Four Ways of Looking at Lincoln

by Victor D. Infante

After “Abe,” by Louis Swinand


History is a jangling of pocket change.
Valueless, left fallen indiscriminately on sidewalks.
Precious metals abandoned for cheaper alloys;
lighter than it used to be.


The word “abolitionist” becomes
Cain’s mark; In Chicago, he turns away
from the whip marks searing
freed slaves’ chest.

He prevaricates as Frederick Douglass
clucks his disapproval. He castigates slavery
while refusing to publicly declare
any black man his equal.

He weathers the storm of Stephen Douglas,
who speaks of inferior races, of Providence
for those of European descent, spurring
a cancer that splits a country’s bones.


This odd convergence, when expedience and moral certitude
coalesce into the perfect sword. Freedom is a birthright
and a weapon, “Glory! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!”


My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won.

Last updated November 12, 2022