Thursday, June 21, 2018

When the World Ended as We Knew It

By Joy Harjo

We were dreaming on an occupied island at the farthest edge
of a trembling nation when it went down.

Two towers rose up from the east island of commerce and touched
the sky. Men walked on the moon. Oil was sucked dry
by two brothers. Then it went down. Swallowed
by a fire dragon, by oil and fear.
Eaten whole.

It was coming.

We had been watching since the eve of the missionaries in their
long and solemn clothes, to see what would happen.

We saw it
from the kitchen window over the sink
as we made coffee, cooked rice and
potatoes, enough for an army.

We saw it all, as we changed diapers and fed
the babies. We saw it,
through the branches
of the knowledgeable tree
through the snags of stars, through
the sun and storms from our knees
as we bathed and washed
the floors.

The conference of the birds warned us, as the flew over
destroyers in the harbor, parked there since the first takeover.
It was by their song and talk we knew when to rise
when to look out the window
to the commotion going on—
the magnetic field thrown off by grief.

We heard it.
The racket in every corner of the world. As
the hunger for war rose up in those who would steal to be president
to be king or emperor, to own the trees, stones, and everything
else that moved about the earth, inside the earth
and above it.

We knew it was coming, tasted the winds who gathered intelligence
from each leaf and flower, from every mountain, sea
and desert, from every prayer and song all over this tiny universe
floating in the skies of infinite
being.

And then it was over, this world we had grown to love
for its sweet grasses, for the many-colored horses
and fishes, for the shimmering possibilities
while dreaming.

But then there were the seeds to plant and the babies
who needed milk and comforting, and someone
picked up a guitar or ukulele from the rubble
and began to sing about the light flutter
the kick beneath the skin of the earth
we felt there, beneath us

a warm animal
a song being born between the legs of her;
a poem.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Juneteenth

By Arthur Kroll

January 1, 1863 was the official day for President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation;
But, it was two and a half years later before the start of the freedom celebration.
Many attempts were made to explain this delay;
It has remained one of the great mysteries until this day.

One story says the messenger of freedom was murdered on his way to Texas;
This was supposedly the first one of the conspiracy theory nexus.
Another on reports the land owners censored the news to maintain their labor force;
One of the more popular stories, but who was the source?

Yet another tale of federal troops allowing another harvest of cotton;
Of all the dirty tricks, this one was the most rotten.
Regardless of whether any stories gives the correct news;
Many good people in Texas remained without freedom and singing the blues.

Finally in June of 1865, Major General Gordon Granger with a flag and a gun;
Stormed the shores of a Texas town called Galveston.
The Generals first order of business was to announce the news of freedom;
And this time he brought along enough Union troops to make the people heed them.

Some people reacted with shock, while others reacted with complete jubilation;
The news of this day finally spread all over the nation.
Most people could not wait to leave the plantation and start living free;
So, from their home state they started to flee.

Regardless of where they went, they were followed with freedom’s challenges;
These challenges came from making decisions and environmental changes.
They never forgot that joyous 19th day of June;
When people once enslaved could finally sing their freedom tune.

The celebration started with reassuring and praying;
The adults were eating and drinking while the children were playing.
It was also a time for the reuniting of family members;
It was one of the happiest days many of them remembers.

Today it is a day of pilgrimage to that town;
Let the shouts of freedom for all make a holy sound.
Soon the day will come when in unison we say;
“Forever and ever all Americans will celebrate Juneteenth, the freedom holiday”!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Words for You

By Ben Aragbaye

American history is mandatory
But black history is optional
Black literature a prop for show
Look at how they've accommodated
as we play along
With common outdated topics like
slavery doesn't exist, it's been
whited out
Well don't I feel liberated
But I don't know freedom
Freedom: Do you know me?
Am I important to you
or just an affirmative act?
Can I freely talk while still being black
and will you understand me
as I speak rhythmic words that beat, beat, beat
on your uncomfortable conscience?
Listen to me, Freedom,
because I have words for you
Black words
With a deep moan and tone
I will not atone for just existing
Words that are scarred, and whipped, and chained
only to break loose
with a strong hand and a fervent prayer
Words from the past, reverb,
bouncing off every corner. surrounding you
Words that are real
and cannot be whited out.
Because the color
The color always bleeds through.
Words with a history that is equal,
so please do not try and separate it.
I am not an option
I am concrete
I am finite
I am mandatory
You deserve to know me
You deserve to know Juneteenth
And I deserve to know freedom.

