From my book, Black Shadows and Through the White Looking Glass — one of my favorite passages


On the auction blocks,
male and female and even child,
bronze bodies oiled and buffed,
prepared to be sold
like used furniture.
Bare black breasts weighed
with rough white hands,
squeezed like fruit.
Teeth exposed,
dirty white fingers
rubbed across pink gums.
Large, piano-shaped
ivory teeth tapped,
new music emanating
from this mouth forced open –
the gift of song.
The span of hips
measured with lecherous eyes,
calculating the number
of children she can bear.

Demure white ladies
who’d insisted to come along,
hatted and veiled,
fan in hands,
covering their faces
up ‘til their eyes,
batting them in disbelief
at the strange fruit hanging
from sturdy tree trunk-like
ebony legs.

Their eyes did their
own calculating,
sized them up.
Was it possible to –
no, impossible!
A lady couldn’t
she just couldn’t.
They had to stifle screams
just at the thought of it.

There were screams.
Screams as they were taken
from Mother Africa.
Screams as they were shackled
in holding pens.
Screams as they were forced
on slave ships.
Screams as they jumped
to their death,
into the waiting arms
of the deep,
or into the jaws of sharks
who knew the itinerary
of the triangular trade.
Screams in the holds of ships,
where the rapes began.
Screams when they alighted
on foreign land.
Screams when they were separated
and placed on auction blocks.
Screams at the bodily invasions.
Screams in the slave quarters,
where the rapes continued.

Screams when they’re beaten
into submission,
‘til they’re beaten into silence.

These screams are now
thought to be silent,
but they can still be heard.
They echo off the walls of history.
They are remembered and relived
in the collective unconscious.
They can still be seen,
in every woman of color,
the different shades of color –
fifty-five strains.
Look deeply into her eyes.
See the past reflected there.
Glance at the descendants
of the children
she was forced to bear.
And scream,


About William Eric Waters, aka Easy Waters

Award-winning poet, playwright and writer. Author of three books of poetry, "Black Shadows and Through the White Looking Glass: Remembrance of Things Past and Present"; "Sometimes Blue Knights Wear Black Hats"; "The Black Feminine Mystique," and a novel, "Streets of Rage." All four books are available on
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