Monday, March 19, 2018

The Genetics of Leaving

By Shauna Barbosa

Inside, this vessel feels like the 1996 spelling bee when I forgot
u in language. Vovo left Fogo
to Praia. Now she has two sons named José.
Islands apart, I already jelly fished every memory that’s stuck
inside. Saltwater
nostalgia stung, rinsed right up off me.

Vovo left and came back, not recognizing my thirteen-year-old
aunt, her new haircut
resembling the first José. I contracted. I expanded.
I pushed temporary waters behind me. I already forgot
I’ve got two versions of my climb. The one I swam and, I—

I only climbed this mountain to take a picture at the top,
bell-shaped bodies all forgotten.

All this bad luck because I split a pole.
If I could open my mouth
I’d ask my grandmother why
she took so long to return to her first set of fish.
I’d ask if she’s aware she has two sons named the same.
She’s got two versions of herself,
one in the land of a free, haircut, two, me.

As soon as you start to love a city,
a thick-bodied flight attendant touches your shoulder
walking down the aisle. Thought that was affection.

I took care of that part of myself in a complicated way.
There’s only one temperature that’s good enough for a mother
to bring back the u of this vessel that is no longer the you
around my neck.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


By Hafizah Geter

for Tamir Rice (2002-2014)

Mr. President,
After they shot me they tackled my sister.
The sound of her knees hitting the sidewalk
made my stomach ache. It was a bad pain.
Like when you love someone
and they lie to you. Or that time Mikaela cried
all through science class and wouldn't tell anyone why.
This isn't even my first letter to you!
In the first one I told you about my room
and my favorite basketball team
and I asked you to come visit me in Cleveland
or to send you autograph. In the second one
I thanked you for your Responsible Citizenship.
I hope you are proud of me too.
Mom says you made being black beautiful again
but that was before someone killed Trayvon.
After that came a sadness so big it made everyone
look the same. It was a long time before we could
go outside again.  Mr. President, it took one whole day
for me to die and even though I'm twelve and not afraid of the dark
I didn't know there would be so much of it
or that there would be so many other boys here
and so many names to remember.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


By Natalie Calderon

America, the so-called land of the free
 But is it still free if I take a knee?
Our president wants to “Make America Great Again”
But keeps putting roadblocks in the path of equality
I’m worried things will only get worse from here
I adjure to feel secure but how can I when
My so-called leader is acting so immature
My hope in humanity is fading
Because of all the degrading
My heart hurts as racism is pervading
I feel anger in my soul as it anchors my stomach
My spirit is damaged by the baggage of hate I carry
But I must stay strong for the struggles to come
I just hope my pride doesn’t go numb

This poem was selected by Nicholas Kristof and the Poetry Society of America from a call for poems of resistance to Trump's policies.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Dear Basketball

By Kobe Bryant 

From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
Game-winning shots
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:

I fell in love with you.

A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.

As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one.

And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.

I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

Love you always,

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Seven Deadly Sins of Marriage

By Sherman Alexie


How odd to be jealous of one's lover's
Long ago lovers, when one should thank them
For their various failures. And strengths.
And odder, this desire to rank them

As she must rank them, but will never say.
Where is the handsome Christian? Or the one
Who said he wasn't married? Or the short
British man whose parents were far more fun?

And what about the existentialist
Who kissed so well she swooned in the street,
But was far too rational to feel joy?
I celebrate the men who preceded me --

Just as the bank celebrates its debtors --
Because they make me look so much better.


A female fan, upon meeting my wife,
Said, "Oh, wow, you must have a wonderful life
Since you have such a wonderful writer
For a husband. That book, The Fistfighter,

Is so charming. Your husband must be charming, too."
And my wife thought, What a literate fool!
Only the poet's spouse fully learns the truth:
We writers are the worst kind of cruel,

Because we worship our own stories and poems,
And what human can compete with metaphors?
Writers stand still and yet vacate our homes
Inside our fantasies. We are word-whores,

With libidos and egos of balsa wood.
We'd have sex with our books, if only we could.


If I were single, would I be thinner?
Do I overeat because I don't compete
With the flat-bellied bachelors? Or do we
Thick husbands look and feel thicker

Whenever our wives see a slender man?
Or does it matter? Of course, it matters.
I can't stick with any weight loss plan,
And though my extra twenty won't shatter

Any scales, I despise my love handles,
And often feel ugly and obese.
But my lovely wife always lights the candles,
Disrobes, and climbs the mountain called me,

Because wives can love beyond the body
And make mortal husbands feel holy.


Every summer, my wife travels to France
To spend a week or two with her good friend.
Of course, my sons and I welcome the chance
To de-evolve and cave it up, and yet,

I sometimes wish that my wife gave me all
Her love and attention. But it's selfish
To want such devotion. There should be walls
Inside any marriage. My wife can wish

For more privacy and solitude
Without me thinking it cold and rude.
She should have friends I rarely meet,
If ever, and I shouldn't let my needs

Become demands, but when I'm most alone,
I often wish my wife was always home.


To save time, I put the good pots and pans
In the dishwasher and ruined the damn things.
And, once again, my wife can't understand
How thoughtless I can be. And, again, I sing

The same exhausted song: I forgot, I forgot.
When left up to me, the bills go unpaid,
The fruits and vegetables go unbought,
And the master and twin beds go unmade.

Once, when a teacher wondered why our son
Spent so much time lying on the classroom floor,
My wife said, "Because he's seen it often before."
On a basketball court, I will madly run,

But anywhere else, I will use sedate
Opportunities to pontificate.


In the hotel room next to mine, women
Talk and laugh and keep me awake 'til three.
Exhausted and soaked with sweat and venom,
I stare at the walls and think of twenty

Ways to get revenge for their selfish crimes.
At five a.m., as I walk by their door,
I pocket their PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB sign,
And then, from my taxi to the airport,

I ring their room. "Who the hell is this?"
Asks a woman, still drunk and irate.
And I say, "Hey, I just wanted to wish
You a good morning and a great fucking day."

When I tell my wife about my adolescent rage,
She shrugs, rolls her eyes, and turns the page.


Yes, dear wife, we were younger and slender
(And, damn, I had terrible hair and clothes).
Our marriage was new, exciting, and tender.
Naked in front of me, you still felt exposed,

And I had yet to learn how to touch you
Properly. But now, sweetheart, I've memorized
The curves of your breasts, belly, and thighs,
As you've memorized me, and if we do

Each other less often than we should or need,
Then we can blame time's ground and pound
And not the lack of carnality,
Because, D, I still want to lay you down

Hour by hour, and make you cry for more,
As I cry for you, adoring and adored.