ARTISTS: Michael D. Harris

Michael D. Harris, Associate Professor Emeritus at Emory University, has taught full-time or as an adjunct at UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, Wellesley College, Spelman College, and Morehouse College and as a visiting professor at Dillard University in New Orleans. He works as a practicing artist and photographer and has been a member of artist collective, AfriCOBRA since 1979. His work is in many collections and he has exhibited internationally. Prof. Harris has worked as a curator or had exhibitions produced at the High Museum of Art, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and for 9 years at the Harvey B. Gantt Center of African American Culture in Charlotte. His book, Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation, won two national awards. His latest scholarly book, Sanctuary: Conjuring and Africana Art Aesthetic, is under contract at Duke University Press.


Battling Atlanta 


In the routine cruelty of the South
biscuits filled with flour
buttermilk
ground up powder from slave teeth;
New words in old drawls
iced tea sweetened
with sugar and dried blood;
old trees from murder stories
cut down for cul-de-sacs and subdivisions;
integrated schools left bare behind
in dis-integrated cities with two-lane exits;
one for football, maybe basketball;
Magnolia trees and fingernails
pickup trucks
and whispered stories of dead relatives
torn from us;
railroad tracks in blue eyes
me on my side,
genteel smiles
white glove cruelty
with a powdered drawl;
conservative politicians doing
dog-whistle Dixiecrat work.
Fried chicken at Mary Mac’s,
adjacent tables,
proof of the New South,
if I mind my manners and keep the silence;
don’t break character in this cruel drama;
pretend to ignore the savage head start.
Presently a peace with grits
and shrimp
bacon gravy for everyone;
Atlanta overseen by a Stone Mountain
tribute to terrorist defenders
of a holocaust seen in glimpses and whispers
if at all.

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