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Poem | Daniela Gioseffi | Harriet Tubman on the Twenty 

Daniela Gioseffi was fighting for ecological improvements, women’s rights and social progress 50 years ago and she hasn’t stopped since. She writes ideas that are put forward by poems and often uses dramatic form. She likes to transform real facts so that they’re truer than before. She defines her debate with characters and dialogue; and whether naturalistic, or surrealistic,  she nourishes history with memory. -Grace Cavalieri

 

Harriet Tubman on the Twenty     

She ran back to the place where

she’d been beaten near to death,

n’ wouldn’t that be called “crazy” —

n’ ain’t she a woman?

Went back to where she’d been near killed

ta’ free other slaves from brutality,

n’ ain’t she a woman?

 

Douglas, Sojourner, great Freedom Fighters, 

but Harriet was Moses of Slave Brigades

and clever Underground Railroads, a Civil War

warrior for freeing her people!

n’ wern’t she a woman?

 

A spy, a scout for the Union Army, 

she freed hundreds in night raids, many

secret round-ups, fought valiantly, near dying. 

Not one freed slave, in her care, expired!

She risked all, time again, like a “mad woman,” 

never tired, driven! n’ wern’t she a woman?

 

Was a long wait, many years after war, 

‘fore she got her pension or reward 

for riskin’ all, losin’ her husband in war! 

She felt she’d helped put an end to slavery. 

Now, were Black Moses alive again. she’d yell: 

Black Lives Matter! n’ aint I a woman?

 

Harriet would march against shootings 

of unarmed youth, abused women hanged

in cells, old men choked out of breath?
She’d be on the front lines right now, 

with Joe Hill n’ Martin’s ghosts, calling:

Workers’ rights! Singin’, aint I a woman?

 

$20 a month pension finally came to her, 

though she wore Confederate bounty 

on her wounded head for the rest of her life;

She travelled in dread, crying

n’ain’t I a woman? 

 

Harriet Tubman, do we forget yr’ legacy

in advertising yr’ image on dirty money?

Is putting Black Moses on the twenty, 

withAndrew Jackson, slave master of many, 

killerof the Nation, Cherokee, on the back 

of yr’ face, honor or offensive skullduggery? 

Harriet Tubman, were you “crazy” with bravery,

or America, insane with surreal impropriety?

n’ ain’t you, wasn’t you, wern’t you a woman

aren’t you a woman still alive, though dead?                   


Daniela Gioseffi, Civil Rights and Eco-Activist editor of www.Eco-Poetry.org,

is an American Book Award winning author of 17 books of poetry and prose. She’s presented on NPR, BBC radio and the Poet & The Poem of The Library of Congress, N.E.A.  Her verse is etched on a wall of PENN Station NY with Walt Whitman’s. She’s won two grant awards from The NY State Council for the Arts and the John Ciardi Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry. Her 6th book of poems is, Blood Autumn, and her latest Waging Beauty. Women on War: International Writings has been in-print for over 25 years. Her compendium of World Literature On Prejudice: A Global Perspective, presented at the U.N., won a World Peace Award. A documentary, Author and Activist: The Daniela Gioseffi Story is screening on campuses. www.Gioseffi.com