We make the landlords laugh
with our black southern black ways.
We know to say nothing
of the one-legged spirit balancing on their shoulders.
When the landlords speak we look into the spirit’s face
to see if they’re telling the truth.
The spirit either gives a one-tooth grin
or its backward head turns the other way to scowl.
The little children seeing too run
when their newly washed Buicks curve the corners.
The chickens go mad beating their heads to the ground.
The blackbirds start looking for open mouth crows.
Behind their mamas the children stand peeking out at the thing.
Their mamas scatter pepper around the house after they leave.
This poem is from Pangyrus’s poetry collection, What Tells You Ripeness: Black Poets on Nature, Edited by Nikki Wallschlaeger (available in our store).
Image: by Wayne Lee-Sing, licensed under CC 2.0.