September 26, 2016
Mami believed in the good and the bad clear
Cut black and white back in 1957 when in black
And white we watched cowboy TV shows
A bit into the story she’d interrupt the
Narrative with her who’s and who’s
¿Quien es el malo?
¿Quien es el bueno?
She’d interrupt many many times
Though the good one she’d guess
By the color of his hat and outfit
The one in white no?
¿El blanco no?
The bad one black head to toe?
¿El negro no?
In those days it was easy to tell
The good from the bad
But she wanted to be doubly sure
To keep her good and bad in their place
Mami was afraid for ese Martin Luther King Jr.
We saw on TV and the kids in Arkansas
King was el negrito bueno still if he didn’t watch it
That negrito bueno was gonna get himself killed
Was gonna get those poor nine niños most
Dressed in pure white killed in Little Rock
Killed didn’t matter if they too were
Good like los buenos in the TV shows
That he looked like el buen negrito
That he was a minister hombre de Dios
Wasn’t good enough Mami lamented
Couldn’t he just keep good and quiet
Looking like the all in white cowboys los buenos
Deep down Mami always knew who were the good
To pray was ok but non violence she feared
Was asking for it…
Lydia Cortes, a Williamsburg, Brooklyn born Puerto Rican, also lived in Rome. Two collections of poetry are Lust for Lustand Whose Place. Her work appears in The Anthology of Puerto Rican Poetry: (Aboriginal to Contemporary Times); Breaking Ground, Anthology of Puerto Rican Women Writers in New York; Monologues From the Road (a play); Through the Kitchen Window; and in Phati’tude Literary Magazine. In August, Upstreet literary magazine, published her poetry in their #12 issue. She is working on a memoir in verses, in whichAnother September will appear.
September 25, 2016
There was no revolution
by Seamus Cashman
there was no revolution:
no one sang; and train tracks seemed
an ok place to sit by and wait;
– no guitar in sight; warm air
brimmed to overflow, melodic
cowling for our ears;
silence bursting to converse
to breathe an urgency,
But no one moved,
even as a train passed by
pulling itself through.
That seemed to suck all
in its after-draught,
and the silence
At one edge of our universe
a solitary figure fell
to ground in dreamlike fugitive collapse,
crumpling slowly inward.
That disturbance left us
and without expectation.
Seamus Cashman lives in Dublin, Ireland. His fourth poetry volume is a book length ekphrastic epic in thirty-one Movements, The Sistine Gaze: I too begin with scaffolding (Salmon Poetry, 2015). He is an International emeritus fellow of the Black Earth Institute.
30 Days Hath September 2016 | Day 24 | From a train, northbound, the young revolutionary foresees a new history by Purvi Shah
September 24, 2016
From a train, northbound, the young revolutionary foresees a new history
A bent knee as bulwark.
Along a Oaxacan country-
side, homes strangle
hems of hills, stones
jutting from stone. You wanted
to climb from the neighbor’s garden
to a governor’s library – chrysalis
articles of the nation, snake
plans for a new era of security
& justice, butterfly
how bone, agreement
can crumple. This your grandmother
had whispered to your mother
when you were born: forgive fire
for it must reach
its course, even
as woods rebuild from ash, even
as edges of old scrolls char, even
as tomorrow begets a new daughter
who ignites destiny & all that came before.
Known for her sparkly eyeshadow and raucous laughter, Purvi Shah inspires change as a social justice advocate and writer. She is curious about language as dreamwork for love, transformation, and justice. She won the inaugural SONY South Asian Social Service Excellence Award for her leadership fighting violence against women. During the 10th anniversary of 9/11, she directed Together We Are New York, a community-based poetry project to highlight Asian American voices and experiences. In Terrain Tracks (New Rivers Press: 2006), she plumbs migrations and belongings. Her new chaplet, Dark Lip of the Beloved: Sound Your Fiery God-Praise (Belladonna*: 2015), explores women’s devotions, status, and being. Her first play, Light as a Mountain, had a staged reading in 2016 through INKTank, a playwrights residency by Rising Circle Theater Collective. She serves as a contributing editor to Aster(ix) and a board member of The Poetry Project. Discover more @PurviPoets or http://purvipoets.net.
September 23, 2016
For John Coltrane. For autumn.
