A Portrait of the Lynching of William Brooks July 22, 1901
by E. William Martin

View of the Remains: Elkins, West Virginia

It came from the east, like plague
Yet this was no Pan-European famine set
Nor consequence of some bad weather spell, like ancestor's told.

More than what agriculture could hold in itself
There was need for this kind of assembly
For the township gathering from miles around

For the event:
If we didn't hush we could miss it.
The trial of charges brought out

Down from the glory of God
To scold the wicked and uphold the righteous
No witnesses came forward.

Some say there were some
But they ran because of their tired conscience.
One drowned, one killed himself -- the others, I don't know.

He killed that chief of police with his hands and
With a rock while Lilly was trying
To take him in for what he'd done.

The little ones stood clutching their mother's womb
With the haunted silence of any first time witness of evil
There first taste of blood.

Almost like taking communion
For the first time, an anxious scare in the dark.
This is my body, broken for you.

After he had been dead for ten minutes
Hanging there we watched him
Watched him for his soul to make the leap

To escape from the holes in the skull
Like music to attack our crowd of onlookers
To try and get its last demonic outbreak.

One more hurt before we dropped it.
But he was too mean for it.
Ground shakes with the angry

God-wrath breathing -- vigilante is waiting
He raped her cause she loved him, barely bred.
Civility white seed sprouting household

Benign with this natured savage.
We could take pictures with it soon
And crowd around, a whole bunch of us

Get in real close and touch.
Capture what we done -
That son of a bitch.

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