Scenes from Hell


John J. Dunphy

(This haibun was published in the 10/21 issue of Failed Haiku.)

A black man dangled from a tree limb. The noose around his neck clearly had been tied by someone with experience in such matters. His torn overalls had been pulled down, but I couldn’t tell if he had endured mutilation.

I also saw a woman and man, both black, hanging from a bridge that spanned a river. The woman’s head tilted to her left side, while the man’s head tilted back. His pants were down around his ankles, leaving him naked below the waist. A number of white persons, including children, had gathered on the bridge.

Yet another black man had been tied to a tree and burnt alive. Much of his arms and legs literally had been burnt off. What remained of his body was now carbonized. He was barely recognizable as a human being. White men stood behind his blackened body. In the background I saw a number of persons who had climbed a tree so that they could get a better look at the corpse.

Thoroughly sickened by now, I left.

antique shop

within a locked glass case

lynching post cards

Author’s note: Yes, post cards that consisted of photographs of black Americans who had been lynched by white mobs were indeed printed and marketed in the United States of long ago. Here is an example. It’s the front and back of a post card that shows the lynching of a man in Texas in 1915. The person whose handwriting appears on it refers to this lynching as a barbeque.

You can find additional examples of lynching post cards on line.

John J. Dunphy owns The Second Reading Book Shop in Alton, IL USA. Google him to learn more about this enigmatic person who is such a gifted writer and poet.