UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY
GEOFF KAGAN TRENCHARD
Song for Trent Lott, Part 3
after Roger Bonair Agard
When Strom Thurmond ran for president,
we voted for him. We’re proud of it.
And if the rest of the country had followed our lead,
we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years.
What part of Segregation do you not understand?
Do you think they just hang themselves?
Were politely asked
to piss in a different bathroom
and that was all it took?
How do you think destiny manifests?
There is no difference
between a wall and a fist.
If you draw a line in red dirt,
there must be someone who is always ready
to cut off whatever crosses it.
On every protest march and project house.
Every reservation and border town.
Who do you think drains all these swamps for you?
What part of themselves they sold
at the auction block to stay
on the loose side of the rope?
While you dream the impossible dream
of whiteness, they’re the ones
who change your sheets
and they will never find a sleep
as sound as yours.
The Klansman who burns the cross
will forever see soot under his nails.
The skinhead’s scalp will always rattle
even after the hair grows back.
The mill's stone knows its weight,
even if the one who turns the wheel doesn't.
To train a bloodhound to kill, you must beat it
every day with the buckle end of your belt.
What hot coal they hold under their tongues
ready for any uppity moment?
What heart’s music is a chain gang clink?
What bullet they keep in what chamber?
Do you know what they do in the dark? Understand
when the loop of rope is around a man's neck,
the mule kick can shatter a jaw.
How the foot begins to bend
into the Calvary boot
after the heal has been driven
into the head of a Lakota infant?
What Columbine carbine
do you think you can wield
like a bouquet
in your peach skin hand?
What Abu Ghraib
pyramid of flesh
has been erected
in your honor?
What son of McVeigh
is in the basement
of your federal building
with a bomb and a flag?
The monsters you made
to fight the race war you lost
are beginning to eat your children.
Can you imagine
if you won?
Hymen Roth’s Advice for Bernie Madoff On The Day of His Sentencing.
There is an alley in Manhattan
where I once threatened
to burn a woman’s lips off.
We got her alone and held a sewer rat
by the neck. Rubbed its face
in cleaning powder from the tire factory.
When the fur started to sizzle
I knew she wouldn’t
press the charges.
I was not happy to do this thing,
but you can’t have loose talk
where business is concerned.
Until very recently
the spot was an office
for a bankrupt savings and loan.
Think on this when the prosecutor
looks at you like it’s only Jews
who bleed green.
Don’t let them
sons of bitches act
like crime don’t pay.
The only difference
between a button man
and a badge man
for back up.
The courtroom where you sit
was built by Micks and Wops for pennies.
Sits on the graves of Shvartzas and Squaws.
When you get to prison,
if you bribe the right guards
they take care of you.
has at least some
blood on it.
In a large pile
it will stink
like a corpse.
Geoff Kagan Trenchard’s poems have been published in numerous journals including Word Riot, The Nervous Breakdown, The Worcester Review, SOFTBLOW and November 3rd. He has received endowments from the National Performance Network, Dance Theater Workshop, The Zellerbach Family Foundation and the City of Oakland to produce original theatrical work. As a mentor for Urban Word NYC, he taught weekly poetry workshops in the foster care center at Bellevue as well as in Rikers Island with Columbia University’s “Youth Voices on Lockdown” program. He is a recipient of a fellowship from the Riggio Writing and Democracy program at the New School and the first ever louderARTS Writing Fellowship. He has performed poetry on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, at universities throughout the United States, and in theaters internationally as a member of the performance poetry troupe “The Suicide Kings”. He lives in Brooklyn.
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