Gabriel was a blacksmith who read of Haitian revolt, how Toussaint Louverture defeated white Europeans and threw off the shackles and yoke On the Isle of Saint-Domingue, gone were pin and loop In his mind he must have been baffled by the words Thomas Jefferson wrote: that all men are created equal, yet he was counted but three fifths of a man In Gabriel’s vision of enlightened revolution, if someone posed an impediment to freedom, they would be put to death. Only Frenchmen and Quakers could be spared. But he never foresaw the matter of floods, betrayal, and a pardon two centuries late Betrayers told how his anvil rang like a church bell as he beat the iron with his hammer, forging pikes into spears, sickles into swords, how he wore out bullet molds He was tried by a court of five planters whose arrogant hearts filled with fear When they saw how well slaves plotted they knew they had underestimated the man Gabriel gave no names and accepted the blame but told of his careful plan: capture the armory, take hostage Monroe, to deliver from bondage his sisters and brothers and spread rebellion through the land He rode on the tumbrel alone, hands bound behind his back, a West Coast African slave steeped with the blood of Oonis and no last name of his own From the gallows in Shockoe Bottom they hung him. Quietly standing without a word, he accepted the noose, then, soul let loose, flew away on the wings of the wind. * * * * * J. Thomas Brown lives in Richmond, Virginia with his wife and family. His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Other published works include two historical fiction novels, a patremoir, and a short story collection.
Tag Archives: historical poetry
Chaim Goldberg, born 1917, in Kazimierz-Dolny, a Polish shtetl, died 2004 in Florida, USA. The Nazis may have destroyed his artwork, but the artist and his memories survived. Dancing across canvas Shtetl life seeps from each canvas. Taste the fog of smoky nights. Breathe in the aromas of the Challah bread baked to welcome in Shabbat and the festival foods: Chanukah donuts, Purim cheesecake, apple and honey for a sweet New Year, and herrings – there were always herrings. Shtetl life stumbled from Cossack threats and pogroms to Heil Hitler salutes and conscription. The Polish army was no place for a young Jewish artist. He ran from Warsaw’s barbed wire but his parents remained, their words echoing into the ether, ‘The Germans would never hurt us Jews.’ When, in time, the artist recreated his portfolio the Holocaust permeated each canvas with dark days, yellow stars and dread. Above the darks he painted spirits rising from the smoke. The shtetl was gone but not so its memory of love and family, of prayer and music. Each brushstroke echoed the breath of a thousand souls singing out, ‘Forget, oy oy, forget. It’s over so why would you not dance?’
Rosalind Adam is a writer living in Leicester, UK. She has had three children’s books published and her poetry has appeared in a number of anthologies. In 2018 she won the G. S. Fraser poetry prize for Fresh Canvas and, in the same year, she was awarded a distinction for her MA in Creative Writing at The University of Leicester.
Johnstown, PA. September 9, 1889 Half my life has been spent in motion, and so it is fitting I conduct my field work from this abandoned box car. What do I need beyond a wooden crate for a desk, milking stool for a chair? My spine a sufficient backrest. Four months now since the great flood, and already we've built housing for scores of homeless. Running water, both cold and hot. No person in need of clothing or food is left empty-handed. Money in pockets. Thanks to my nurses, the typhus is contained. If only we could heal broken spirits. I trust time will do its best work there. Never have I been prouder to see Red Cross banners flying above our white tents. General Hastings has proved a worthy partner I recall our first meeting in June when, ankle-deep in muck, hatless, doubtless disheveled, I stood surveying the devastation when he swung down from his horse, and offered his hand: Dear woman, may I assist you? I had to hide my smile. At the end of a long day, I prize the night's silence. Let the visions of wreckage, the bewildered faces fall away. I stretch out on a cot narrow as myself, and feel the fatigue in these old limbs. Glad for clean bedding and a woolen blanket this rainy night. I shall not leave until my work here is finished. Daily the town rebuilds, home by home, shop by shop. Smoke from the Gautier steel works will rise again, like Lazarus, having nothing whatever to do with miracles.
