Diane Elayne Dees

The Truth About Kudzu

When you're passing through the South,
the sight of kudzu overwhelms;
Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina
all protected from erosion.

The sight of kudzu overwhelms,
wrapping around the trees and walls--
all protected from erosion--
devouring columns on the courthouse.

Wrapping around the trees and walls,
clinging stubbornly to the past,
devouring columns on the courthouse
until justice fades from view.

Clinging stubbornly to the past,
choking all the other growth
until justice fades from view;
it spreads at an alarming rate.

Choking all the other growth
in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina;
it spreads at an alarming rate
when you're passing through the South.

(originally published in HazMat Review)

Deconstructing the Picture

There's Matthew tied to a fence.
Notice the pallor of his waxy skin,
how it accentuates the deep crimson
splattered across the canvas.
The bruises and lacerations
look so real, the limp body
so close to death, but not quite there.
That's James Byrd on the road,
blood the color of jasper,
his head rolling on the shoulder.
Take note of the white space
surrounding Abner Louima;
there is no grieving crowd.
Brandon's eyes are soft and dry,
his shattered body frail and small,
like the bodies of Carole,
Denise, Cynthia and Addie May
in their just-pressed Sunday dresses--
you can see them there,
under the stained glass, where
the face of Jesus used to be.
Those other children, the very little ones,
hide beneath the empty chairs.
See how the chairs appear to float,
how well illusion is used
to portray evil intentions.
Touch the canvas if you want;
get close, observe the density of color,
the dissonance of context, the irony.
Better still--step back and look
at the big picture: It has almost everything
except a bearded man in sandals in a cave.

(originally published in Out of Line)

Diane Elayne Dees has published poetry, fiction and nonfiction in many journals. For five years, she published the progressive blog, The Dees Diversion, and she also blogged for a long time for the Mother Jones MoJo Blog. Diane currently publishes Women Who Serve, a blog about women's professional tennis.

(author retains copyright)