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The RetroLounge Daily Poem Thread (Wed 1/21/2009)

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RetroLounge Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 07:06 AM
Original message
The RetroLounge Daily Poem Thread (Wed 1/21/2009)
A Revenge For Grace

         After the Lynching of Cleo Wright in Sikeston, MO, 1942.

We were drinking peppermint schnapps, the poor mans julep,
when Miles, an old man I mowed lawns with, told me he was there
the day the city of Sikeston drug Cleo Wright down Main Street
and lit him on fire, naked, in the Sunset Addition on the other side of the tracks.

Miles said Cleos head swelled up and was all open
after theyd drug him down the street behind an old Buick.
Said it was split like a watermelon that some opossums had gotten into,
that he would have thrown-up if he werent too old to act that way.

This was only weeks after Pearl Harbor, and FDR on the radio
was as far away from Missouri as the sixties. Cleo had stabbed a white woman,
Grace. Her husband, called up, was off learning bayonets and choke-holds.
This is too easy to have made up. When the Marshall came, Cleo pulled a knife
out of his boot, stabbed the lawman in the mouth until it ended in gunfire.

How many times was he shot? Three? Four? Repeatedly is the word
the papers used. And Cleo bleeding to death in a jail cell while a mob
of four-hundred, five-hundred men amassed together outside,
as mad as hell about getting surprised in Hawaii and not gonna take it anymore.

Miles said he saw it all, hiding behind his fathers car with a crowbar,
wanting to do something, saying, A man has to do something.
He took a long drink off the bottle after that.
I told him he neednt go on, but he said he had to finish,
that finishing was the least goddamned thing he owed.

A dump truck picked up Cleos remains hours after his body went out.
But before that, when the crowd could smell the gasoline dripping
off his fingers, someone threw a match, and Cleo cried out once,
then shook, the mob dispersing at the site of flames and stillness.

Clay Matthews

*****************

Clay Matthews has had work in Poetry Midwest, Taint, Big Muddy, and Oklahoma Review, as well as in storySouth. His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.


*****************

:hi:

RL
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Guava Jelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 07:10 AM
Response to Original message
1. Man
:(
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RetroLounge Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. Intense, yes?
:hi:

RL
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Chorophyll Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 07:36 AM
Response to Original message
2. ...
x(
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RetroLounge Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. agreed.
:hi:

RL
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blueraven95 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:46 AM
Response to Original message
3. ...
:cry:



:hi:
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RetroLounge Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:39 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. Yeah, pretty strong stuff
:hi:

RL
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Tuesday Afternoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:53 AM
Response to Original message
4. Fuck.
:o
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RetroLounge Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:39 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. ...
:hi:

RL
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