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Kathmandu on My Mind
by Margaret Chase

A whole day we spend there
Edgy monkeys nibbling fruit, eyeing us shyly, boldly
mother large and near.

A day amid architecture circa 1920,
most rococo, half-restored,
fortified by German marks.
So-so Sauvignon Blanc in the Moorish gazebo, a lone pigeon pacing.

Open-mouthed, heads back, we gaze at mirrored domes.
The bartender, polishing goblets, muses “This place was nearly razed.”

Lotus, sculpture, wine and sun
roses, lovers, lawns, and vines
fountains, turrets, secrets

O my Garden of Dreams, I stand, smiling, at your gate,
pinned by the grace
of your flowers.

PHOTO: Spring pavilion, Garden of Dreams, Kathmandu, Nepal, by Anil Acharya, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Garden of Dreams is a neo-classical garden in Kathmandu, Nepal, built in 1920. It features about two acres of gardens with three pavilions, an amphitheater, ponds, pergolas, and urns. After decades of neglect resulting in crumbling pavilions, overgrown paths, and loss of the subtropical flora, restorations were undertaken between 2000 and 2007 with the support of Austrian Development Aid in collaboration with the Nepal Ministry of Education.The renovation project has become a model project for the sustainable development of other historic sites. (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem in 2010 while visiting my daughter in Nepal. The entrance to The Garden of Dreams is subdued, giving no hint of the magnificence and calm beyond. Miraculously, the structures within The Garden withstood the earthquake of 2015 with minor damage. A century after its 1920 arrival, The Garden is still resplendent. The poem feels alive to me, especially in this time of pandemic, desperation, and upheaval. Despite cataclysmic events, we can hope that our world is not entirely shattered…that our common human foundations will persist. History and culture, imagination and beauty live on, and still incite us to create. Despite, or perhaps because of prevailing conditions, we can still heed Voltaire’s advice: “Let us cultivate our garden.” We may cultivate alone, or collectively, but we must never stop dreaming.

ARTIST’S STATEMENT: I am captivated by the human impulse toward transcendence, and how that quest affects behavior. I love the rogue’s gallery of humanity, and am drawn to understand what drives people to give themselves over to a vision. I dwell in and explore the intersections of art and disability. Imagining and portraying women’s lives compels me. Environments that push the individual to break through, from strange dystopias to sumptuous dreamscapes, intrigue me. I am curious about transgressors. History and its ghosts interest me. The willingness to be vulnerable and to take risks in performance attracts me, and unexpected theatrical combinations in voice, characterization, physicality, and interaction. All forms of art are living languages, and catalysts to expand the vocabulary of the imagination.

PHOTO: The author at The Garden of Dreams in Nepal.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Chase is a writer (poet, playwright, editor) and theatre artist (playwright, director, actor). She explores artforms for wonderment, expression, transformation, and community. She delivers words, whether atop a local industrial container or from the Central Park Bandshell in New York City. Pendulum, her two-woman play about mind games in the age of terror, was recently produced at Manhattan Repertory Theatre, and she is at work on her fifth play, Resurrecting Lady Dada. She has a cochlear implant and declares that “It’s good to be bionic!” She once sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” for 800 people on 15 minutes’ notice. She believes in cramming as many lives as possible into this earthwalk, and loves artistic collaboration. Find more of her work at sociallydistantart.com, disartnow.org, instagram, and macaccess.org.

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A Memory Palace
by J.P. Slote

The impression is of a huge stone pile, a palace of white marble blocks stacked by a giant child from a race of giants. There are bigger buildings, taller atriums in this city, but inside the entrance hall of the New York Public Library’s Manhattan Main Branch on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, one is awed by the massiveness of the entire endeavor.

The eye is deceived—distance is skewed. Tiny little faces of people peer down from behind the stone railings of the stone balcony above; the ant-like proportions of people climbing up and down the massive stone stairs at the two ends of the stone chamber; the massive stone arches through which tiny modern people enter and exit. Escher’s impossible logic—simultaneously ascending and descending, coming and going—materializes for a surreal instant.

Other senses are affected. Sounds are both muffled and amplified—whirr of two archaic fans posted like tall sentinels on either side of the open entrance door (so mid-20th century). The ripeness of bright summer heat blowing in, unfiltered, from the city smells archaic in the vast, hushed, and darkened interior. The ear loses its bearings: echoes echo off stone—through the arches, around the pillars, down the staircases, along corridors seen and unseen.

