“Giants Aren’t Gentle,”
You Might Here Them Say

by: Nathan Erwin

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

He worked security for the Salvation Army––
Harbor Lights. He didn’t own a briefcase.
This matters.
Because harbor lights are a warning
& a way home. You can’t place domestic life
& fear in the same file, can you?
George guarded the needful things––
darned socks, Jacob Lawrence prints,
& wooden bowls for winter stew.
Before setting out into the cold Minneapolis night,
he would take the old photographs
out of the frames:
mothers & sons or prayer hands over an inflatable
pool. Baptize them.

The Monday before he quit, George had to remove
a man dozing in the coat racks. Our hero
swaddled him, slipped a pair
of blue socks in his coat pocket,
then, carried him from the store.
A few years later, a handful of checks cashed,
George Floyd was murdered.

Three days after his death,
somewhere between Franklin and Hawthorn Ave.
lay a man
warming his feet by a barrel fire, a pair of blue socks
drying from a day’s worth of marching.

About the poet Nathan Erwin is a rural poet, educator, and food sovereignty advocate. With a family tree rooted in the North and South, Alabama moonshiners and Vermont dairy farmers, Erwin grew up in the hills of Newark Valley, New York. His poetry has most recently appeared in Willow Springs, Levee Magazine, and The Cardiff Review. His first book Hemp & Farm Justice (Mandel-Vilar Press) is forthcoming Fall 2021. He currently serves as a poetry editor for Barrelhouse Magazine, lecturer at George Mason University, and Community Engagement Facilitator at Boston Medical Center.


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