Before Midnight, Wednesday, October 1, 1919: Sharecropper Frank Moore, His Mother, Wife, And Children Hide In Rivercane A Short Distance East Of The Killing Fields.


Daybreak will come with another round

Of vengeance, another onslaught, only worse,

With more rifles, more posses, fat meanness

And sins. The cane, thick as it is, cannot

Keep us; children will rustle, and white

Demons will tag us, for we have no place

Nor sanctum but for hell or heaven. My wife

Mary sobs every few minutes and tells us

We’re bound for Jesus and for glory-time.


Dying can’t be too far away for any sort,

Here and silent, or even by longer walks.

Be with us, Lord; give us space and closer

Homes. I don’t worry about gray nights –

The crickets, a safe breeze, and soft moon

Flushes comfort this panic, square and sharp

Angled, heating up while we wait for more

Morning to pile up its open traps or careless

Ways, which shall gather us and drive us on.


Let me sleep until it is then time to pass.

Let me sleep until I whisper long the last

Loving word to the last child that will go

Missing in Govan’s Slough, folded over

By mud and the haphazard rummage of

A year’s harvest. Let them murmur back

Of glee and splendor, a celebration of one

Breathful memory – nothing false, vile;                          

Let them be a child at the merciless end.