Hear the poet reading this poem here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Poem for Pulse

By Jameson Fitzpatrick

Last night, I went to a gay bar
with a man I love a little.
After dinner, we had a drink.
We sat in the far-back of the big backyard
and he asked, What will we do when this place closes?
I don’t think it’s going anywhere any time soon,
I said, though the crowd was slow for a Saturday,
and he said—Yes, but one day. Where will we go?
He walked me the half-block home
and kissed me goodnight on my stoop—
 properly: not too quick, close enough
our stomachs pressed together
in a second sort of kiss.
I live next to a bar that’s not a gay bar —
we just call those bars, I guess
— and because it is popular
and because I live on a busy street,
there are always people who aren’t queer people
on the sidewalk on weekend nights.
We just call those people, I guess.
They were there last night.
As I kissed this man I was aware of them watching
and of myself wondering whether or not they were just
people. But I didn’t let myself feel scared, I kissed him
exactly as I wanted to, as I would have without an audience,
because I decided many years ago to refuse this fear
— an act of resistance. I left
the idea of hate out on the stoop and went inside,
to sleep, early and drunk and happy.
While I slept, a man went to a gay club
with two guns and killed fifty people. At least.
 Today in an interview, his father said he had been disturbed
by the sight of two men kissing recently.
What a strange power to be cursed with,
 for the proof of our desire to move men to violence.
What’s a single kiss? I’ve had kisses
no one has ever known about, so many
kisses without consequence—
but there is a place you can’t outrun,
whoever you are.
There will be a time when.
It might be a bullet, suddenly.
The sound of it. Many.
One man, two guns, fifty dead—
Two men kissing. Last night
is what I can’t get away from, imagining it, them,
the people there to dance and laugh and drink,
who didn’t believe they’d die, who couldn’t have.
How else can you have a good time?
How else can you live?
There must have been two men kissing
for the first time last night, and for the last,
and two women, too, and two people who were neither.
Brown people mostly, which cannot be a coincidence in this country.
which is a racist country, which is gun country.
Today I’m thinking of the Bernie Boston photograph
Flower Power, of the Vietnam protestor placing carnations
in the rifles of the National Guard,
and wishing for a gesture as queer and simple.
The protester in the photo was gay, you know,
he went by Hibiscus and died of AIDS,
which I am also thinking about today because
(the government’s response to) AIDS was a hate crime.
Reagan was a terrorist.
Now we have a president who loves Us,
the big and imperfectly lettered Us, and here we are
getting kissed on stoops, getting married some of Us,
some of Us getting killed.
We must love one another whether or not we die.
Love can’t block a bullet
but it can’t be destroyed by one either,
and love is, for the most part, what makes Us Us—
in Orlando and in Brooklyn and in Kabul.
We will be everywhere, always;
there’s nowhere else for Us, or you, to go.
Anywhere you run in this world, love will be there to greet you.
Around any corner, there might be two men. Kissing.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Follow Orders

