for j. byrd i am a man's head hunched in the road. i was chosen to speak by the members of my body. the arm as it pulled away pointed toward me, the hand opened once and was gone. why and why and why should i call a white man brother? who is the human in this place, the thing that is dragged or the dragger? what does my daughter say? the sun is a blister overhead. if i were alive i could not bear it. the townsfolk sing we shall overcome while hope bleeds slowly from my mouth into the dirt that covers us all. i am done with this dust. i am done.
Lucille Clifton, "jasper texas 1998" from Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 1991 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., boaeditions.org.