Black Sunday Played the National Anathema
The narrow, rutted lane from Eight Mile Mill
to Brannock's store was filled with sweaty teams
and Tennessee five gaited riding stock
between the knees of gold and gray. The still
of Sunday morn gave way to muffled streams
of teamsters' salty dialogue with rock
and rut, the failing harness strap, their fill
of Stonewall Jackson's predawn caisson schemes,
and bellies stretched beyond the mealtime clock.
Across the hills unwary church bells pealed
a call to early mass, the bantam crowed,
a Holstein lowed and then all hell broke loose.
That deadly enfilade, void time to yield,
the line caught unaware, tight one lane road
flanked left and right, stopped fore and aft, no ruse,
for horse or man, they'd found their potter's field.
From first shot till the final episode,
an hour, and not one life could death refuse.
A silence shocked the world. The blue withdrew
and left them where they fell, the blood run red
of man and steed, of driver and the driven.
The bottle fly, the green and black review
their table set, entangled limbs, eyes dead
set wide, without the chance a soul be shriven.
O grieve the slaughtered dead the Southland grew,
those bonnie men for cause laid down, their bed
the ground, poor payment for the lives they've given.
The carnage tenderly removed, enshrined,
could they observe hiatus from the grave,
its time exact as that which was their last,
would shout, "We died in vain!", one voice combined
with all those dead from wars, if free or slave,
its echo reaching through the distant past.
"In vain, all vain!" Great causes undermined
the precious gift of life, exchanged the brave
for noble war's abhorrent holocaust.
--Fr. Veni di Morte
copyright 2000, The Goober Tree Press, all rights reserved