Villanelle for a Burning House

It is the observation of Dr. Martin Luther King day in the United States. And unlike our several years prior—this year it has gone largely unrecognized. The celebration and remembrance have been dampened and the mission threatened—because it has never been more obvious than now that the work is not done. As the inauguration looms before us, we must focus on the revolutionary words of a civil-rights pioneer—to honor his message we are required to become heroes ourselves. Peace —Susan M. Peiffer, Pikes Peak Poet Laureate

Villanelle for a Burning House

Black women kneel in churches with flames around their feet as
a caustic smoke sneaks to cover this confederate place—

Black children litter American streets where both bullets & protests
stoke the heat of badges, black hoodies, and race—

Black mothers watch from barred windows with flames at their feet—

Begging for breath and throat choking a black man weeps and
drops like a concrete corpse with a blood and blue stained face—

Black boys are littered on American streets and black girls wail as
their mother’s leap from killing heights to land in defeat as
death-crazed officers attack with tasers and
black fathers perch on ledges, flames burning their feet—

We carry quick-trigger rifles and people can’t sleep while
scorched-wing black angels fall to grace in gunshot embrace.

Our black children like litter on American streets.

They gaze at those imprisoned behind steel bars and at
the freight of unnamed bodies filling cemetery space—

Black people pray in this house with flames burning around their feet—

Our black people litter American streets.

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