Friday, September 30, 2016

Powerhouse

By Nick Norwood, Michael McFalls, Marc Olivié and Marleen De Bode Olivié

now that you are here
amid crag and gleam
mist-rise and vapor
dark jade frothing
into white lace
here where the rains
come to gargle
spit jets of spray
see herons creep
smokestacks peer
through high windows
spirits sleep
spool and spindle
shaft and shackle
tie-snake and eagle
sit still
as an old powerhouse
and mind your moorings
the river roaring.


This poem is part of a public art display on the Chattahoochee RiverWalk

Sunday, September 25, 2016

I, too, sing America

By Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother. 
They send me to eat in the kitchen 
When company comes, 
But I laugh, 
And eat well, 
And grow strong.

Tomorrow, 
I’ll be at the table 
When company comes. 
Nobody’ll dare 
Say to me,
 “Eat in the kitchen," 
Then. 

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am 
And be ashamed— 

I, too, am America.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Untitled

By Serena Williams

She turns her disappointment into triumph.
Her grief into joy. Her rejections into approvals.
If no one believes in her it does not matter. She believes in herself.
Nothing stops her. No one can touch her.
She is woman.

Monday, September 12, 2016

It's My Body

By Denise Duhamel

“There was a time when Barbie couldn’t even
bend her knees,” I told my nieces Kerri and Katie
who sit before me on a living room floor
in blue and pink collar America.
They are strapping their Rock-n-Roll Barbies
into tiny leatherette pants
and big black guitars
with jagged lightning hips. Katie hands me
her doll because she needs help
with the tiny buttons that snake the back
of Barbie’s off-the-shoulder blouse. “My first Barbie
couldn´t even twist her waist”. I am talking
like a person who has lived long enough
to see significant change. My nieces
have their backs to the TV which seems always on,
wherever I am. And behind their blond
innocent heads, Jessica Hahn
makes a cameo appearance on an MTV video.
She rolls like a sexy pinball,
then tries to claw herself out of a concave cage.
“It’s my body”, I recently heard her say
on a morning talk show. She started
by defending her nude poses in Playboy.
“It’s my body”, she repeated
like a Chatty Cathy doll
with a skipping record stuck in her back.
“It’s my body,” she began to answer
her interviewer’s every inquiry –
where she grew up, if she still went to church.
“It’s my body?”
The words stayed the same,
but as more accusations came, her inflections
changed. Jessica looked beyond the studio set
where somebody seemed to be cueing her
that message. My lover was laughing.
“How about a little conviction there, Jessica?”,
he said to the TV. Then, trying to coax
more conversation, he addressed me, “Look,
honey, she doesn’t even seem to know if it’s her body
or not.” He was right,
but he knew as he brought it up,
it was the wrong thing to say.
I’d had too much coffee.
I found myself energetically defending Jessica,
blaming her disorientation
as a response to our misogynous society-
the dislocation all women feel
from their physical selves.
And then came the theories I’d been reading.
He left for work kind of agreeing
but also complaining that I’d made him exhausted.
And now my sister is blaming me for the same thing
because I am pointing out to Katie that she is mistaken
to think only boys should get dirty
and only girls should wear earrings.
“People should be able to do whatever they want.”
I lecture her about my friend who wears a hard hat
when she goes to her job and works
with electricity, just like her daddy.
Katie fiddles with her shoelaces
and asks for juice. My sister says,
“Give the kid a break. She’s only in kindergarten.”
Older Kerri is concentrating, trying
to get a big comb for humans
through her doll’s Moussed synthetic hair.
Because untangling the snarls needs so much force,
suddenly, accidentally, Barbie’s head pops off,
and a smaller one, a faceless socket,
emerges from her neck. For an instant
we all –two sets of sisters, our ages
twenty years apart – share a small epiphany
about Mattel: this brainwashed piece of plastic cerebrum
is underneath who Barbie is. But soon
Kerri’s face is all panic, like she will be punished.
The tears begin in the corner of her eyes.
I make a fast rescue attempt,
spearing Barbie’s molded head
back on her body, her malleable features distorting
under my thumb. Although a grown doll,
the soft spot at the top of her skull
still hasn’t closed. Under the pressure
of my touch, her face is squashed, someone
posing in a fun house mirror.
But the instant I let go, she snaps back
into a polite smile, her perfect nose
erect and ready to make everything
right: Barbie is America’s –
half victim, half little pink soldier.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September 1, 1939

By W. H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Search this blog