About 9:30 A.M., Thursday, October 2, 1919: Prominent Helena Black Dentist D.A.E. Johnston And His Three Brothers, Returning From A Hunting Trip, Are Immediately Arrested In Elaine And Are Shot And Killed Shortly Thereafter; One Of The Johnstons Reputedly Killed A White Man, Orley Lilly, In The Gunfight.
Stories happen even slowly for reasons
That have to do with words; but it was
Just a moment, and we were all slayed
And outside the car on the road with
Chains still holding us brothers as one.
Orley too shot through and through – by
One of us to start to settle the score? Who
Can ever know? We’re always behind in
The count, feeding tomorrow’s tale.
Bad surprises always open the bad
Places – I learned that about the time
I could pee standing up, and it’s been
That way; intent on us to show, they’d
Rehearsed a descent, the steps, the toll,
Warnings or sign, in sequence: no
Knock left out of order; we knew content
Was the least of it – we were only going
Through a final version of an allegory.
Hiding in our haste to survive while
Hiding as though we don’t even exist
For us to exist invisibly in shadows of
The whites’ circle roundabout us, and
We roundabout them, but always in
The shadows they cast with little or
No purpose, yet to watch us follow in
Step, always in step, inside or aside,
Behind – never in the rites of genesis.