Katherine Webb's Bad Drawings for Good Poetry: Jones

Magic City Gospel by Ashley M. Jones (Hub City Press, 2017)

From Ashley M. Jones's "Viewing a KKK Uniform at the Civil Rights Institute":

All you can really tell at first
is that it was starched.
Some Betty Sue, Marge, Jane,
some proper girl
with a great black iron
made those corners sharp.

This was the first poem of Ashley's I ever read, and in six lines, she knocked me in the gut. By putting the horrifying hood of a klansman into the hands of a Betty Sue, we're forced to reckon with the ways terror began and begins in domestic settings, among familiar faces. The poem also reminded me of the first time I visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. My brother and I were kids, afraid to look closely at the photos, afraid we'd see someone we knew—and loved—in one of the white mobs.

Katherine Webb is responsible for our Bad Drawings for Good Poetry feature. She is a writer, editor and educator in Birmingham, Alabama, where she directs the Nitty-Gritty Magic City Reading Series. She's always on the lookout for new writers to host. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Bitter SouthernerPANK, among others. She’s not a visual artist.