Barbara Sabol’s fourth poetry collection, Imagine a Town, was published in 2020 by Sheila-Na-Gig Editions. Her work has appeared most recently in Evening Street Review, One Art, Mezzo Cammin, Literary Accents and Modern Haiku, and in numerous anthologies. Barbara’s awards include an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She lives in Akron, OH.
DEAR OPPORTUNITY, 1945 Unfortunately it appears there has been a bit of bait & switch Kitchen duty (no sir) Latrine-mopping (no sir) Butter-cutting (no sir) Trash-collecting (no sir) Uncle Sam advertised new skills – FREE education snappy uniform with a stipend Black & White WACs alike but (no sir) black strike arrest - court-martial temporary insanity (no sir) useless defense O opportunity separate but equal is a chokehold bound to get checked her foot her note her voice her disobedience her foot her note her voice her defiance WAC Privates Mary Green Johnny Murphy Anna Morrison Alice Young
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Stacy’s poems, plays, and visual art have been published in Black Arts Quarterly, New American Writing, Foglifter, The Georgia Review, and elsewhere. He is a Cave Canem poetry fellow, and recipient of an individual artist grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission. He has been a contributing editor of Foglifter literary journal and was formerly on the board of directors of ZYZZYVA literary journal.
St. Petersburg, Russia: January 1740 One: In a creamy damask gown, trimmed with gold lace and ornaments, with accents of sulphurous yellow, a heavy gold cross breathing on her full bosom, the Tsarina held court. Graceful, imperial, and fat, thought Golitsyn of Anna Ivanovna. Only last week, in the royal hall, settled in a basket, he had flapped his arms, resigned to clucking— a chicken for the royal amusement And yesterday, mounted on a dwarf, he had jousted with another unfortunate, balanced on the back of a court clown, until all four were flailing, grabbing, gouging each other’s eyes, bloody. Prince Golitsyn drew in a long breath, listened politely as the Spanish ambassador addressed the Empress in Russian with an accent that inhaled the final letters of each word. Orange trees, myrtles, and palms lined walks on either side of the Grand Hall while, behind potted screens of trees and flowers, courtiers and ladies fanned themselves and whispered. Gobelin tapesties depicted scenes from a primitive world, lush, filled with tigers, monkeys, Indian geese, and cranes. Along the walk, caged nightingales sang as the scent of perfumes circled and re-circled the expansive room. Servants in yellow-and-black livery served fruity wines and vodka in abundance, though drunkenness was never allowed. In one corner, dancers in brightly colored domino— orange, green, blue— ruffs at the neck, with tiny hats sporting gold and silver cockades, danced a quadrille played by an Italian orchestra. Near the Tsarina a pair of enormous leopards, in embossed silver and flat-chased work, their collars encrusted with emeralds, their faceted eyes brilliant in the reflected light, watched fiercely. Enchanting as any mid-summer’s dream, Golitsyn sighed. Only the porcelain stoves and the windows staring glassy-eyed at the frozen Neva below betrayed the atmosphere of summer solstice—the black earth invisible beneath the snowy landscape, the sun pale, winter’s blue-white chill transformed by magic and rubles. Two: Prince Golitsyn shivered, respectfully welcomed the address of the Tsaritsa. She was seemingly gracious, double-chinned, her skin swarthy, her features coarse. Dark hair fell across her shoulders, her eyes sparkled with pleasure, wine, and conversation. The prince listened as she spoke. He knew Anna, her history: niece to the imperious Peter the Great, and a childhood that could scarcely avoid beheadings, hangings, cruelty that left heads on pikes, bodies dangling from beams or gallows; marriage at seventeen to the Duke of Courland, a miserable wretch, who died a week after the wedding; nineteen years, alone, unhappy, seemingly banished from Russia to Mitau in a remote German duchy; then, ascendance to the throne of all the Russias after the deaths of Peter, his wife, Catherine, and the boy Tsar, Peter, the Second; the scale of excess, the magnificence: the 10,000 dresses, the palaces, the silver, the glittering jewels; the exotic animals that roamed the gardens, fair target for the Tsarina who took aim