Black Sun, 1935

Levee workers,
Plaquemines parish, Louisiana

Fourteen Negroes wheel barrows
along narrow planks laid over mud.
They build a levee to prevent
flooding of land they’ll never own.
Fearing bites of cottonmouths,
copperheads, and diamondbacks,
they sweat in humid bayou heat.

Arrayed along a nearby ridge,
four white overseers look on
in the shadow of a black sun:
an overexposed disc in an archival print
from a negative mutilated by a hole punch.
Without being told, you and I can guess
we weren’t supposed to see this.

David OlsenDavid Olsen’s Unfolding Origami (80pp, 2015) won the Cinnamon Press Poetry Collection Award. Poetry chapbooks from U.S. publishers include Sailing to Atlantis (2013), New World Elegies (2011), and Greatest Hits (2001). His work appears widely in leading journals and anthologies in North America and Europe. A poet and professionally produced playwright with a BA in chemistry from University of California-Berkeley and an MA in creative writing from San Francisco State University, David was formerly an energy economist, management consultant, and performing arts critic. He has lived in Oxford, England, since 2002.