Get Your Premium Membership

A Poem For My History Teacher

I wanted to write The best slavery poem ever written— Perhaps win a Pulitzer or Faulkner. I had every intention of conforming To the standards Of modern verse and composition, Lyrics fluidly written, Perfect in frame, tempo and time, but a lot of my thoughts on Slavery (and the Holocaust) Were just too difficult to rhyme. And though I found a few words that rhymed with Oppression— Most were slanted. Granted not angry enough To leave my true impression. Forgive me for my error of expression. Maybe Dickinson, Keats or Elliott could have written this Poem In a more graceful form. So I suppose I'll use prose to get me through this metaphorical storm. It's going to rain so be warned. I'm sure you'll find at least one example of ASSONANCE in this Thesis, which is repetition of similar vowels, if you search carefully through the words, but no guarantees. For just doing the research on the Middle Passage was a painful enough TRIP (no pun intended). I can only imagine how much more painful It must have been to have been there. If you scale through my paragraphs I'm sure you'll find a few examples of IRONY. I know I included it in here somewhere. And reading of a Black woman Running through an icy lake with baby in hands, Trying to dodge the slavers gun, The masters whip and rod, Screaming "Help us God"- Chased into a cold lake by a Beast more colder And then saved by the waiting arms of death— Sometimes PERSONIFICATION can be too real. How do you use ONOMATOPOEIA to describe the sound of Adolph Eichmann Throwing a Jewish child Twenty feet up in the air and shooting it before it hit the ground? I wanted to compare these mother's screamings But both ELEGY and PROSODY let me down. Or when you read of a Jewish woman Who had to quiet her baby By feeding it her own Urine To keep a murderous Nazi soldier from killing it. How do you analyze the above sentence to see if the meter is correct or if the syllables are TROCHEE or ANAPEST. I couldn't do it but I tried my poetic best. Or a Polish woman who strangled her own child just so the Germans wouldn’t do worse. Blake or Kipling can you help me put this in FREE VERSE? Or a Black woman in the belly of a slave ship; Breaking the chains— Tossing her baby into the sea, Saying "You ain't gon be no slave like me!" As she was shot and killed. This doesn’t need a TOPIC SENTENCE And has no Theme- There are a million and one listings On Google under Bad Dreams- Neither slavery or the Holocaust was listed. If it's in Yahoo I certainly missed it. And I rushed through a stack of History books trying to find something happy to write about, But no Historian ever recorded Happy Christmas memories of slaves eating half cooked chitterlings and raw cornmeal by the fireplace While the Master ate steak in the kitchen— This just ain't happy ish. Seven million dead relatives Can really make Hanukkahs and Passovers a real drag and ruin Birthday celebrations. As for ALLITERATION, I could only think of a lone sentence. Why in the Hell did the Holocaust Have to happen? How? Millions of human beings executed in showers while thirty-one Kings or more played Golf. I'm sorry if the rhymes are slanted or if the rhythm is off. I could have used the word 'ovens' instead of 'showers' but what teacher gives extra points for METONYMY. And how do you PARAPHRASE an account of a Black man, who quite possibly could have been one of my great Grandfathers; Each of his legs tied to a separate horse, Each horse sent in an opposite direction, severing his legs from his body— while the captors cheered— Pregnant Black women made to stand near. And if written in a more creative form, Would it hurt any less? How do you write of ‘Castration’ with grammatical correctness? Sometimes verbs and subjects Refuse to agree. I just wish I could find the right adjective to resolve the discrepancy. And could Frost in all of his genius and wit, have put to poetry the painful wailing of a Black child snatched savagely from the breast of his mother? A White child placed there to nurse. Sometimes its hard to care if the semi-colon is in the right position or if the quotes or the comma comes first. And though the sentence "Screw Hitler and all parties responsible for the Holocaust!" Is not model English and probably inappropriate; I’d like to say it for each of the seven million Jews who died senselessly, With no lawyer, court or voice. I hope I don’t lose too many points for bad diction or poor word choice. And I wanted to include ANASTROPHE which is verb and subject reversal, but whether I write: "Three hundred million paraded to the Atlantic shore, never to see Africa no more." Or if I write "Never to see Africa no more, three hundred million, paraded to the Atlantic shore." The rhythm may be different but it’s still just as painful to write. Or hearing our finest scholars Debating whether Slavery or the Holocaust was worse. This I can’t even put to verse. And is there ever a properly ending paragraph or conclusion for slavery even when it still lives today in Somalia and Darfur. The Holocaust was Slavery. Slavery was a Holocaust. All is Never lost... Tyranny in the world is real. Let us use these Archetypes to heal. I end this Thesis By irresponsibly misquoting Cummings— Pardon the double negatives, But Auschwitz was doubly A negative experiences as well: " Pity this busy monster, [indifference], not. Progress is a comfortable disease." "...A world of made is not a world of born-- pity poor flesh and trees and stars." [Pity poor us]. That’s my Thesis for Contemporary English 201. Thank You. I'm done. Michael Ellis

