the museum of americana

a literary review

solidarity and “never meaning no harm” — Poetry by Matthew E. Henry

solidarity

another white girl has gone missing
and I can’t bring myself to give a damn
knowing her blackened corpse
will gentrify the obituaries
same as her blue, now glassy eyes
co-opted 24 news cycles.

knowing her bones share soil,
will be found mere yards from
the 29 trans women slaughtered,
the 51 Black girls gone missing,
the 107 Latinx and Native daughters
lost beneath the same moon.

knowing when the dirt is sifted,
her head will fall, nodding.
knowing she’ll lay in repose,
a skeletal finger raised to further
thinning lips—her final shushing,
once again, silencing their screams.

“never meaning no harm”

beyond realizing an ass-less daisy
was unworthy of the acclaim,
every Black man of a certain age
has a Dukes of Hazzard moment
when they questioned how good
those old boys could be weekly
jumping into General Lee’s lap,
sliding across a confederate flag.
a what the fuck moment seeing
the familiar pattern bolting from
a social studies textbook instead
of an orange charger, or learning
their rebel yell—that shotgun horn—
was a song about slaves preferring
bondage, getting homesick too far
from cotton fields and cracker whips.
unless this is a Yankee problem—
a recessive trait of the Great Migration,
rarely expressed by those who never left
The Field. who can still point to red
riverbeds and roots. who remember
the history of white men who operate
outside the law—destructive
as moonshine or sweating dynamite.

~~~

MEH (c)Matthew E. Henry (MEH) is the author of the poetry chapbooks Teaching While Black (Main Street Rag, 2020) and Dust & Ashes (Californios Press, 2020). His full-length collection, the Colored page, is forthcoming from Sundress Publications. The editor-in-chief of The Weight Journal, MEH’s recent poetry and prose is appearing or forthcoming in Autofocus, Bending Genres, Fare Forward, Lucky Jefferson, Massachusetts Review, New York Quarterly, Ploughshares, Poetry East, Shenandoah, and Zone 3. MEH’s an educator who received his MFA, yet continued to spend money he didn’t have completing an MA in theology and a PhD in education. You can find him at www.MEHPoeting.com writing about education, race, religion, and burning oppressive systems to the ground.

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