Summer 2016 — THE POTOMAC

hanging is not an option

Virgil Saunders

for this is how a mother wept in the Mississippi night
as calloused hands cradled down her son
after cutting the twine;
a mother not knowing
if the pink–faced officers who looked on the crime
carried souvenir photos by their hearts.

i can too easily see myself in sepia—
toes reaching for the dirt,
empty eyes reflecting the sun,
my neck stretched out to greet heaven—
i've never been taller.

but no matter how much i yearn for the archangel's kiss
for the sweet silence at the end,
it cannot be like this.
i was born into censuses and pre–disposed images,
i cannot choose a death that echoes


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