Poetry by Bill Boslego

December 29th, 2010


by Bill Boslego

Mississippi plantation owner,

Photo by Walker Evans


Poetry by Bill Boslego



“They had so many slaves to take care of”
the matronly guide reverently explained
imploring our understanding of hardship and pain
Faced by gentlemen owners in those early days

We paid admission to be moved from our time
Taken by a costumed role-player to another
Where she hoped graciousness alone would
charm and disarm our modern minds

She played to a crowd of a certain age
A blank and wistful audience
eager to be comforted and reassured
this had been an era of honorable men



The stem pipe was cracked
he told me gently
as if I were an anxious relative
in a hospital waiting room

The craftsman nursed my boy’s trumpet
deciding it needed more oil, too
And while he was at it, fashioned a screw
replacing one long missing

He “took the liberty of …” (whatever he did)
because, for the time, it was under his care
And all I could do was hand him a check
recognizing this was less a business deal
than needed physical therapy
for an injured family member




The former mayor agreed to the interview
Admitted, as if confessing
that he was just on the wrong side of history back then
Had a point of view which fell out of favor
Toppled by the invisible hand of history, you might say
How was he to know?
We had little choice and played our hand
Waiting for History to reveal its decision
Courage, insight, wisdom, strength had no role
Because how were we to know?


I asked my friend about his Mississippi
And his easy talk grew cautious
I mentioned Money, Philadelphia, Macomb
and this tour of hatred we needed to take
As he promoted the charm of Natchez
Well worth visiting, he reassured me
I’d like it there
We talked past each other right then
Knowing the conversation would die

He recalled his childhood back then
Allowing that some folks still had
Strong Feelings
Saying no more than that, I knew
I had crossed a line, even with a friend
Until I walk these streets myself
I can’t know but pretend to understand


My recurring nightmare oddly doesn’t pertain to me
It’s from a movie with a corpse inside a tarp
finally unearthed to implicate the guilty
As if concrete and rocks could permanently hide it
Instead, the dream plays out in real time
As one by one, the old murders are solved
As reworked justice now tries to know

And the parade of handcuffed old men
tethered to oxygen tanks
face, barely comprehending, an eternity of disgrace
Barely in time
before the survivors reunite with history

About Bill Boslego

Bill Boslego is retired and living in the Washington, D.C. area. A new writer, his work has appeared in Static Movement and will appear in the The Old Red Kimono in 2011.


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