from palace windows at the unsuspecting beasts; the dwarfs, the hunchbacks, the giants, the fools who pleased Anna’s less obvious deformity of spirit. the 2000 dissenters each year exiled to Siberia; the secret police who exposed and executed traitors; and, of course, the Tsarina’s unpopular alliance to Ernst Biron, a brusque German with no fondness for Russians, a man Anna shared with his wife. Golitsyn focused on the eyes of the Tsaritsa, noticed again her left eye slightly flecked in lighter violet. Then the announcement. Anna had arranged a marriage and festivities; he was to be the groom to an unknown wife. The music temporarily ceased; outside Golitsyn heard the honking of a goose. Three: Skybend….all in grays. Birds froze, fell out of the sky. Cathedral bells splintered the icy air. Golitsyn was to marry Avdotya, a Kalmuck serving woman. Nicknamed “Buzhenina” for the Tsarina’s favorite dish, roast pork with spiced vinegar and onions, she was pink, plump, thoroughly peasant. Golitsyn’s first marriage, disapproved of, had made him an object of vengeance, court buffoon. Now he was riding in an iron cage, swaying atop an elephant as it lumbered along to the wedding reception. No more precarious than any day at court, he mused. Bride and groom were barely visible under fur coats, muffs, and hats. Behind them followed costumed natives, Tartars and Lapps, Finns and Cossacks, Bashkirs and Kalmucks on horses, camels; members of the court rode next in sleighs drawn by a menagerie of reindeer, rams, bears, wolves, and pigs. At midnight another procession. The ice palace was lighted with torches. Hundreds of candles shown from within, radiating their soft brilliance through transparent walls. A tribute to Palladio, the edifice stood eighty feet long, thirty-three high, and twenty-three deep; surrounding the house, a balustrade topped with balls of ice, and cornices, columns. Six niches in the façade held statues, while over the entrance, four-winged putti flew; ice dolphins, an elephant, cannons, and marvelous fountains adorned the exterior. Trees and plants, sculpted from winter’s resources, bloomed amid their surroundings. Inside….all crystal ice….bottles, boxes, candlesticks, an elaborately carved ice mirror, benches, shelves, dishes, goblets, tea sets, a clock whose inner works of moving, interlocking wheels were clearly visible, a deck of playing cards, their suits realistically painted, and an ice bed for the newly wedded couple. The Tsarina dressed in brown, with only pearls for decoration, standing beside Biron, laughed a dark laugh. Golitsyn suddenly remembered words he had heard from Timothy Arkhipovich, long ago a tutor and houseguest at Izmailov, Anna’s childhood home: “We Russians need no bread; we devour each other and are satisfied.”
Ann Power is a retired faculty member from The University of Alabama where she worked as a coordinator for the Bibliographic Instruction Program, University Libraries. She enjoys writing historical sketches as well as poems based in the kingdoms of magical realism. Her work has appeared in The Pacific Review (CSU San Bernardino), The Puckerbrush Review, Limestone, Spillway, Gargoyle Magazine, The Birmingham Poetry Review, The American Poetry Journal, Dappled Things, and Caveat Lector.
The Copperfield Review seeks to publish the best in historical short fiction and historical poetry. We proudly announce our second anthology of historical fiction.
Anthology Submission dates: April 1, 2021 through August 31, 2021. Authors submitting to the anthology can expect a response to their submissions beginning September 1, 2021.
Anthology submissions should be sent through Submittable. There is a $3 reading fee. The word Anthology should appear in the submission title.
- Fiction: Submit one short story of historical fiction of up to 4000 words. The story must be historical fiction, though it may also be a sub-genre such as historical romance, historical mystery, etc. We do not accept alternative history submissions.
- Poetry: Submit up to 3 poems in one document. Poetry should be either historical fiction or based on a historical subject.
Copperfield’s second anthology of historical fiction is scheduled for publication in October 2021.
The anthology will be published in ebook and paperback formats. Authors whose works are chosen to appear in the anthology agree to have their stories or poems appear in marketing materials to promote sales of the anthology.
