The Statue of Misery


On October 28, 1886,
the US President
Grover Cleveland (who
As Erie County sheriff
On occasion — when
no hangmen could be found —
Executed men himself)
Stood in the mist, in the midst
of New York Harbor,
on a former oyster island,
And presided as the giant
copper tower gleamed
Complete at last

In spite of that,
Some four months later
Cleveland signed the Dawes Act
Atomizing native lands
And giving them away to,
among others, railroad companies
Whose cars, in that same year,
Were segregated
For the first time
Then, in 1889, a poll tax was designed
and signed
In 1890, Mississippi
Changed its constitution
To disenfranchise its Black population
As that year neared its end
In December, on the 29th,
Near South Dakota’s Wounded Knee Creek,
Two hundred fifty
Three hundred maybe
were slaughtered
In the morning
by the Army
Then as now,
The statue stood
Unable to help
Unable to move
Unable to count the atrocities
Of all the false philosophies
Of men
Surprised they haven’t yanked her down
To break her into bits
To make their copper bullets with

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