Follow the Drinking Gourd and Straight on ’til Morning

Kindness Bicycle @ Dumbo

Step right up, step right up
to the Neverland tent,
A fantasy spectacle meant
to educate and entertain
by displaying a world without bondage.

This isn’t unfamiliar,
for the privileged have been living it
since the days of the emancipation proclamation.

They say we did our part,
fought the good fight,
and now it’s over, right?
The battle’s been won, so isn’t enslavement
just a few pages in the textbooks
of Egyptian and American history?

Well, ladies and gentlemen,
let the three rings inside help you decide
the price of admission.

To the right, Captain Hook’s private ship
sails into the circus from our history.
It hosts an assortment of manual laborers
pirated from pyramids, conquistadores,
concentration camps and cotton fields.
The finest yacht in the seven seas
sails happily under the Jolly Roger who
preaches silently that we enjoy freedom now
precisely because others had their power stolen.

A child called Wendy sits in the middle ring.
She pretends she is sleeping
and hopes he will not wake her up.
He always looks different,
he is always the same.
A wolf in another wolf’s clothing,
the slavery of today.

A politician says she cannot choose
what to do with her body or mind,
A John decides her body is his.
The whole time, Wendy sports bruises
and cries for Peter Pan
to take her far away from this place.
Wendy cannot escape,
no matter how much fairy dust
she shakes over her oatmeal.

The left hoop shows the servitude of tomorrow.
Lost Boys learn on YouTube
how to be desensitized to racial violence.
They believe slavery cannot exist
if you close your eyes hard enough against it
and cannot wait for Taken 3,
where Liam Neeson completes
a Hollywood trilogy defeating
made-up human traffickers.

We forget that videos are inspired by reality,
that they really happen
but without the cinematic hero
to save the day for people in distress.
We can be those champions.
We can be defenders of human rights.
We can be superheroes.
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2 thoughts on “Follow the Drinking Gourd and Straight on ’til Morning

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