BEI 30 Days Proposed Graphic

Words matter said the Democrat Party’s candidate at the first television debate.  She said that because her opponent seems to think words only matter when can think of them.  Well yes words matter and the people who make words matter the most are poets and it has been a thrill to bring 30 new poems from 30 poets as a way to intervene with language in this terribly contentious election campaign.

Poets bring intimacy, faith, rage, beauty, mirth and power –the kind of power that energizes and illuminates us and I thank Ann, Soul, Soraya, Veronica, Patricia, Guillermo, Laurie, Nikia, Maureen, Thomas, Scott, Joanna, Shelley, Luviette, Melissa, Anna, Robin, Marilyn, John, Michael, Cait, Todd, Lauren, Purvi, Seamus, Lydia, Elizabeth, Fay, Amanda and Tammy for their poems.

I thank Terrius Harris, a wonderful student at Ole Miss who happens to be an intern for Black Earth Institute who had to post each of the poems and Michael McDermott, co-founder of Black Earth Institute for asking me to do this project again and he brought a great poem from Patricia Monaghan, the late co-founder of Black Earth Institute, who was a great advocate of connecting poetry, political activism and advocacy.  BEI truly supports poets and poetry.


Patricia Spears Jones

Afterword by Michael McDermott

Patricia Spears Jones curated another 30 Days. This time she gathered wonderful poets inspired, frightened or angry about the events in the country and beyond. We had 2400 views on poems with 1001 visitors. This is the second 30 Days with the first preceding the 2012 election with thousands of views there. Patricia took this on and gathered the poets keeping to the daily schedule demands. Her efforts keep poetry timely and pointed. Her work is important and is one way the Black Earth Institute fulfills its mission of addressing spirit, earth and social justice. Thanks Patricia.

BEI 30 Days Proposed GraphicThe stress of wild peace


First it was the broken down weapons

Each piece tag and de-sensitized.

Then the furnace’s high heat as what was

Solid, liquefied.

The plastic blaster toys were replaced

With garden shovels. Indeed, there were

Many gardens and many boys and girls

Digging and seeding and chatting and dreaming.


Then the news that treaties were being honored

Except the Russians who just could not sign—illerates?

But elsewhere, the hospitals were re-staffed.

The schools repopulated—children healthy, their teachers

Looked for different books with new stories, peace stories.

While the weather evolved, measures were taken to sustain nurture

Keeping the food stocks in decent supply.


There were people who could not carry this

Tenderness. Their fingers reached for the gun

Not there. Their minds roamed about in search

Of targets—see that boy, that girl, the one with an

Accent? But the guns were not there.


And so they entered the dark caves of libation

Where the song list played many a murderous ballad

Narcocorridas; old style blues numbers—see that Stagger Lee

And country tunes where someone was left behind bleeding.

Their drinks were always generous and expensive.

There was nothing more to do.


Look at the moon. The stars. Think of global circumnavigation

Those men who brought animals and fabrics and new diseases

In exchange for gold and bodies and spices and rum.


We have come far from the bowels of those tightly made

Ships. We have come to a place where peace is in abundance

And those who would carry us back are mad with grief

For the days when a hand could smash the face of another

A hand could pull a trigger and destroy children in minutes

A hand could tie a noose around one’s on neck,

A foot could kick the stool.


BEI 30 Days Proposed GraphicAfter Weather: A Formal Fearfulness Forms


Cumulonimbus clouds are a type of cumulus cloud associated

Cumulonimbus louds are a type of vernacular associated

with thunderstorms and heavy precipitation. They are also a

with thunderous pronouncements of heavy recitation. They are also a

variation of nimbus or precipitation bearing clouds. They are

variation of nimble pre-dictates bearing calumnies. They are

formed beneath 20,000 ft. and are relatively close to the ground.

formed beneath twenty thousand feet trampling souls to ground.

This is why they have so much moisture. Cumulonimbus clouds are

This is why they have so much hatred. Cumulonimbus Louds are

also known as thunderheads due to their unique mushroom shape.

also known as Thunder Heads due to their unquiet mushroom shape.

These clouds often produce lightning in their heart.

These Louds often produce lightning that strikes and kills the heart.


—Richard Cambridge


An interlinear reimagining of “Cumulonimbus Clouds,” an article by Tega Jessa, which appeared in Universe Today, updated 24 December 2015.







