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POEM -- Empty Plate

Empty Plate

By Thomas Herr

January 17, 2005

There’s an empty plate of faceless
Sitting on my country table.

There’s an empty plate of faceless
Lying on their backs.

Head to Toe
Row upon Row
The faceless shackled Negroes
Stare back at all who care to look.

Care to watch them screaming?
Care to hear them wail?

I stare down
Like a child
At the plate of horror
As though I couldn’t leave it
Until I was finished picking.

Or face an early bedtime.

Empty plate of faceless Negroes-
It’s part of a set, I think.

Empty plate of faceless Negroes-
I don’t know what to do with it.


  1. I remember the inspiration for this poem. I ran across a collectible antique plate, either online or in a shop that looked interesting at the moment. But when I picked it up and looked closer...I was horrified. The poem is about shame, and forgiveness, and remembrance.

    Remember to love your brother.

  2. Hmmm . . . I don't find this the least bit offensive (got my hopes up). Probably has something to do with the fact that in Spanish 'Negro' means 'Black' as is used the same way English speakers do when they say 'Blacks'. Hell, I call all my black friends Negro and they don't mind one bit. All HATERS should CHILL!

    Anyhow, other than being relatively inoffensive, a fine poem!


  3. Thanks OE! Haters should chill.