cotton gin.(for Emmitt Till)

one name

two words

and almost sixty years later

it still doesn’t add up

your face before and after

should remind us always

of the twisted logic of bigots

found in the sneer of supposed supremacy

rope and bullets

and the embrace of cold Southern soil

some days

i remember seeing your face in that coffin

watching ‘Eyes On The Prize’ when i was nine

being told, ‘don’t look away son’

knowing you didn’t have that chance

in a darkened barn in Tallahatchie County

with demons enslaved by antebellum logic

and mason jars of moonshine

not knowing your name

Emmitt Till

would live in their flesh

one name

and two words

and the weight of a cotton gin

and we wonder why the nation hates math

authors asked

what was Mississippi afraid of then

ask that question again

when election time for our president comes

ask that question

when Black men are still dragged behind trucks for fun

you haven’t haunted them nearly enough

because there are those who still believe

racism and hatred will always add up

the devil’s arithmetic

still burns like straight gin

the image of you mangled in a coffin

like your name

doesn’t relieve the burn at all

but the fire this time and the next

will cleanse everything