Casting Pearls

man is a shade tree in a field
of cotton or cane he stands motherless
in a forest he did not seed and not of his kin
what he knows is namelessness
and the clouds that hover over him

one shot another lynched
but he studies war no more
he let die the gods’ stolen fire
man is from a seed but he considers
neither the forest behind him
nor the sea ahead still he winces
at the sand blown across his skin
and the burnt flesh of his heels

we cried out that God grant us this land
to bend to our wills that of cattle and wheat
and the many fruits of Nod
we took this land
we each took our freedom too

as the Hebrews forsook God and took the desert
and crowned it in gold and fine jewels so did we
take this swamp and drain it and tame
every damned and scaly beast herein
we cared not for the slaves who were with us
and watched Christ take up his grace and leave

give not that which is holy unto the dogs
neither cast ye your pearls before swine
lest they trample them under their feet
and turn again and rend you

here we have forgotten ourselves
here men live as men and nothing more
there were once gods for men
and mothers too

now God’s shadow casts down upon us as He laughs
here is a land I created and bestowed
here is a land of many laws and no justice


J. R. Forman ( is a lecturer at Tarleton State University in Texas, and his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Ramify, Make It New, Ekphrastic Review, Apricity Magazine, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Streetlight Magazine, and anthologies by Clemson University Press. He has been a finalist for the Julia Darling Memorial Poetry Prize and holds a BA from St. John’s College, Santa Fe, and PhDs from the University of Dallas and the University of Salamanca.

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