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j. lewis


j. lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, and nurse practitioner. His poems have appeared online and in print in numerous journals from California to Nigeria to the UK. A new chapbook “every evening is december” is live at Praxis Magazine. His first collection of poetry and photography was published in June 2016, and is available on Amazon He is also an associate editor for Spark and Ember, publications from Empire & Great Jones Little Press: He is online at


you took me in

i was a stranger and you took me in
fed me, clothed me, housed me
in slave quarters, shackled
beat, raped, traded, and sold me
until that ugly war burned through
and i was free

and then you took me in again
swindled, cheated, abused me
and in the dark of night
with torches and ropes
because i was no longer valued
as property, swung me heavily
branches creaking, groaning
the words i could not form
“God will judge righteously”
but earthly judges did not
even when, one hundred years later,
still clutching your bible

you took me in anew
passed laws to give me dignity,
opportunity, education, equality,
but only on paper. only on paper

isaiah asked ancient israel
quoting the word of God
“what mean ye that beat my people
to pieces, and grind the faces
of the poor” and he will ask you
that you meant as well, as you
twisted the law to keep me poor
in spirit, in pocket, in power
grinding, always grinding

i’m waiting for the day of reckoning
could be this life, could be the next
when God will quote the full text
from the bible you beat me with,
a final accusation in five short words—
“you did it unto me.”


is a thing with unseen tentacles
is it not so? it holds you to

a memory that will not leave
or guilt for unrepented deeds

friends you walked away from
when their need was deepest

unfinished business, put aside
in search of other pleasures

do these not each and all together
manifest in shadowed places

homes whose hallways echo and assemble
your self-accusations into forms

with faces you know too well
ethereal remnants of their presence

always untouchable, silent,
menacing or pleading as they float

in and out of view, of mind
spawned by hollow regrets

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