The enormous hall puts one into an odd associative or dissociative state of mind. Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul. A line of poetry (“The Chambered Nautilus,” Oliver Wendell Holmes) floats to the surface of the mind, from a children’s book (The Diamond in the Window, Jane Langton) read long ago about a brother and sister trapped in a dream, in a seashell, by the ocean’s shore, who discover the doors to their many-chambered prison open as they recite lines of poetry. Ever-grander sentiments release them into ever-grander chambers—until they tumble out onto the sand just in time to escape the rising tide.

A mausoleum, a memory palace, built to hold, encompass interiority (thought, dream, memory, desire). The space is real, finite, concrete—but the dream is illusive and infinite.

PHOTO: New York Public Library, Main Branch, by Vitaly Edush, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A few years ago, I did a summer seminar at The Cullman Center Institute for Teachers, an enrichment program for New York city public school teachers of humanities. My cohort met every morning in The Cullman Center’s offices inside the New York Public Library’s Main Branch on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street to work with a Cullman Writing Fellow, reading and discussing a wide variety of creative nonfiction, and in turn writing pieces of our own. Our first assignment was to choose a location in the building and describe it fully. “A Memory Palace” is the result.

PHOTO: The author inside the New York Public Library, Main Branch.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: J.P. Slote is a poet, actor, and educator. Co-founder of Loretta Auditorium, a collaboration of theatre artists, she is the author of Loretta Auditorium Presents The Body of Loretta, three plays on the pornography of power, free will on the free market, and arousal in the public realm, published by Fly by Night Press and soon to be available at www.tribes.org. A native New Yorker, She lives and works on the Lower East Side, the neighborhood of her immigrant grandparents, where she teaches literature and writing to a new generation of young adult immigrants.

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Wounded Eurydice
by Jennifer Finstrom

     “At least I have the flowers of myself,
     and my thoughts, no god
     can take that;”
          “Eurydice,” H.D.

The Art Institute opened again on July 30,
and that makes you want to take the 147
bus downtown and stand outside watching
people go in but not yet entering yourself.
Over the past year, this is the place you’ve
come for first dates, for other dates,
immediately after a man you liked text-
message broke up with you, and you
don’t need to go inside to feel again
the heavy door opening, to walk past
the gift shop, take your membership
card out of your purse and show it to
the attendant before climbing the stairs,
your hand on the smooth rail, and then
the slow drifting from gallery to gallery,
through Medieval and Renaissance Art,
Arms and Armor, back around to European
Painting and Sculpture where you find
Corot’s Wounded Eurydice in Gallery 224,
snake-bit, contemplative, moments before
her death. This place is your only church,
and one day soon you’ll be sitting on the steps
outside, the many ghosts of your past selves
moving in and out of the doors, caught like
Eurydice in their own frozen moments,
unable to take back anything that’s happened,
but not seeing what waits beyond it either.

PHOTO: The Art Institute of Chicago by Ben Krut, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Almost exactly one year ago, I began a collection of ekphrastic poems about dating in my fifties. The direction the poems are taking is shifting in recent days amid the climate of uncertainty, but I’m still making progress.

IMAGE: Wounded Eurydice by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1868/1870), Henry Field Memorial Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In Greek mythology, Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music. (Source: Wikipedia.)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jen Finstrom is both part-time faculty and staff at DePaul University. She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for 13 years, and recent publications include Dime Show Review, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Rust + Moth, Stirring, and Thimble Literary Magazine. Her work also appears in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and several other Silver Birch Press anthologies.

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The Bean
by Steve Bogdaniec

Get up close and you see yourself, stretched and pulled, along with all of the other people around you. From farther back, you see a famous skyline reflected in an oddly rounded way.

But with repeated viewings, it becomes a magical mirror.

Something a little different each time.

In daylight, clouds, faces, the tan concrete tiles underfoot, and buildings can share focus. At night, the lit-up buildings and streetlights take over.

Sometimes, I’ll walk up to it with the rest of the crowd and inspect my own reflection, and others, I’ll want to ponder it from farther away.

Sometimes, its message is clear, and other times, not. Is it trying to tell me something, or am I trying to get it to tell me something?

It changes every time. But it’s always something.

