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Righteous Sunday

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This is a factual (and partially fictionalized) depiction of one lynching/killing of Mary Turner, a black woman and her unborn baby, in Georgia in 1918. The recently opened National Memorial for Peace and Justice Museum in Montgomery Alabama chronicles approximately 4,000 lynchings of blacks that took place in Jim Crow South (reconstruction South) from circa 1870 to 1968. Including over a hundred lynchings of black women and children. This is an indication of how deep the "systemic racism" is here in America. The horrific, actual killing account is accurate (as brutal as it is) as reported in the newspaper.    5/7/18

Bands of sunlight
Streamed through the curtains
Woke up to a glorious spring day
In Lowndes County Georgia 1918
Little Clint and Sara jumped in our bed
For morning hugs around
A day to remember
Filled with love, legacy
Our people

Slipped on my Sunday shirt
All crisp 'n fresh, scent of spring
Still warm from Sidney's hot iron
I went to our closet shelf
My prized straw hat perched there
Closed my eyes, ran my fingertips
Over the rim's stepped ridges
Light yellow straw, black satin band
My precious lid

Reverend Shackelford greeted us
In the vestibule where we talked
About the day's big event afterwards
Following his inspiring Christian sermon
In procession, we assembled in the square
To watch

They brought her out
The crowd gasped
She wore a tattered house dress
Bound tight and gagged
She couldn't spout her venom
Devil that she was
We already got her husband
And now we're takin' her
No matter the child she carries
All the better

They hoisted her on the platform
Tied her feet, stripped her
The crowd exploded with applause
Cheers, jeers, giant growls
Then strung her upside down
Sidney looked at me
With that knowing smile
The kids hadn't never seen
Anyone naked before
Let alone a negro lashed in place
In front a y'all

Doused her with gas 'n oil
Some splashed onlookers
As they backed away
I looked at Sidney again
She knew what I was thinkin'
That smart aleck New York Easterner
The feed merchant, came to our farm
Spewing his rant 'bout how we
Oughta treat negroes as equals
We argued, almost fought
Sidney knew I wanted ta show 'em
Show the world in the name of Christ
That we are right

I was proud to show the kids
As they lit her squirmin' body
She screamed her muffled evil screams
Like the animal that she was
Till she fell silent, burnt
Deformed into a curled 
Grotesque

Tommy Lee jumped on stage with
His Bowie knife and sliced, gutting her
And her boiled baby tumbled out
With a "little cry", limp
Others leaped up and stomped it dead
Then sprayed bullets into her
Gun smoke and smell of charred flesh
Floating over everyone 
Some put up handkerchiefs
Many turned away

A canopy of straw hats
Covered our town's square
On the wooden gallows stage
A contorted blackened form alone
Hangin' centered there
We turned slowly, kids clinging
Crowds quieting, half-hanging heap
Still smokin' 

Reverend Shackelford shook his head
In approval as he passed by
Silently we rode home, Sara wept a bit
Children can't understand
'Cept ta know
It was epic

We explained that she was a devil
Her husband and unborn too
We needed to do it for their protection
That night, we tucked them in 
With prayers and kisses
We were proud of
What we done

Copyright © | Year Posted 2018




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Date: 11/5/2018 12:47:00 AM
Wow - powerful write - superb! Sincere congratulations for your awesome win in LuLoo's contest, Greg - blessings and best wishes - keep up the great work, my friend! :-)
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Greg Gaul
Date: 11/5/2018 2:39:00 PM
Advocacy poetry is so hard. Many turn away. So glad you liked it. Maybe it'll bend some minds. Thanks for your comment.
Date: 10/28/2018 6:06:00 PM
Congrats on your win with this disturbing tribute of a horrific chapter in American history. Well done, Greg.
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Greg Gaul
Date: 10/29/2018 6:21:00 AM
Thanks for your comment Line on this somewhat difficult piece. Most appreciated.
Date: 10/28/2018 1:14:00 PM
Greg congrats on your win! Hugs Brenda
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Greg Gaul
Date: 10/29/2018 6:19:00 AM
Thank you for noticing this work Brenda. Your comment is most appreciated.
Date: 10/28/2018 11:58:00 AM
so deep and dark, beautifully sad. Thank you and congratulations on your placement. -luloo :)
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Greg Gaul
Date: 10/29/2018 6:17:00 AM
Lu Loo, you found something positive to say about this disturbing but (I think) meaningful advocacy poem. I thank you sincerely for that. Most turn away. You turned it into something good.
Date: 9/1/2018 2:33:00 PM
Another acknowledgement of "Man's inhumanity to man, woman, and child". The use of the line breaks adds to the chaotic haste with one reads this tragic remembrance.
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Greg Gaul
Date: 9/1/2018 9:15:00 PM
Thanks John for commenting. This advocacy poem is upsetting for many to read, especially those who are unaware of the racism that is out there. My hope is that it will move some to action. Your help is most appreciated.
Date: 5/8/2018 8:35:00 PM
I don't know what part of this write is fictional but nonetheless it made me think about ignorant mob rule and how it can lead to barbarism such as this...an absolutely horrific humiliating painful way to die!~Che :)
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Greg Gaul
Date: 5/8/2018 8:42:00 PM
Cheryl the parts that are fictionalized are the people, family and the speaker. The actual killing account is very accurate, as horrific as it is. Thanks for your interest and thoughtful commentary.