Mona Kareem
On May 29, 2020 a protesting black man broke off the hand of Louis XVI’s statue in Louisville, Kentucky. He then passed it around for people to take selfies with.
Louis XVI was the last king of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. Louisville is in fact named after him for his support during the American revolutionary war. He is also accredited for the Code Noir decree fostering a cruelest slavocracy in the Caribbean and Louisiana, during which torture and amputation were commonly practiced against the enslaved.



Louis XVI:

don’t let them take me, don’t let them take my hand away
I can’t breathe, I need my space, way too many throats
Strangling me, call 911, tell them Karen requests their attendance
immediately, I am being assaulted by the African-Americans
my wrist is swung and swayed around, I’m covered
with the covid19 spit and sweat and sneezing and sleezing
and salivas soothing the heat of rage who let the dogs out
I do not like to be pet, please don’t let them take me
please please please please officer, officer, officer please
I can’t breathe, I am struggling with PTSD, I am a veteran,
I am Code Noir, the amputated hands are waving at me,
getting closer as they swallow the ocean. I am a refugee,
in the womb of Kentucky, I have lost a whole head of flesh
and dreams and a kingdom of roar and evil
who has the key to marry spirit to flesh? Please please
please please pleasssse pretty please



Man, I just acquired a new piece from the revolutionary
exhibition down the street, believe me when I say
it’s exquisite, it has been yet my most valuable acquisition
I am thinking of setting it up at the center of my home
Yeah all the way through the main hall through the three
Dining rooms on that wall of the past behind which
they barricaded the blood of language and the cruelty
of iron. Remember? How distant their memory is
in freedom’s new air. Right on that wall, I will put
Louis’s hand, isolated, like an anecdote, I will sometimes
let it carry my whiskey, I will sometimes let him
jerk me off, and who knows I might even have them mix
the whiteness of my semen and the whiteness of all he is


Mona Kareem is the author of three poetry collections and, most recently, the trilingual chapbook Femme Ghosts (2019). Twitter @monakareem