PHOTO: Cloud Gate (The Bean), stainless steel sculpture by Anish Kapoor, Millennium Park Chicago. Photo by Ian Whitworth, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Downtown Chicago didn’t need another landmark. It’s a city full of them, full of steel, of decorative and imposing and very tall buildings, of bridges dressing up an otherwise dreary river, of weird big public art instillations. But The Bean IS impressive. Its official name is Cloud Gate. But Chicagoans don’t care. It’s ours, and we’ll name it what we like. According to Chicago’s website, The Bean (Cloud Gate) is a public art structure designed by Anish Kapoor and was unveiled in 2006. It is completely rounded, curved in on itself, and is covered in polished stainless steel that creates a “mirror-like surface.” It is 66 feet long, 33 feet high, and has a 12-foot arch in the middle you can walk under and through. (The website says that arch is the “gate” part of the name. I still don’t see it.) The sculpture is located in Millennium Park, on Michigan Avenue, in the busiest part of the third biggest city in the United States.

PHOTO: The author and his wife, Sondra Malling, at The Bean — an engagement photo taken by Shad Pipes (December 2014).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Bogdaniec is a writer and teacher, currently teaching at Wright College, Chicago, Illinois. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in numerous journals, most recently in Eclectica Magazine, Silver Birch Press, and Jellyfish Review. His work can also be found in the Nancy Drew Anthology: Writing & Art Inspired by Everyone’s Favorite Female Sleuth. Check out stevebogdaniec.com for links to published work and updates on new stuff!

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Giverny
by Chris Precise

I was a guest in Claude Monet’s home for a dewy day. It was a beautiful oasis, tucked away in the countryside behind dripping wisteria and giggling daffodils. A woman in one of his paintings called to me in the study. She held a parasol and stood at the crest of a hill’s rolling wave of endless green, rising above it as though weightless. I almost reached my hand out to her to pull me through the canvas into the frame mounted on the wall. I imagined myself closing my eyes and dissipating into the hues of the paint to become the strokes of the brush, where I would play a larger role in the grand scheme without worrying about someone getting too close to find detail in me that I could not find in myself.

The Woman with a Parasol allures me still. On the days where I wish to melt into the background, I can see her featureless face blending into the vast blue sky behind her, telling me to come with her. Instead, I roll over in my bed and lose count of the bountiful brushstrokes that make up my body without knowing where one ends and another begins.

Light yielded itself upon Giverny as the time came to depart for home. While the countryside faded into the background, the woman in the canvas did too. Her perpetual motion up close became suspended in time as the distance between us increased on my return to Paris, and the mirage of our likeness evaporated. I am not the touches of frozen oil slowly achromatizing as the years counted themselves. I am my own Impressionist canvas, speckled with the soft colors of my survival and bearing light for harvest. I am here.

PHOTO: Water garden at Claude Monet’s home and garden in Giverny, France, by Gilles Bizet, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The theory of les touches in Impressionist period art, the touches of the brush on the canvas, fascinated me, the visible strokes created through the mastery of Monet, Renoir, Degas. They bent light at the whim of their brushstrokes, gods birthing new universes I so desperately wished to be a part of. Lately, I have been trying to find a sense of self: a facet of identity or defining memory that will ground me into a sense of who I am. Until that day, which may come tomorrow or 50 years from tomorrow, I will be satisfied with the process of making my own oil paint touches as I construct an image of my being.

IMAGE: “Woman with a Parasol” by Claude Monet (1886).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chris Precise is a Black nonbinary scholar-writer-activist in the making. Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a current student at Swarthmore College, they study Black diasporas around the globe and enjoy reading Black feminist and DuBoisian theory. Much of their narrative and creative nonfiction writing rests tucked away in tattered Moleskine journals, but they aspire to soon share more of themself and their stories with the world. For more, visit preciselychris.carrd.co.

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Before the Levee Comes Down
by Kyle Laws

Murals stretch up in the afternoon sun
and what’s reflected back into the river
are primary colors painted on the levee
by those who dangled by ropes from the top:
reds, yellows, and blues.

And as the river flows east the blend of primary
becomes secondary: red and yellow become orange,
yellow and blue become green. This is the function
of levee—creation of color as river moves over stones.

Where the river eddies, in the swirl where kayaks
hope not to tangle, are remnants of last night’s party:
barbecued pork rinds mingled with burnt twigs.

