Making Gumbo

Ghosts of the Yellow Dog: A Poetic Homage to August Wilson and his Piano Lesson

They rises up

fierce and strong.

They rises up

‘cause it’s been too long.

They rises up

‘cause nobody sings the song

of that terrible wrong.


When they comes back

it’s always at night.

When they comes back

it ain’t for no Halloween fright.

When they comes back

it’s to take away

one of those who stood by

and let them burn like hay.


Yeah you see

when those klu kluxers set that boxcar on fire

some colored mens was locked in thar.

I know some says that stories as flat as a tire.

But I got no reason to give you a scare.

I’m gone tell the truth.

It’s the only way to be fair.


You could hear ‘em…

oh… yes you could.

First just-a banging on that doe…

Then they started to scream and yell.

Sounded awful,

just awful, I’m here to tell.


That fire set off a high bright light.

And the rest of the white people came to see the sight.

But not one would help,

not even when they heard them men yelp.

This was sumpen’ evil,

sumpen’ straight out of hell.

Nobodied even ring the fire bell.


So now…

now they come; yes they do.

And when they come

there’s always a sound

You might think it was a train whistle

Or the howl of a hound.


But oh lord…

when they rises from that bog,

they comes through

a smoky yellow fog.

And all I know…

all I know…

is that it’s the ghosts of the yellow dog.


Published in The Blotter Magazine, November 2018

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