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The John H. Bennett, Jr., Prize

Ed Gold
Charleston, SC

 

Ansonborough

Today, Elijah,
the descendant of a slave,
is painting the porch ceiling,
sprucing up the pale blue
to fool the haints.
For years, the haints have not been fooled.
They snicker at the dinge and float right in,
but by tomorrow, the spirits of the dead
will look up and see blue water,
which, it is said, they cannot pass through.
Elijah takes one last hit off his joint,
stands up from the railing,
puts on his plastic mask,
and reaches up to spray
DCL012 Gullah Blue.
Go somewhere else,
we tell the haints
and the man who paints,
whose mother grew up down the street
but can’t afford to live here now.