Underfoot is a crush of rock that is trail. My boots,
thick-soled, can scale the opposite bank. I can pull
myself up by saplings that know there is water,
that have roots enough to get me to a place

where I can see the murals, not in reflection,
but as if atop the horse Lady Godiva strides
that’s next to the rendition of Joan of Arc.

Even with the smell of algae, I want to drink
of the river, submerge myself hidden in a cluster
of trees, know that as I arch my back to rinse hair
of debris, green will trickle into my mouth.

I stumble down the wooded bank, take off boots
and orange-ringed socks, watch paintings for what
could be the last time while feet whiten cold and
stiff in the river from a slip of rock that extends
into the Arkansas on its way to Kansas.

Previously published in Turtle Island Quarterly and in Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019).

PHOTO: Mural on levee along the Arkansas River in Pueblo, Colorado. Started in the late 1970s as isolated patches of graffiti, the sprawling mural grew to become almost two miles long and 58 feet tall.  (cpr.org).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The levee along the Arkansas River through Pueblo, Colorado, built for flood control, featured the longest outdoor mural in the world. In 2014, the top layer was taken off for repairs and the height shortened. All the paintings were lost except for a small section that contained ashes of the artist, Judith Pierce.   

PHOTO:  The levee in Pueblo, Colorado, after the top layer was removed, before what remained was resurfaced. Photo by Allison Kipple, used with permission. For more about the mural, visit cpr.org.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kyle Laws is based out of Steel City Art Works in Pueblo, Colorado, where she directs Line/Circle: Women Poets in Performance. Her collections include Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing, 2018), This Town: Poems of Correspondence with Jared Smith (Liquid Light Press, 2017), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press, 2015), and Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014). With eight nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Germany. She is editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press. Find her on Facebook.

licensed funnerusImmigrant Waves
by Lowell Murphree

They aren’t much, I know
so very little

coming and going like that
foreign and undependable

a little movement
at the tip of a long Cheatgrass stem

the string of them along
my canal go mostly unnoticed

but this stand alongside the neighbor’s
pasture fence

is the Pacific
subducting at the Coast and

rising in the body of a
Mongolian immigrant stem-waver two hundred fifty miles inland

just as did these hills twelve million years
before we tried to close the borders.

PHOTO: Pictured are Central Washington’s Kittitas Valley, the town of Ellensburg, the Yakama River, and the Manastash Ridge. Photo by Funnerus, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Central Washington’s Kittitas Valley is known for its frequent strong winds that sweep down the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains to the flat land across the Columbia River. Watching the Cheatgrass move in waves along a canal bordering my home was the inspiration for exploring how external forces shaped and continue to form and shape my homeland. Manastash Ridge is a long ridge extending eastward from the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington State. These ridges rose from the earth’s volcanic activity 12 million years ago as a result of the subduction of the Juan de Fuca Plate under the North American Plate which also pushed up the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges.  They are a spectacular part of the drive eastward from Seattle toward the Columbia River. Manastash Ridge forms the southern border of the Kittitas Valley where I live, a desert valley made verdant by irrigation canals constructed largely by immigrants who settled the valley with the coming of the railroad. Cheatgrass was introduced to the Western states from Eurasia, used initially as packing material and is considered an invasive species.

PHOTO: The author at home in Central Washington’s Kittitas Valley with Cheatgrass and the Manastash Ridge behind him.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lowell Murphree lives and writes in the Kittitas Valley near Ellensburg, Washington.  He works with local and regional early learning nonprofit organizations as a grant writer, board member, and volunteer.

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Promontory
by Rachel Hawk

In August 1965, my friend Barbara and I drove out of Ohio and headed to San Francisco. Unlike our friends, we weren’t ready to get married, buy houses, and have kids. And thought we might never be. We had other dreams and imagined livelier, more varied lives in a beautiful city by the ocean. Because we were nurses, finding work would be easy. Zigzagging across the country, we stopped whenever something caught our fancy. The Golden Spike National Historic Site did just that.

In 1869, two teams of men completed the building of this country’s first transcontinental railroad, laboring toward each other from Iowa and California. For 1,912 miles they  burrowed tunnels, built bridges, and laid down track. It was a massive, arduous, dangerous undertaking. Finally, on May 10th at Promontory Point, Utah Territory, the men hammered a commemorative gold spike into the last, connecting rail, joining east to west. Surrounded by tents, saloons, and boarding houses, the crowd of dignitaries, railroad workers and owners brandished their whiskey bottles, posed for pictures, and cheered. The dangers of crossing multiple raging rivers, deserts, and mountain ranges in horse-drawn wagons had been conquered, making it possible for thousands to travel safely. It had been considered an impossible dream.

