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Did you cry out?
When they started skinning you,
at what point did you not feel
the knife anymore, the knife
sliding down your black back?
At which vertebrae was it?
Or was it at the bony elbow
of your left arm
or your leg - right leg?
What was it you did? Crack
your overseer's skull with a crowbar?
look at his wife? walk home
after work, after dark?
When did you become a model
for that figure in Michaelangelo's
Last Judgment? That human skin
held from the head by a finger, no
different from a trophy tiger rug or
the trashed fur from an edible hare.
Did you cry out? Could you?
Did you see those cracker faces laughing
at your agony, goading the skinners on?
Did you see their kids whoop it up
when they strung up your bones?
Of course, you never knew of your success,
you never heard the grandfatherly stories
passed down to the next generation, or saw
your photograph in the family album, hanging
from a tree with little Billie-Bob giggling
by your feet.
Better than a carnival and didn't cost a cent.
First published in Thunder Sandwich #25 – 2005
An Online Journal of Poetry, Prose and Art
Published & Edited by Jim Chandler
When the Pain Stopped
Excerpt - Part II
Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
IN MEMORY OF
Mankiewicz was born
and raised in Brooklyn,
New York, and currently
lives with her husband
in Los Angeles,
Angela's poetry has
appeared in over 100
literary journals and
As If, An Eye, Wired,
and Cancer Poems.
Opera, One Day Less,
music by D. Javelosa,
was performed in May
Amelia 1st Prize
Broadside; Trellis Grand
Jerseyworks 2nd prize
Competition; and two
I felt driven to write “When the Pain Stopped” after reading
a news story about a twelve year old Islamic girl in the Middle East
who was stoned to death for exposing her feet in a public place. And
as I was writing it, I kept seeing the image of a young black man in
the American south hanging from a tree for looking at a white
woman. That became section II of this poem. The bases may differ
but they are linked by injustice and the depth of cruelty involved.
(There is also a section III about another kind of injustice and
cruelty, that of the murder of a six year old girl, a baby “Beauty
Queen,” tortured and killed for no apparent reason at all.) Although
the three incidents are all horrific, the lynching of the young black
man has the added elements of racist hatred and rage and their
momentary satisfactions which despite some progress, remain
today. I poke fun at the “rubes” but fact is the Southern Poverty
Leadership Council (SPLCenter.org), since 1971, is still doing a
helluva business reporting on and fighting hate groups and their
~ ANGELA CONSOLO MANKIEWICZ
|WE SHALL OVERCOME
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR
31 MARCH 1968