The hellhounds had found him.
A slab of night, he chugged,
wheezed, sputtered,
They lassoed him with a horsewhip,
belt-buckled the body,
bruises stippled like

Kerosene dripped from a greasy jug.
A match tossed into the brush—
a woodcoffin of strawkindling and bone.
Fire engulfed the body, not the screams.

I sit in my grandfather’s attic of asbestos,
          bibles, and fishhooks.
On the back of the postcard,
he’d scrawled:
          at the barbeque in Birmingham last night—
          nigger got it good.

In the postcard,                             faces,
strawbrimmed and cigarlipped, huddled
around a catalpa crematorium,
          mouths frozen in the shape
of justice, eyes piercing the blackest smoke,
          sanctuary          nowhere to be found.

I ask my younger brother what the word
          lynch means.
The football player, he says


Dan Haney

Brooke VertinCemetery Road (digital print)

Artist's Commentary:

"At The Barbeque In Birmingham…" is a stunning, chilling, sobering poem, as this scene from the past unfolds in the hands of a young person sitting in Grandfather's attic, looking through old postcards. After sitting with this poem for several weeks, I thought of this image, a photograph taken near my childhood home. With trees in silhouette, it is simple, yet the road is hazy under an eerie green sky; this eeriness speaks to Dan's poem.