“shackles” © Heather Katsoulis (

By Shirley Jones-Luke


Ideologies do not enlighten
just like a noose doesn’t loosen
swing high, strange fruit, carrying
bondage on wooden ships bound
for a world that was only new to Europeans

They sought a better life by ending the way
of life for natives who welcomed them with open
arms & taught the pilgrims how to survive
the wilderness, generosity can be a trap

History is a weight that makes my back ache,
my knees buckle from the strain of injustice,
because there is no life preserver for our pain.

Shirley Jones-Luke is a poet and a writer. Ms. Luke lives in Boston, Mass. She has an MA from UMass Boston and an MFA from Emerson College. Her work examines the Black Body through the lens of culture, gender, race and society. Shirley was a participant at Breadloaf, Tin House and VONA workshops during the summer of 2018.

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