The day spends everything
from the descending
to our houses. Toward
One was born knowing
long legends. He could fray
cadence. With a horn, he bent
and burdened notes
The trees in their raiment
chord and lengthen.
Each heart wears the start
of sleep, and all the leaves
in a hurry to browning.
Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred Hungers, winner of the Dorset Prize (Tupelo Press, 2016). Her poems appear in New England Review, Poetry International, Beloit Poetry Journal and elsewhere. Some of her poems have been translated into Turkish, Mandarin and Spanish. Lauren is a Black Earth Institute Fellow and the producer/host of Santa Fe Public Radio’s “Audio Saucepan,” which interweaves global music with contemporary poetry. www.laurencamp.com.
September 22, 2016
Because This Is What Love Comes To
I brush away snow to watch the pulse of water
beneath ice, the river’s heart that throbs on and on
despite winter’s cold. After more than an hour cutting
new trail, I can feel my pulse along the left temple
and give thanks for its continuous beating. We’re allowed
to name the stars more than once. Look at the naked sky
in January. The light we’re blind to at midday traveling
toward us until it’s broken by alder cones and becomes nothing
more than shadow. My heart sits impatiently in the basket
of my ribs while my skis make a lonely sound. As night
comes down, I’m reminded that not long ago
the pierced dark showed ships at sea a way home.
– Todd Davis
Todd Davis is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Winterkill and In the Kingdom of the Ditch, both published by Michigan State University Press. He is a fellow in the Black Earth Institute and a professor of environmental studies and creative writing at Pennsylvania State University’s Altoona College.
September 21, 2016
Be the Sword: An Exhortation
You jeweled hilt
you bright reflecting blade
but not to wound or rend.
Be the sword of blessing,
sword a beacon;
shine light over this confused,
Cut away the killing noise
reveal the soul’s essentials.
Make it true and real and beautiful.
Polish the sword of yourself.
Make it shine.
Cait Johnson has authored six works of spiritual non-fiction, including Celebrating the Great Mother (co-authored with Maura D. Shaw), a handbook of earth-honoring creative projects and ritual celebrations for parents and children; Witch in the Kitchen, which restores a sense of the sacred to cooking and eating; and Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, a look at the common elemental roots of the great religious traditions. She writes poetry grounded in an appreciation of the sacredness in the everyday, feminist spirituality, and the interconnectedness of all things; her poem “Cold Moon” was included inMeasure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters, from Random House. She is formerly faculty at the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing program at the University of Southern Maine, and is an Emeritus Fellow of the Black Earth Institute. She has trained with the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and is a shamanic practitioner with a private practice as an intuitive counselor in the Hudson Valley, where she writes, directs, and performs in shamanic theatre. Her latest book, The Road to Minsk, with artwork by Ania Aldrich, is just out from Baba Yaga Press.
September 20, 2016
Freedom Is a Choice
I am with you with him with her
neither do I judge nor condone all deeds
I am with myself and for myself
nor am I sufficient or commensurate to my need
I am with food against hunger but hunger is desire
which engine drives us toward pleasure and the good
I am with a tunic against the burning sun
albeit the sun is heat and light and betimes the eye of God
I am with boots against the rocky path but rock’s the earth
beneath our feet and no way home without a path
I am with blanket against cold but the cold refreshes and quickens me
I am with shelter against rain and light against dark
tho rain is life and I am with the dark when I choose darkness
I am with breath but your choking grip thrills me
I am with truth against lies but tell me you will love me always
I am with beauty but let me grow ugly and old
with so much the greater pleasure to recall my comely youth
I am with wealth as the riches of the earth
for the benefit of livingkind for art for science
I am with power to do well good and right withal
I am with pleasure as a current electric
through mind body and spirit incandescing
I am with gratitude for all kindness bestowed
by god creature land sea or air
I am with air
Michael Broder is the author of the poetry collections Drug and Disease Free (Indolent Books, 2016) and This Life Now (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2014), a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. He is the founding publisher of Indolent Books (indolentbooks.com) and the creator of The HIV Here & Now Project (hivhereandnow.com). Friend him on Facebook (Michael H. Broder), follow him on Twitter (@MichaelBroder), and learn more at mbroder.com.