after W. E. B. Du Bois 

Peering past the promise I 
                         half-roused the soil—
         the tinkle rattle       
                         of life swelled 

                                      until Atlanta and the Alleghenies 
                         awakened, aroused and listening
                                       to sea, city, weeds and bread, 
            bitterness, sweat. Live

haunted, see vision, feel conquered 
                          yet, Black—Dared. Us 
            People of the Turned Future,
                          of Purple Kingdom, of Gateway, of Web 

                          so crowned with cunning, and stretched, and 
                          christened Wild, startled 
again. Named not Temple, but Gospel.

Fear one-half question racing America, dire 
                           land, gold whim, stooping fault,
             find. I was no idle wilderness—
                           after the re-birth and between heavy 

                           wings all red 
                            half-forgotten, under 
                                        kindliness, carelessness, lead.

Copyright © 2023 by Aaron Coleman. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 6, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.