Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Week in the Life of the Ethnically Indeterminate

By Elena Georgiou

Monday

Sitting in McDonalds on 103rd & 3rd
I notice a couple staring at me
and hear them say Indian.
They walk towards me.
The woman has white skin,
blond hair, blue eyes.
The man has ebony skin,
black hair, brown eyes.
Excuse me, says the woman,
we were wondering
where you were from.
Yeah, says the man
because you look like
our people.
I look at the whiteness
and the blackness,
wondering who their people are.
We’re Puerto Rican, they say
and walk away.

Tuesday

Walking to the store
in Crown Heights I see
an African-American man
sitting behind a table
selling incense and oils.
He calls out, Sister, hey sister,
baby, and then makes a noise
like he’s calling a cat.
I don’t respond.
On the way back from the store
he calls out, Mira, Mira,
hey baby.
In any language,
English, Feline, or Spanish,
I don’t respond.

Wednesday

I am buying lunch
at the falafel stand
on 68th and Lex
and the man serving me asks,
You from Morocco?
No, I say, Cyprus.
Where’s Cyprus? he asks.
Above Egypt
to the left of Israel
and below Turkey.
Oh, he says, looking blank.
How much for a falafel, I ask?
For you, three dollars.
For Americans three fifty.
I go to pay and another man
stares hard into my face
and says, Are you a Jewish chick?
No, I say, leave me alone.
I know who you are, he screams,
I know who you are.
You’re just a nigger from Harlem,
passing for white
with a phony accent.
Nigger, he repeats
as I walk away.

Thursday

My boss calls me up.
I have a funny question
to ask you, he says.
When you fill out forms
what do you write for ethnicity?
I check other, I say.
Well, I have to fill out this form
and it doesn’t have other.
We look really bad on paper.
all the positions of power are white
and all the support staff are black.
Could you be Asian?

Friday

I am with my Indian immigration lawyer.
Do you mind if I ask you
a personal question? he says.
Go ahead, I say, thinking
he is going to ask me
how I’ve reached my mid thirties
and have never been married.
But instead he says,
I know you’re a Cypriot
from London
but do you have any Indian blood in you?
There are so many
mixed marriages these days
and you look like the offspring.

Saturday

I am at a conference
and a European-American woman
looks at me excitedly
as though she’s just won a prize.
Oh, I know where you’re from, she says,
My daughter-in-law is an Indian
with a British accent too.
I’m not Indian, I say.
She continues to not see me
as she concentrates on
hiding her anger
for not winning the trophy
in her self-imposed
guess the ethnicity competition
and then she walks away.

Sunday

I go to lunch at the home of a friend
whose family are Africans of the diaspora.
They don’t ask me where I’m from.
Later, my friend tells me,
They’ve decided you’re
A biracial Jamaican.

That evening,
I’m at a poetry reading
and an African-American woman
crosses the room
to ask me this question:
Are you the colonized
or the colonizer?
What do you think? I ask.
You could be both, she responds
and walks away.

Monday, June 19, 2017

America I Do Not Call Your Name Without Hope

After Neruda

By Dean Rader

America I do not call your name without hope
not even when you lay your knife
against my throat or lace my hands
behind my back, the cuffs connecting
us like two outlaws trying to escape
history’s white horse, its heavy whip
a pistolshot in the ear. Lost land,
this is a song for the scars on your back,
for your blistered feet and beautiful
watch, it is for your windmills, your
leavened machines, for your fists. It
is for your wagon of blood, for your dogs
and their teeth of fire, for your sons
and the smoke in their hearts. This is for
your verbs, your long lurk, your whir.
This is for you and your fear, your tar,
for the white heat in your skin and
for your blue bones that one day may sing.
This is for your singing. This is for the past,
but not for what’s passed. This is for daybreak
and backbreak, for dreams and for darkness.
This song is not for your fight, but it is a song
for fighting. It is a song of flame but not for burning.
It is a song out of breath but a plea for breathing.
It is the song I will sing when you knock
on my door, my son’s name in your mouth.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

America, I Do Not Call Your Name without Hope

By Pablo Neruda

When I hold the sword against the heart,
when I live with the faulty roof in the soul,
when one of your new days
pierces me coming through the windows,
I am and I stand in the light that produces me,
I live in the darkness which makes me what I am,
I sleep and awake in your fundamental sunrise:
as mild as the grapes, and as terrible,
carrier of sugar and the whip,
soaked in the sperm of your species,
nursed on the blood of your inheritance.

