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poetry Chinese Exclusion Act

Arkansas poet Gerald Sloan reminds us that the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was no “act” but often lost to history and found again.

Chinese Exclusion Act

(A Lost-and-Found Poem)

By Gerald Sloan

Of the eight Chinese passengers

aboard the Titanic, six survived,

but they were deported within

24 hours of arriving in the USA,

giving the lie, even then, to our grand

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proposition at the feet of Liberty,

like the interest on a bad loan

postponing the principal.

My wife and daughter are CBA

(i.e. Chinese-born Americans).

They don’t know how easy they

have it today, unaware

that the prevalence of hate

would annul our marriage prior to 1948.

Gerry Sloan is a retired music professor living in Fayetteville, Arkansas. His poetry collections are Paper Lanterns (2011) and Crossings: A Memoir in Verse (2017) plus several chapbooks including Wild Muse: Ozarks Nature Poetry (2022).