In Search of Maypops

Bluish-purple petals
sprawl the ground like
the tendrils of unruly
curls, little girls,
potentially bruised and abused
biking to the
unmowed side of the tracks;
two young bodies form
a white core
of anger that may pop.

A poor black boy,
in 1944,
caught in the tangled vines of
conflicting confusion,
forced isolation without representation.
Hunger starved a confession.
Fourteen years, the mask too large
slid free to show his tears.

All-white jury
without written record or physical evidence
took less than ten minutes
to sentence five thousand jolts of
high voltage hate,
bible as a booster seat.

No blacks allowed in court.
No witnesses to report.
No defense and no appeal.

Injustice is real.

Today, I kneel
outside the unmarked grave
of George Stinney.
Silenced June 16th.
He didn’t make it to Juneteenth
to see the white maypops
growing freely in the fields.


I wrote this poem about a year ago. Current events opened my eyes to the racial injustices around me, and also sparked a curiosity to investigate the stories of the past. This poem is based on a true story. My research of George Stinney. began with an article I read in The Washington Post, which is still available here.

I was struck by the seemingly innocent question, “Can you help us search for May Pops?” and how George and his friend said, “No” knowing instinctively the dangers of doing even an innocent activity with white girls that lived on the other side of the tracks.

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