We sought to liberate the slave
from the cruelness
of sun, field and lash

but did not consider
the eternal enmity
of former owners in defeat.

We could have swept
the Old Dominion state
clean into the ocean.

Cleared it
of plantation owners
and the white working class.

The radical Republicans
desired something
akin to that response.

Mr. Lincoln desired
a new testament ending
rather than an old one.

So we honored
the terms Grant delivered
and filled no more coffins.

But it was we
who suffered future retribution
for simply breathing free air.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

One Looked Like Tom Selleck

Once I drove through Virginia
from confederate monument
to confederate monument.

I weathered the humid summer air
and tested the patience
of locals tired of tourists.

I stared at generals’ names
lists of honored dead
and organizations that built the monument.

I found the monuments
on battlefields, in cemeteries
and town squares in front of court houses.

In all my time driving Virginia
I did not find a single monument
built by freedmen praising their former masters

or U. S. Colored Troops
honoring the chivalrous actions
of their battlefield foes.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney