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Black Man Lynching Back

The horse is white with a mottled black neck . . .
you have every spot memorized although
it's hard to distinguish them in the torching dark,
but all you can think about are the spots,
here at the end of your life.

They use your own horse to stage your death,
and they mean it as an insult, but instead
someone familiar accompanies you
almost all the way through.
You wish you could avoid the screams
of your wife . . . her cries are too much to shoulder.
At least she drowns out the weeping of your four babies, 
and you will never have to face them to explain this senseless act.
You yourself want to cry when you understand 
they will be scared forever now.

You would tell your babes to forgive;
your own life is completed tonight, but they still have to live . . .
You mean to yell to them that you do indeed forgive
these terrible men, but the knot at the back of your neck
is too tight, and the rope allows no words
up your throat.  One hooded beast drops the reins,
another one slaps the mare's butt, yet they don't know  
the power you hold over this horse.  

Your legs hold her in place,
even though they hit her again and again.
You also hold your wife's eyes gripped steady,
and she understands it is you who sets the horse free at last.
She will recognize you have forgiven the beasts,
and she can tell your babes you were bigger than death here
at the end.  Galloping up into the dark, you believe 
forgiveness will give your children back their lives.

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