Shelby Stephenson is the author of Slavery and Freedom on Paul's Hill.
The page means drafts of poems must be done.
.............Then morning, late,
It’s lunchtime, dessert, a sugary bun.
.............Too soon for ale.
The time shouts always store. Newspapers, books.
He thinks, “I need a library for looks.”
.............O my O me.
The round clock tocks to nap in room alone.
.............The poet feels mute.
“The Edge of Night,” TV, sings void of bone.
.............His breath seems moot.
I did not know him at all, old soldier,
except through stories my father told me,
how he loved to ride his grandpa’s shoulders,
his hands on his head for praises bolder.
I want to get as close to actual
predicaments and be factual,
unplanned, for grieving, I mean, is better
than not: how am I to feel debtor
amid the talk of toppling monuments
when we consider the stone’s dominance
at the warrior’s feet, just a small marker
to say, as descendant, my life’s darker
if I remove the stone with its etched musket.
Shall the seventeen slaves in their caskets
ever keep the back of the family
cemetery luscious with its muffling
crumble and cry for ghostly shrouds in
the numerals? One of nineteen children,
he gave land holdings to neighbors poorer
than he; July, the Slave Girl, her future.
In Memoriam, Manly Stephenson, Private, Confederate States Army