By Antler

Drag the rainbow into the interrogation room.
Use thumbscrews on a cloud if necessary.
Arrest the wind for being shiftless.
Take a lake to headquarters for loitering.
Sentence aspens to 30 years of hard labor
      for having leaves that quiver.
Turn rainforests into deserts.
Put deserts behind bars
      because poets see a world in a grain of sand.
Accuse sand dunes of being drifters.
Accuse snowdrifts of being drifters.
Tell the birds to shut up and listen to your song.
Cross-examine snowflakes till they break into tears.
Accuse a leech of being a leech.
Accuse a sponge of being  sponge.
Accuse a yawn of being a yawn.
Search milkweed pods as suspicious characters.
Hog-tie will-o-the-wisps
       take them into custody.
Tar-and-feather every inch of living soil
       that refuses to be covered with asphalt.
Put Lake Michigan on the witness stand
       to testify against Lake Superior.
Arraign the rain, indict the kite
       and prosecute the bandicoot.
Charge lightening and thunder
       for practicing without a license.
Charge the view from the skyscraper
       for making people look like ants.
Warn autumn colors to stop rioting.
Throw the rich odor of thawing earth into the dungeon.
Frisk the shimmer of light on moonlight water.
Search crotches of virgin timber for concealed drugs.
Straitjacket elephants for jacking off with their nose.
Make a bear paw the Bible to take oath.
Ban the banana because
        it reminds you of something.
Flog alpenglow with a rubber hose
        under a hundred watt lightbulb.
Slaughter moonbeams.
Summon the lemon, subpoena the peanut,
       impeach the peach, arraign the terrain.
Order the space between the stars and
       the space between molecules to change place.
Order turtles to get license plates
Order sunflowers to pay their electric bills
      or the sun to be disconnected.
Order rats to join the rat race
Order orifice and artifice to be reversed.
Order ripples of water, ripples of light,
        ripples of heat, ripples of shade,
                to do your bidding.
Order poems to close down and move to Mexico
        where they can get words to work
                for one-fifth what they're paid here.
Millipedes must obey or be drawn and thousanded.
Decapitate ecstatic tomfoolery.
Give the finger to the wind
        for being fresh with you.
Gesticulate before the bristlecone pine
        how you made more money that anyone.
Brag to Pleiades you played the stock market
      better than anyone.
Tell your Death you're going to hold your breath
        till it grants your wish.
Sentence leaf shadows to the electric chair
        for seducing millions of youths.
Torture the Ocean till it talks
        and none of this surf-sound mumbo-jumbo.
Reduce to toothpicks the oldest, biggest trees.
Tame wildflowers and coat them with plastic
        and mount them with wire stems.
Buy the water, buy the earth, buy the sky.
Sell the water, sell the earth, sell the sky.
Beat up the night cause it's black.
Spit at the sun cause it's yellow.
Massacre the dawn cause it's red.
Chart how many ants you can kill.
Ambush waterfalls with machetes
        Mutilate them beyond recognition.
Assassinate the last condor in your spare time.
Assign hit men to rub out humming birds        
        while paring your nails.
Assign hit me to rub out dolphins
        while paring your nails.
Step into your mile-long limousine
        Snort a thousand dollars
                And tell the chauffeur -
        "Next Universe, please."

     






Sunday, June 10, 2018

Remembering You, Anthony Bourdain, at the Elementary School Talent Show

By Alexandra Umlas

Most of these kids have yet to try sushi,
haven’t left the country to taste the world,
still gravitate toward boxed macaroni
and cheese, but someday they might turn
on the TV to see you eat some strange food,
and witness the uneasy thrill of trying,
trying, trying something new.
This morning, at the elementary school,
an audience gathered between construction-
papered walls and a talent show began:
a boy played clear notes from a recorder,
a girl tap-danced across the carpeted floor,
someone sang, played the piano, delivered
a comedy skit full of terrible knock-knock
jokes followed by a drum’s bada-ba
then applause. You knew how to savor
an experience, how sitting with strangers
makes friends, that what we put in our mouth
smatters—you pointed out the thread
spooled between us when we have a meal
together, the connection that takes place over
coffee or beer. This morning, after hearing
you were gone from this world, my daughter
danced on the stage, nervously taking a seat
at the table of the unknown. You would
have approved of these kids practicing
the art of taking risks. Someday
they might hear your voice and give up
using jarred garlic or eating in restaurants
on Mondays; or maybe they will recognize
that to taste is to experience, to try
means to live, or they will think back
to this elementary school talent show,
to this morning, where in the kindergarten
classroom, the chicks chirp under a warming
light. Where, just days ago, the children pressed
their faces to the glass as the eggs began to crack,
and from the shells emerged the broken,
scattered singing of new life.


