Saturday, December 18, 2010

Poetry by Kenneth Reams

By Kenneth Reams

This poem won second place prize in the 2016 Lifeline Poetry Competition.

If this was your “eleventh hour" 
If this was that moment of exactness 
Where you could feel 
The presence of the Shadow of Death 
I mean -- that true instant where 
You soulfully felt and acknowledged 
That you was close to your last breath 
Like the moment of revelation 
That Jesus met in the Book of Mark 
When He reached the Garden of Gethsemane 
That end of the line millisecond of truth 
Your last mile
If this was that minute
That moment
That instance
That hour
Tell me
What would you do?

Strange Fruit 
By Kenneth Reams

Strange Fruit
Is what a southern slave once considered 
it to be...
The description of a negro
hanging and dangling
from the limb of a sycamore tree.

is what  many labeled it to be.
A spirited tradition
That thousands came out to witness
and see.
The barbaric killing of a brother man
for the deed he committed against another man.

Lynching is what history would later
Acknowledge it to be.
Τhe Death Penalty
is the (code name)
that is mostly used to  now describe the atrocity
while capital punishment
is what Black's Law Dictionary define it to be—
in this generation of new chemicals
and high technology.

To some,
to the naive,
just because they cannot see
strange fruit literally dangling from the tree
many have written off lynchings
as if they no longer exist in our society.
But I am the new era of strange fruit 
“minus the sycamore tree"
and if you open your eyes
This reality you will see.


Kenny Reams 000927
Varner Supermax
P.O. Box 400
Grady, AR 71644

Kenneth Reams is a death row inmate in the State of Arkansas and founder of the non-profit organization Who Decides, Inc. If you wish to learn more about the organization's mission and goal, visit

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