Southern Cross, Thirty Feet High

for Bree Newsome

waving in our faces, preening where it ought not, 
puffed-up with pride and planted in so-called holy ground

as if we are not worthy to approach. Snatch those ol’ dixie stars, Bree,
claw a clawing thing from a rent sky! Obama 

said this bit of cloth belongs in a museum. You held history 
in your hands like a living thing, choking. Those confederates

shrilled—Rebel! Yelled—Vandal! Heritage 
not hate’d you like emancipation 

wasn’t a business decision, like slave states 
didn’t lose the war and throw blood into the sky

like a public hanging for a hundred-fifty years
the way a victor does. Rewrite the kingdom,

desecrate the flesh, swallow! These Galileans 
gouge a mouth and don’t expect the speech

to be shocking. The museum is torn away!  
I imagine what you saw, raised up like a crystal stair:

something new, the congregation awestruck, 
an easier God-sight without heritage 

to block the view, your own image 
coming on a cloud stretched to a flagging star.

Copyright © 2021 by Junious Ward. This poem appeared in Cutthroat, A Journal of the Arts 26, April, 2021. Used with permission of the author.