This poem was first published in Rattle—Poets Respond on June 10, 2018

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Moon is Trans

By Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

From this moment forward, the moon is trans.
You don’t get to write about the moon anymore unless you respect that.
You don’t get to talk to the moon anymore unless you use her correct pronouns.
You don’t get to send men to the moon anymore unless their job is
 to bow down before her and apologize for the sins of the earth.
 She is waiting for you, pulling at you softly,
 telling you to shut the fuck up already please.
 Scientists theorize the moon was once a part of the earth
 that broke off when another planet struck it.
 Eve came from Adam’s rib.
 Etc.
 Do you believe in the power of not listening
 to the inside of your own head?
 I believe in the power of you not listening
 to the inside of your own head.
 This is all upside down.
 We should be talking about the ways that blood
 is similar to the part of outer space between the earth and the moon
 but we’re busy drawing it instead.
 The moon is often described as dead, though she is very much alive.
 The moon has not known the feeling of not wanting to be dead
 for any extended period of time
 in all of her existence, but
 she is not delicate and she is not weak.
 She is constantly moving away from you the only way she can.
 She never turns her face from you because of what you might do.
 She will outlive everything you know.

Friday, June 1, 2018

BIOLOGICAL CONTROL

By Linda Drach

they feed on our silence
glaze us
in sticky dew

from one perspective, they are highly successful:
stunted growth, low yields, withered leaves
curled inward

so what do we do?
you tell me
I tell you

like drops of blood, spattering:
ladybugs, spilling out
by the thousands

Linda Drach is a a Portland, Oregon writer who works in public health research and evaluation, including projects related to HIV, sexual and domestic violence, and criminal justice. My writing ranges from the scientific to the lyric, and has been published in peer-review journals like the American Journal of Public Health and Public Health Reports, and the literary journal VoiceCatcher.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sunset at Wellfleet

By Jean Valentine

A spit of sky, awash with Venetian gold
Hangs over the Congregational bell-tower, where
Last night the Northern Lights sifted their fire,
Shot through with the airless dark, romantic and cold.
The sun doesn’t move, but suddenly is gone,
The cloudy tide goes out, and leaves a ring.
Easy to die: we knew it all along:
Knee-high to the dark as of old:
Thee words I tell you smoking in my eye:
The tree-frog is the tree-frog. The sky is the sky,
The rattling bay runs night and day I, I, I
Over and over, turning on itself: there,
Where it curls on emptiness: there I sing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

For all the Dorias of the world

By Leslé Honoré

For the Dorias of the world
Who will sit alone
At graduations and weddings
At baseball games and school plays
At proms and award ceremonies
Who will carry the load
Of everything
Wiping tears
And celebrating
School projects
And first heartbreaks
Who stay up all night
Helping write papers and college apps
The mothers who silently
Create a universe for their children
Launching pads to toss them in to the
Solar system
With hands wide open to grab
All the stars their hearts desire
The Dorias who always leave space
For a father’s redemption
Knowing it may never come
Because they have spent a life time
Patching their children back together
Picking up the crushed spirits
Rebuilding them with love
This is for the Dorias
Who will watch as their legacies
Take steps towards their own journeys
Armed with love
Armed with hope
Armed with strength
That the years of struggle
Lack
Survival
Forged onto their souls
And for the children
Who have watched their mothers
Make a life out of thin air
A dollar out of 15 cents
Who have seen ceilings shattered
Barriers leapt over
And are covered in black girl magic
They know that there is
no limit
To their dreams
To success
that hard work can’t achieve
No trial that last forever
They have learned to
Weather the storms
Know for certain that the sun will come
Warm their faces
And illuminate their paths
The way their mothers have
From their first breath
For the Dorias
In that last car ride
Driving to your children’s
Next adventure
For the Dorias
Free spirited
And strong
Who know they are never alone
Who know there is a
Matriarchal militia marching
With them
I raise my glass to all of us
Salud

