A Theory of Forgiveness

                                        "Black people will forgive you quicker
                                        than you can say Orangeburg Massacre."

                                        – Nikky Finney

Orange [a president...

…and now a vice-president

who just got the taste of segregation

out of his mouth after fifty years

sweeps through South Carolina

with Clyburn at his right hand

and declares the black vote

quicker than spring jessamines

bloom] burg [$550 million

on TV and Internet ads from

the mayor who never got the taste of

stop-and-frisk out of his mouth

sweeps his millions into the hands

of the vice-president who is trying

to upset the president who got

impeached for exhorting funds

away from Ukraine to gain secrets

about the vice-president nipping at

his heels and aching to get back into

a white house he takes credit for yet

while he was in office, down in that

same South Carolina a white boy traveled

from Columbia to Charleston and

dreamed of lynching the vice-president’s

boss while opening fire in a church

Bible study yet the families of his victims

would forgive him quicker than you can say

Mother Emmanuel] Massacre


September 15, 2020

Len Lawson

Len Lawson is author of Chime (Get Fresh, 2019) and the chapbook Before the Night Wakes You (Finishing Line, 2017). He is co-editor of Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race (Muddy Ford, 2017). A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Len has received fellowships from Callaloo, Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and others. His poetry appears in Callaloo, African American Review, Ninth Letter, Verse Daily, Mississippi Review, and elsewhere. Len is also a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature and Criticism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, earning the 2020 IUP Outstanding Doctoral Student Award. You can find Len on Facebook (Len Lawson), Twitter (@lenvillelaws) and Instagram (@lenville_laws).

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