Lay for the Day 12th
1963: Medgar Evers, civil rights leader, is fatally shot in the back outside
his home in Jackson, Mississippi, by a Klansman, salesman, and later clergyman,
called Byron De La Beckwith.*
Nelson Mandela is sentenced to life imprisonment in Pretoria, South Africa.
La Beckwith was unsuccessfully prosecuted in 1964, twice, in corrupted
trials. He was finally convicted of the murder in 1994 and died in prison
killing was the subject of Bob Dylans song Only a Pawn in
Their Game: But when the shadowy sun sets on the one / That
fired the gun, / Hell see by his grave / On the stone that remains,
/Carved next to his name, / His epitaph plain: / Only a pawn in their
game. De La Beckwith was not, in fact, such a “poor white
man” as Dylan’s song supposed.
trial was the subject of the film Ghosts of Mississippi (1996),
starring James Woods, Alec Baldwin and Whoopi Goldberg.
you burn down is rebuilt
as a pile of cold, pale-crusted ash.
What you drown is tossed up
as sand and sponge, jelly, shell and weed.
What you bury works its way back to the top
to be eaten.
The fissure you paper over with lies
tears down the building.
The blood you take cant be kept or given back
but feeds the earth where your death awaits.
Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar