Friday, April 13, 2012

Poem of the Week: Joseph Ross


In a Summer of Snipers

for Tommie Smith and John Carlos, 1968

In a summer of snipers

some men raised their hands

with fingers pressed

to triggers

trying to squeeze away

a generation's hope.

But you lifted your hands

to conduct a choir

just learning to sing

anthems of a victory

not yet won.

The world watched you,

standing shoeless,

like so many others,

with no protection

from the earth itself,

its bullets, its boundaries

real as a waiting noose,

a lynching tree,

and a gathering crowd.

You raised your hands,

gloved and black

and held us all

for just a moment

where no rope

could reach.

-Joseph Ross

Used by permission.

Joseph Ross is part of the vibrant literary community in the Washington, D.C. area. His poems appear in many anthologies including Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion and Spirituality, Come Together: Imagine Peace, Full Moon on K Street, and Poetic Voices 1 and 2. His work also appears in a variety of journals including Poet Lore, Tidal Basin Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Drumvoices Revue, and Sojourners. He has read at the Library of Congress and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. An early member of D.C. Poets Against the War, he co-edited Cut Loose The Body: An Anthology of Poems on Torture and Fernando Botero's Abu Ghraib. He founded and directs the Writing Center at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. and has taught writing at American University. He writes regularly at

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