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Sunday, September 22, 2013


by Donna Barkman

MADISON, WI (WKOW August 27, 2013) -- Capitol Police have been arresting the Solidarity Singers for gathering without a permit since late July.  But for the first time on Monday, those arrests turned violent.
Lady Liberty on Lake Mendota.

They forced me to my knees—the censors
and the haters of your speech, no longer free.
The cost of congregating: a strong fence
and the punishment for protest songs, a fee
or jail time— length to be decided.
My mouth is gagged, I gasp for breath
since they wrapped me, thickly iced,
strait-jacketed, to await my death.
But my tablet bears the law of freedom—
still!—and dated Independence Day,
so legislators are forewarned we’ll come
to march and sing, and have our say.
Imprisoned lightning – my torch – will thaw
our frozen rights:  reclaim our law!

Author's note: Text in italics from "The New Colossus" (1883) by Emma Lazarus, engraved on The Statue of Liberty.

Donna Barkman lived in Madison in the 70s and watched Miss Liberty on ice from her office window in Helen C. White Hall.  Since then, she continued as a librarian and added the job titles of performer, writer and teacher.