“Negroes on the main street of Roxboro, North Carolina”

Tony Reevy 

FSA photo by Jack Delano, May 1940, LC-USF33-020508-M5

Gathered on the corner
black men, boys in faded overalls, old coats—
talking price of tobacco, crap
game, new woman in town.

Big-city boy
steps up—
taking photos for FDR.

Might be a cop—
we ain’t done nothing—
anyhow, can’t be arguing
with the man.

They wait while
he sets up—asks
them to stand and talk
just like you were.

Man does his shoot,
and it’s a good one,
but there’s the sideways
look in their eyes—

tobacco-town street
corner—cold, steel-hard
stare, wishing the picture
man gone.


Tony Reevy has more than one hundred publications including poems in Asheville Poetry ReviewNow & ThenOut of LinePembroke MagazineThe Kerf, other journals, ten anthologies and four chapbooks: Green Cove StopMagdalenaLightning in Wartime and In Mountain Lion Country. His works also include non-fiction articles, short stories, and two non-fiction books. He is senior associate director of the Institute for the Environment at UNC-Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.