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Besides (On Kehinde Wiley’s “Rumors of War,” Times Square, NY 2019.)

Sophia Tarin


In a canyon of commodity

comprised of mountains

of LED screens & a raging river

of refugees, rises a child of democracy.

Waves of people crash against

the marble pedestal of this stately son

astride a charging horse

like a naked baby painted

into the part of an angel without consent,

stripped of youth & made eternal

in allegory. Seeking respite on the marble

is Lady Liberty prostrated, her back cracked forward,

a powdered turquoise Quasimodo,

a shiny new penny dulled by the breath of wealth.

Weary from the day’s labor color drains

from her face, aging her as green drips downward

revealing sinister undertones. Unlike the pedestal of

the monument, Liberty wobbles on stilts

metal holders for an amputated foundation.

Tainted green by greed, she engulfs paper

hand over fist, arms stretched for take

counting tinted paper in a sweeping gesture

slow & exaggerated flicking each dollar

rolling & consuming into her costume,

a habitual custom. A destitute prostitute,

whose ideals are pimped like pulp images

on bright screens luring shiny new citizens

divided by the admission fee & the daily tax.

This child soldier above a sea of pavement & trash,

this lady constructed against the deaf & defecating,

this mock mobility, this mock nobility,

the refuge of a once seemed noble cause.

Through the waves of people,

carved into the pedestal’s foundation

is the prayer: “Rumors of War.”

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