Carter Vance

Reprise in Blue

The victims of history speak not
to their plight, they speak not
through arrows and gunshots,
through shirt factory fires,
through schoolhouse stands and
rural church steeple bombings.

They do not speak, for they are
gone: no labour law reform, no signed bill
of housing redress, no so-called progress
shall make them whole.

No signal can cut through the
white noise cloth down draping
post-to-post in passage rites,
warnings unheeded by the number-crunching clan,
except in their moments of unearned regret.

Except in their mirrored lenses making
new liberal order of darker voids,
starring deep not long into the cold maw
depths of the thing, but to some

construction of tabulated script, some
monument made in ignorance of due
cost on plains of gold where greater
men than they shall ever hope to be
starved for lack of compass to guide
to berry bush and water spring.

They stare not into grim meaning of
coin collections, nor into spindled red
lines on FHA maps, nor into the
thin ice-water stew they ladle-heap
upon the cups and plates of sickly figures.

They stare not; they cannot face the victims,
the bombings, the fires, the bullets, the arrows,
they cannot face the calm wake of them
all the more.

They cannot stare too deep to history’s gaze,
it is too disorderly.

Still, voices emerge from riot smoke,
casting arms and rising as a last
held note of Coltrane, of Shorter, held
in blue midnight shade of strung
Christmas tinsel.

They go unheeded as ever, but
cease not.

It makes nothing the better,
but has some conscience

at least.

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