Trending »
Related »

De Halve Moon – Pamela Kallimanis

on November 25 | in Poetry | by | with No Comments

Henry Hudson’s boat. September 2, 1609

The actual founding of New York City occurred in 1615 when the New Netherland Company, a subsidiary of the Dutch East India Company chartered to make four voyages within a three-year limit, built a stone house on the lower tip of Manhattan Island. Around this stone house, the huts of traders sprang up. This was the inconspicuous beginning of the city and for some years there was no change in the scene. There was just the storehouse and the rude huts of a few hardy men who bartered with the Indians for furs. (Kieran 3)
Everything about New York is a barter.
Every single moment that one stands on the lower tip of Manhattan,
the traders begin to spring into their rudeness, small claims on the biggest places
and all the while, someone is pushed out of the way –
the beautiful creatures that fly in the air,
the creeping critters on the sands below the ice in March.
And, at some point, in May or June, when the grasses are about to spring
from their seeds, stones are place over them by the companies.
Nobody thought much about progress in the beginning.
None were able to conserve the birds, and for some years –
the harbor was still prolific and engorged with the natural.
It was only when the grease from the skins began to slink into the mud
that the locals began to question the new habitants’ storehouses.
At first, they simply looked into the buildings – to see the skins,
and the fat, but the blood would streak into the streets and hasn’t stopped.

“By 1500, Lenapes have lived in the area of Greater New York City for 1,500 years. They call their homeland Lenapehoking.” (Mushabac and Wigan)
“Land is the gift of the creator.”
Which creator makes the land in New York?
Which party is responsible for the area the people called Lenapehoking –
because there is a new land being made in ways that don’t resemble the first waves,
sandy marsh, soils and glacial deposits.
The newest construction is more angular and less ruddy.
The buildings going up are blue in color, more like steel than copper.
The brick and mortar are a darkness, a blacker brick
than the local soils reddish and golden points.
1626. Construction of Fort Amsterdam begins
at the southern tip of Manhattan. (Mushabac and Wigan 7)
The lightness begins to shift, shadows fall in places where there had been sun streaks.
The birds lift off the tops of the workhouse.
1626. Eleven African men, probably captured from Spanish or Portuguese ships, are brought to New Amsterdam to labor as slaves for the Dutch West India Company. (Mushabac and Wigan 7)
And the labor force arrives
at the same time the rookeries are emptied out.
Birds seeking life somewhere beyond the shore
and the feathered inhabitants leave the coast of the islands
moving across the Hudson to New Jersey
so many species of shorebirds and crows vacated
to greener shores leaving the gulls to their trash.
Imagine the walls of Fort Amsterdam which rose
from the rocks and sewage
and all the while – in some new formed rule –
the strong backs of slave labor began in the galleries
and moved into the corners of the streets
as the sand became hard and dense from footprints
and the water blackening and slick with human bondage
and waste and wear, headbands tied up the hair
and metal clanking chains remanded and maintain order.
Whose bright idea was it to push some of us down?
Who gave the orders to cast stones against the tree?
Their eyes were fixed on the blue sky, the lushness of the waters,
open air and whole vistas of movement in the clouds
while the narrowness of their oppressors began to skim off
the humanness, eyes no longer met with respect,
bodies no longer equitable – who determined the price to be paid?
Whose best thinking put a price tag on another?
Pamela Kallimanis, M.F.A. in English Writing and Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. She is an Instructor in the English Department at Hunter College and a student of International Migration Studies at CUNY Graduate Center. Her work explores questions of identity, ethnicity, migration, loss and trauma. She teaches a wide range of courses from Literature, Creative Writing and Poetry. She is the author of “The Zero Elegies” published by Three Mile Harbor Press.

Pin It

Related Posts

« »

Recent Posts



[new_royalslider id="17"] Ana Flores is a sculptor and ecologist. Her work is informed by how pla

Safia Elhilo

2 Poems

Michele Robinson\'s Art [...]

Let Me Straddle Your Mind

X.J. Kennedy

The Crusader

Why did you leave bring m [...]

Yeah bring our electric shaver back, I bought it we shaved each others back it was important to me

Kwame Dawes

Kwame Dawes

BEFORE YOU – Kwame  [...]

1 Yes, we were country, lived in shotgun shacks, where the road loses its way to dirt and live


[new_royalslider id="11"] Courtesy of the artist and Mizuma Art Gallery  


         "Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to lea


Junot' Diaz and Edison, NJ


The first time we try to deliver the Gold Crown the lights are on in the house but no on

Rachel Eliza Griffiths [...]

Elegy & Poem

The March on Washington:  [...]

OTHER WORLD: A Conversati [...]

"We are all the other."


…and find inside a picture, of myself as a child, sitting on a small chair, wearing overalls an

Naive Paintings

Raphael Perez


To Alex, on turning two Some say the Ring of Brogar is the Circle of the Moon. There is n

In This Issue

March on Washington An Interview with Cheryl Evans


In a strange twist of what seemed like reverse vandalism, the Graffiti Mecca was painted over.

In This Issue

Forest Gander A Translation

In This Issue

Quassan Castro, poem Grandson to Grandmother

URBAN CANVAS: Wynwood Wal [...]

Wynwood Walls, of Miami has been called "a Museum of the Streets."

Pulaski Skyway

Low like the mean dream of Newark the sky must have seemed to its builders. Rickety now, unhingin


At last, the extremes of his present methods seemed to offer the happiest avenues. The strengthe

Paul Latorre

5th Limb Poems

Joan Larkin

Poem, Knot

Gina Loring, Def Poetry [...]

Poem, Look This Way

In This Issue

Xue Du, Poem


A woman      in a black kimono      dyed black hair disappeared      behind a black curtai

Marge Piercy

Poem: Behind the War On Women

Naive Paintings

Raphael Perez

Marie Miazziotti -Gillam [...]

Maria Mizzotti-Gillan

Vicky Dantel

Short Story

In This Issue

Pilar Fraile Amador poem

Quassan Castro


Lugensky Durosier [...]

Lady Haiti

In This Issue

David Trinidad

In This Issue

Landzy Theodore

In This Issue

Angelo Nikolopoulos

Scroll to top