Translated by Robert Bly



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Oklahoma

By Dan Bern

On the 19th day of April
In 1995
There was the worst car bombing
Near 200 people died

In Oklahoma City
On Wednesday 9:00
They struck the federal building
Took out near half the block

They thought it was an earthquake
Made trees and lightpoles bend
And folks thought they were seeing
The world come to an end

It blew the building open
It lay there like a wound
Twisted pipes and wires
Silent like a tomb

Yeah, they blew the building open
And blew folks lives apart
Firefighters mumbling
And wondering where to start

They rushed out some survivors
But soon could only cry
And place the dead in caskets
And ask the dear Lord why

Prayers for the missing
For daughters and for sons
Prayers for the souls of those
Who'd never hurt a one

Kevin Small was lucky
His clock needed repair
He overslept an hour
His three-year old son was spared

But for too many others
The news was not so bright
One baby got her picture in the paper
Then she died

The President, he promised
They'd pay dearly for the blast
And all across the country
Flags were flying at half mast

Shock soon turned to anger
"Who'd do this?" people said
And everyones' suspicions
Had a price upon their head

They thought it was some Arabs
And folks began to scream
"First tighten up the borders
Then hang 'em from a tree

This proves what we've been saying
'Bout our fair and gentle land
Nobody who did this
Could be an American"

The FBI got busy
Some drawings and some names
And everyone was looking
For someone else to blame

Some 50 hours later
Early Friday day
They found the man they wanted
In jail ten miles away

A so-called right extremist
A patriot government foe
An expert on explosions
And white as driven snow

When people heard the news they found it
Hard to understand
How could such a murderer
Come from our own land

But when we build walls and borders
From fear and hate and guns
The hatred turns around and
Strikes at everyone

Maybe now we'll understand
Maybe now we'll see
Superpatriots are seldom
Friends of you and me

They're scared and weak and cowards
And they think that with their guns
The ones they're most afraid of
Will turn around and run

But when we stand strong together
And let love enjoy its will
Misfortune can't defeat us
It makes us stronger still

Like on the 19th day of April
In 1995
A day all Oklahomans will
Remember all their lives



Go here to hear Dan Bern sing this song.

Monday, June 12, 2017

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.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Pride Poem

By Karen G

I am privileged to be queer & here

beneath the entertainment stages and in the wiring,
at the bottom of the beer cozy.

Stringing together the booths selling everything
from Utilikilts and chirping wood frogs to chicken on a stick

are the long shadows of our ghosts who couldn’t make it here today.

Behind the banners of rainbow flags and generous sponsors
are the sore knuckles and hoarse voices who know what time it is
on government clocks right now,

and for those paying attention,
we’ve come so far to be here & queer
and proud,
but we still have far to go.

Pride celebration is a perfect example of so many lessons
like how there’s something for everyone
like how many of us there are
like how necessary this space still is
like how some of us would rather integrate than assimilate
and that, as a celebration like this one proves,
there’s room enough for everyone.

Despite the blow-up balloons of corporate logos
trying to appeal to our target market
like we’re a red bull’s eye
(because, you know they love our money
but hate our sin)
I come to Pride to remember
in the decade before I was born,
people in this tribe were arrested for kisses,
twined fingers,
meeting for a drink
and following the blood in their hearts.

I come to Pride remembering that in my life time
it was flagrant queens in too-tall heels and caked make-up
who by sticking up for themselves,
proved it's the radicals among us
who often make the biggest changes
for all of us.

I come to Pride because this year
two of my friends and countless others
whose numbers are whimpered away with
"we can't be sure it was a hate crime"
made hospital visits because they were
bashed for being faggots.

I come to Pride remembering that I have a Queer Nation,
that I still Act-Up
and that Silence will not Equal My Death

I come to Pride because
somewhere tonight someone is healing from surgery,
stepping into freedom from bindings or accessories
into a body that’s always been under the surface
and I want that body to be seen on its own terms
and met there with respect.

I come to Pride because
it is always somebody’s first time
first kiss
first love
and I believe in furtive firsts
becoming solid seconds
following the freedom
of a self-defined life
rather than a life hung on rungs
of someone else's expectations.

I come to Pride
enduring the heat
and enjoying the sweaty hugs of friends
because somewhere and right here
lives are in motion
following their own trajectories
of love & discovery
epiphany & possibility
just as names have done before them
and faces will follow afterwards.