Authors who agree to appear in the anthology grant The Copperfield Review the right to publish their work in ebook and paperback formats in the anthology. Otherwise, authors retain all rights to their work and they are free to license or sell their work however they wish. Future publication of work that appears in the anthology should be noted as first appearing in The Copperfield Review’s anthology. Copyright of the anthology collection itself is owned by The Copperfield Review.
In my collection of poetry Occupied: Vienna is a Broken Man and Daughter of Hunger, I explore the time period in which my mother grew up in post-WW2 Austria. The book became an idea after I wrote “Hunger,” a poem based on her stories of that time period. My mother was declining with Alzheimer’s, and because she was losing her memory, I conceived a book based on the few stories I remembered and research. I focused on the children. The main sources I used were After the Reich by Gile MacDonagh, Wir Besatuzungskinder: Toechter und Soehne Allierten Soldaten ERzaehlen by Ute Baur Timmerbrink, interviews, and online sources.
From MacDonagh I learned about how the Allies responded to the victory of the war not as liberators but as conquerors. They put soldiers in prison camps and treated them similarly to the Jews. Rheinwiesenlager was one of them, where the prisoners were set in barracks, fed little, and forced to endure the cold out in the hail. They ate little out of their tin cans of food and slept on wooden bunks with no mattresses. Mock executions tortured them. America exercised its revenge and felt justified. The women during the war fended for themselves because most men were away on the battlefield, and food was scarce. The Russian soldiers often raped the women and some children were left homeless. The first section of my book explores the experience of people, mostly children, during these hungry postwar years.
The Austrians suffered more hunger than the Germans because Germany had more infrastructure and industry and was able to recover more quickly than Austria, which had an economy based more on agriculture. An entire bartering system started, where people traded their watches, shoes, cuckoo clocks, etc. for food. I perused antedotes and characters that MacDonagh wrote about to understand, for example, how many apricots were worth how many bottles of schnaps.
I also interviewed Helmut and Ingvild Birkhan and my uncle in Austria. Helmut grew up with a socialist father who never fought in the war. They stayed outside of Vienna in a village. He had to wear an old pair of his mother’s high heels to walk a mile to the school. They gathered nettle, berries, and mushrooms in the forest. When the Russian soldiers came during the occupation, they hid and built shelters out of brambles because the other women hiding in a shelter in order not to be raped wouldn’t let his family join them, since his family had a young baby who cried and made noise that would alert the Russian soldiers. Ingvild Birkhan told me stories of how she and her mother and siblings moved several times. When they left their first shelter, they buried half their belongings. They, too, gathered food from the forest and desperately tried to hide from the Russians.
Some women became pregnant and gave birth to Besatzungkinder, “Occupation children.” Some came from loving relationships, women who fell in love with Allied soldiers who took them out to see music, dance, and drink schnaps. Many of the Americans were African American, and the children born through these relationships grew up in a still racist country where they were frowned upon for being “Negerkinder.” Some were from Russian soldiers who were kind. Some were fathered by rapists. These children usually grew up fatherless, and the mothers were frowned upon.
My mother began declining from Alzheimer’s when she turned sixty. When she resided in a nursing home and lost all her memory, then her language, it was then that I wished I had asked for more stories. What I did know was that they lived in Russian-occupied Leoben, Austria, and my grandmother died of Lupus at thirty-five, leaving my nine-year-old mother and her three siblings to an abusive stepmother and years of hunger.
In the Midwest, where my mother immigrated with my mentally ill father, I grew up as an American. My mother labored all summer in the garden, and our fridge was always packed. The second half of my book explores my life growing up in a family with an immigrant mother and a mentally ill father, who in 2010 committed suicide by throwing himself out of a window in Vienna. The metaphorical broken man of Vienna became the literal broken body of my father.
We need to look at the period after the war as a warning. Immigrants are separated from their families on the border of the U.S. and right-wing countries are gaining traction throughout the world. If we do not address history and learn from it, everyone will suffer. If we project our shadows onto the very bodies we share as the human race, the cost could be tremendous, and we will all pay the consequences.
