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Friday, May 01, 2015


by Patricia Jakovich VanAmburg

Image source:  A Guide to the History of Slavery in Maryland (The Maryland State Archives, Annapolis MD and the University of Maryland College Park, MD)

Why did we not see cargo arriving
with the first slave ship whose
rotten timber roiled the harbor
leaving tobacco in our pockets…

cargo of manumission’s
low skilled “quasi-freedmen”
filling local factories for
twenty percent cheaper wages
and a city of transient pockets…

cargo of professional
“blood tub” rioters and
Know Nothing fraud
dividing a city until
free Blacks were pocketed
into segregated education…

cargo from World War II
steel Liberty Ships promising
jobs for thousands of poor
white southerners while
expanding corporate pockets…

cargo from decades
of racial blockbusting
depreciating neighborhoods
building heroin ghettos
bulging pockets of crime…

We should keep in mind
what we put in our pockets.

Patricia Jakovich VanAmburg teaches literature at Howard Community College in Columbia Maryland where she is also affiliated with The Little Patuxent Review. Her most recent chapbook is titled Watching for Birds.