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.