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The Inuagural Juneteeth Festivity

"For the first time since they were woven into my skin, I was unashamed of the scars that coiled across my hand"

Published onApr 25, 2024
The Inuagural Juneteeth Festivity

Photo by Clement Eastwood: Pexels.com

Freedom, 
forever a word of ghost stories and rumor hearsay,
now was tangible, arriving in the form of men in blue fatigues,
who marched into town and gave decrees, and played a bugle,
that I imagined, sounds like the horn Gabriel will play on Judgement Day, 
when all humans are recognized, and all souls are constituted into being. 
For the first time since they were woven into my skin,
I was unashamed of the scars that coiled across my hand,
and extended my palm to one of the soldiers, who greeted me.
The owners of these lands, and their field breakers and taskmasters, 
stomped back into their castles.
The soldiers, with their orders, summoned jubilee,
and we toasted and ate from fruit jars,
prayed at the graves of our ancestors,
hugged our children, and danced to songs of the gospels.
And still, in what felt like resurrection from handmade saviors,
I could not help but ask myself,
what will tomorrow bring…


Matthew Johnson is the author of, Shadow Folks and Soul Songs (Kelsay Books) and Far from New York Star (NYQ Press). He has a forthcoming chapbook scheduled for a late 2024 release through Finishing Line Press. His poetry has appeared in The Amistad, Hudson Valley Writers Guild, London Magazine, Maryland Literary Review, Northern New England Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and elsewhere. A recipient of Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations, he is the managing editor of The Portrait of New England and the poetry editor of The Twin Bill.

Website: www.matthewjohnsonpoetry.com

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