Andre F. Peltier- Febuary 9, 2021

ANTEBELLUM ECHOES IN THE CANDELABRUM

“This is something that is a local matter

and that’s something that we feel

should be left up to the local

authorities at this

point in time.”

– Sarah Sanders

 

Aunt Marthy

sold biscuits in

Edenton;

she laid by,

little by little,

pennies, nickels, dimes

to buy freedom

for her displaced

children.

Commodity handed down,

generation to generation,

and wealth retained.

That money, laid by,

instead, credited the

candelabrum.

 

And at Twin Lakes

central Florida,

home of alligators,

Zora Neale,

and Mickey Mouse,

a coward stood his

ground.

And Trayvon lay

deadful dead.

Seventeen years,

Sybrina and Tracy

Drowning in tears.

The coward

carries the

candelabrum.

 

“Four hundred years

the white man has had

his foot-long knife

in the black man’s back…” 

 

 

The mentally

disturbed,

lone wolf, white male

shooter

needs sympathy

and forgiveness,

but none for

Tanisha.

Killed while cuffed

near the car.

Whose lives

matter?

And Cleveland cops

carry the

candelabrum.

 

Big Mike

shared his songs

on Soundcloud.

At eighteen years,

he was going to fix

air conditioners.

At eighteen years,

he was blown down

on the streets of

Ferguson.

And Mark Twain

rolled over.

And Jay Nixon

passed the

candelabrum.  

 

“…and now the white man

starts to wiggle

the knife out,

maybe six inches!…”

 

Lead in the waters

of Flint.

Lead in the waters

of Baltimore

where Korryn Gaines

met her end.

A puddle of blood

and a five-year-old son.

She licensed herself,

but Baltimore County

Police,

Sans body cams,

Licensed themselves.

No cam shots of the

candelabrum.

 

Rodney King lived

to watch Reginald

pulled from his truck

and stoned.

But Motown’s own

Malice Green,

with skull on the sidewalk,

was holding eights and aces

as the peace-men

played their clubs.

And Alton Sterling

and Dee Dee Dodds,

no charges filed,

never saw the

candelabrum.

 

“…The black man’s

supposed to be

grateful?…”

 

Then lonely Mya Hall.

“Out here,

you can be

attacked.

You can be

raped.”

Looking for that

connection

in the darkness,

Mya wandered while

TSA met

with loaded guns.

Jeh Johnson

secured the

candelabrum.

 

Armed but with a

telephone, twenty shots

in his own backyard,

in his own holy city of

sacraments.

Stephon Clark will be

forgotten too.

Another Ferguson.

Another Charlottesville

With bad folks

on both sides,

James Alex Fields

handed to unnamed

officers in Sacramento the

candelabrum.

 

“…Why, if the white man

jerked the knife out,

it’s still going to leave a

scar.”

 

So shout their fucking names

from the rooftops

and from the hillsides

and from the mountains

of the world.

And Malcolm

never touched the

candelabrum.

 

 

“This is something that is a local matter

and that’s something that we feel

should be left up to the local

authorities at this

point in time.”

– Sarah Sanders

 

Aunt Marthy

sold biscuits in

Edenton;

she laid by,

little by little,

pennies, nickels, dimes

to buy freedom

for her displaced

children.

Commodity handed down,

generation to generation,

and wealth retained.

That money, laid by,

instead, credited the

candelabrum.

 

And at Twin Lakes

central Florida,

home of alligators,

Zora Neale,

and Mickey Mouse,

a coward stood his

ground.

And Trayvon lay

deadful dead.

Seventeen years,

Sybrina and Tracy

Drowning in tears.

The coward

carries the

candelabrum.

 

“Four hundred years

the white man has had

his foot-long knife

in the black man’s back…” 

 

 

The mentally

disturbed,

lone wolf, white male

shooter

needs sympathy

and forgiveness,

but none for

Tanisha.

Killed while cuffed

near the car.

Whose lives

matter?

And Cleveland cops

carry the

candelabrum.

 

Big Mike

shared his songs

on Soundcloud.

At eighteen years,

he was going to fix

air conditioners.

At eighteen years,

he was blown down

on the streets of

Ferguson.

And Mark Twain

rolled over.

And Jay Nixon

passed the

candelabrum.  

 

“…and now the white man

starts to wiggle

the knife out,

maybe six inches!…”

 

Lead in the waters

of Flint.

Lead in the waters

of Baltimore

where Korryn Gaines

met her end.

A puddle of blood

and a five-year-old son.

She licensed herself,

but Baltimore County

Police,

Sans body cams,

Licensed themselves.

No cam shots of the

candelabrum.

 

Rodney King lived

to watch Reginald

pulled from his truck

and stoned.

But Motown’s own

Malice Green,

with skull on the sidewalk,

was holding eights and aces

as the peace-men

played their clubs.

And Alton Sterling

and Dee Dee Dodds,

no charges filed,

never saw the

candelabrum.

 

“…The black man’s

supposed to be

grateful?…”

 

Then lonely Mya Hall.

“Out here,

you can be

attacked.

You can be

raped.”

Looking for that

connection

in the darkness,

Mya wandered while

TSA met

with loaded guns.

Jeh Johnson

secured the

candelabrum.

 

Armed but with a

telephone, twenty shots

in his own backyard,

in his own holy city of

sacraments.

Stephon Clark will be

forgotten too.

Another Ferguson.

Another Charlottesville

With bad folks

on both sides,

James Alex Fields

handed to unnamed

officers in Sacramento the

candelabrum.

 

“…Why, if the white man

jerked the knife out,

it’s still going to leave a

scar.”

 

So shout their fucking names

from the rooftops

and from the hillsides

and from the mountains

of the world.

And Malcolm

never touched the

candelabrum.

Andre F. Peltier is a Lecturer III in the Department of English Language and Literature at Eastern Michigan University where he has taught Poetry, African American Literature, Afrofuturism, Science Fiction, and Freshman Composition since 1998. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI with his wife, kids, turtles, dog , and cat. In his free time, he obsesses about soccer and comic books. His poetry often deals with the intersection of nostalgia and society, the intersection of politics and humor, and the intersection of science and our daily lives.