If God Permitted Pirates on the Mississippi
A poah man leans on his plow to rest in the Delta swelter,
As his mule lies by the bank,
Dipping its head in the muddy sweet.
The flood had receded,
And what was left for poah whites and poah blacks
Was merely lowland labor.
The farmhouses and acres of the lords,
And the soybeans and cotton of the peasants,
Had long been erased and transported elsewhere by the river water,
And God’s farm ground and Mississippi molehills must be restored,
After he himself reeled back the river.
So like hail atop Pharaoh’s palace, the poah man slides to the ground
When he has had enough, and falls into a haze.
The slumping mule is startled by a catfish wading along the shore.


Matthew Johnson earned his MA in English from UNC-Greensboro, and currently lives in Greensboro. He’s a former sports journalist who wrote for the USA Today College and The Daily Star (Oneonta, NY). His poetry has appeared in Maudlin House, The Roanoke Review, Aethlon, The Sport Literate, The Corvus Review, and elsewhere. He is a one-time Best of the Net Nominee (2017) and his debut collection, Shadow Folks and Soul Songs (Kelsay Books) was released in 2019. Twitter: @Matt_Johnson_D

Photo by Justin Wilkens on Unsplash

Help us disrupt the Southern literary landscape.