When Barbara and I visited, everything — trains, buildings, even the tracks themselves — were gone. As true of many landmarks, there was only a descriptive sign; nothing remained but the story. It was enough. Standing in the wind of that vast beautiful high-desert plain, the excitement of a great endeavor caught us. This was a monument not only to hard work and accomplishment, but also to dreams — and we had our own.

PHOTOGRAPH: National Park Service sign for the Golden Spike National Historic Site, Promontory Summit, Utah, by Sue Smith, used by permission.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Between 1863 and 1869, as many as 20,000 Chinese workers helped build the treacherous western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad that began in Sacramento, California. When not enough white men signed up, the railroad began hiring Chinese men for the backbreaking labor. Chinese workers blasted tunnels through mountains, cut through dense forests, filled deep ravines, constructed long trestles, and built enormous retaining walls. Chinese workers were paid 30-50% less than their white counterparts and were given the most dangerous work. As they approached the meeting point with the Union Pacific at Promontory Summit, Utah, thousands of Chinese workers laid down 10 miles of track in less than 24 hours. Progress came at great cost: Chinese civic organizations retrieved an estimated 1,200 bodies along the route and sent them to China for burial. The transcontinental railroad’s completion allowed travelers to journey across the country in a week — a trip that had previously taken more than a month. Politicians pointed to the country’s great achievement, failing to mention the foreign-born workers who had made it possible.

Source: “Remember the Chinese immigrants who built America’s first transcontinental railroad” by Gordon H. Chang, professor of history, Stanford University, Los Angeles Times, May 10, 2019.

PHOTO: Chinese workers toil in a treacherous stretch of the Transcontinental Railroad in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, late 1860s. (Source: National Park Service.)

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PHOTO: Ceremony on May 10, 1969 for installing the golden spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, representing the completion of the First U.S. Transcontinental Railroad. At center left, Samuel S. Montague, Central Pacific Railroad, shakes hands with Grenville M. Dodge, Union Pacific Railroad (center right). They are surrounded by men who built the railway — but Chinese workers are noticeably absent. Many of the laborers who worked their way west on the Union Pacific Railroad were Irish immigrants — about 3,000 in all, many of whom were veterans of the Union Army in the Civil War. They, too, faced dangerous working conditions and hardships. Photo: Andrew J. Russell, Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, used by permission.)

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PHOTO: In 2014, on the 145th anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad’s completion at Promontory Summit, Utah, a group of Asian-Americans, including descendants of Chinese railroad workers, recreate the iconic photo taken without their ancestors in 1869. Photo (c) Corky Lee, All Rights Reserved. 

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PHOTO: Plaque at Promontory Summit, Utah, placed in 1969 to commemorate the centennial of the U.S. Transcontinental Railroad and to honor “the Chinese workers of the Central Pacific Railroad whose indomitable courage made it possible.”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Today, at the Golden Spike National Historic Site, visitors can see full-sized exact replicas of the original (and colorful!) Victorian-era locomotives. According to the National Park Service website, the site now features a visitors’ center as well as driving tours, hiking trails, and re-enactments of driving the Last Spike.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Hawk facilitates a weekly writers’ forum. Her personal essays explore both the interior world of the narrator and the nuances within relationships. Her current work utilizes elements of memoir in narrative form.

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The Return
by Anne Namatsi Lutomia

In Ghana also once known as The Gold Coast
Exist twelve forts now world heritage sites
Built by the Portuguese, Dutch, British and an Ashanti King
Elmina Castle aka St. George of the mine castle was my point of return

Full of fear and curiosity, I visited Elmina Castle in Cape Coast
Leaving behind the hustle and bustle of the coastal town
Spying waves of the Atlantic Ocean smashing the black stones on the      beach
Was welcomed into a sad, empty, dirty whitewashed fort with brown roof      tiles

Now descendants return to see, smell, touch and pay homage to their      ancestors
Entering various doors in the castle
Doors where people and goods stolen, snatched, taken away were      exchanged
At the door of no return, people now slaves left for good

I entered the rooms at Elmina, rooms of a lived contradiction
Of a normalized life by the slave master
Rooms where life was enjoyed to the fullest
Rooms where misery was felt to the fullest

