WHITE SUPREMACIST EXECUTED FOR DRAGGING DEATH
This headline caught my eye.
Its emphasis on the crime –
chaining James Byrd, Jr.,
to the back of a truck and driving
fast along a bumpy Texas road.
The body found beheaded, shredded.
Lawrence Russell Brewer,
unrepentant to the end.
Believing monsters are made and not born,
I wonder who in his young life
wore a white hood and rode,
who tortured him, what twisted mixture
of racist role model and revenge led to this.
On the anniversary of the Civil War,
I read about Whitman nursing Union soldiers,
and Chamberlain – before leading the bayonet
charge on Little Round Top –
saying, We are an army out to set men free.
One hundred and fifty years later,
states still sanction killing.
I am an abolitionist,
but in Brewer’s end
– for a white-on-black crime –
I find odd hope.
– published in Tribeca Poetry Review 2014