Hand on Bible, promise mainlined up
to God: Should I reveal the plot, or shirk
my vow to kill whites and burn New York,
O Lord, torment my soul with eternal fire.
Each confession contained this bit
about an oath sworn in the fire-lit
tavern, hand on book, with a whiskey
chaser. Fail to swear? Dead already,
like any slave who knows too much.
This book-swearing proves this story's false
is Sarah Hughson's testimony. We've got
no Bible, nor any other Book provokes
great mirth from the gentlemen of the jury.
These six poems are from a linked collection about the 1741 New York City Slave Conspiracy. In the trials, on the testimony of a single teenaged servant girl, over a hundred slaves were burned at the stake, hung, or sold to the West Indies.