About the (dys)functional poet:
Justin Evans lives with his wife and three sons in rural Nevada, where he teaches History, Honors Seminar and Creative Writing at the local high school. His poetry has appeared in Petroglyph, Tryst, RE:AL, and In Posse Review. He has poetry forthcoming at Limpwrist and The Onion River Review. His latest chapbook, Working in the Bird House, was released from Foothills Publishing in 2008.
After the Photograph of the Lynching
of Tom Shipp & Abe Smith
Walk past the shock of corpses, two black men
hanging tenuously from the broad reach
past Abe’s neck, straining from his body’s weight
When I think of night I never think sky
burning black or constellations.
I consider sleep, family, brief
moments I am awake at odd
intervals. I never look for the moon
at night. Sooner or later it always appears
and I am forgiven. Instead, I try
to find the moon when it is still day,
predict where it will meet the horizon, guess
how many days I have walked oblivious
to its pale form
in the pale blue sky.
There was always a river between us.
No, a gulf― an insurmountable pass
for which I have never felt like bridging.
No, that too is a lie.
For years I lay awake nights trying
to imagine myself across that distance,
draft or render a drawing
which could scaffold the years of work
the two of us has undertaken
on opposite shores, in opposite directions:
You running from me, me chasing you
the long way around, searching the earth
always making landfall after your departure.
That was our way. But what of your death?
Does it really matter whether it was literal
or figurative? We never met. There were times
we came close enough to shake hands
or see a smile, but nothing one might call
a true reunion, so let’s keep it simple.