Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Karma

By Dominique Christina

 We become poets in an attempt to tether words to righteousness'
Our notebooks to social consciousness.
Sitting anxious in wing bat chairs, we sip lattes to news of regimes,
firing American- made artillery into crowds of folk.

Dead bodies pickled by the sun,they line countries we never think about and we
suck our teeth and ask a thesaurus to become a machete and as romantic as pacifism
is,these days I dream of dictators falling head first into karma and forget to be
afraid.
If I could write this shit in fire, I would write this shit in fire.
This ain't poetry, this is rage unmated, a verb, a means and end.
This is my body. This is Sankofa, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, South side Chicago,
Compton, California. Redhook Projects in Jersey, Roosevelt Projects in Brooklyn.

This is severed hands and clubs against flesh, black boots to pregnant bellies.
This is sterilizations, inoculations,leg irons and chains, the bit, the noose, this is a war cry.
Tell 'Massa I coming back, carrying fire in my knapsack.
Tell him "I'm Patrice Lumumba, Steven Biko, Fannie Lou Hamer."
Tell him "they have been born again in me."

Tell him,"I found my mother tongue buried under the rubble of the World Trade Center."
Tell him, "this shit ain't no poem,this is me, running naked from sugar cane and cotton field having dropped my croaker sack."
Tell him, "He can call me Karma, I am refreshing the bones of a witch, a root worker,
a sorcerer, a priestess, a gangster.

Tell him, "this is the result of segregation."
Tell him, "this is the result of integration."
Tell him, "I have never been invisible."
Tell him, "he has never been invincible."

Tell him, "I am melting the steel bars of prison yards, they 'gon flow over him like lava."
I am returned, I am blood thirsty,
I am fangs, and hooks and swollen feet in welfare lines,
the gauntlet thrown down.
Lines drawn in the sand. I am apocryphal -
Historical deletions gathering themselves up
into textbooks.

I am the niece of exploitation on a rice and pancake box come to collect the royalties
for Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben.
I am the line of smoke, a rain dance, the Tomahawk used to kill the first invader.
I am a passbook in South Africa, A Whites- only sign on a courthouse door in Mississippi,
The streets of Benghazi pocked in prayer beads and shell casings, the juxtaposition
of faith and savagery.

Tell him, "I am African wide hips and American bulimia,
peace symbols affixed onto assault rifles."
It is the deepest kind of contradiction.
If I could write this shit in fire, I would write this shit in fire.

Tell 'Massa "I'm coming back.
Howl in the wind I'm coming back
, Burr in your heels I coming back
I coming back 'Massa, I coming back.
I coming back 'Massa, I coming back.
I coming back 'Massa, I coming back."

To hear the poet perform this poem, click here.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Litany for Survival

By Audre Lorde

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
futures
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak
we are afraid our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Burlington Snow

By Allen Ginsberg

Socialist snow on the streets
Socialist talk in the Maverick bookstore
Socialist kids sucking socialist lollipops
Socialist poetry in socialist mouths
—aren’t the birds frozen socialists?
Aren’t the snow clouds blocking the airfield
Social Democratic Appearances?
Isn’t the socialist sky owned by
the socialist sun?
Earth itself socialist, forests, rivers, lakes
furry mountains, socialist salt
in oceans?
Isn’t this poem socialist? It doesn’t
belong to me anymore.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine

By Carol Ann Duffy

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

 Not a cute card or a kissogram.
 I give you an onion.
 Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
 possessive and faithful
 as we are,
 for as long as we are.

 Take it.
 Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

 Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

We Who Are Your Closest Friends

By Phillip Lopate

we who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting
as a group
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
frustration
discontent and
torture
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift

your analyst is
in on it
plus your boyfriend
and your ex-husband
and we have pledged
to disappoint you
as long as you need us

in announcing our
association
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
against uncertainty
indeed against ourselves
but since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community of purpose
rare in itself
with you as
the natural center
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make
unreasonable
demands for affection
if not as a consequence
of your
disastrous personality

then for the good of the collective

Monday, February 1, 2016

Evil

By Langston Hughes

Looks like what drives me crazy
Don't have no effect on you
But I'm gonna keep on at it
Till it drives you crazy, too.

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