I come to Pride because
the nation in this planet
holding us in orbit
hasn’t caught up with the ways
people are already living in it
and have been living in it
on the ground
both before us and right now,
but the future of changing that orbit
both for the ghosts
for us
and for those coming
is up to us.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Is Your Country a He Or a She in Your Mouth

By Patricia Lockwood

Mine is a man I think, I love men, they call me
a fatherlandsexual, all the motherlandsexuals
have been sailed away, and there were never
any here in the first place, they tell us. Myself
I have never seen a mountain, myself I have
never seen a valley, especially not my own,
I am afraid of the people who live there,
who eat hawk and wild rice from my pelvic
bone. Oh no, I am fourteen, I have walked
into my motherland’s bedroom, her body
is indistinguishable from the fatherland
who is ‘loving her’ from behind, so close
their borders match up, except for a notable
Area belonging to the fatherland. I am drawn
to the motherland’s lurid sunsets, I am reaching
my fingers to warm them, the people in my
valley are scooping hawk like crazy, I can no
longer tell which country is which, salt air off
both their coasts, so gross, where is a good nice gulp
of Midwestern pre-tornado? The tornado above me
has sucked up a Cow, the motherland declares,
the tornado above him has sucked up a Bull,
she says pointing to the fatherland. But the cow
is clearly a single cow, chewing a single cud
of country, chewing their countries into one,
and ‘I hate these country!’ I scream, and
their eyes shine with rain and fog, because
at last I am using the accent of the homeland,
at last I am a homelandsexual and I will never
go away from them, there will one day be two
of you too they say, but I am boarding myself
already, I recede from their coasts like a Superferry
packed stem to stern with citizens, all waving hellos
and goodbyes, and at night all my people go below
and gorge themselves with hunks of hawk,
the traditional dish of the new floating heartland.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

SOMEONE KILLED THE WELWITSCHIA

By Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

A 2000 year old plant, protected by law, the largest collection
outside Namibia at the Georgia Botany Greenhouse
where Spring 2016 someone shouted, you gotta come see this!
where "this" meant a student worker's oversight to raise the beds or water the red sand. Whomever it was, "The Plant Man" in charge hasn't arrived at forgiveness.

I took 2 peases
of your jewelry. Wy
I took it is because you wear
pretty jewelry
and it makes
me feel a lot
bad for what
I took from.


My 6 year-old daughter's friend wrote, on her mother's orders, when the girl revealed stolen necklaces hidden for months behind a chair in her room. "Stolen" might be too strong a word for the cheap, costume pieces mimicking garnet, lapis. I'd hardly noticed them gone.

Who hasn't treasured then regretted something they shouldn't have done, hidden it in a room's corner?

I was just like that once, flushing one too many baby wipes down the toilet causing $27,000 in flood damage; or tangled in bedsheets with a boy calling in "sick."

The poet says all poems are about sex or death
and if not sex, then love; if not death
then loss. Forgiveness is a little death,
losing anger's leathery ribbon leaves, the false belief that what's precious can be preserved.

I will never taka anything agian.

Her promise, a fragile scratch on vellum paper,
destined to be broken.


MELISA (Misha) CAHNMANN-TAYLOR is the author of three books: Imperfect Tense (poems), Teachers Act Up: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities Through Theatre, and Arts-Based Research in Education. Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia and poetry editor for Anthropology & Humanism, she directs National Endowment for the Arts "Big Read" programs and an annual poetry series. Her research, teaching, and service concern emerging and creative engagement in public (bi)literacy education.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Untitled

