After the Azaleas
After the azaleas erupted
& Florida transformed
into a purplepink kaleidoscope,
magnolia & hibiscus, too,
“Strange Fruit” came on the radio.
Those were the days
of innuendo & fear—
mobs aligned in Polk County,
more in Ocala, & rumors of violence
on the edges of Orlando.
The South we grew up in,
doublesouled, had begun to fold
against itself, & we watched
from the picturewindow
the fragile grow solid
& the judges hunker
behind Crosses and the Flag.
We knew the world could never be
the ease we knew, the mysterious
adulation of whiteness,
the grand hypocrisy called Law.
& so in secret we rejoiced,
though lost, though stepping
quietly past monuments
& Rebnamed streets. The word
stayed on our tongues: Renewal:
but it was somehow more:
a being right for once: a being.
Nothing Abuts the Cemetery Now
They’ve razed the pavilion
where we used to sit
and talk about Milton,
then Welty and Woolf.
Sometimes you brought flowers
or raisins, a transistor radio,
and we listened to the songs
they’d listened to when they were young.
There used to be a creek,
and the crayfish seemed to float
so near the surface
we could almost touch them.
Remember how afraid you were—
you called them creatures
of a century not ours and quizzed me
on the differences between the light
and dark. I wish I could’ve loved you more.
Now they’ve filled that creek
with stones and bits of shell
that don’t belong; I don’t know why.
Nothing abuts the cemetery now.
You died quietly in the house
where you were born, without pain
and circumstance, and the earth without you
goes on troubled, but at least
it’s not mine anymore.
Carl Boon is the author of the full-length collection Places & Names: Poems (The Nasiona Press, 2019). His poems have appeared in many journals and magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Posit, and The Maine Review. He received his Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007, and currently lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at Dokuz Eylül University.