a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Maybe they feared the sounds
would crackle in the complacent
air, would charge the oxygen
in the classroom, singeing the edges
of history books. Or maybe her law-
lessness angered them, the anarchy
of her hands. Perhaps her inability
to read upset their measures of
strength and competence. Or
it might be that her feminine
determination, her constant
return, her risks, her breath,
always under her own control,
was more than they thought
we students should imagine.
I mean, how could it be that this
woman of seizures, this revolution-
ary in rags, could see so clearly
into the bones of America?
Joseph Ross is the author of four books of poetry: Raising King (2020), Ache (2017), Gospel of Dust (2013) and Meeting Bone Man (2012). His poems appear in many publications including The New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Poet Lore, Drumvoices Revue and the 2022 anthology, WHERE WE STAND: Poems of Black Resilience. He has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations and won the 2012 Pratt Library / Little Patuxent Review Poetry Prize for his poem “If Mamie Till Was the Mother of God.” Recently, Ross served as judge for the 2021 Ken Ebert Poetry Prize from Iris G. Press. He currently serves on the Poetry Board at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. where he teaches English and Creative Writing.