Six (Decades) :: a Villanelle

Beauty’s sweat conjures infallible sin–
Deserts drifting survive natural heat–
Breathe in, breathe out the colors of your skin.

Centuries’ tales speak of wars with no wins–
Oceans weeping die in fated defeat–
Beauty’s sweat conjures infallible sin.

Conquering heroes find their souls as tin–
Mountains seeking will collapse as they meet–
Breathe in, breathe out the colors of your skin.

Complex memories of interracial kin–
Valleys starving find rebellion to eat–
Beauty’s sweat conjures infallible sin.

Cradles of discourse roll and scratch their chins–
Nights sleeping on day’s ethereal seat–
Breathe in, breathe out the colors of your skin.

Counting minutes until God lets them in–
Skies dancing the years on their merry feet–
Beauty’s sweat conjures infallible sin.
Breathe in, breathe out the colors of your skin.


For the African American writers of the 20th Century, who spoke for the silenced.