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


scurvy crossed with bouts of homesick


Exiting through the

Door of No Return and spat out into



Shipwrecks and mutinies

Northstar and sextets

could never accurately


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


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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