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poetry Fugitives

Mississippi poet Philip C. Kolin sees analogies between the recent wave of police shootings and the old Fugitive Slave Act.

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Black blood rushes from city
after city; running is now a crime,
guilty or not, the verdict is the same
and so is the punishment; backs
broken, heads smashed,
necks choked, chests exploded,
organs silenced; hope ended.
There is no escape, no plea, no trial.

Every black man is now afraid he wears an invisible
target only dashboard cameras can capture.
Hanging-noose ropes are strung around
the killing scene; black sons set in buckled asphalt.
The community fears that American history has
reversed itself, the Fugitive Slave Acts
reenacted.

Hattiesburg, MS

Philip C. Kolin is the University Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Letters at the Univ. of Southern Mississippi where he edits The Southern Quarterly. He has published more than 40 books on Tennessee Williams, Shakespeare, and Adrienne Kennedy plus seven poetry collections. His most recent one is Emmett Till in Different States: Poems to be released this fall from Third World Press.