“Say His Name” by Kari Gunter-Seymour

          - Christopher C. Davis b:1857 - d:1881

When silence becomes too heavy 
for the heart to carry and ears 
know only the unimaginable as tempo,
let these words be a trumpet,
a chorus of circular breaths. 			

When the past becomes flesh
and the wind whistles shrill, echoed 
by a thin whine of branches
and mockingbirds loose their taunts,
loop and fray with ragged wings.

When history has no scruples, 
leaves us only the malice and musk, 
the frenzy of boots and torches 
and thick braided hemp, noosed, knotted, 
South Bridge, Athens County, Ohio,
a blue sheen of moon over the bones. 		

Oh, how the air cleaves its privilege. 

When at last our shame unfurls, 
a wretched flag, every frayed thread 
uncoiled, we pen our poems, 
every word a sepulcher, every syllable 
a stone rolled away.

Kari Gunter-Seymour’s poetry collections include “A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen,” winner of the 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year Award and “Serving,” runner up Yellow Chair Review Chapbook Contest. Her work was selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey to be included in the PBS American Portrait crowdsourced poem, “Remix: For My People.” Her poems appear in numerous journals and publications including Verse Daily, Rattle, The NY Times, and on her website: http://www.karigunterseymourpoet.com. Gunter-Seymour hosts a seasonal performance series “Spoken & Heard,” featuring poets, writers and musicians from across the country. She is the founder/executive director of the Women of Appalachia Project (WOAP) (www.womenofappalachia.com) and editor of the WOAP anthology series, Women Speak. She is the Poet Laureate of Ohio.