Resurrection: Come, Ed Roach, Walk Tall Tonight

The notice reads as if Ed Roach died yesterday—

the family asking everyone to celebrate the life of their 24-year-old son.

 

Oh, plow the red clay, yellowed leaf,

 

A black man in the county back in 1920, Ed was beaten, shot five times, and strangled

for attacking a white woman on the road to town. 

 

Dig beneath the loblolly and sweet gum,

 

Though he was with his family in the tobacco since sunrise,

a mob of 200 men thought otherwise and hung him from an old oak at the AME church.

 

Ed Roach, rise with your hanging rope,

 

In the red-dawn, his family cut him down and buried him unmarked in the brightleaf. 

They torched the oak, a black epitaph on the road to town.

 

Your time hidden in the fields is over.

 

The memorial service is like a shock from a live wire—

a current singeing everyone living in the county, exposing the simmering rot within.

 

****

 

An earlier version of this poem first appeared in the poetry magazine Better than Starbucks in its May 2019 issue (Vol IV, No. 3).

 

 

 

 



Categories: Poetry, Selection: 2019

9 replies

  1. Congrats, Jonathan. What a sad poem.

  2. Congratulations, Jonathan! This is wonderful news. Great going! Kay

  3. Congratulations!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  4. Great, Honathan! ________________________________

  5. This is so cool, Jonathan! The publishing. Your poem is raw … perfect for today’s climate … brings the issues into a bright spotlight.

    Sincerely,

    Amanda K. Ohira

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