Volume Four, Issue 2

Retta Lewis

Alive In Unsafe Places

Against the legend of her suffering,
They measure their rage.

And though some have tried
To move her from her place,
And claim her victory
For themselves—and failed—
They are not left without options.

All poised and full of spite—
Unmoved as ever—
They renew the fight.

She had aligned herself with ghosts,
And given solace to the dead.
And for every attempted coup,
That they would make against her house,
She would cast a thousand shadows in her wake,
And thread a precious crossing through it.

Much has been lost and forgotten,
Or only quietly spoken of;
And even less of it written about,
If not completely shuttered away.

Her journey was no ones paradise,
But she was not without her angels.
Though her wounds were often fatal,
None would take her life.

Some say it’s harder to read her now,
In any form she takes;
But four centuries of grit have gone into her,
And even bombs won’t knock that down.

But the narrative that makes us sing
About the origins of her birth,
And the many forms it takes,
Is not without its tears.

The journey was fraught,
And the centuries full of anger.
Empires were built upon the bones,
And much of her approach to their recovery was decided for her.

But beneath the soil
Of those hallowed grounds,
And the heavy arrangements,
She was restoring the trails.

Overriding the best security,
And breaching the locks.
Alive in unsafe places,
And the fate of a busy century to mold.

Father’s Dreams

Trapped inside their father’s dreams
They surrendered to his lies;
They reveled in his talk,
And never guessed the truth.

Supremacy was undoubted,
And privilege was in the blood.
They worshipped class,
Bowed to race,
And, yet, believed in nothing.

They could do with love
What others use weapons for,
And would achieve with hate
What no weapons had achieved before;

But they could not imagine
What I considered,
Seeing them as they were,
Recognizing what they had always been.

It was not a time for lying,
Or surrendering to the truth.
The smoke was becoming a fire
Inside a giants hands,
And not a source of light.

The myth was that their father’s dreams,
Like dreams they surround in wire—
Unbowed by great and lesser men—
Could not be bowed by fire.

In An Era Of Understood Things

He always had his enemies.
It was no secret even then.
We all knew what his chances were—
And there were few enough of those;
But his story – and how it unfolded—
We were not prepared for that.

A thousand times the scene is played,
And a thousand times he dies;
But first, the story must be allowed
To play itself out.

The resistance of one man
Must be reduced to but a flicker of light;
His guilt made plain
In a splash of red across the feet.

And after a night of this—
Of sheets and burning crosses—
He will find his way back to us.
In some strange and tragic form,
He will make his way back home—
A wall of darkness raining down
Across the shadows that were his face.

Maybe this will be his legacy.
A quiet threading through time.
A tragic coming of age
In an era of understood things,
And invisible alliances—
All speaking as one.

How do we calculate the centuries?
How do we reconcile the hours,
A handful of dreams,
And the boldness of the man dreaming them?

Retta Lewis: "Recently, I was published in CC&D Magazine (Children, Churches, and Daddies), Caveat Lector, and Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. Years ago, my work appeared in the following publications: Onionhead, Wide Open Magazine, Free Focus, and Up Against the Wall, Mother.

"I work in a field devoted to the prevention of Domestic Violence."

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