The old Colossus

The old Colossus stands forgotten,
    a statue stained
her copper gown besmirched in green
stained in verdigris of poor and exiles lost:
the trafficked girls destined for the seedy rooms
    of underground bordellos
    where dreams are raped,
the toddler separated from his parents,
the drug mule dying in an overdose
    from her cargo bursting,
the rejected boy from Idlib
    who saw his brother dying —
    choked from noxious gas.
The old Colossus turns her back
to these who lost their life in nine eleven.
    to these, the homeless, tempest-tost,
        and cries.

Statue of liberty by Andy Warhol

Today we Amaya hosts a prompt on 9/11 at dVerse and the task is simple (and hard) simply go back to earlier entries you have made on this date and write something using phrases or word from a previous entry. I found one from 2013. I think it ties back to those events, and looking back it has really changed the way we see the world and how we treat each other.

The phrases I used are
her copper gown
seedy rooms
underground bordello

and some quotes from The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus put on a plaque on the Statue of Liberty.

September 11, 2018

32 responses to “The old Colossus

  1. I love this b/c it’s true. In 9/11 , but even before that more than a 100 years ago when Irish, Italian, Jewish-German, and Eastern European immigrants came to the US, and as history tells we’re treated horribly in the 5 points district. I think even though Emma Lazarus, who wrote the original was full of hope, and had a better situation then most immigrants, this truth still exists today with immigrants from Mexico and the Middle East. But, that terrorism, unlike people, has no stereotypes and like lady liberty in your poem “rejects all cargo”. Today & A’s far as History goes, Lazarus’ plaque abd her words on Lady Liberty are most definantly “besmirched.” And 9/11 further proves this loss of hope, maltreatment, and the loss of the American Dream. Although in 9/11, for immigrants, US, citizens, and visitors of every background, terrorism was a horror that held no stereotype as death. Perhaps, that itself is worse than the situation of those who were Perry persecuted and lived terrible lives as immigrants, all so their children could have a better future. But then, both are pretty horrible.

    Wonderful response!

    • There are so much things that started with the horrific actions of 9/11… and I think looking back how it was earlier is a lesson. There is a book called Swede Hollow in Swedish, describing all the bad treatment Swedish immigrants received…

      • That’s awful. Yes, 9/11 is a new kind of era, then forgive the term, simple war. It’s a powerlessness and fear we can’t react or end this kind of battle. As fir the immigrants, many peoples I think felt similar. What gets me is that immigrants a generation before or after, are the ones mistreating the new immigrants, often.

  2. She used to have two guardians watching her. Parents maybe, or older siblings. But they were killed and with their death an era reigns in which neither our women, our innocents, nor our freedoms stand protected. This was a moving tribute piece, Björn.

  3. The stories of heroism still live, the takes of sacrifice and goodness. My cousin was in the second tower and barely escaped with his life. He and a secretary helped each other down the long stairs. She died last year from lung cancer. My cousin is dying from lung cancer. The company for which he worked, Dark Horse Comics, has paid for his care, insurance, and house payments. So no, these refugees from that terror are not solely forgotten.

  4. Such a powerful write, Bjorn! 9/11 was a horrible tragedy that occured .. so much has happened since then.. sigh..

  5. You really nailed it by renaming the Lady. This is a powerful and passionate piece, brother. “Coming to America” no longer has the ring of freedom in its song.

  6. Scary, Bjorn. These were living scary lives before the disaster though this was theirs to crater with the rest. But the rest have their names on the wall, these are the forgotten unnamed soldiers. Well written, they have my sympathy.

  7. Well said.
    Those open arms have been betrayed many times by the ignorant, and sadly, since 9/11 that has been compounded by an institutionalized fear mongering that has reached its darkest depth in current times.

  8. I grew up in North Jersey and was able to see the NYC during the commute to my summer job. Several of my dearest friends have deep ties to the city. There was so much heartbreak on that day, but the saddest thing is that we as a country have turned our back on what are supposedly one of our most cherished ideas because of fear.

  9. This is such a powerful read, even more so because of the tragedy that marks 9/11. I believe Lady Liberty still stands for hope and acceptance, and hopefully one day, she can stand tall again.

  10. Masses still huddle, still yearn to breathe free. Perhaps hope can still cause a turn again, thank for this brutal honesty piece. Sad ironic, poignant, infuriating. Oh that we could find the better angels of our nature.

  11. I particularly like her copper gown besmirched in green
    stained in verdigris of poor and exiles lost as well as where dreams are raped, Strong imagery, Bjorn.

  12. Indeed our lady must weep daily as her bright ideals are tarnished and diminished. You have said it all, in beautifully expressive words.

  13. Lady Liberty can’t keep welcoming immigrants forever, for the same reason you can’t go on filling a cup forever: Eventually the cup’s full.

    There’s a logical solution, but according to some (cf. Genesis 3:16) we’re doomed never to be able to implement it.

  14. You have really captured the reality of the dark side of immigration both then and now. We want to paint history with a beautiful coating of good memories, when in reality some actually sold their soul for a chance at a better life in America. Well done. Your ending is perfect.

  15. It’s an interesting read here, Bjorn. I read the poem; then all the comments; and then the poem again. It is especially interesting as written by someone outside the US. 9-11 was a horiffic day for the world. What is happening across the world is that masses of people are trying to escape their living hell – fleeing to anywhere they hope will be better, will allow them to enter. Somehow, in all of it, people tend to forget they “why” people leave their home countries other than that pat phrase, “to seek a better life.” What is happening in the U.S. now is abhorrent to me. I rather think of the Statue of Liberty as holding a torch that is being suffocated…….and I think of her as tears dripping from her copper stained face….and hoping someone, somehow, will stop the madness that is trying to extinguish the flame. If that makes sense? But you are right in terms of many many many turning their backs…
    Fear is a powerful motivator and when fear is flamed by prejudice and lies and self-aggrandizement, it becomes extremely dangerous. Oh my…you’ve got me going here! Take this long diatribe as evidence of the power in your writing here!

I try to reciprocate all comments. If you want me to visit a particular post, please direct me directly to that post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.