Archival Features, Poems

Molasses and the Three Witches

Michael S. Harper’s poem “Molasses and the Three Witches” first appeared in the Autumn 1968 issue of Poetry Northwest.

Inside out, the police announce
there’s a riot—on CBS—
it’s a barnfire.
Firemen and police
Ball-eye into the squares:
this is the first barnfire
in history.
Roll ‘em:
Lady says she saw
the first keg of molasses
in a gunny sack
on a huge black’s back;
a black rose bush
on his big-eared helper;
flour and grits
in a pelt as soft as snow—
all gone up in the smoke
of the last spiritual
of Bre’rs Bear,
Rabbit, Fox—
the black trinity :
I will not go Quietly—
I will not go Quietly—
I will not go Quietly—

Michael S. Harper (1938-2016) published more than ten books of poetry, including Songlines in Michaeltree: New and Collected Poems (University of Illinois Press, 2000).