“Witness:

Museum of Lynching”

There are no words, no poetry, no song,

nor prayer that can hold this witness

In the heart of Montgomery.

in the center of the slave city.

On a hill that overlooks

down-town Montgomery

The rows and rows of rusting

steel boxes with the names, date,

and place where these men, women, and children.

were tortured, burned, hanged.

The steel rusting boxes

are sarcophagi of memory and place.

Men, women, and children

tortured, burned and hanged.

A jolly public occasion declared the newspapers

“Nigger to be lynched for talking to a white woman!”

“Nigger boy to be lynched for asking for his back wages.”

“Nigger momma killed for asking why her husband was lynched.”

“Killed for organizing workers.”

“Killed for asking to vote.”

Thousands of stories of Lynching.

A shame that time will not nor should erase.

My most artful poetic inventions

My songs and music cannot find a single note

to ease or hold this pain.

In my slow meditation and walk, I touch

these rusting steel sarcophagi of memory.

Most of those killed are unnamed and unknown,

yet here are those we know the men, women,

and children killed by this sin of hatred.

I walk through this memorial, the rusted

sarcophagi that is a witness to this insanity.

The long corridor with the water pouring

over the walls. The small lights beneath

my feet.   Hushed and more reverent than a graveyard.

A thousand waterfalls will never wash away

this sin of hatred and racism.

The stillness.

Our Humanity

roars in the hushed reverence.

Holier than any holy book

No words

No songs

No music.

Only the wind

in this sanctuary.

The sunset light casts shadows,

as I walk here till the dark.

I feel so hollow and empty,

My humanity, the thin

and imperceptible line,

that separates beast from human.

That line has vanished.

This is our humanity without soul.

I am a blind,

deaf,

mute man

stripped of my soul.

Could any God forgive the

murderers?

Could Jesus comfort

the man who crucified this child?

Where in the new testament are

the words to justify these murders?

Would John the Baptist be able

to anoint, bless and forgive?

My humanity is stripped naked

and exposed on the whipping post.

How is there contrition?
How is there forgiveness?

Is it even possible to forgive

the murderers who tortured children?

Is it possible to love those sinners

who embraced the sin of slavery?

Here on this hill above Montgomery,

this city built on the bones and blood

of African American slaves.

Here is this witness to Lynching.

This city built brick by brick from

African American slaves.

Here is this witness to lynching.

Alabama, this country and land,

forged and made from the sin of slavery.

Here is this witness to Lynching.

NOW

Lynching is not the past.

A man does not sway on a noose

The roasted flesh does not stink

A naked body of the black woman

no longer hangs in the public square of Montgomery

Now

Michal Jordan may be a billionaire.

The talented tenth may escape racism.

Clarence Thomas may sit on the Supreme Court.

Barrack Obama may have given us the illusion of hope.

But our slave prisons are bursting with

African American men and women.

Our slave for-profit prisons filled

with black and brown children.

The schools in Camden are not the same schools in Princeton.

The lower 9th Ward High Schools are prisons of ignorance

Our inner cities and impoverished lands keep people

locked in the cycle of poverty and slavery.

Now

Now I stand on this spot of witness.

Not a museum of Peace and Social Justice.

This is a living witness of Lynching.

in the heart of Montgomery.

Now

Now

Now

This is the witness.

Oh, my beautiful America,

filled with the rhetoric of

Life

Liberty

Justice for all.

Oh, my beautiful America

built on the bones and blood

of the enslaved.

How from this monument

of witness is forged contrition?

Namaya 3 December 2019 Montgomery, Alabama