November 11, 2013
Black Laws
by Roger Reeves

Fuss, fight, and cutting the huckley-buck--Dear Malindy, Underground, must I always return to the country of the dead,


To the coons catting about in the trees, the North Carolina pines Chattering about sweetening bodies in their green 



Do these letters predict my death--some sound of a twig Breaking then a constant drowning--a butter bean drying


Beneath my nails? Casket, rascal, and corn bread cooling 


Dear Malindy, when the muskrats fight in the swamp I knows 


It's you causing my skull to rattle. You predicted my death 

With my own baby teeth and a rancid moon beneath our legs. 


No girl, my arm still here. The antlers on the mantle yet quiet. All the ocean's water without me and yet in me. Never mind,


Malindy. They already shot the black boy on the road for dying Without their permission. Yes, gal, I put on my nice suit. And 





Copyright � 2013 by Roger Reeves. Used with permission of the author.


About This Poem  
"'Black Laws' is in conversation with so many things at once: Paul Laurence Dunbar and his dialect poems, the folk music group the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jonathan Ferrell, lynching, John Berryman, elegy, and, most of all, the easily eradicable nature of black folks' lives in America. 
Every day I wonder if I'm next--the next Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, or Jonathan Ferrell. I wonder who will sing for me when I'm gone."


--Roger Reeves
Most Recent Book by Reeves

(Copper Canyon Press, 2013) 






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Roger Reeves is the author of King Me (Copper Canyon Press, 2013). He is an assistant professor of poetry at the University of Illinois, Chicago.  


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