This Poem honors the victims of lynchings in the U.S, from the Reconstruction right up to,
more recently, Mathew Shepard. More broadly it honors the victims of injustice everywhere
by Edward S. Gault
One night, years ago, I had dream.
I was walking along a narrow path.
It had been abandoned, stones were strewn about,
And thorny branches arched across the way.
As darkness descended upon me
It hovered like a pall
-so black I could barely see my hand
Or discern the outlines of trees.
I frequently tripped or fell.
And it was humid, heat bore down.
Any other night would have offered
The comfort of a breeze.
I could feel the tension,
The steady rise of apprehension.
Lost, I walked for hours
In this Wilderness of Zin.
Finally, I saw a spark in the distance,
It flickered like a lantern.
In no hurry, I settled down to rest
-aching body and sweat pouring.
No beacon of hope, still it flickered on
At least a constant.
I reflected upon a myth a colleague had discussed
In which the Fallen Angels, denied bodies in Paradise,
Scoured the surface of the temporal realm
In search of carcasses to patch together.
I resumed my walk toward the flicker
-until it became a campfire.
It was then that I heard the scream
Cutting through that pall of night.
A man was sobbing, wrenching
Then a gunshot pounded through the air.
Then there was a long silence.
I couldn't move, my feet were welded to the ground
-and piss ran down my calf.
The fire crackled on
-and the reverie broke.
I inched toward the clearing,
-now the heat and the stench were one.
I could see a man lying by the fire;
eyes gouged, teeth kicked in, head blown half away.
Three robed figures looked down
Upon their Magnum Opus.
The unholy had come to collect.
I felt my face drop
As two of them removed their hoods,
To reveal the rotted heads of canine corpses
All stitched together.
Their eyes, as black marbles,
glazed over with a dull opaque film.
Sensing that I had overstayed my welcome
In this den of hell, I tried to position back-
Leaves rustled, twigs cracked.
One of those things turned its good eye to me,
And raised its musket.
I darted through the forest,
out through the field,
And onto a dirt road.
It was by now, pitch black.
I could only hear the approaching hoofbeats.
I looked back to see the figures, on horseback, bearing torches.
I ran down the road
And saw out of the corner of my eye
A burning cross.
Copyright 1993, 2008