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Reconstruction


ISSUE:  Summer 2014

But, my dear sirs, when peace does come, you may call on me for
anything. Then will I share with you the last cracker …

—General William Tecumseh Sherman, letter to the mayor of Atlanta

They put their guns in the only boxes
that they had, and those the well-
liquored strips of gin barrels 
wrapped in hemp, and buried them 
in the troughs of their once-fields
of burnt clay. The black went down 
six feet, so they said,
until one of the shovels struck
a hemp-root, the last root
in Georgia, and threw them in
while reciting from a Bible
something around the Canaanites,
and thought about the barrels rusting 
in their musty barrelwoods. Everyone
could play the fiddle, but those were gone 
with the woodwinds, so they sat 
one by one and talked about
the acrid earth in their mouths
like burnt bread as one hummed 
a Negro song, and the others, 
finding they could speak the words
began to sing, loudly, howling,
until one said, shit son 
you’d think we’re trying to call them back.

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