Strange Fruit

 

Marcus Wicker

Marcus Wicker, American poet and author of two books of poetry:  Maybe The Saddest Thing, 2012, and Silencer, 2017.

 

 

 

 

Conjecture on the Stained Glass Image of White Christ at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 2016* 

 

 

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Martin Luther King, Montgomery/Are You Tired?, graphite on paper, 1956.  An illustration made by Burton Silverman in Montgomery, Alabama during the Bus Boycott of 1956.

 

 

For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit.  The Apostle Paul to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12:13).

 

If in his image made am I, then make me a miracle.

 

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Double America, 2012, neon and paint.  Glen Ligon,  American born 1960.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

 

Make my shrine a copper faucet leaking everlasting Evian to the masses.

Make this empty water glass a goblet of long-legged French wine.

 

 

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Make mine a Prince-purple body bag designed by Crown Royal

for tax collectors to spill over & tithe into just before I rise.

 

 

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If in his image made am I, then make my vessel a pearl Coupe de Ville.

Make mine the body of a 28-year-old black woman

 

 

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African/American, 1998, linoleum cut on Rives BFK paper, printer’s proof #1 of 2.  Kara Walker, American born 1969. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia.

 

in a blue patterned maxi dress cruising through Hell on Earth, TX  again alive.**

 

 

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If in his image made are we, then why

the endless string of effigies?

Why so many mortal blasphemes?

 

 

 

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Black Girl’s Window, 1963, wooden window frame with painted pasted papers, lenticular print, framed photograph and plastic figurine.  Betye Saar, born 1926, American.  MOMA, New York

 

Why crucify me in HD across a scrolling news ticker, tied

to a clothesline of broken necks long as Time?

 

 

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Is this thing on?  Jesus on the ground.  Jesus in the margins.

Of hurricane & sea.  Jesus of busted levees in chocolate cities.

Jesus of the Middle East (Africa) & crows flying backwards.

 

 

 

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Of blood, on the leaves***, inside diamond mines, in under-

developed mineral-rich countries. If in your image made are we,

the proliferation of your tie-dyed hippie doppelganger

 

 

 

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makes you easier to daily see.  & in this image didn’t we make

 

 

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Heirlooms and Accessories, 2002, inkjet prints in artist’s frames. Photographs were widely circulated of lynchings.  Kerry James Marshall concentrates on the photographs of three women  of three generations who who watched.  Kerry James Marshall, American born 1955.  Exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2016.

 

the godhead, slightly stony, high enough to surf a cloud?

 

 

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& didn’t we leave you there, where, surely, paradise or

justice must be meted out? Couldn’t we see where water takes

the form of whatever most holds it upright?

 

 

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                                                                          If then this

is what it’s come down to.  My faith, in rifle shells.

In Glock 22 magazine sleeves. Isn’t it also then how, why,

in a bucket shot full of holes, I’ve been made to believe?

 

 

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Woke, wood, acrylic.  Charles Hall, born 1963, American.  In the artist’s collection loaned to Woodmere Museum, Philadelphia in 2016.

 

 

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Strange Fruit, 1995, tin alloy, wood, dirt, found objects, rope.  Alison Saar, American born 1956.  Baltimore Museum of Art

 

 

 

*  The church in Atlanta, GA where Martin Luther King was baptized and where he and his father before him were pastors.

 

**Sandra Bland died on July 13, 2015 in a police cell in Hempstead, Texas.  She had been placed there after being stopped for a minor traffic infringement.  She was wearing a long blue dress.  Her death was ruled a suicide by hanging.  The policeman was indicted for perjury and then fired after having first been found innocent of any violation.

 

***From the poem and song, Strange Fruit, written by Abel Meeropol in 1937.

 

 

 

 

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