In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily. Black Lives Matter.
The bold arc of your odyssey: from soul-shunting slavery to sweeping vision,
From bales and blisters to blackboard chalk and opened books—
Dear Booker, as in your flinty era of lynch-ropes and urgent witness,
Brother after luckless brother is consigned to runaway gunfire,
Though they claim this purblind, punch-clock carnage,
This jeopardy (our children turned to carrion in Ferguson, our water turned poison in Flint) is not a form of broadcast war.
Booker, you died in 1915—in a cat’s-cradle of malignant war,
Human beacon, slave-no-more, captain of perpetual vision,
In a roiling era of gas masks and carnage,
Each battle-lost son a poppy blooming on a black lapel, or pressed into a gilt-edged book,
Each staunch fusilier surrendered to the incessant gunfire
Of Flanders Fields—conveyed in soldier-poets’ verses of keen witness—