Lynne Thomson


Lynne Thompson






On Michael Brown Visiting His Grandmother

in Ferguson, Missouri, August 2013


      Reason       help me.                           the laws

are wrong and unjust laws.             the system

a wrong and unjust system. But, somehow, I have got




plank bed,     loathsome food, the hard ropes shredded into oakum till

one’s finger-tips grow dull with pain,

the    harsh   orders


the silence, the solitude, the shame—each and all of these things

There is          a     single


degradation of the body   which I must                                    make     into a




On Michael Brown” is an erasure from De Profundis.

 “On Michael Brown, Visiting His Grandmother in Ferguson, Missouri, August, 2014” was previously published in the anthology Rubicon, Words & Art Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis (Sybaritic, Press, 2015) edited by Marie Lecrivain.
Post-racial race train


full the train                      the third or fourth carriage                     an empty seat

all the white faces


amazing, given all this time, how alarmed she still was at the sight of white faces.

She moved quickly         noticing only what

concerned her                                  not a single black face

all the other seats, except the one beside her, filling up; the furtive eyes at her,

then someone without a choice sitting next to her



Post-racial race train” is an erasure from Dionne Brand’s Sans Souciand was previously published at






To unearth what came before, ask

how did they come?        when?




Around one hundred years before Daddy

left Barbados for New York, the schooner


Irene arrived in Havana,

1822, guns mounted. Two hundred eight-


eight of the three hundred thirty-one free

people put on board at Bonny disembarked


as slaves          run               run


Of his surname—Thompson—think: former


last owner   names

lost                        run away


official records (State & church)                 run


baptism    marriage     oral history       maps

registers                        masks


    (run)                          wills & archives


         run away                                             away


slave complaints, debts, laws, (former slaves

as owners of slaves)



auctions                                     away




They entered here












Lynne Thomson is the author of two full-length collections, Beg No Pardon and Start With A Small Guitar, as well as three chapbooks. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Ecotone, Ploughshares, Room, and the African American Review, as well as the anthologies Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, Coiled Serpent, Poets Arising From the Cultural Quakes & Shifts of Los Angeles, and Resisting Arrest, Poems To Stretch The Sky.  A  2015-16 City of Los Angeles Fellow, Thompson is Reviews and Essays Editor for the literary journal, Spillway.

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