Friday, August 4, 2017

Poetry Friday: Statues in the Park

The challenge this month (given by Laura Purdie Salas) was concise---but wide open to form, point of view, language, and theme. Simply put, we were asked to:

 Write a poem with the title, "Statues in the Park."

I immediately thought of these figures near our DC home:

Yes, that's Lincoln.  Lincoln in Lincoln Park.  We went there often to people-watch, and were amused by the picnicking hipsters, and the frolicking dogs, and the cake-eating toddlers and their parents.  Good times.  But those days were not what I chose to write about. For me, statues are never just statues...and nothing is ever as fixed or as settled as we hope it is.

Statues in the Park

He is Lincoln. Lincoln in Lincoln Park!
While the slave cowering at his knees is twisted
with gratitude, underfoot as a beaten dog

as his chains are cut by proclamation
and people say—as they should—
that to show no struggle from within

but only liberation from without
is a lie—but I don’t know how to make a statue tell
the truth—every history has moments

we tag, and point to, and judge—
before we release them to whirl
in Lincoln Park which today, is a rallying point

for the KKK; no hoods, but raised signs
and a line of police horses so high you can look
into their pulsating noses and feel the earth shake;

they make a dam for the permitted
to flow safely into the street, numb
to the world; I cannot remember

a single face, only the snorting
as they walked out of Lincoln’s Park
leaving it to children who dodged

being caught, one by one, until
arms outstretched, their mosquito-bitten
legs gleaming, they stood frozen—

no one free
until all are free.

---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

Each of my poetry sisters has written a poem to this title, too.  Go see:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by MainelyWrite.


  1. Wow...from concise directions to this incredible thoughtful and moving poem. You never cease to amaze me with the words you choose...a dam for the permitted, liberation from without is a lie.
    Very thoughtful and well done. Thank you.

  2. This one was difficult to write. I'm grateful that my Poetry Sisters use a Google doc to share our poems prior to Poetry Friday---a place where we can share comments and revise in supportive setting. This month in particular, they helped me find a balance of facts and emotions. As for word choices, thank you for the encouragement! That is one of the things I LOVE about poetry---the chance to flaunt words, if I may be so bold. To show how many ways they can be used, to play with their assigned meanings and see if we can go somewhere adventurous.

  3. The little change you put in the end helps this be ONE poem about ONE thing, but I know it was hard to corral all of the thoughts. I think it works well to leave it to the children, mosquito bitten little legs and fierce stances remaining... gleaming with bug spray, perhaps? Or, is their skin dark, and this is why they catch the light?

    SO much to delve into!

    1. Thanks, T. I like my poems to have some closure...but not too much. I want people to want to delve. :)

  4. Sarah, I love your line about not knowing how to make a statue tell the truth. Clearly, the answer is to write a poem about it. This one came out just beautifully.

  5. Sarah, I love your line about not knowing how to make a statue tell the truth. Clearly, the answer is to write a poem about it. This one came out just beautifully.

  6. I love how you've frozen this moment with freeze tag, a statue, a line of police horses, and your poem, to make us look hard (pun intended) at what's going on around us.

  7. Makes me wonder about other statues and moments frozen.


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