FAST Sonnets in Cyberspace #12

A Sonnet in Honor of George Floyd
+ All Victims of Racial Injustice Across American History
+ Police of All Races Who Aim to Protect Citizens of All Races


Does right-just rage burn and cleanse in the hearts
Of my black U.S. friends? Forebears beckoned
Here, captive cargo … see how hope departs
From Africa on spectral ships — reckoned
Three-fifths only by court’s supreme cruelty —
Torn live from safe home-haven like violets
From cradle-soil — no Lady Liberty
Greetings, just auction blocks of bondage — debts
Of freedom lost that cannot be repaid.
After emancipation, facing still
Heightened walls of hatred, racism’s sad
And bitter synergy … a history vile.
Who can save from state-prone race-choked lynch-lair?
True dark Slave-Son, oh prove untrue slavery’s dare.

© Bruce William Deckert 2020 — posted: 4 July 2020



Brief Backstory — The horrific killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day makes the sentiments of these lines especially timely on this Fourth of July … and perhaps as relevant as ever. While I wrote most of this sonnet more than 25 years ago, I’ve shared it with virtually no one — but it appears the time has come to share it more widely. Given the timing, as noted above, this poem is posted in honor of George Floyd, plus all victims of racial injustice throughout American history, plus police of all races who aim to serve citizens of all races — and for all people who grieve such needless violence.

Vote For Couplet You Like Best — The above version of this sonnet reflects a few revisions from the one I originally wrote a quarter-century ago — including the closing couplet (the last two lines). Here’s an alternate closing couplet:

Who can save us from this nation’s lynch-lair?
One dark Slave-Son who stared down slavery’s dare.

You can vote for the closing couplet you like best:

Back To School — This is an English (Shakespearean) sonnet — a poem with three four-line stanzas and a closing couplet, and the following rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg. The English sonnet contains 10 syllables per line, often employing iambic pentameter — five pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables. An iamb is one such pair.

All Runners Welcome — This blog focuses on sports-and-faith issues, so each sonnet posted here has at least one sports connection — in this case, it’s the potential multiple meaning of the term “race” in the last line.

Sonnet Plug — To me, the sonnet is the best poem for rushed and distracted residents of the 21st century — no lengthy free verse here … instead, 14 concise and cogent lines. Thanks for stopping by — I hope your time here has been worthwhile.

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