illustration summer evening beaumont wash post logo

“Ugly catcalls have taken their toll on Bill Simpson and John DecQuir. After just six months,Vidor‘s only remaining black residents are packing their bags, frightened by too many instances of harassment.

“There are good people here, don’t get me wrong,” said Simpson, who moved from nearbyBeaumont. “But it’s overshadowed by the negativity, the hostility, the bigotry of this town.”

A federal judge last year ordered the eastern Texas town, home to 11,000 whites, to desegregate its 70-unit public housing complex. A few blacks moved in last February — the town’s first black residents in at least 70 years. When they walked through town, they were hailed with racist …”

Summer Evening, Beaumont

I was not there. I am only an observer.
The four-year old on his tricycle is
dressed for the heat in loose shorts
and nothing else. His hair appears

disarrayed as he stares at the ground.
The back of his bare skull is as finely
carved as a newborn’s, the delicate
shadows of his shoulder bones ask for

touch. The clumsy chalk lines on the
pavement are from a murder and he
knows it — the blood came out last
night as the torpid sun was going down.

This boy has to make stories up in
his head, but the shy universe he
creates is a notion he’ll never share.
I was not there. I am only an observer.

The dead man was 300 pounds and didn’t
talk much, as he, too, was waiting for a
miracle. Gang members used five or six
bullets, then ran away without taking his

wallet, the item they wanted most of all.
I was not there. I am only an observer.
Hours earlier, the victim had left his
rented home in all-white Vidor; he told

how the folks there threatened to hang him,
he told how lonely it was to wake up every
day and remember where he was. He wasn’t
afraid, he said, just tired of fighting.

1 Comment

Filed under poetry

One response to “SUMMER EVENING, BEAUMONT, a poem

  1. firebird83

    I love the poem.

    Liked by 1 person

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