Recent Work By Cyrus Cassells

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—

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.


I. Plantation Tour (One Star!)

“Vacationers have been sharing their disdain
for guides emphasizing the annals of slavery.”

Let me tell you, what I didn’t need,
Cher Guilt-instilling Know-it-all,

Was a boring-as-sawdust lecture at Belle Fleur
About the bone-breaking perils of slavery!

FYI, Miss Firebrand Liberal,
It wasn’t all that bad: I’ve heard

Plantation slaves often sang happily
While collecting cotton—

Look, I can’t possibly be racist because—
Get it!—I’m Sicilian-American: see,

My people never enslaved anybody!

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.


So you’re intent on devouring the sins
Of the plundering country

That murdered your pedestrian sons,
Your seldom-cop-safe children,

That tore the defiant music
From your paragon chest, the inmost

Prayer from your winter-cracked
Yet rancor-less lips—

Exorcist, it won’t be easy!
Sin-eater, would-be saint, beware!