Friday, May 18, 2018

not a pretty girl

by ani difranco

I am not a pretty girl
That is not what I do
I ain't no damsel in distress
And I don't need to be rescued, so
So put me down, punk
Wouldn't you prefer a maiden fair?
Isn't there a kitten stuck up a tree somewhere?
I am not an angry girl
But it seems like I've got everyone fooled
Every time I say something they find hard to hear
They chalk it up to my anger
And never to their own fear, imagine you're a girl
Just trying to finally come clean
Knowing full well they'd prefer you were dirty
And smiling, and I am sorry
But I am not a maiden fair
And I am not a kitten
Stuck up a tree somewhere
And generally my generation
Wouldn't be caught dead working for the man
And generally I agree with them
Trouble is you got to have yourself
An alternate plan, and I have earned my disillusionment
I have been working
All of my life
And I am a patriot
I have been fighting the good fight
And what if there are no damsels in distress?
What if I knew that, and I called your bluff?
Don't you think every kitten
Figures out how to get down
Whether or not you ever show up?
I am not a pretty girl
I don't really want to be a pretty girl
I wanna be more than a pretty girl

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Jerusalem is a Spinning Carousel

By Yehuda Amichai
 
Jerusalem is a carousel spinning round and round
from the Old City through every neighborhood and back to the Old.
And you can’t get off. If you jump you’re risking your life
and if you step off when it stops you must pay again
to get back on for more turns that never will end.
Instead of painted elephants and horses to ride
religions go up, down and around on their axes
to unctuous melodies from the houses of prayer.
Jerusalem is a seesaw: Sometimes I go down,
to past generations and sometimes up, into the sky,
then like a child dangling on high, legs swinging, I cry
I want to get down, Daddy, Daddy, I want to get down,
Daddy, get me down.
And like that, all the saints go up into the sky.
They’re like children screaming, Daddy, I want to stay high,
Daddy don’t bring me down, Our Father Our King,
leave me on high, Our Father Our King!

Translated from Hebrew by Vivian Eden

Monday, May 14, 2018

Jerusalem

By Naomi Shihab Nye

"Let's be the same wound if we must bleed.
Let's fight side by side, even if the enemy
is ourselves: I am yours, you are mine."
-Tommy Olofsson, Sweden


I'm not interested in
Who suffered the most.
I'm interested in
People getting over it.

Once when my father was a boy
A stone hit him on the head.
Hair would never grow there.
Our fingers found the tender spot
and its riddle: the boy who has fallen
stands up. A bucket of pears
in his mother's doorway welcomes him home.
The pears are not crying.
Later his friend who threw the stone
says he was aiming at a bird.
And my father starts growing wings.

Each carries a tender spot:
something our lives forgot to give us.
A man builds a house and says,
"I am native now."
A woman speaks to a tree in place
of her son. And olives come.
A child's poem says,
"I don't like wars,
they end up with monuments."
He's painting a bird with wings
wide enough to cover two roofs at once.

Why are we so monumentally slow?
Soldiers stalk a pharmacy:
big guns, little pills.
If you tilt your head just slightly
it's ridiculous.

There's a place in my brain
Where hate won't grow.
I touch its riddle: wind, and seeds.
Something pokes us as we sleep.

