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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

jet wreck; the murder of lilly kane; lynch-mob

By: Johnny Cate

jet wreck

shattered is the cathedral peace

               when seizuring 

the cylinder

sets her pressure free

and the scattershot dove

               gives up a wing,

starts spiraling

through the clouds

lip-locked now 

               with her angry exes—

scorned gravity restating

his dysfunctional claim

as disaster's cloacal kiss

               bears fruit

in this bird's metal body

engenders doom, reproduces

dropping oxygen masks

               like inverted box-jacks

one last bad joke

for us all to take home

down we go, down

               we go

with a sonic cocktail of prayers

curses, a cabin song

of heaven-bound hellfire

               of elegant tragedy 

doing what raindrops do,

and doing it to death

we'll leave a black gash

               in the earth

malfunction's offspring

rebirthed on impact

a hydrodistillation of souls

               steamed by fire

and rising, free 

of the body's weaknesses

a split-second stopping

               to admire

the gracile new frames

we were afraid to embrace

the refracting energies

               that made themselves

known in brief fits

of light while living

now extracted from the flesh

               by the jet wreck

and gleaming

giving of themselves 

wholly, without fear

or mortal reserve

the murder of lilly kane

good stories

start with dead girls—

we're suckers for it,

cop sheet reads homicide

and by the time

the coroner comes

we're all tore up

for this new

princess of never.

It always helps

if she's hot

to qualify the grief

and she was so beautiful

we say, what a shame

to see her ambrosial hair

so tangled, 

her brains

on the pavement.

Totally bingeable though,

this intrigue

in which sweet men

are now suspect

and those closest

called to testify.

even we intimate

are mysteries—

each and all to each

each and all to each

aware of only our own

glitched pianissimos and

capacity for murder,

alone and in secret

craving a veronica

to find us out,

craving to be cracked 

and known, motives

laid bare and

broadcast on 



*in 1906, a lynch-mob dragged an innocent black man named Ed Johnson from a jail cell in Chattanooga, TN. Johnson had been wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. The Supreme Court issued a stay of execution, and during that stay, the mob came and hung him on the Walnut St. Bridge. His last words were "God bless you all, I am a innocent man..." This one's for my man ED JOHNSON

And I saw as it were

the open mouths—

the rotten teeth and tongues

spastic as a shock

sent through a worm

halitosis of whiskey

and piss and putrid spit

gutters sweat-boarded

gulping terrified

gagging their iron throats

beneath the many-footed

beast, the centipede 

demon crawling 

toward the jailhouse

yank that blackboy out

break the lock

kill the fucking sheriff

if he so much as speaks

against us—

this boy gonna swing

one way no ways

we will have our justice

they place

their hands on the man

soot-stained flagella

flailing out, fingers

tiny tentacles from this

devil's anemone

what is innocence here?

a myth to this creature

this riot's true enemy

for all have sinned

all have fallen short 

of the glory of god and

these gallows will be

denied no longer

see now the blameless

one, slave son 

blessing that abomination

praying grace for

the stinking, stinking flood

of flesh that whelms him

lifts him on a wave

and like thread

sends his head

through the noose's eye

weightless ascends

his silhouette dark 

against a sky of fire 

white women screaming

now no this isn't 

what they wanted no

he's innocent he's innocent

but too late his angelic

swaying, too late 

the bullets from below 

50 revolver balls, a lobbed

hail of curses, crocodiles

snapping ravenous 

at the dangled man

as his blood evacuates 

and flowing, falling 

incarnadines the mob

splashes sanguine

on the saved rapist's face

until a gunshot

cuts the rope, and a cop

chops a finger off

the felled body, blasts

three more holes

in the baptized skull 

to safekeep death

and punctuate the act.

then comes exhale, dizzy

high violence and

post-blow sloth

as the legion fractures

and factions of drunken

killjoys go stumbling back

from whence they came

all murder-keen and

sentimental, confirmed

each to his core

justice has been done.

through the bastard silence

black magdalenes

in peace approach 

the corpse—poor boy,

poor sweet innocent boy

we'll take you 

somewhere safe

lay you in a garden

of hyperfine flowers 

a shade some place

they'll never care to look

they'll never 

surround you again not even

to ask forgiveness

and I saw as it were

in white dresses

these night-skinned girls

carrying cerements

kissing his gelid lips

and by their hearts

making him to hover

and lie in a soil bed 

on the side of a hill

in his lilac necktie 

you'll be forgotten just

a little while, love

a century you'll sleep alone 

before they speak

your name

before they're ready

to face the still smoldering

hate-blaze and smell

the still stink air that

lingers in the pit of the bridge

they hung you on

sleep baby sleep

and perhaps if you

have your way

you'll meet a few of your

murderers in the pearl

bosom, the space

where sin is wiped away

and every last frenzy

is shipwrecked as a wicked

frigate upon the 

breakers of heaven

and never a lynch-mob

licks its lips

and combs the cells

calling calling calling

for a heart to stop


Johnny is a poet living in Chattanooga, TN.


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