Anniversary (Saint Louis, 2015)

Asphalt prophet
brought his costume to play at
the revolution is not self-organized

white with the white beard down to his rope
at the waist, and the pavement
protestors calling calling
                                                  where did you come from
spelling doom for the silent babe you can’t stop it


black men spilling over the pavement black men imagining
horizontal black man black tar over black blood wouldn’t wash

church finish could see it coming entire mile
traffic at the edge of vision crawling
and that prophet still on the corner saying      doom
is coming to those who speak
boy tumbling
from the roof of the SUV

there was a saint first
the city was named

there was a saint for the name of the falling that fell
and the name for the television which sainted the boy
that was no naming except for the pounding which made him

there was a center to the circle of counting
there was a flat to the soles of the feet that stepped there was a walking

to the prophet stood on the corner
got that vision with tomorrow’s dinner

there was tar on the blood and flowers on the tar and ash on the flowers
there were candles on the ash and cameras in the balcony and the father
at the front and everyone crying      lead it

there was the long silent slow burning fire

there was a bullet the city still sees there was no way to fall
without hitting there was an undoing there was
only what would be left when they made it Lord why
should a prophet tell them
the end was coming

alone on the corner, screaming—
no one listening there was no need to say
what they already knew


– Gwyneth Henke, class of 2019