Long ago, when the vicious enmity of conquered nations
was disregarded in a search for allies
for a battle on another front,
a festering cold war began
where the lines between friend and foe were eroded.

This work, Ask for Sanctuary,
takes place many years later at a time when,
wielding inhumane weapons secretly forged
with classified technologies,
shadow governments clandestinely wage war
against civilians.

In the voices of two fictional women, the conjectural narrative Ask for Sanctuary is comprised of a collection of lexias that speak of a pervasive but unreported persecution in this country. In the words of the opening narrator, Cassie:

"I began to write this work because over the years I had become aware of a covert, systematic persecution. People of all walks of life were being attacked, but because that is my community and because I myself was under attack, I was particularly aware that artists, writers, dancers, theater artists, and musicians were being targeted....This story also seeks to point out some of the ways that have been developed to silence us. I believe that if such terrors are named, they are less effective..."

Cassie observes a pattern so consistent that it is no longer possible to believe it is coincidence; confronts the government secrecy that has concealed it; believes there are others who are persecuted but do not know how to speak; couches truths in fiction to protect herself.

Her voice is joined by the voice of the artist scibe, who writes of the destructive and terrifying intelligence service tricks that are used to attack her everywhere she goes, including in her own home. There is no place she can escape the intrusion. Every moment of her life, she is aware that she is being observed. Yet she cannot speak openly of the living hell they have made of her existence.

The narrative that Cassie and scibe relate seems incredible, but -- in this country where it has been centuries since we have confronted tyranny on our own shores, and we have little experience dealing with either the need to speak up, or the risks that we must take to do so -- it is not without metaphoric meaning.

In a dream that Cassie relates,
the Goddess Athena speaks these words:

If the poets are silent, the invaders will not stop hurting people.
Instead, from their success in silencing you,
they will learn how to silence all the people,
and in your country's acceptance of seemingly small acts of intimidation
tyranny will flourish.

Poet, if no warning is given,
in the silence, your country will be no longer be free.

We ask for Sanctuary. We define sanctuary as a return to freedom for our homelands.

Judy Malloy: Ask For Sanctuary