By Micah Fletcher

I have watched men and women
Take their skin with scissors
And cut it down the middle
Pulling it apart
Like a bad Halloween mask
I have watched men and women
Sit there and paint themselves
The color of whatever they want to be
Because they believed
That a tattoo that they were born with all over
Would stop them from being
whatever they believed was growing in them
Beautiful gut
I have watched men and women
Shatter mirrors and take the shards
And cut it open
watching their wrists
As a glass shard travels 28 centimeters
across somebody’s wrist
Just to find it is the end of the journey
All I have to say to you
And I mean you
Is I am so sorry
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before
There are some days
When you can barely lift your wings
They are heavy and cold
Wet with the teardrops
That fall from that obscene fiery ball in the sky
And there are other days
When your veins are full of kerosene
Fingers open and closed
Because they are Zippos
And your lungs are billows blowing into a furnace
where a heart should be
A burning cathedral
Born on a Monday
In a one-way alley
And three men brutalized me
At the age of seven
I knew what the cement tasted like
And there are other days
You feel empty
The fires burn out
Your wings dry and you are left to curl up in a ball
Let your outer carapace camoflouge you
On a mountaintop
Cool…hard…and empty
As if the blue pills I take in the morning
Full of amphetamines
Are instead black holes in capsules
Sucking the emotions inside of me by their tassles
Until I am left undecorated
A house made homeless
Save its roof and front door
There’s another thing I’ve met
Both men and women
Who have suffered from
Men and women who are called whores
Houses with shattered windows
And crooked panes with cracked ceilings
And faded stains
They’re victimizers
Playing these panes on the colors
Of their welcome mats
Or on the signs on the front door that read
I AM WARM SO YOU CAN CALL ME HOME
I know that being jumped and being raped
Are not the same thing
Despite both sometimes being blamed
on the way that we dressed
But why
Is it that in some situations I am called a victim
And he or she that society has the audacity
to call from some broken home
That should have known better
Than to be built in such a bad neighborhood
Are we that fucking blind?
Are we stricken or guilty?
Why don’t we just sew our eyes shut
Because we’re too scared to admit
We don’t know how to stitch bedsheets back together
When they’ve been ripped form the seams
It seems we don’t know anymore
I mean after all
Where does prevention stop
And where does protection begin?


This poem won the Verslandia Poetry Slam in 2013 and you can see Micah performing it here.  







Friday, May 26, 2017

Personal ad for my country

By Eve Lyons

Married Jewish female
seeks one person
who knows how to love country
without hating its inhabitants
who knows how to cradle
both extremes while standing
astride the middle.
Married Jewish female
whose marriage is only legal
in five states, who feels
as uncomfortable with
the Orthodox of her own kin
as she does with orthodox Christians
orthodox Muslims
orthodox capitalists
and orthodox secularists.
Married Jewish female
seeks a country
where the borders don't feel like prisons
where the talking heads
on the television
don't preach hatred
and mistrust.
Married Jewish female
seeks love.
It's hard enough
some days
to remain
a married Jewish female
without feeling the urge to
"fuck and run"
from arguments over whose turn it is
to change the cat litter
from arguments over which part of the population
deserves more funding
from attack ads
from bitter political debates
from a whole world.
Married Jewish female
seeks a home
Not a condominium or
a house or a mortgage
Not a rented space
from year to year
But a home
a place where my soul
can rest.

Previously published at Protestpoems, December 2010

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

This Is The Place

By Tony Walsh

This is the place
In the north-west of England. It’s ace, it’s the best
And the songs that we sing from the stands, from our bands
Set the whole planet shaking.
Our inventions are legends. There’s nowt we can’t make, and so we make brilliant music
We make brilliant bands
We make goals that make souls leap from seats in the stands

And we make things from steel
And we make things from cotton
And we make people laugh, take the mick summat rotten
And we make you at home
And we make you feel welcome and we make summat happen
And we can’t seem to help it
And if you’re looking from history, then yeah we’ve a wealth

But the Manchester way is to make it yourself.
And make us a record, a new number one
And make us a brew while you’re up, love, go on
And make us feel proud that you’re winning the league
And make us sing louder and make us believe that this is the place that has helped shape the world.

And this is the place where a Manchester girl named Emmeline Pankhurst from the streets of Moss Side led a suffragette city with sisterhood pride

And this is the place with appliance of science, we’re on it, atomic, we struck with defiance, and in the face of a challenge, we always stand tall, Mancunians, in union, delivered it all

Such as housing and libraries and health, education and unions and co-ops and first railway stations

So we’re sorry, bear with us, we invented commuters. But we hope you forgive us, we invented computers.

And this is the place Henry Rice strolled with rolls, and we’ve rocked and we’ve rolled with our own northern soul.

And so this is the place to do business then dance, where go-getters and goal-setters know they’ve a chance.

And this is the place where we first played as kids. And me mum, lived and died here, she loved it, she did.

And this is the place where our folks came to work, where they struggled in puddles, they hurt in the dirt and they built us a city, they built us these towns and they coughed on the cobbles to the deafening sound to the steaming machines and the screaming of slaves, they were scheming for greatness, they dreamed to their graves.

