Black History Month Special Issue Poetry Runner Up: A Poem After Charlottesville’s Rally

The vanishing trail led to a tangle of chicories —
to the scythes still swinging over the bloodied
beer cans, whiskey bottles, oak tree stump
where my Grandpa’s scarecrow tried to open his
eyes, even lift a ragged arm. Though strangers can’t
see him, the very old townsfolk know he’s there,
the exact spot. He’ll never speak. Do tell, my ma
confessed when I was a teenager. She’d become
distraught about my recurring nightmares. I told
her about that hideous scarecrow that hung in
the darkest field, not far from those pulpwood stacks,
those red taillights that kept pulling away before
I woke. That’s your Grandpa ma finally told me,
weeping. And no, there was never any daily blurbs
about the beating. Of course colored people knew,
but only whispered (over the years) about it to their
offspring, nieces or nephews. That is, if anyone of them,
somehow, saw the skeleton. Nowadays, that’s why my
ma says to avoid any “Confederate Circle” where the flags
fly and Robert E. Lee brazenly rides his horse like he’s 
alive, forever shouting orders to his troops. Ma really sobs
when she tells me I was choking inside her belly before I was
born. She’d seen that skeleton: tap-rooted from eye sockets
to dead crows, one arm raised in sermon: It (Still) Isn’t Time

Image Credit: “I Am Tired” by Anonymous, public domain via the National Archives at College Park.

About the author

Isaac Black, an MFA graduate of Vermont College, has work published or forthcoming in journals like the Beloit Poetry Journal, Boston Literary Magazine, Callaloo, Fjords Review, Poetry Quarterly, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Bop Dead City, Modern Poetry Quarterly Review, San Pedro River Review, and Spillway. He's also a recent Solstice finalist for the Stephen Dunn Prize in Poetry (2017 & 2018), and winner of the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize from Cutthroat Magazine (Cornelius Eady was the judge). A Pushcart (5) and Best of the Net nominee, Isaac's a recipient of poetry fellowships from the New York State Creative Artists Service Program (CAPS) and New York Foundation of the Arts. He is the author of the African American Student's College Guide (John Wiley & Sons), and founder of a major college help organization. Visit his website at

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