Modern Definitions for Modern Slavery

July 13, 2023
A photograph of a statue of a humanoid figure reaching up on top of a tall, slender tower. The figure is haloed in a rising/setting sun. The tower is reflected in the pool of water in the foreground.
Photo by said alamri / Unsplash

Immigration, detention, unequal pay
are modern words for slavery again.

Dictatorship, borders. Any imposition
of one’s will over another

is a form of slavery.
Even the legal rules that enslave:

debt, foreclosure,
poverty above all.

Any compromise of humanity
is a form of bondage.

Then, what can the Arts
do to liberate anybody?

Only this meagerness to witness.
Change the oppression of culture

by conscientiousness. Reintroduce and revalue
cultural shame for exploitation.

Live this illumination
and help another stand

upright, self-determined,
with a soul unbent.

Nicholas Samaras is the author of Hands of the Saddlemaker and American Psalm, World Psalm. Having lived in ten countries, he is currently completely a manuscript of poetry on the psychologies of exile. His essay “To Write from a Place of Permanent Exile” appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of WLT.