat house,
doesn’t ladle my gravy into a mountain lake
of mashed potatoes at Memorial Presbyterian Church, 
doesn’t dip my cone at Dairy Queen on Atlanta Highway,
doesn’t drain my oil at Jiffy Lube in Bay 3 in Mountain Brook.

Phyllis Wheatley—America’s first
Black poet—was enslaved
by the Wheatley family.
They said she was seven
because of her teeth.
Which one 
pried her open
to count the empty spaces?

~

Epilogue
 
How do you find a diamond ring in the lake?
 
Hit bottom.
 
Start in the middle.
 
Spiral out.


~


find tim on Insta

Hear Tim reading these poems @ 1:04:44

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