Kika Dorsey is a poet and fiction writer in Boulder, Colorado and lives with her two children, husband, and pets. Her books include a chapbook Beside Herself (Flutter Press, 2010) and two previous full-length collections, Rust and Coming Up for Air (Word Tech Editions, 2016, 2018). She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize four times. Currently, she is an instructor of English at Front Range Community College and works as a writing coach and ghostwriter. In her free time, she swims miles in pools and runs and hikes in the open space of Colorado’s mountains and plains.
I. May. The Moon When Ponies Shed Their Shaggy Hair. Horsemen against a red western sky ride through White River Valley. Warriors, women and children trail in the twilight dust, ghostlike, pushing forward, reaching back to the bleeding horizon. Buffalo gone. Freedom gone. The sacred circle broken. Huddled by the fort at the foot of ancient cliffs, places of dreaming, they chant the peace song. Dog soldiers and Indian scouts surround the horsemen: Little Hawk, Big Road, He Dog, and their chief, the man they call Strange One. In silence he roams among them, noticing none but the children. Solitary creature, like a hawk on the wing. Small and slim, a single feather at the back of his head. Braids of brown fur-wrapped hair hanging long over plain buckskin, a Winchester dangling at his knee. His power, a boyhood vision of the world behind this one. Spirit home of all things living, where he and his horse dance queer like shadows floating, giving him the name Tashunka-Uitco, Crazy Horse. Facing the Blue Coats, he stares down the darkness. Ferocious eyes, face of blazing rage. The soldiers fear him above all others, fear his strong medicine, his war club, his scalping knife. They have heard the stories. Or lived to tell their own. How he chewed dried eagle heart and wild aster flowers for power and protection from the guns and bayonets, the bullets like hail around him. How on the plains and in the hills, charging into battle on a yellow pinto, eager and tireless for the killing, he whipped them on the Powder, along the Yellowstone, beside the Rosebud, at the Little Big Horn. And after all that, this. The final insult. Bringing the Lakotas to the Soldier Town, trading skin tepees for canvas tents, bounty for hunger. Surrendering weapons and horses and vigor to the whites who swell like flood waters over the land, following the smell of gold. Wishing for the evening wind waving through tall grass, for the blazing fires of village centers where the people dance and sing Hoka hey! Hoka hey! until night gives birth to morning sun rising over the breaks of distant bluffs. Longing for the old days, the Indian ways. II. Spotted eagle circling above me. Plunging at my feet. Under its wing, iron knife stuck deep. Blood filling my moccasins. Drum beating in my head like horse hooves on hollow ground. Great Spirit, take me to distant dark country where my anger can roam free, far from white man’s chains and crooked tongues. Our ways and theirs, different as sun from moon. Hey-a-a-hey! Have courage my people. Only the earth endures. Behold! In the clouds, a thunder being smoking healing herbs in the holy pipe. A rider with lightning limbs on a white-faced bay facing east. Behold! All tribes, one nation. Walking the black road home. Hou! This day my heart is good. It is a beautiful time to die. III. Messenger comes with slow feet of bad news: Betrayal and lies. Promises broken. Red steel, long knife flashing in late sun. Brave warrior drops to the dust by the soldiers’ iron house, dark pools of blood mirror sacred sky. Ahh-h! Curly, my son. Strong, good and wise man! A father’s heart heavy with loss. A mother’s tears like rain spilling over smooth stones. The people’s vision blinded, their voice silenced, stars turning toward midnight. No killing, no taking of scalps can bring you back or make the darkness fade. But your spirit will rise, and your bones will sleep under grass facing blue sky along a creek beneath cottonwoods crowded by plum and chokeberry thickets; where as a boy you liked to run and hunt and dream, the earth, rain and four winds your only companions. This holy place your father and mother alone will know, and we will die holding the secret in our breasts with eternal love for you, our son, our Strange One.
