purple mountains

reconstruction came in lies
cloaked in solemn sly disguise
draped in flags and holy robes
judges badges practiced tones
honed to keep what happened hidden
whispered history rewritten

tell the lie a hundredfold
til it gets a stranglehold
on the story that gets told
bulletproof it quote from bibles
pray it down long barreled rifles

all agreed there was a war
afterward though not what for
some said union slavery
others northern tyranny
all the bled out bravery
never dried in dirt or death
left no resolution left

no choice left those left pretended
that the war in deed had ended
new laws soon were all amended
said to be beyond repeal

but the scars refused to heal
festered on in carpetbags
burning crosses rebel flags
none had won no one been freed
in the end some did secede
hopes of progress ripped and yanked
Colfax first then Cruikshank
the thirteenth fourteenth fifteenth sank

battlefields now in schools
water fountains public pools
drugstore counters voting booths
seats on buses jimcrow cars
trains that run through banks and bars

one repeated lie enough
to catch and cast a man in cuffs
rouse a crowd to rope and cinch
find a tree to see him lynched
drag him from a wagon hitch
dump his body in a ditch

there were some still dared to dream
but their prayers would turn to screams
one by one all shot and killed
new blood in an old war spilled

marching on for promised rights
spat upon beset with fights
firehosed attackdogbites
Selma Watts Seattle looters
lawless self-appointed shooters

George Floyd Breonna Taylor
Stephon Clark Frazier Baker
George Lee Ahmaud Arbery
neighborhood barbarity
Travis Martin Emmet Till
bodycounting piling still

real estated redlines drawn
maps to hide the goings on
gerrymander all afoot
boots on throats the pressure put
choking hope of all its breath
strangling it again to death

sins need lies to help them last
hold us hostage to the past
long’s they do we’ll never be
what we claim shines sea to sea