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Tag Archives Atlantic Slave Trade

CONTAGION

‘O happy posterity, who will not experience such abysmal woe,  and will look upon our testimony as a fable.’ Francesco Petrarch

 

Somewhere near the estuary of the Don,

with its mudflats and meanders, north

of the Sea of Azov, and somewhere

near the Volga Delta, with its pelicans

and flamingos, north of the Caspian,

on the steppe lands are black rats and fleas

and yersinia pestis. The rats

like human warmth, and the fleas can leap.

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LIKE A FIRE BELL IN THE NIGHT

‘It is an article of faith that knowledge of the past is a key to understanding the present.’
The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South Kenneth M. Stampp

 

While the patrols inflamed the sudden sky
with bodies charred beyond race, runaways,
still green from the deep forests of Guinea,
crossed Georgia’s strange, red earth then the barrens,
where pines sighed like ancestral ghosts, and swamps,
where vipers lisped in honeysuckle,
to reach the shore and walk home through the sea –
whose waters, as they drowned,

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