The South that spring was as hot as the tropics.
At dusk, mosquitoes swarmed the lit porch lights
Attached to the little houses bordering the train tracks.

With the slightest breeze, boxcar dust clung to skin.
In heat like that, during times like those,
There was no telling what anyone would do for relief.

Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, fast white girls,
Rode the rails, drank gin and spread themselves
Out like parched landscape, did whatever they could

To skirt the law. They carried a little schooling
In their heads, but had learned enough in life to know
That certain words when put together combusted.

So, they opened their mouths and whoosh!
Just like that, set nine black boys on fire.


Filed under: Poetry