Morning, Wednesday, October 1, 1919: The Cotton Fields And Sharecropper Homes Off Of Highway 44, Near Hoop Spur Church, Become The First Major Killing Field Of The Massacre.


Traveling south on foot leading cars to follow –

Beyond daybreak, still morning, dew just dried

Against canebrakes – the posses seek motion,

Any motion, and turn off Highway 44 into

Enpocked roads where the sharecroppers stir

And then burst loose upon the shattering sounds

Of rifle fire descending on racing bodies toward

The slough, thickets, a coppice, and as far as

The woods, if only they can get there in time.


Black bodies are falling like corn stalks under

A machete, as they rise from lairs with arms

Stretched high to give themselves up – peace

Instead of terms and snares; still more are

Cut down with appeals echoing faintly below

Gun blasts stifling final pleas, final calls.

Confining children’s steps caught behind most,

Fathers live or die finding refuge for a family,

As mothers wait too long for sons to return home.


One cannot survey the sounds, but it is sound

That gives an answer today; for it signals

The place and the who and the hunting left

Among the cotton fields, which stand as a calm

And alternate universe to those now bleeding

Or dying or those, who call themselves white

And who continue to scream and pull triggers

In one constant rolling feat. This was the first

Day; no one took the trouble to count or subtract.