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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