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  • Writer's pictureBeatrice Iker

Poem #8: East Knoxville is a Cemetery

My heart


in hues of


Tennessee - all I see, everything I’ve ever


In the colored section of town


there’s a cemetery

The cemetery

stretches, taut against gravity and disconnectedness

and the prayer-filled blood of my


The cemetery


from block to block

mind to mind

ruined, abandoned home


ruined, inhabited home

The headstones are


with the surnames of those

who never escaped this aching

town of bones

town of beauty so

devastating, it hurts to look at

The groundskeeper is

me - furiously, fiercely, fearfully

writing down the elder’s names

so they are never


so they are never laying

in a plot

unmarked, unloved, un-remembered

In the shadow of the Smokies

in the hollow pit of my lungs

in Knoxville

Tennessee - all I see, everything I’ve ever


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