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Sonic South

Right there in the front yard?

by James Jabar

In an interview with NPR, Brenda Graham recounts her experience after her brother was accused in the 1958 “Kissing Case” in Monroe, North Carolina.

            right there in the front yard where daddy
longlegs skipped across blades of grass,
            dripping in white mob sweat from the night before;

            right there in the front yard where
Christ’s wooden frame was lit in the devil’s glory
            by no god-fearing Christians; right there where lightning.

            bugs dodged burning embers & cicadas
harmonized with the bass of the flames; right there
            in the front yard my mother dug a grave for the dog

            where his bullet-torn body was mangled;
in the front yard I found them every morning; my mother
            & neighbors sweeping bullets that died hunting my brother,

            off our front porch; right there
I watched my brother disappear, I watched him
            never come back, his name erased by something blacker;

            right there is where it all happened
in that yard, where lips were laid to rest on chestnut
            colored-cheeks in an innocent game of kissing.

James Jabar is a Greensboro, North Carolina native, currently a lecturer in poetry at UNC Greensboro and adjunct instructor at Guilford Technical Community College. His poetry can be seen in Freshwater Review, Minnesota Review, and his most recent chapbook, Whatever Happened to Black Boys? (Texas Review Press, 2020).

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