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Till We Have Faces

(x = space)



Till We Have Faces


Black History Month begins

Black experience


Call it Black experience month

Black testimony

Black story





Empires in Africa

Black and white







And so begins a nation

You may say that others did it, too

So what

So fucking what


We have a month to cringe

A month to listen

Get it right

Fix something small

Fix something huge


Like a nation


C L Couch



Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

HDR shot of a sunset over downtown Memphis with the pyramid and bridge.

Memphis, TN, USA


This Autumn Morning

(x = space)



This Autumn Morning


Gray with

A patch

Of red

Inside black


Red leaves


Maybe until

A winter wind

Comes to

Take them

Through the

Air until the

Breath’s expired

Then gravity

Must have

Its way and

Like the roots

We can see

And-or touch

Must lie upon the


And inside

For a while


C L Couch



Joshua Tree National Park

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash


The Funeral of George Floyd

The Funeral of George Floyd


I knew a man

Named Jerry who

After a funeral said,

I look at it this way

He’s gone

And I’m still here

His wife tried to shoosh

Him, though I suppose

There was truth in

What he said,

If not the saying of it


He’s gone

And we’re still here

Prayers to heaven might

Release him into

Further bliss, so some

Doctrines say

We can do that here for him


But all the rest

Is us for us

To take part in a life after

The fact, the death

Of all we could have known

We’ll acknowledge

Even celebrate

Laugh a little

Wish we could laugh a lot

We’re no good at this


There is an expression

To choke the life out of it

A program

Or a promise or a pledge

To take it literally

Upon a person

Outside of stagey melodrama

A Darth-Vader move

Is never having been sublime

But move the

Ridiculous to an absurdity

Of evil


Might we be

Angry at a funeral?

I think we might

But be sad first

Make crying space

For tears and any keening

Let him go

And never let him go


C L Couch



Photo by William Rouse on Unsplash





(watching it on TV)

“sorry, kid”

Wilson College to a Black woman wanting to attend and qualified, until the interview

“dream deferred”

going into Woolworth’s

I liked Woolworth’s

singing while being arrested

Rich’s Department Store

“it wasn’t about the food anyhow”

Morris Brown College

“I can be smart, I can have curly hair, I can be whatever I want to be”

student at Spellman

it’s so exciting to hear young Black people, excited





I don’t want to do anything to

You know, intrude

But I’m so thrilled

Because I’m a stupid person, I guess

Untrained in the ways of prejudice

If there’s a better choice, it’s so easy to make

It goes something like

Of course, of course, of course


I never learned to hate someone whose

Skin color was not my own

I know my own, it’s dull

I find other skin colors so interesting

It’s marvelous—I can’t do that!

I suppose some will call me traitor

Probably do

I suppose I do not care

Except for sadness that the myriad

Cannot be loved

Have I been passed over so that

A Black woman could be preferred



I understand

I mean, I want work, too

And I know I didn’t start it

But really

What does it take for anyone to get a job

It should be the work

But I find too many places with those who

Do not care in the wrong way



Get them up, then

Those who need the rising

Rise over me

That’s all right

Don’t worry, anything I might feel by way of

Patronizing is compensated by the pain

Of loss

But it’s not only my own

It’s yours

And I’m sorry

For a change, let’s all take the chance

To bleed


C L Couch



Tell Them We Are Rising | History & Impact of Historically Black … – PBS Tell Them We Are Rising explores pivotal role historically black colleges & universities (HBCUs) have played over 150 years in American history and identity.

Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and … – IMDb A haven for Black intellectuals, artists and revolutionaries-and path of promise toward the American dream-Black colleges and universities have educated the …


A black man goes into the “colored” entrance of the Crescent Movie Theatre in Belzoni, Mississippi, 1939.

Marion Post Wolcott – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ppmsca.12888.

Public Domain


Chess Pieces

Chess Pieces


On the local television news,

A black man and a white man


Share half-jokes with each other,

And they chuckle

It’s good to see the black man and the white man

Having fun

How much of it is scripted? I don’t care

It was real enough

For local news

And my heart, today


The monarch of what I am

And what I want

Thinks and feels protected

And a little rested


C L Couch



Hans / 22248 images





It’s math, you know

Yellow on blue and green

Make joy

Black and white equals


All the colors are from God,

And they are gifts

That harmonize

The promise of a rainbow

The sign of Noah

A pledge not to

Destroy but leave things

To build


C L Couch



tree rainbow Africa


The Ashburn Old School

The Ashburn Old School “on the edge”

of Washington, D.C., Vandalized Last



Might I apologize for an entire color?

I can’t—I didn’t make it, nor do I feel

intense affiliation.  But whites (I figure

whites) have defaced an old school on

the cusp of finished restoration.  An

old school that had been inhabited by

black students and, I guess, an all-black

staff.  The problem in apologizing for

criminals is that I don’t know them.  I

don’t know that kind of ugliness in hate.

I don’t get the relish manifest through

stupid, destructive action.  I am sorry

though in a general, human way.  I

apologize for all of us who are blind

when we can only see one color.  I can

praise and thank you who are of color,

as all are, and who make strides by reaching

in and lifting up learning and the story,

however dismal certain chapters must

become.  Learning is triumphant and,

we know, shall overcome.

Black Life Matters

an opinion expressed potently
in a White House meeting about
murdered Blacks, the living
marginalized—here’s my response


Black Life Matters

Do I even need to say it
Yes, I do

My best friend was Black
He died too young—
Complications from surgery

What a teacher
And a humorist as well
At least, to me

I am not Black, part
Native American according
To a family historian,
Which is good, though
Looking at me, I doubt
That you could tell

I am not female; I am
The enemy: an older,
White male

I eschewed the ol’-boy
Invitation and have
Often paid the price

Not in my life (though
Maybe there, too)
But in my work
In which I’ve lost the
Favored political place

Maybe each one has
A circle drawn around
From fear and politics

Leaving that (or never
Entering) means that
Protection from the
Core is not available

And some measure of
Persecution too easily
Is acted on

“Loving Engagement”
From a better Black-drawn
Circle of union and
Society change—I don’t
Know if I’ll be let in,
Resembling and, appropriately
(Regrettably), perceived

I’d stay in the back
And write my verse
In which I argue that
All are free

And should be free

That to usurp the job of
God in assessing human
Worth is about as wrong
As this world can get

Black folk (Black discourse
Uses that word; and,
Being from Kentucky, I like
Folk and folks, though I’d
Change the old state-song
Lyrics, too)—Black folk are
Self-determining, of course

I cringe to have to make the
The claim, as all persons,
Being made, are free and
Free to choose



Second-Storey Moor

Second-Storey Moor

On a misty-morning
Winter January day,
I look out the window

All I see is fog and
Lack of definition
Except for one tree
Of bare branches

Reaching black into
My windowed sky

I didn’t expect the
Art and science of
This: skillful, narrow
Firm and slender
Branches reaching

With a clarity that
Startles a black vision
Against smoky
Pervasive mist

Grey behind each
Branch, rendering
All else vague

What is familiar
Now is mystery
And invitation

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