Our Night Hangs By A Thread


April’s cool Catskill forests are yet to leaf out
but the maple’s crimson flowers blush whole hillsides
deepening the dense green in the fields below.

No more bullshit, says a Trump 2020 banner we pass 
on our way to the Seager trailhead. At a farm, two flags,
the other for the thin blue line. Every day a new killing.

Climbing Pakatakan through a maze of slender trunks, we are
breathless at the beauty, a quilt of moss, lichen and snowdrops, 
yellow downy violets and bloodroot among the boulders.

Clyde is off the leash on the old railway line.
From across a meadow an enraged voice screams
in the gentle sunlight. We leash the dog.

The riverbank’s pebbles are blue, grey, mauve and brown,
the water limpid, fast, icy. We step from stone to stone,
watching each other across before continuing.

I hesitate before entering any store in the little town
but keep it to myself for fear my companion will try 
to reason it away, as if it has anything to do with reason.

Daunte Wright was pulled over for having air freshener
hanging from his rear-view mirror.  He was wanted for weed.
They shot him by mistake. It wasn’t a mistake. There is no reason.

Even the sign saying hate has no home here suggests
it has found one with the neighbors. I won’t risk 
backing into any driveway to turn the car around

My son’s union shirt and cap, my brown body—we are loud
against the murmur of these mountains. Yet we are so quiet.
At night I dream of punishment, that they will cut the thread.


Akwe Amosu is a Nigerian/British poet. Her poems have appeared in South African journals Carapace, New Contrast, and Stanzas, and U.S. journals Illuminations and The Common. Her book, Not Goodbye, was published by Snail Press in 2010. She works in New York on a project to support human rights leadership.

[Purchase Issue 24 here.] 

Our Night Hangs By A Thread

Related Posts

"kochanie, today i bought bread" Book Cover

September 2023 Poetry Feature: Uljana Wolf

legnica your direction is uttered: night halfnight / legnica your sirens rise in the gate-keeper's lodge / and keep the flag on all clear: /            yellow yellow the direction’s right / a crooked wave the gate the cross / legnica in singsong of tracks land trickles away / legnica your sky

Poetry Feature: Poems from the Immigrant Farmworker Community

Days into the promise of a new year, resolutions plentiful, blossoming, / seven farmworkers were shot and killed harvesting mushrooms in Half Moon Bay. / Those of us who sprouted from families, whose hands and backs worked the land, / waited for news of our farmworker siblings.

A White House against a blue sky, with a watertower on top.

Two Poems by Liza Katz Duncan

First the marsh grass came, then the motherwort, / then bitterberry and honeysuckle. Blackbirds, / gulls and grackles built their nests. / Mourning doves call from the eaves / of the old factory, closed during the Depression.