Tag Archives: black community

The Miracle Inside a Storm from Hell Inside the Turning Wheels of Time

Sonnets by Thomas Davis

The Miracle Inside a Storm from Hell

Their misery growing as they splashed through streams
And felt huge clouds above the battered trees
That flung down branches as the sorceries
Of wind and hunger screamed and screamed, and screams
Into their fears, their hatred, useless dreams
The Preacher cultivated with an ease
That wasn’t true, not when the miseries
Of hell danced in the storm’s wild, fierce extremes.

And then, as if inside a miracle,
They reached a lonely church, the raging storm
So fierce they quailed inside its crucible,
And knew the light of God, their spirits warm,
The dreams the Preacher preached so lyrical
It made them feel, inside their hell, reborn.

Inside the Turning Wheels of Time

Inside the rhythm of the wagon’s wheels,
The Preacher, with his people crammed beside
Him underneath a false floorboard, untied
His consciousness from who he was, ordeals
He’d face for years now in the past, and reels
Of rainbow light exploded, amplified
A vision where he felt Ezekiel’s tide
Of prophecies burn like a fire that heals.

He saw his Promised Land, boats filled with fish,
A land of gardens lush as men could wish,

And in the garden of his vision, black
As midnight skies, a shining Adam spoke
A chant so sibilant with grace the almanac
Of hours turned like the wagon wheel’s spokes.

Note:  These two sonnets continue the series that constitute the beginnings of chapters in a book on a black community that existed on Washington Island before the coming of the Civil War.  These sonnets are part of the sequence that deals with the escape of people from the community from the plantations where they were enslaved.   The sonnets are written using a mixture of sonnet forms.  “The Miracle Inside a Storm from Hell” is a Spenserian sonnet.  “Inside the Turning Wheels of Time” is a French sonnet.



Filed under poems, Poetry, Thomas Davis, Uncategorized

The Abandonment of Washington Island By the Island’s Black Community in the 1850s

A French Sonnet

by Thomas Davis

Gone. Like the waves grasshoppers make
Before a boy who runs into a field of weeds,
The news raced through the island as the seeds
Of mystery began to reawake
The sense that something sinister, a snake,
Is in the emptiness that almost pleads
To hear the shouts of children, men whose deeds
Had made glad days of freedom by the lake.

Where did they go? Why did they have to flee?
The island people said, “It is a mystery.”

When Craw’s barn burned, the chill was palpable,
And now the black community is gone.
The news was like a fire, insatiable;
They took their fishing boats and fled at dawn.

The mystery of the disappearance of seven black families, presumably run-away slaves, from Washington Island in the 1850s still persists today.


Filed under poems, Poetry, Thomas Davis, Uncategorized