11:00 P.M., Tuesday, September 30, 1919: The Hoop Spur Lodge Of The Progressive Farmers And Household Union Meets At Hoop Spur Church, Just North Of Elaine, Arkansas; First Shots Of The Elaine Race Massacre Ring Out.
The sounds of children, infants, and chatter
Of chatter encase and shrink the interior. A
Union, a progressive something or other. No
White men to stiffen or direct; we’re on our
Own. A baby boy cries out for the known
At hand; air thick with the first and yet to be,
Threats from ancient times and the here and the
Later for which we thirst, risk all and nothing,
Nothing more than one, for we breathe as one.
A high-pitched missile, a bevy, an avalanche
Above us like voices, angry whistles gone mad
With boards, tawny to char-black, ripped and
Sliced apart. The lanterns evaporate into mass,
Bullets invade, bodies search for escape, moving
Across the floor and out the windows and doors
Into the moonlight, into the cotton rows behind
The Hoop Spur Church, into the jealous shroud
Of another world, blessed stormless, merciful.
Crackles of more gunfire: rifles or shotguns
Explode along the slough; and blood and death
Are mentioned near the car that stands unmoved
As a silhouette against a sanctuary of silence that
Now repeats itself again and again with escapes
Finished, all headed alone into secret retreat,
Unaware of rising hordes to greet the morning
Tides, to impale with forms given quick birth by
The long and dank stare of blood in their eyes.