J. T. Evans is a writer living in Richmond, Va.
“Still, when we take into consideration the Glory attached to a whaleman’s life, one perhaps ought to be happy.” —from Whale Hunt, by Nelson Cole Haley Harpooner on the Charles W. Morgan, 1849-1853 Sometimes on the cuttin stage to leviate the back break of work I let my mind wander to New Bedford, but it’s always autumn, when those leaves were sun-baked to the color of pumpkin pie, and I remember that Eve of All Hallows when I found my daughter by the fireside telling fortunes with her friends. See, they was paring apples, turnin the fruit over and over in their hands, tryin to keep the peel in one piece to learn in the future if their husbands will be rich or not. Well, I hollered at them, said they were no better’n them girls from Salem, those villagers callin folks witches, while I threw the apple peels in the fire. Now I stand here in the hot sun over beggar sharks as we strip blubber from this whale, rotate the beast until peeled clean in one long piece, longin to smell those burning apple peels instead, and I don’t need no crystal ball or a clear sea to foretell that those girls’ll marry whalers, every last one of ‘em, and there’s no use in none of us wishin on wealth from a paltry lay of whale oil.
Joanie DiMartino has work published in many literary journals and anthologies, including Modern Haiku, Alimentum, Calyx, and Circe’s Lament: An Anthology of Wild Women. She is a past winner of the Betty Gabehart Award for Poetry. DiMartino is the author of two collections of poetry, Licking the Spoon and Strange Girls, and is completing her third manuscript, “Wood to Skin,” about the 19th-century whaling industry, for which she was a 38th Voyager on the Charles W. Morgan. Joanie also is a historian and museum professional; she currently serves as the curator and site superintendent of the Prudence Crandall Museum, a National Historic Landmark. Her poetry often addresses historical topics. Visit her website at www.joaniedimartino.com.
Sewing machines line up in tidy rows like schoolgirls at dismissal. Girlish laughter, a babble of Yiddish, Italian, and English floats Through the air, cutting the loud thrum of the machines as the girls \ and machine becoming one instrument, an alchemy Of sorts. No fairytale this. Rather than spin hay to gold, the y sew pieces of cloth to shirts, for which Receive green not gold. Nothing gold can stay. Fabric eddies around their feet, white whorls, bits of white cotton Fly through the air like snow. It is cold and the factory feels chilly Despte the press of bodies. Outside in Washington Square Park, Gentlemen and ladies stroll through the park in shirtwaists & skirts, Fine suits, hats and parasols to protect their skin from the sun. The wealthy, their lives made out of whole cloth, the finest materials, walk through Washington Square Park, oblivious that young women, their lives pieced together From fragments, watch them from large picture windows, ten stories closer to the clouds. Late afternoon. Fabric and shirtwaists stacked in neat piles. Marbled monuments To youth, energy, work. An ember catches, smoke rises from below. Flames dance Along the walls, leap from one wall to another. A terrible beauty. It becomes clear that there is nowhere to go, no way to leave alive. A young woman steps up to the window frame, flings her hat into the air, opens her purse, Rains money down to the crowd below, who watch in horror. She jumps. A young man holds out his hand, helps a young woman onto the windowsill In another life, he would be helping her into a carriage. He holds her away from the building, lets her drop. In another life, he would be waltzing her in a ballroom. He does the same for a second and third woman. A fourth woman steps up, his love. They embrace, kiss. He holds her out into space Drops her. He follows, jumps with his hat on, wearing brown socks and black shoes. Pas de deux. Laws were passed. Everyone agreed “Never again”. 101 years later, 112 young women in bright shalwar kameez Enter the Tazreen factory, never to emerge. _________________________________________________________________________
Marceline White is a Baltimore-based writer. She writes policy, prose, poems, essays, and plays. An artist and activist, Marceline’s poetry has appeared in The Free State Review, The Loch Raven Review, The Shattered Wig Review, anthologies including Ancient Party: Collaborations in Baltimore, 2000-2010; and Life in Me Like Grass on Fire. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in Woman’s Day, Baltimore Fishbowl, Baltimore Sun, and Mother Jones.