Literary Yard

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White Washing History Against a Blackening Afternoon Sky

By: Keith Hoerner

$10,000 down
Gets you in
Your choice of
Ranch or two-story
In prestigious Nooning Tree

“Is there one, a Nooning Tree?”
“Of course,” the saleslady answers
Loose strands of hair catching
The corner of her mouth
Like a lie

Tempered by talk of tradition
She motions; I follow
Slipping on the deceptively
Green sod
Outside her display home

She points, arm outstretched
Fingers fanning
In a ta-da moment
“There …
The Nooning Tree”

Under that very shade (weather permitting)
Noon meals were served
To plantation workers
Every day
Quaint, now, isn’t it?”

Yes, if
It were true

If only – it were true
For a few of us
Still know fact from fiction
About this suburbanized
183-year-old black walnut

Its gnarled branches

Midday laughter filtered
Through this centurion’s autumnal rush
Frenetic excitement hung thick in the air
Frozen families, slack-jawed gawkers, jeering landlords gathered

On what is now
Lot 241 (backing to woods)
Where a barbarian’s buffet
Was laid

Blood-shot eyes
Subtle smells of rope-
Burned flesh
Slaves lynched on the strike of noon

On a tree
S t r e t c h o f L a n d


A 2023 Best of the Net nominee, Keith Hoerner’s work has been anthologized—as well as featured in 100+ literary journals across five continents. He is the founding editor of the Webby Award recognized Dribble Drabble Review, in addition to a Best Book and American Writing Award Finalist.

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