Sunday, June 29, 2014

Do not go gentle into that good night

By Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What this poem will do

By Anne Haines

This poem cannot bring you back.
This poem cannot make the clouds
move more quickly or slowly in the sky,
cannot change the weather. This poem
cannot return you to a happy childhood,
erase a painful one. This poem will
not clear your skin, condition your hair,
wash your dishes, mend your jeans.
It won’t find you a lover, not even
if you recite it three times backwards.
It won’t even find me a lover
and I wrote the thing. This poem won’t
stop time, email your advisor for that extension,
pay the plumber or the piper. This
poem does not pay its taxes. It is not
a good citizen. It fails to vote
or show up for jury duty.
This poem will overturn your scrabble game,
take a bite from every food and leave
the rest. This poem is not housebroken.
All night you hear it whining,
missing its mother, chewing your best shoes
and begging to be let out.

This poem was previously published in Rattle in 2010. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ishq ki Ijaazat

By Satyanshu Singh and Devanshu Singh

Let love be my right,
No longer a crime
Accept us as your own,
It’s the call of our times.
Perhaps He has answers,
Who made us as one.
Yet are of different hues
Are our passions spun.
And you deride us,
Of nature we ain’t
For you are the masses
And our numbers faint.
So we’ll barter for Love
Your Gods and your saints.
The passage of age drips
Painted with our please
But you did not relent
The slander never ceased.
You who want to change us,
Answer us please
Where is the justice
In your blind reproval?
In fear-draped cocoons
Hidden we’ve lain
Under archaic curtains
That color our pain
Now banish these laws
Unshackle these chains
Now treat us like equals
Embraced without blame.
Accept us as your own,
It’s the call of our times.
When has Love played
by the rules of faith?
Or chained the helpless
And made caste its wraith?
Or stood bounded by borders
Or the travails of age?
Then why are we singled
To be stopped by your rage?
This meeting of hearts,
Your blessings can tether.
You and we, all in love
Celebrating together.
So accept us as yours,
It’s the need of the times.
Let love be my right,
No longer a crime

To see the original "video-poem" of this piece, go here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Tomorrow the War Will Have a Picnic

By Abdul Razaq Al-Rubaiee

Tomorrow the war will have a picnic:
Decorate the hospitals with medicines, bandages
And sharp lancets.

Tomorrow the war will have a picnic:
Dust off the graves
And dig fresh ones —
War detests the smell of rotting corpses.

Wash up with mud, then
Brush your teeth white so they’ll gleam
In the darkness of its pompous entourage.
Throw fragile joys out of your heart —
War has no use for bubbles or balloons.

Tomorrow the war will have a picnic:
Prepare your bodies for pain
Your limbs for amputation.
War’s affection is heavy-handed—
It loves to mess with your body.

Tomorrow the war will have a picnic:
Abandon delicacy
And laughter.
War does not like chocolates
Or kissing in public—
These things are not good for the heart
Of the war
Which is having a picnic tomorrow.

Empty the salty streams
From the faucets of your eyes.
The war’s blood pressure is high,
Its arteries hard,
So it doesn’t like salt in its food,
Or on your cheeks.

Tomorrow the war will have a picnic:
Break mothers’ hearts now,
So the force of their tears won’t expand,
Cracking the crust of the earth,
Nor sleeping volcanoes erupt
Inside our chests.
Tomorrow the war will have a picnic:
Turn off the moon hanging over the roof
So it won’t dim the tracers and flares
That light up war’s path.
Let death come in beauty and comfort, soft
As a pillow of angel’s feathers.

Tomorrow the war will have a picnic:
Let’s close the parks,
The gardens,
The flowered balconies,
To allow it to stroll at its ease.
Sweep those big, messy clouds from the sky
So they won’t get airplane wings all wet
And swerve them from precise, pinpointed

Tomorrow the war will have a picnic:
Plant flowers,
For graveyards will grow.
And besides, they will cheer up the dead
Who will hang in garlands from our necks,
Awaiting the Judgement Day.

Tomorrow the war will have a picnic:
Store water, bread, and air.
Because the war gets hungry now and then,
And if our tender bodies aren’t enough to
satisfy it—
Our childish pranks, our innocence, our
It will be compelled to eat the buildings,
Bodies sleeping in graves,
Books, streets and biscuits.
It will be forced to eat unshakable mountains,
Statues and stones—
Anything to feed its body of smoke,
Bullets and shrapnel.