And they left us a spirit. They left us a vibe. That Mancunian way to survive and to thrive and to work and to build, to connect, and create and Greater Manchester’s greatness is keeping it great.

And so this is the place now with kids of our own. Some are born here, some drawn here, but they all call it home.

And they’ve covered the cobbles, but they’ll never defeat, all the dreamers and schemers who still teem through these streets.

Because this is a place that has been through some hard times: oppressions, recessions, depressions, and dark times.

But we keep fighting back with Greater Manchester spirit. Northern grit, Northern wit, and Greater Manchester’s lyrics.

And these hard times again, in these streets of our city, but we won’t take defeat and we don’t want your pity.

Because this is a place where we stand strong together, with a smile on our face, greater Manchester forever.

And we’ve got this place where a team with a dream can get funding and something to help with a scheme.

Because this is a place that understands your grand plans. We don’t do “no can do” we just stress “yes we can”

Forever Manchester’s a charity for people round here, you can fundraise, donate, you can be a volunteer. You can live local, give local, we can honestly say, we do charity different, that Mancunian way.

And we fund local kids, and we fund local teams. We support local dreamers to work for their dreams. We support local groups and the great work they do. So can you help us. help local people like you?

Because this is the place in our hearts, in our homes, because this is the place that’s a part of our bones.

Because Greater Manchester gives us such strength from the fact that this is the place, we should give something back.

Always remember, never forget, forever Manchester.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Who Said It Was Simple

By Audre Lorde

There are so many roots to the tree of anger
that sometimes the branches shatter
before they bear.

Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march
discussing the problematic girls
they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes
a waiting brother to serve them first
and the ladies neither notice nor reject
the slighter pleasures of their slavery.
But I who am bound by my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in colour
as well as sex

and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day Proclamation

By Julia Ward Howe

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly: "We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
 From the bosom of a devastated
Earth a voice goes up with
Our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war, Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God - In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Action in the Ghetto of Rohatyn, March 1942

By Alexander Kimel

Do I want to remember?
The peaceful ghetto, before the raid:
Children shaking like leaves in the wind.
Mothers searching for a piece of bread.
Shadows, on swollen legs, moving with fear.
No, I don’t want to remember, but how can I forget?
Do I want to remember, the creation of hell?
The shouts of the Raiders, enjoying the hunt.
Cries of the wounded, begging for life.
Faces of mothers carved with pain.
Hiding Children, dripping with fear.
No, I don’t want to remember, but how can I forget?
Do I want to remember, my fearful return?
Families vanished in the midst of the day.
The mass grave steaming with vapor of blood.
Mothers searching for children in vain.
The pain of the ghetto, cuts like a knife.
No, I don’t want to remember, but how can I forget?
Do I want to remember, the wailing of the night?
The doors kicked ajar, ripped feathers floating the air.
The night scented with snow-melting blood.
While the compassionate moon, is showing the way.
For the faceless shadows, searching for kin.
No, I don’t want to remember, but I cannot forget.
Do I want to remember this world upside down?
Where the departed are blessed with an instant death.
While the living condemned to a short wretched life,
And a long tortuous journey into unnamed place,
Converting Living Souls, into ashes and gas.
No. I Have to Remember and Never Let You Forget.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

War Cry

By Cherrie Moraga

lo que quiero es
tierra
si no tierra, pueblo
si no pueblo, amante
si no amante, niño
si no nino
soledad
tranquilidad
muerte

tierra.

what I want is
earth
if not earth, town
if not town, lover
if not people, child
if not child
solitude
peace
death

earth.

(Translated by Eve Lyons & Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor )

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Arrival of Rain

By Kathleen Hart

The president scrubbed climate change
from the pages of whitehouse. gov, but
the crack in the Antarctic ice shelf
had the gall to grow by 6 more miles
on the same day.

I have declared global warming to be
a Chinese plot, the president proclaimed, but
the silly scientists disobeyed, and announced
2016 to be the hottest year on record 2 days
after the inauguration.

A senior aide appears to soothe us,
explaining that there are alternative
facts, but the weather won’t cooperate ,

the snow in California, where all trends
start, having the insolence to warm
to rain, and rain, the bastard, promising
nothing but flood, flood, flood.


