Strange Fruit

for Abel Meeropol and Billie Holiday

No one will hang you with a noose tonight,
Either of sisal, hemp, or the chord of Southern steel.

But falling on the narrowing alleys of your freedom,
The Freudian slip of forensic glances,
And shadows of spying footsteps, attending you.

No one will pollinate you for crows to harvest,
For the fruit of your fugitive eyes
Already graces the choice menu of peace agents

That dart about like the insatiate beaks
Of forty one buzzards descending
On the alien skin of unfleeing Diallo.

In the galleries of Europe, in trending freak shows,
Connoisseurs of arts will not disport their eyes
With the buttocks of Hottentot Venus again.

In Cuvier’s Aryan lab, none will exhibit your brain,
Except as visuals of hunger, or the viral
Refrains of crime, in the neutral news of colour.

Today, on the trading floor of Wall Street,
None will quote your head;
In the gallant South,
None will brand you with a molten phrase;

Only now and then the inferno of headlines
That burn in stealth; only here and there
The calming caress of insomniac firearms,
The volatile judge that slays your justice.

Kunle Okesipe is a Nigerian poet and playwright. He won the Association of Nigerian Authors’ playwriting contest at the 20th Anniversary of the Nobel Prize in Africa and the Second Prize of the Association of Nigerian Authors’ 50th Things Fall Apart Anniversary Adaptation Contest. His poems have appeared in a number of anthologies.