Tomorrow the war will have a picnic:
We must go out to meet it—
Out of our bedrooms, our
Schools, barbershops, public libraries,
Mosques, shelters,
One Thousand Nights and
a Night,
Caves, post cards, fields, graves, trenches,
Bread bags, soft drink bottles,
tooth brushes,
Ibn Malik’s
Alfiyah, Rawdhat Aljinan,

Cradles and news bulletins.
We have come out from our
Skins and our milk names to meet it
And join its parade
to the al-Salaam graveyard.

Tomorrow the war will have a picnic:
Abandon delicacy,
Cups of tea and milk,
Classroom desks,
And what’s left of dreams
Splintered in corners.
No more chocolate,
No more kissing in public—
Things like these
Are not good for the health of the war,
Which is having a picnic tomorrow.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Carmen 16

By Carl Sesar, loosely translating the original poem by the Roman poet Catullus

Up your ass and in your mouth
Aurelius, you too, Furius, you cocksuckers,
calling me dirt because my poems
have naughty naughty words in them.
Just the poet's got to be a boy scout
fellas, not his goddamn poems.
Anyway look, they've got wit, sass,
and sure they're lewd and lascivious,
and can get somebody pretty hard-up too,
I mean not just young kids, but you hairy guys
who can barely get your stiff asses going,
so just because you read about a lot of kisses
you want to put something nasty on me as a man?
Fuck you, up your ass and in your mouth.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Temporary America

Dedicated to all temporary workers

By Barbara Berg

First they bust the union
Then they bust my ass
In Temporary America
Don't want no organization
In the working class
In Temporary America

Contempt for the worker
Is what you get
In Temporary America
No job security
No benefits
In Temporary America

When frustration's high
People go insane
In Temporary America
Picking up guns
Blowing folks away
In Temporary America

It's not the TV
Makes the violence thrive
It's Temporary America
I lay awake in my bed
As the bullets fly
Through Temporary America

The food is fast
And the work is dumb
In Temporary America
Workers praying
For Christ to come
To Temporary America

My rent is high
My ink is red
In Temporary America
I never seem
To come out ahead
In Temporary America

I'm so tired of living
In Temporary America.
In temporary, contemporary
Contempt contempt contempt
For Temporary America

Friday, June 13, 2014

For the Jim Crow Mexican Restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts Where My Cousin Esteban Was Forbidden to Wait Tables Because He Wears Dreadlocks

By Martín Espada

I have noticed that the hostess in peasant dress,
the wait staff and the boss
share the complexion of a flour tortilla.
I have spooked the servers at my table
by trilling the word burrito.
I am aware of your T-shirt solidarity
with the refugees of the Americas,
since they steam in your kitchen.
I know my cousin Esteban the sculptor
rolled tortillas in your kitchen with the fingertips
of ancestral Puerto Rican cigarmakers.
I understand he wanted to be a waiter,
but you proclaimed his black dreadlocks unclean,
so he hissed in Spanish
and his apron collapsed on the floor.
May La Migra handcuff the wait staff
as suspected illegal aliens from Canada;
may a hundred mice dive from the oven
like diminutive leaping dolphins
during your Board of Health inspection;
may the kitchen workers strike, sitting
with folded hands as enchiladas blacken
and twisters of smoke panic the customers;
may a Zapatista squadron commander the refrigerator,
liberating a pillar of tortillas at gunpoint;
may you hallucinate dreadlocks
braided in thick vines around your ankles;
and may the Aztec gods pinned like butterflies
to the menu wait for you in the parking lot
at midnight, demanding that you spell their names.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Natural Music

By Robinson Jeffers

The old voice of the ocean, the bird-chatter of little rivers,
(Winter has given them gold for silver
To stain their water and bladed green for brown to line their banks)
From different throats intone one language.
So I believe if we were strong enough to listen without
Divisions of desire and terror
To the storm of the sick nations, the rage of the hunger smitten cities,
Those voices also would be found
Clean as a child's;or like some girl's breathing who dances alone
By the ocean-shore, dreaming of lovers.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

If My Vagina Was a Gun

By Katie Heim

If my vagina was a gun, you would stand for its rights,
You would ride on buses and fight all the fights.
If my vagina was a gun, you would treat it with care,
You wouldn't spill all its secrets because, well, why go there.
If my vagina was a gun, you'd say what it holds is private
From cold dead hands we could pry, you surely would riot.
If my vagina was a gun, its rights would all be protected,
no matter the body count or the children affected.
If my vagina was a gun, I could bypass security,
concealed carry laws would ensure I'd have impunity.
If my vagina was a gun, I wouldn't have to beg you,
I could hunt this great land and do all the things men do.
But my vagina is not a gun, it is a mightier thing,
With a voice that rings true making lawmakers' ears ring.
Vaginas are not delicate, they are muscular and magic,
So stop messing with mine, with legislation that's tragic.
My vagina's here to demand from the source,
Listen to the voices of thousands or feel their full force.

