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Wednesday, June 17, 2020


by Elizabeth Spencer Spragins

The city of Fredericksburg, Virginia, has removed an auction block marking the spot where African Americans were once displayed and sold as slaves. —CNN, June 13, 2020

Blackened gold
Smolders where the slaves are sold.
Shackles lacerate each limb;
Children whimper unconsoled

And taste fear.
White-washed faces laugh or leer,
Peer at teeth and backs stripped bare.
Captives stare at auctioneer,

Gaveled god,
Passing sentence with a nod,
Smiling when his skills inflate
The going rate for unshod

Doltish brutes.
Chattel’s role is buffing boots,
Groveling at each command,
Plowing fields and plucking fruits.

Evil’s hold
Burns the human heart with cold.
Only embers banked from pain
Melt the chains of blackened gold.

Elizabeth Spencer Spragins is a poet and writer who taught in American community colleges for more than a decade. Her tanka and bardic verse in the Celtic style have been published extensively in Europe, Asia, and North America. She is the author of With No Bridle for the Breeze: Ungrounded Verse (Shanti Arts Publishing) and The Language of Bones: American Journeys Through Bardic Verse (Kelsay Books). "The Auction Block" is an example of a Rannaigheacht Ghairid.