ON A BIOGRAPHICAL PAMPHLET OF LUTHER LADD, FIRST MARTYR OF THE CIVIL WAR, WHO DIED DURING THE 1861 BALTIMORE RIOT
The vast cortege that followed his remains
graveside was full of patriots. So claims
the nameless hand that has us too believe
that Ladd, seventeen, a sapling, so grieved
the splintered Union that he kept his post
& stars aloft as riot bricks from roasted
ghetto tenements rained down to bash
the Massachusetts brave. They all were brats
& greybeards, damn it all, who slumped & waned
& weaved some twenty blocks from train to train.
The artist’s doughy hatching sketch—a likeness
taken from life—is so coarse the boy’s lidless
eyes bulge amphibian. His sisters bound
the flag that drank his blood to waltzing gowns.
Adam Tavel recently won the inaugural Permafrost Book Prize for his collection Plash & Levitation, which will be published by the University of Alaska Press in spring 2015. He is also the author of The Fawn Abyss (Salmon Poetry, forthcoming) and the chapbook Red Flag Up (Kattywompus). Tavel won the 2010 Robert Frost Award and his recent poems appear in Massachusetts Review, The Journal, Quarterly West, Passages North, Southern Indiana Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Salamander, among others.