Kathleen Hart's collection A Cut -and-Paste Country is the recipient of the inaugural Jacopone da Todi  Poetry Prize. Poems have appeared or will appear in A Quiet Courage and Glass: a Journal of Poetry.  Hart is a former college instructor and high school teacher who currently resides in Texas. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Song of Construction Workers

By Cheng Peng

We built it! The flower-gardened villas. Where you live
you so-called princelings, owners of the city
we’re the same age, you walk dogs, dogs of noble blood
but they’re still mutts. That glare at what we’re doing

Our construction worker blood is inlaid with bricks
to shelter you from wind and rain. You so-called high officials and VIPs
magnates, national cadres, public servants. I want to wake you with my screams use your conscience to measure the weight of our aluminum souls

National sites, official buildings, government halls, mayoral mansions
we built them! We built those thresholds for you, ones we can no longer cross
we built the Labor Law Building, where someone is dozing
we built the People’s Mansion, which we can only gaze at

Picks and banners rust into our rallying banner
let my poetry call to you!
On the great road to communism, so many ghosts
can’t return home. We built it!

Monday, April 24, 2017

This Might Not Make Sense Now, But Don’t Worry, It Will

By Noah Michelson

For Paolo Fanoli 

When I ask Paolo how to draw the line between
not wanting to live anymore and wanting to die,
all he’ll quietly commit to is “that isn’t funny.”

I’m worried I worry him.

He says if I ever left him he would keep my body
under his bed and drag it out once a day to remember me,
prop up the less and less of me that’s left of me
and remind me of the world I left behind me — just look!
Some people can wake up every morning, open their
eyes and recognize something beautiful, even if it’s
just the sun slobbering across the bedroom floor with its
hot black tongue,

so, why can’t you?

He’s right, of course, but when I was 14, nothing was
more beautiful than the thought of the heavy gray
garage door guarding the far edge of my family’s driveway
and how sweetly, how surely it could kiss my head
apart from the rest of my body if only I asked it sweetly
enough.

Things were different then —

I still was afraid to ask for what I wanted then and I
spent my lunch hours holed up in the biology lab hiding
from the other boys, sobbing into my sandwich, another
pickled frog prince bobbing in his embalming fluid, one more

never-born piglet day-drunk on the useless daydream of
one day living someone else’s life on the other side of the glass
but we both know how that story ends.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Self-Help for Refugees

By Li-Young Lee

If your name suggests a country where bells
might have been used for entertainment

or to announce the entrances and exits of the seasons
or the birthdays of gods and demons,

it's probably best to dress in plain clothes
when you arrive in the United States,
and try not to talk too loud.

If you happen to have watched armed men
beat and drag your father
out the front door of your house
and into the back of an idling truck

before your mother jerked you from the threshold
and buried your face in her skirt folds,
try not to judge your mother too harshly.

Don't ask her what she thought she was doing
turning a child's eyes
away from history
and toward that place all human aching starts.

And if you meet someone
in your adopted country,
and think you see in the other's face
an open sky, some promise of a new beginning,
it probably means you're standing too far.

Or if you think you read in the other, as in a book
whose first and last pages are missing,
the story of your own birthplace,
a country twice erased,
once by fire, once by forgetfulness,
it probably means you're standing too close.

In any case, try not to let another carry
the burden of your own nostalgia or hope.

And if you're one of those
whose left side of the face doesn't match
the right, it might be a clue

looking the other way was a habit
your predecessors found useful for survival.
Don't lament not being beautiful.

Get used to seeing while not seeing.
Get busy remembering while forgetting.
Dying to live while not wanting to go on.

Very likely, your ancestors decorated
their bells of every shape and size
with elaborate calendars
and diagrams of distant star systems,
but with no maps for scattered descendants.

And I bet you can't say what language
your father spoke when he shouted to your mother
from the back of the truck, "Let the boy see!"

Maybe it wasn't the language you used at home.
Maybe it was a forbidden language.
Or maybe there was too much screaming
and weeping and the noise of guns in the streets.

It doesn't matter. What matters is this:
The kingdom of heaven is good.
But heaven on earth is better.

Thinking is good.
But living is better.
Alone in your favorite chair
with a book you enjoy
is fine. But spooning
is even better.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Marathon

By E. Ethelbert Miller

it’s a strange time which finds me jogging
in early morning
the deadness of sleep alive in this world
the empty parks filled with unloved strangers
buildings grey with solitude
now near the end of another decade
i am witness to the loss of my twenties
a promise invisible
i run without purpose
far from the north star
i run with the sound of barking dogs closing in
i have lost count of the miles
i am older and nothing much matters
or has changed

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