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!

For breakfast: genocide, buffalo hides,
Broadcast feathers and scattered

Wampum beads—
For lunch: bustling cotton gins,

An overseer’s rusted iron “bit,”
Egregious auction blocks,

Baleful phantoms of merciless slave ships still
Docking on these bartering shores . . .

At dinnertime, scarring billy-clubs,
Brass-knuckled rent-a-thugs,

And fearsome strike-breakers,
Atomic clouds, open-air assassinations,

Baptist church burnings, and syphilis “trials”
On unsuspecting Black recruits—

For (almost superfluous) dessert:
Abetting, love-it-or-leave-it senators,

Pillaged or shuttered abortion clinics,
Tiki Torches, and staining swastikas—

Yes, dauntless, sin-eliminating Hercules,
Be sure never to relinquish

The raise-the-roof tools
Of your inescapable arsenal:

A colossal, never-ending platter,
A fleet (albeit figurative) deveining knife,

And a formidable, Gulliver-sized fork—
Not to mention,

An arch, invisible bulldozer
And an immense matching bib,

A massive, hardworking syphon
For your hallowing, absolving mouth

And, of course, a seamless heart
Like Mother Mary’s,

For the benighted seasons
When our hate-laden republic implodes . . .

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One response to “Sin-Eater, Beware”

  1. Magda Bogin says:

    This is searing, soaring and all more impressive for being written in the heat of this terrible moment. Thank you for publishing. And congratulations to poet Cyrus Cassells.

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