Above a church, kitchen, bedrooms and dining room
Rooms where deals were made
Rooms where rape took place
Rooms where the master lived

At the bottom dungeons and slave rooms
The female dungeon where I felt their spirits and smelled them
The solitary confinement where the guide shut me in – I screamed
And the door of no return where I saw the Atlantic Ocean and the boats

As I left the castle, I read the Elmina Castle plaque
A promise for similar injustice never occur
A memory of those who had died
An invitation to those who return

PHOTO: “Elmina Castle, 2016” by Anne Namatsi Lutomia.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Elmina Castle was erected by the Portuguese in 1482 in a location known in the present day as Elmina, Ghana. The site was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, and the oldest European building in existence south of the Sahara Desert. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became a stop on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. Captives, both men and women, were imprisoned at the castle, and later branded, placed on a ship, and sent to a foreign land, where they were auctioned off, then sent to work for their owners. The Dutch seized the fort from the Portuguese in 1637. The slave trade continued under the Dutch until 1814. In 1872, the Dutch Gold Coast, including the fort, became a possession of Great Britain. The Gold Coast, which is now Ghana, gained its independence in 1957 from Britain, and assumed control of the castle. Elmina Castle is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  (Source: Wikipedia)

PHOTO: Skull and crossbones mark the door to the dungeon at Elmina Castle for male slaves slated to be transported on ships and sold at auction. Credit: Nancy Haggarty, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by a trip that I took to Ghana in 2016. Although I am not a descendant of slaves, I visited the castle to learn and to pay homage to those who had undergone this dehumanizing experience. My visit stayed with me and gave me greater understanding regarding African Americans and others whose ancestors were enslaved.

PHOTOS: Elmina Castle, Ghana, on Atlantic Ocean, by Sergey Mayorov, used by permission. Sign at Elmina Castle by Anne Namatsi Lutomia (2016).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Namatsi Lutomia is a budding poet and a member of Champaign Urbana (Illinois) poetry group. She enjoys writing poems about her lived experience and nature. She writes poems in Swahili on Twitter in malumbano style, where poets respond to each other through their poems. She has published poems with BUWA and recently published a poem in the Silver Birch Press Wearing a Mask Series.

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Let’s Hear It for the Horses
by Tricia Knoll

One million dead in the Civil War,
if you count the mules.
Which I do.

I say, blowtorch the rebel men
off their statue mounts and keep
the horses prancing on their pedestals.

They were not traitors
to their country, showed no sign
of caring who they carried,

black or white, male or
female. No one questions
their service to equality.

They did the work
they were asked to do
without a nod at glory.

Previously published in the author’s collection How I Learned To Be White. 

PHOTO: Monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Charlottesville, Virginia, by Patrick Morrissey, used by permission. The photo shows an orange safety barrier erected around the monument to prevent vandalism.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: In April 2017, the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, voted, by a margin of three to two, to remove the Robert E. Lee monument as a remnant of the city’s Confederate past and defense of slavery.  During the following months, protests erupted over the statue’s removal. On August 12, 2017, counter-protester Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others injured when a protester drove his car into a crowd that had gathered to support the monument’s elimination. Two years later, in June 2019, James Fields, 22, was sentenced to life in prison plus 419 years for the crimes. A Virginia law went into effect on July 1, 2020 giving local governments broad powers to take down war memorials. Charlottesville is now in attempting to have a judge remove a prior injunction preventing the city from taking down the statue.  As of late July 2020, the Robert E. Lee monument remains in place.

PHOTO: Virginia Senator Tim Kaine stands before a makeshift memorial for Heather Heyer, who was killed by James Fields on August 12, 2017 in a car ramming incident. (Source: Office of Senator Tim Kaine.)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I have been horse crazy since I was a child. At the age of 72, I just finished a book on the history of wild horses around the world by Dayton O. Hyde. I admire the horses who sit under the Confederate generals in statues around the country. I am glad to see the statues coming down, but I think too of the horses.

PHOTO: Woman and horse at sunset by Viacheslav Nemyrivskyi, used by permission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Tricia Knoll’s work appears widely in journals and anthologies. Her collected books of poetry include Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press), Ocean’s Laughter (Kelsay Books), and Broadfork Farm (The Poetry Box). Her recent collection How I Learned To Be White received the 2018 Indie Book Award for Motivational Poetry. Read more of her work at triciaknoll.com. Find her on Amazon and Twitter.