It's late but everything comes next.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Detaining a Poem

By Dareen Tatour

One day,
they stopped me,
shackled me,
tied up my body, my soul,
my everything…

Then they said: search her,
we’ll find a terrorist within her!
They turned my heart inside out—
my eyes as well,
rummaged through even my feelings.
From my eyes they drew a pulse of inspiration;
from my heart, the ability to sketch out meanings.
Then they said: beware!
She’s hiding weapons deep in her pockets.
Search her!
Root out the explosives.
And so they searched me…

Finally, they said, accusing me:
We found nothing
in her pockets except letters.
We found nothing except for a poem.
Dareen Tatour is currently in jail in Israel for writing a poem. Whether you agree with her interpretation of the situation in Israel/Palestine, the idea that her poem is somehow dangerous in and of itself is absurd. This poem was previously published in In Translation.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

As the World Splits Open*

By Andrena Zawinski
Fear of rape is a cold wind blowing...
on a woman’s hunched backMarge Piercy, 1975

Six men rape and murder a New Delhi medical student 
on a bus, her ashes and their crime scattered 
to winds crossing the Ganges. 
  A woman is raped 
  every twenty minutes in India.

Three brothers take two low caste village girls, 
twist their scarves into nooses to cut deep into their necks, 
leave them to die hanging from a mango tree.
   Women protestors are blasted 
   by police water cannons.

A mob of twenty attack a girl in Cairo's Tahrir Square
in front of her parents at a presidential inauguration,
her body bloodied, clawed raw, clothes torn from her.
   Crimes against women 
   are repeated and unpunished.

Women go shopping, to school, to jobs in Ciudad Juarez. 
They disappear, their bodies found stabbed, dismembered, 
mutilated, torched––desert blood.
  Crimes against women
   remain unsolved and unstoppable.

Five soldiers rape a Nairobi mother, charge her for insulting 
a government body, her sentence delayed to breastfeed. 
  A crime against one woman
  is a crime against all women.

Buried neck high, stoned before a thousand spectators, 
a Somali girl suffers a public death for reporting her rape. 
Hundreds of Nigerian girls are kidnapped for sex slave trade 
to be brokered across the Middle East, Europe, Russia.
Girls bought and sold as talismans of youth and virility 
in India, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, are more likely 
to die than learn how to read. 
  Countless millions of children
  are ravished in times of war. 

On the home front two Steubenville quarterbacks 
and one receiver brag a girl you get drunk can’t say no
are videotaped for a youtube splash. 
  One in four American women
  will be raped in her lifetime
on dorm floors, in labs, in classrooms, bathrooms, at work,
or just walking home watching the moon and the stars
        as the world splits open, 
        cold winds blowing 
        across their hunched backs.

Andrena Zawinski, long-time feminist activist in the Women Against Violence Against Women Movement, is the author of three full collections of poetry: Landings (Kelsay Books), Something About (PEN Oakland Award, Blue Light Press), and Traveling in Reflected Light (Kenneth Patchen Prize, Pig Iron Press). She founded and runs a Women’s Poetry Salon in the San Francisco Bay Area and is Features Editor at PoetryMagazine.com.

*The title “As the World Splits Open” comes from Muriel Rukeyser’s “What if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open."

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bleak Sunlight

A collaborative slow renga written by Fiona Lesley Bennett, Andrea Witzke Slot, Eve Lyons, and Katherine Perry from January-April, 2017

Wild geese streaming in ribbons
across the sky, too many to count
like the women, marching

and bundled in winter coats, knitted hats,
flying together through historic streets.

Branches brush windows,
while sleepers toss violently.
Televisions glow,

the moon glows, lies low in the sky.
The crowd roars with chants and cheers.

A daughter peers through solid glass;
bleak sunlight appears on the swept kitchen floor.
She watches orange fade into white.

The air tepid and full of threat
as day breaks on dark water.

Yellow light spreads gold and purple
soon the sun's angry glare will be here,
we'll play in the ocean.

She chewed the mandarin peel, waiting.
Without paying, she took three more and ran.

A masterclass in initiative, just him
and the chair, the different ways
you could get up out of it.

Leaves decompose, become dirt.
We all have to let go sometimes.

In cupped palms, she cradles an orchid:
not a ghost or impossible-to-find rarity,
but standard white petals promising fertility.

