Social Justice Poetry

Keith Hoerner

Nooning Tree Estates | A Social Justice Poem by Keith Hoerner

$10,000 down
Gets you in
Your choice of
Ranch or two-story
In prestigious Nooning Tree

“Is there one, a Nooning Tree?”
“Of course,” the saleslady answers
Loose strands of hair catching
The corner of her mouth
Like a lie

Tempered by talk of tradition
She motions; I follow
Slipping on the deceptively
Green sod
Outside her display home

She points, arm outstretched
Fingers fanning
In a ta-da moment
“There …
The Nooning Tree”

Under that very shade (weather permitting)
Noon meals were served
To plantation workers
Every day

Quaint, now, isn’t it?”

Yes, if
It were true

If *only* it were *true*
For a few of us
Still know fact from fiction
About this suburbanized
183-year-old black walnut

Its gnarled branches

Midday laughter filtered
Through this centurion’s autumnal rush
Frenetic excitement hung thick in the air
Frozen families, slack-jawed gawkers, jeering landlords *gathered*

On what is now
Lot 241 (backing to woods)
Where a barbarian’s buffet
Was laid

Blood-shot eyes
Subtle smells of rope-
Burned flesh
Slaves *lynched* on the strike of *noon*

On a *tree*
S  t  r  e  t  c  h  o  f  L  a  n  d