Copyright © | Year Posted 2021

Post Comments

Poetrysoup is an environment of encouragement and growth so only provide specific positive comments that indicate what you appreciate about the poem.

Please Login to post a comment

Date: 8/14/2022 1:44:00 AM
I'm new to P.S. so hadn't read your poem. It is magnificent, beyond words. Thank you for the experience! Elizabeth
Login to Reply
Date: 8/11/2022 6:52:00 PM
Michael, I needed to be reminded, so I read your magnificent piece of writing again this evening. Tears are still rolling down my cheeks. What a gift!
Login to Reply
Date: 8/8/2022 6:24:00 AM
What can I say, very dark and revealing just needed to tell you I read it and it struck a chord, thank you.
Login to Reply
Date: 4/18/2021 9:38:00 AM
You bring these issues to life with your words Michael. I’m lost for a way to properly express how moving this is. Hugs Rick.
Login to Reply
Date: 4/17/2021 5:04:00 PM
Michael it’s heartbreaking to read of such atrocities inflicted on human beings. You have said what needs to be out there for all to see, and you’ve said it so well... Belle
Login to Reply
Date: 4/17/2021 7:15:00 AM
-Cont You are true poetry. In my opinion, folk are sleep on your gift. If I could write with just a smidgen of your skill, I would be happy. I'm adding this to my fav collection. Have wonderful day and weekend- Alexis
Login to Reply
Ellis Avatar
Michael Ellis
Date: 4/17/2021 10:16:00 AM
Sometimes there is awesome Power in One or two, i.e. one ocean, two eyes. What you said is my equal of a thousand who remained silent to my poetry. Today you inspired m.e. to continue this journey. And to not be a Poet who tries to write what everyone wants to read. There has to be a poet in the grey area, who writes to the soul. I value your support like sunshine & daisies. To me you are enough.
Date: 4/17/2021 7:11:00 AM
WoW! Michael, What a moving, clever and creative piece of poetry. Your approach to writing this poetic masterpiece was outstanding. I have never read a piece about slavery and the holocaust like this before. It is hard to read this; you described everything in such a real way. Slavery and the holocaust shouldn’t have never happened. I agree that the holocaust and slavery are the same. Your writing skills are outstanding. I am shocked that more soupers are not reading and commenting on your work.
Login to Reply
Ellis Avatar
Michael Ellis
Date: 4/17/2021 10:20:00 AM
I once received four letters from an aging Pulitzer Prize winner who told me to keep going. She dies a few years after those letters. I am haunted with a sense of purpose and not popularity. It is the heaviest burden in the world. But if I can reach One or two perhaps each of those will carry the love in the words to five or six more. And we will create a love Tsunami (Did I spell that right..LOL. Thank You Alexis for being wind beneath my winds and a bird who shares my sky
Date: 4/14/2021 7:26:00 PM
This is an incredibly moving piece of work, Michael. I read it very carefully. It is difficult to like these lines, but the poem flowed nicely and was filled with imagery, the worst kind unfortunately. The message was clear...all too clear!
Login to Reply
Hankins Avatar
L Milton Hankins
Date: 4/15/2021 7:47:00 AM
Fine job, Michael. I wish I could write like least occasionally. Keep up the good work. You do not need to slither into any old molds!
Ellis Avatar
Michael Ellis
Date: 4/14/2021 8:15:00 PM
Sometimes Sir Milton I get so lost in the Poetry scheme. I know poems are supposed to be pretty, scented & waxed and that violin sounds should come between the lines. Sometimes I want to be those poets but that was never my gift. It just comes out graphic and raw. I tried to be like other poets but it didn't work. I just want the victims to be heard in a real form...This is their story