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Sample Poems by Lester Graves Lennon

Postcard Showing the Lynching of Allen Brooks
March 10, 1910, Dallas, Texas. Photographer unknown

This is not a postcard from hell. No, this
postcard has proper postage. This postcard
guaranteed by U.S. Mail, guaranteed
safe passage, safe arrival, content safe.
Scrawled message, "...token of a great day," scrawled
beside one cent Ben Franklin stamp behind

picture of teaming downtown Dallas, picture
taken one Thursday, lunch hour, picture taken:
old Negro hanging beneath Elk's Arch, old
dead Allen Brooks stripped naked, beaten dead
before he hung. Clothes snatched as trophies before
photographer captured his photograph.
They said he raped a three year old girl. They
said courtroom justice was too slow. They said
hanging was proper work. God's work was hanging.
Body dark, helpful arrow drawn to body.
Crowd deep in front of camera, two in crowd
look back. They have the father and son look.

Photograph of Lynching of Laura Nelson and Her Son, L.W. Nelson, 14
Okemah, Oklahoma, May 25, 1911. Photographer: G.H. Farnum

Justice, old school, bright as day on bridge justice;
smile everyone: dads, mothers, children smile.
Great day for Okemah posing on great
steel bridge, new bridge, near darkie town, hard steel
weight, strong steel, scores on top over dead weight.
Lazy day, lazy sun, river flows lazily.

Bodies, two, mother and son, 14; bodies
hanging, screams stopped. Whose stopped first with hanging?
Rope, half inch hemp; sun clearly shows son's rope.
Son's trousers nearly off cling to feet, son's
body twists right, head back facing mom's body,
dress, plain intact, despite jail rapes' undressings.

Copyright, 1911 copyright
claimed bottom left on print, bold letters claimed.
Lined on their bridge above their trophies lined,
citizens pose for history as citizens.
Laura Nelson's rope fades into print. Laura
glides over water, leading son she glides.

Circa 1908. Photographer unknown

Unknown, hung body, exact date unknown,
black body, once man hunted because black,
because something black had to die because
light pole was there somewhere where rail yard light
was needed for correct work where light was
useful for checking tightening noose for useless

coon last used uselessly as next dead coon
properly hoisted to see properly,
rope strung high over light pole's lone arm, rope
stretching neck, tautly, thrusting chin up, stretching
head skyward, body part of pole, wool head
blurry in camera's lens, railroad cars blurred,
waiting cart - horseless below body - waiting
like guideless ferry traveling to God, like
coat, trousers, white shirt wasting on corpse; coat
useless to impress, shined shoes, slow shoes, useless,
all caught all hung all seen all left by all
unknown who died unknown somewhere unknown.

Everything We Think We Have

Everything we think we have, everything
gets gone, gets gored, gets grabbed, gets given, gets
taken by force, by time, by greed, gets taken
away from touch, away from sight, away
from tongue, from memory's soft hearing, from
time, barely conscious, before fall to untimed

counting of loss, unknown/known, numbly counting
not gold, not homes, not cars, not bullets, not
things countable on lists like bones but things
felt - trust, rage, comfort, fear, regret, hope - felt
alone, the weight not shown just borne alone,
dark energy, reformed, returned to darkening
universe seeking light for universe
some call love, some survival, the same sum
same push to escape loss we can't stop, same
hunt to tame wild infinity, to hunt
how numbers, newly opened, show us how
eternity opens eternity.

On June 23, 2015, Sister Mabel Commented on President Barack Obama Using the N-Word

Out loud, mixed company, he said it right out
loud, "nigger." Bold as you please goin' loud,
public loud, Mister President gone public.
Lawd, there's some negrish mess in DC! Lawd,
what's next, white womens and Cadillacs? What's
happened? Can somebody tell me what's happening?

My daddy kilt a man called him that. My
daddy did hard time, came back harder. Then daddy
kilt a white man who niggered him. Got kilt.
Obama's niggered the White House, Obama's
showing some white folks he's not for them, showing
them their white power best kept by theyselfs,
like Madam say when upstairs from me, like
when the N-Word slip out so easy when
they don't know or don't care who hear when they
liquor do afternoon truth talk like liquor
do, like I'm sure Obama did not do.
Still, daddy died. I want to keep him still.