Prophet in Lace
—for Ida B. Wells

A Field for Practical Work

The sky is busy killing
earth with heat
The cooked child leaves
the womb and does not crack

The snake bites with envious sickles  
bleeding when the sun is at its zenith
then disappears into cool log or comfortable ditch

The dog senses venom and sucks it

Move ahead
Black Bitch
to the smoking car
withdraw your burning fangs
from my hand  

Black Bitch
tossed from wheezing train like mail sack
ambushed by sun
faints in a crumpling of skirts

The Remedy Rose quickly (one fans the cadaver in vain) and shook loose her humble black valise Wheeling stranger free hand venturing out to balance her swinging body Kerosene light blinking in the windows Moon waxing the floor Finds herself compressed in the bellowed space between coach and diner canvas walls which pull back like foreskin (Whose clever fingers holding the crossed sticks?) Starting out the hatted men worked easily together (Sincere thanks) Bumped from behind with heavy suitcase and stony knee until platform slides away Reluctant now to take the final few steps (What we leave we carry) Aware of the porter’s sudden surprise his outrage Cunt, hitch up your skirt And handed her an egg

Tabulated Statistics The star is suspended high in the heavens The apple is suspended high in the tree The apple drops away from tree like the rain drop Black Bitch fills her teapot with dew Black Bitch fills her stomach with apple Black Bitch cleans her hands in stream and stills the water Black Bitch boils her victim They come for you slow but determined Helping hands encircling you and tugging you skyward panoramic perch You see the future and it will be
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