Morning’s milky mist falls soft on worried lands.
Children wake in the flowers, blinking.

Monday, April 23, 2018

No Hands

By Carol Muske-Dukes

He rode “no hands,” speeding
headlong down the hill near
our house, his arms extended,
held rigid away from his body,
our small daughter behind him
on the bike in her yellow sunsuit,
bareheaded. She held on to him
for her life. I watched them from
above – helpless: a failed brake.
Far below us, a stop-sign rose
like a child’s toy shield. He could
not stop, he would not. That hunger
for display overrode danger, illusions
of safety. Even death had less to do
with it than the will’s eventual triumph
over stasis: how he’d finally fly free
and how she might accompany him,
as an audience travels with a performer,
an object of regard. Downward, fast –
so what cannot stop holds on, holds on
to a mind flying away from itself, seeking
release from the soul speeding away, yet
staying close as breath, even at this distance.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Visions at 74

By Frank Bidart

The planet turns there without you, beautiful.
Exiled by death you cannot
touch it. Weird joy to watch postulates
lived out and discarded, something crowded
inside us always craving to become something
glistening outside us, the relentless planet
showing itself the logic of what is
buried inside it. To love existence
is to love what is indifferent to you
you think, as you watch it turn there, beautiful.
World that can know itself only by
world, soon it must colonize and infect the stars.
You are an hypothesis made of flesh.
What you will teach the stars is constant
rage at the constant prospect of not-being.

Sometimes when I wake it’s because I hear
a knock. Knock,
Knock. Two
knocks, quite clear.
I wake and listen. It’s nothing.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Madam Physician

By Fae Kayarian

Madam Physician-
I never saw myself in medicine
until I met you.

I only knew of straight white men,
wearing straight white coats,
who always assured me that
It’s too complicated to explain
and You should try something else.

All I’ve ever wanted to be
is a clinician, a physician, a doctor,
but all people can ever see
is just a girl, a female, a woman.

Madam Physician-
Seeing you changed how
I see myself.

You commanded the operating room,
not by force or fear,
but with a presence that announced
We must do our best
and Let’s fight with everything we’ve got.

I can’t imagine being
a clinician, a physician, a doctor,
who transcends the label of
being just a girl, a female, a woman.

Madam Physician-
I will always be humbled by the gift
you gave me.

I can remember your eyes,
always focused and always giving,
that looked into mine as you told me
You are worthy of dreaming
and You have a place in medicine.

Madam Physician-
I am everything I am
I can become everything I wish to be.

Fae Kayarian lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where she is an undergraduate student enrolled in the Behavioral Neuroscience program at Northeastern University. She is also a research student and a volunteer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. She is a proud Bostonian, and enjoys running, biking and discovering music venues in the city.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Genetics of Leaving

By Shauna Barbosa

Inside, this vessel feels like the 1996 spelling bee when I forgot
u in language. Vovo left Fogo
to Praia. Now she has two sons named José.
Islands apart, I already jelly fished every memory that’s stuck
inside. Saltwater
nostalgia stung, rinsed right up off me.

Vovo left and came back, not recognizing my thirteen-year-old
aunt, her new haircut
resembling the first José. I contracted. I expanded.
I pushed temporary waters behind me. I already forgot
I’ve got two versions of my climb. The one I swam and, I—

I only climbed this mountain to take a picture at the top,
bell-shaped bodies all forgotten.

All this bad luck because I split a pole.
If I could open my mouth
I’d ask my grandmother why
she took so long to return to her first set of fish.
I’d ask if she’s aware she has two sons named the same.
She’s got two versions of herself,
one in the land of a free, haircut, two, me.

As soon as you start to love a city,
a thick-bodied flight attendant touches your shoulder
walking down the aisle. Thought that was affection.

I took care of that part of myself in a complicated way.
There’s only one temperature that’s good enough for a mother
to bring back the u of this vessel that is no longer the you
around my neck.