Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Teacher

The Teacher
by Zachary B. Johnston
the stretch bone cab hauls
us fast from our swamp
down a pocked rain-wetted
highway to Ebenezer cemetery.
We pass her yard. The cypress
there stands straight, but the
house she kept sags on its blocks,
the weight of dying just settled
in its boards. My last visit, she
could still climb stairs. Her nurse
gone home, I sat on the bed’s edge.
Her radiation burns like Chicago,
walking to the bakery on St. Paul
or outside the door for a smoke.
I asked what did she expect from
dying? She said it’s uncomplicated;
we’re like the lilacs, we odor a while
then aches our burden stem. That’s
chemo talking. The car stops. We’re all
her students, come to learn this lesson.
We brace open the hatch and draw
her out of the long car.

Friday, May 12, 2017

November 11, 1831: Nat Turner

November 11, 1831: Nat Turner
 by Jill McDonough

Jerusalem, Virginia

Of course Turner's mind - restless, inquisitive,
observant of every thing - would turn his rage
to visions of the Spirit at work. He gives
accounts in his Confession of spirits engaged
in battle, blood on the corn, and hieroglyphs
on leaves that told him what to do. My class
in the prison disagrees, has trouble with
Nat Turner, with the visions, violent acts
against children who "never hurt him". Upset,
one blurts out, "I was tortured and abused
by my boyfriend, then killed some other guy, and that
ain't right. He's cold in the ground. What'd he do
to me?" Next we review what they did when he died:
flesh rendered to grease, a money-purse made of his hide.