stephanie roberts


George Junius Stinney, Jr.

In the third stanza he exits the poem,
black tears wishbone
ball lightning.
“On reflection,” he said, from the bottom
of his sepulchre, small dark brown fingers
stroking a hairless chin,
“I do not think
it was the hate what took my life.”
He straightens himself
on his slab of metamorphosed limestone.
It was the:
Cops kill white people all the time
I’m sure there’s another side to this story
If you just obey nothing will happen to you
My family came here legally
POC are the establishment now
I’m not racist but
“I reckon the stack and press of all that not-racist
eventually crowned that steel and wire diadem
upon my brow Bible at my bottom.”
Lordt raise cool sponge to the opening of ebony thirst;
extend a pink hand that smiles without teeth.
White crimes of obedience click as silent syntax to
the flat and sharp sentences of death.
Decades without name, no headstone
no footstone, no identity to his rest lest the Samaritans
lynch even his bones after Old Sparky’s revered kiss.
In his final stanza he rises red and exonerated
named in the hearts of the fawn born
not as static electricity but as bolt
that strikes open the door.

stephanie roberts is the prize-winning author of, the poetry collection, “rushes from the river disappointment” (McGill-Queen’s University Press). This poet asks the reader to consider all the very ordinary white citizens who had to justify, actively or tacitly, the wrongful conviction and state-sponsored murder of an innocent fourteen year-old boy.