Poems By Esther Popel Shaw

Here are two contrasting poems by Esther Popel Shaw.

April Passed My Way” is a gentle but bitter-sweet account of a fleeting romance.

Flag Salute” is a searing denouncement of a lynching in Maryland. The poem weaves lines from the Pledge of Allegiance through the narrative of an atrocity.

You can learn more about the life of this poet here.

April Passed My Way

April passed my way, and Romance

Followed after to my door;

Lingered shyly, gently watchful

For my welcome; more and more

In her manner fascinating

As she held my eye—

Standing at my doorway, waiting,

Anxious not to pass me by!


Romance came, along with April,

And I let her in;

Shared with her my heart’s deep secrets

And, to my chagrin,

Off she slipped and, when she left me,

Stole my treasures all away!

Romance came and went with April!

There is nothing more to say.

Flag Salute

I pledge allegiance to the flag

They dragged him naked

Through the muddy streets,

A feeble-minded black boy!

And the charge? Supposed assault

Upon an aged woman!

Of the United States of America

One mile they dragged him

Like a sack of meal,

A rope around his neck,

A bloody ear

Left dangling by the patriotic hand

Of Nordic youth! (A boy of seventeen!)

And to the Republic for which it stands

And then they hanged his body to a tree,

Below the window of the county judge

Whose pleadings for that battered human flesh

Were stifled by the brutish, raucous howls

Of men, and boys, and women with their babes,

Brought out to see the bloody spectacle

Of murder in the style of ’33!

 (Three thousand strong, they were!)

One Nation, Indivisible

To make the tale complete

They built a fire —

What matters that the stuff they burned

Was flesh — and bone — and hair —

And reeking gasoline!

With Liberty and Justice

They cut the rope in bits

And passed them out,

For souvenirs, among the men and boys!

The teeth no doubt, on golden chains

Will hang

About the favored necks of sweethearts, wives,

And daughters, mothers, sisters, babies, too!

For ALL!