Ricci L. Niles “Paradise Lost”

Paradise, Lost

by Ricci L. Niles

The Oracle predicted walls of waves

tempests, strange faces, strange tongues

places even stranger

 

In griot song, nights by fire and ritual dance

the elder never alluded

 to how the story would end

or begin, for that matter

 

In the blackbox -no theatre-

in the galley hold

 

fetid with agony

   tarred with human bile and all manners foul

 starvation

scurvy crossed with bouts of homesick

 

Exiting through the

Door of No Return and spat out into

exile

 

Shipwrecks and mutinies

Northstar and sextets

could never accurately

pinpoint

the compass lines of cruelty

 

No nautical instrument

can ever gauge

the longitude of inhumanity

 

Critical masses

suffered the cancer

of massa’s whip

 

it metastasized, unchecked

for generations of

orphaned children

 

The hull

came to rest

 

on a uncharted reef  

without name or language to call its own

 

Blown off course

by leeward, vagrant winds

 charted and piloted by dark deeds

Cargo, lost

 

There are no blackboxes on slave ships.

 

 

On shore, the griot and the elder

try the tale, tell

 

But in the spaces,

only weeping.

About The Author

niles

A Native New Yorker and published poet and writer, lover of all things poetry, piano, literature, and coffee- Ricci won numerous English Department and CUNY-wide achievements.  Although rooted in the Liberal Arts tradition, she seeks to align her varied passions with her burgeoning pursuit of public interest law. Ricci is most proud of being an aunt to Tyler + Chase, and winning an Innovation Grant for alternative energy for Athgo/The World Bank Headquarters. She intends to author poetry and children’s books while pursuing multiple English and J.D. degrees.

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