poetry The Night the Lights Went Out in Moore County, N.C.
The Night the Lights Went Out in Moore County, North Carolina
By A.E. Hines
These must be dark times if you think
shooting up a substation and blacking out
the lights will shut-down a drag show.
Have you ever been to a drag show?
Yes, there will be singing. Even in the dark.
Unflappable queens black-belting Beyonce
and Madonna, hovering in the quivered
glow of bar top candles, silver beams
from a hundred mobile phones showering
them like bedazzled songbirds, lashes
glittering like wings and lifting them
from a thin nest of stars on the soft breeze
of applause and our waving dollar bills.
We’ve labored in the night long enough
to know how to fashion our own halos.
Make our own light. I doubt you’ve ever
dropped a copper penny to preserve
a vase of daises, or know a jigger of vodka
brings valentine roses back to their feet,
but know you’ll find no wilting flowers here,
just at the edge of the stage. With its green
stiffened spine, the boozy and voluptuous
tulip takes no bows. With outstretched petals
outlasting gravity and death, it refuses to bend.
About the Poem:
Two power substations were recently attacked in rural North Carolina, leaving thousands without power for days. Because of the timing and proximity to right-wing protests of a local drag performance, rumors quickly spread that hate was the motive for turning out the lights. But the show went on (even in the dark, even as it was picketed by fanatics), as the drag artists calmly led patrons in a sing-a-long. This act of defiance and perseverance provided the inspiration for this poem.
A.E. Hines’s debut collection, Any Dumb Animal, received Honorable Mention in the North Carolina Poetry Society’s 2022 Brockman-Campbell Book contest, and was a daVinci Eye finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book award. His poems have been widely published in anthologies and literary journals, including more recently: Rattle, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Southern Review, Rhino, Ninth Letter, The Missouri Review, Poet Lore, The Greensboro Review, and I-70 Review. He resides in Charlotte, North Carolina and Medellín, Colombia. www.aehines.net.