This poem was originally read as part of a political protest in Austin, TX.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

My Yoko Ono Moment

By David Trinidad  

for Nick Twemlow

It’s annoying
how much
junk mail
comes through
the slot
& accumulates
at the foot
of the stairs

mostly menus
from restaurants
in the neighborhood

coming through
the slot

despite the sign
we put on the door:
No Advertisements
No Solicitors

One night
I scoop up the whole pile
on my way out
(as I do periodically)
& dump it
in the trash can
on the corner
of West Broadway & Spring

just as Yoko Ono
happens to be strolling
through SoHo
with a male companion

She watches me
toss the menus

then turns to her friend
& says, “I guess
no one reads those.”

Thursday, June 5, 2014


By Brittney Corrigan

Wait Mister. Which way is home?
They turned the light out
and the dark is moving in the corner.
– Anne Sexton, “Music Swims Back to Me”

Let down your hair they say to me,those two who crawl about below me. Let down your hair. They mean out the window, but what is a window up here but a suicide door, a black hole, anunmended pocket? It is a kind of mystery how I got here to begin with: I am thechicken, the egg, the single cell. No one will ever say to me Pussy cat, where have you been? I visitthe queen of this small round space. I frighten the mouse of myself, chasing myown split ends. I am the crooked cat. I am the last of the Furies, the Bansheeof the Attic. They call to me, Let down your hair. And so I do. But not to them. Oh no, not out that window. Theyhowl at me like dogs, hissing in their own poor skins for love of me. But I donot need a mother now the darkness rocks me to sleep. I do not need a lover now the stones wrap me in their arms. Letdown your hair. So I do, and I run about shrieking in my own cylindricalspace. My hair knows every possibility. It is a noose, a rope, a blanket, aladder, a nest. I let it choose. It crawls about the space like a school offish; it is as soft as the wind. I do not need a mother now my body has takenme in. I do not need a lover now my fingers make windows of my self. My hair islike a key, a hand, an infinite expanding space. I do not need a mother now Ilook through the keyholes of my own eyes. I do not need a lover now my handsexpand into universes of skin. Today they call Let down your hair, and I do. It chooses the pocket with thebottomless hole, and today I choose to follow it through the door. Hush. I amnot mad. Listen. I am a cat. I bathe myself with my own tongue. I always landon my feet.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

At times like this

By Nikki Giovanni

(for Maya Angelou)

At times like this
We measure our words
Because we are
Measuring a life
A friend was not
Lost nor did she
Transition she
We recognize a good
Life was lead a
Generous heart
Ceases to beat
A hearty laugh will
No longer be
We measure not
The depth
But the width
Of compassion
And passion
And dreams
We place our love
On the flowers
  That cover her
Under the clouds
  That embrace her
Into the Earth
   That owns her
And now
  Reclaims her
We will miss her
Spirit Her demands
Her hopes for us
And therefore Herself
At times like this
We are sad
We gather
We comfort
Each other
Yet still
At times like this

Monday, June 2, 2014

What I Am

By Terrance Hayes

Fred Sanford’s on at 12
I’m standing in the express lane (cash only)
about to buy Head & Shoulders
the white people shampoo, no one knows
what I am. My name could be Lamont.
George Clinton wears colors like Toucan Sam,
the Froot Loop pelican. Follow your nose,
he says. But I have no nose, no mouth,
so you tell me what’s good, what’s god,
what’s funky. When I stop
by McDonalds for a cheeseburger, no one
suspects what I am. I smile at Ronald’s poster,
perpetual grin behind the pissed-off, fly-girl
cashier I love. Where are my goddamn fries?
Ain’t I American? I never say, Niggaz
in my poems. My ancestors didn’t
emigrate. Why would anyone leave
their native land? I’m thinking about shooting
some hoop later on. I’ll dunk on everyone
of those niggaz. They have no idea
what I am. I might be the next Jordan
god. They don’t know if Toni Morrison
is a woman or a man. Michael Jackson
is the biggest name in showbiz. Mamma se  
Mamma sa mamma ku sa, sang the Bushmen
in Africa. I’ll buy a dimebag after the game,
 me & Jody. He says, Fuck them white people
at work, Man. He was an All-American
in high school. He’s cool, but he don’t know
what I am, & so what. Fred Sanford’s on
in a few & I got the dandruff-free head
& shoulders of white people & a cheeseburger
belly & a Thriller CD & Nike high tops
& slavery’s dead & the TV’s my daddy
-- You big Dummy!
Fred tells Lamont.