Richard Cambridge is a Fellow Emeritus of the Black Earth Institute. He curates the Poets’ Theatre at the Arts at the Armory in Somerville, Massachusetts. A poet, novelist, and performance artist, his one man show, The Cigarette Papers—A Journey from Addiction, was hailed by the Boston Globe as a “tour de force.”



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                                                                   Ann Fisher-Wirth

Lay Down


The day lays down

first summer heat

as we drive

from Clarksdale

past cotton silos

pecan trees

Baptist churches

little swamps with

floating trash

maybe an egret

one-lane roads

leading off

into cotton

or alfalfa fields

and a yellow


gassing up

getting ready

to spray poison




My husband tells me

Dylan’s 75 today

first time I heard him

Baez pulled his

scrawny ass on stage

to sing Blowin’ in

the Wind maybe

                               Hattie Carroll

at the Berkeley

Folk Music Festival

where Lightnin’

Hopkins dragged

a straightback

wooden chair

to a single mike

and in that summer

of snarling dogs

on the end of chains

and fire hoses that I’d

watch every night

on TV and vow

never never never

to live in the South

Hopkins sang

I’m gonna walk with

               the Prince of Peace

                                           down by the riverside

                            down by the riverside



Ann Fisher-Wirth’s fourth book of poems is Dream Cabinet (Wings Press 2012). Her other books of poems are Carta Marina, Blue Window, and Five Terraces. With Laura-Gray Street, she coedited the groundbreaking Ecopoetry Anthology (Trinity UP, 2013, 2014). She has been awarded residencies at The Mesa Refuge; Djerassi Resident Artists Program; Hedgebrook; and CAMAC/Centre d’Art, Marnay, France. Her current project is a collaborative poetry/photography manuscript called Mississippi with the acclaimed photographer Maude Schuyler Clay, which Wings Press will publish in 2017. Photographs and letterpress poems from this project are currently on exhibit throughout Mississippi. Ann is a Fellow 2015-2018 of the Black Earth Institute and the recipient of two senior Fulbrights (Switzerland, Sweden). She teaches and directs the Environmental Studies program at the University of Mississippi.



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How did you squeeze yourself

through the bathroom window,

to escape from him?

You must be a shapeshifter.

That’s what I told her.


She shrugged and said, I didn’t think about it.

Physics is not my subject.  I just jumped

from the bathtub up onto the window sill,

shoving the window open with my shoulder.

Look how it scraped my skin.


Do you think that he wants you

to be small, all the time?


I think he wants me to shape shift, he

is the one who tries to make me

whatever he needs at the moment.

Be a cook: cook.  Be a maid: clean.

Be a puta:  suck or fuck.


You are the one to decide

when you want to shape shift,

I insist.  Why don’t you

become something huge

that can’t be defeated?


A big bad-ass Statue of Liberty,

she smiles.

That’ll work.




by Tammy Melody Gomez


Tammy Gomez is an activist, performance artist, and writer whose work is published in collections including Women in Nature (2014), and Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art (UT Press, 2016).  She is profiled in Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History (UT Press, 2003), and was honored by Goucher College (Maryland) with the “Alumnae/i Award for Excellence in Public Service” in 2010. She is a fellow of the Black Earth Institute

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Night in Coney Island


Change, I wanted to say. Turn, I wanted to say. Twist

of fate, I wanted to say. Edge of history, I wanted to say. I said: ‘news.’

I said: ‘flash.’ I said: ‘extra’. . . extra . . . extra . . . extra . . .



Held in a window. Assigned to descend to the street. Take what

you want from here. There are thousands of voices

vouching for revolutions.There are waves


beyond this rhythm. Know this. There are tides

with different times. Slowly the sky unfolds

in ripples canopies waves. Take the sky cold soda &


water for a dollar one dollar one dollar water a chorus. You

as compared with the week before looking for

yourself through old streets


A woman on the boardwalk glides by

with two roosters—one tucked under each arm—

dances to the rhythms of the Coney Island night sky and


first city stars: Polaris, Cassiopeia. This New York City vertebrae.

Memory. Nebulous Insomnia. Guy clicking gum chewing gum

boys drinking a bottle of screw top red from a plastic bag.


Night begins. A man with a t-shirt

that reads: Please Baby Please

Please Baby Please Please Please




Note: Epigraph from Vito Acconci’s The Red Tapes (1977)



Amanda Deutch’s poems have been published widely in journals online and in print. Recent  publications include: The Rumpus, 92Y Words We Live In, Revolver, Denver Quarterly, Manhattanville Review, and Barrow Street. Deutch is the author of six chapbooks, including Pull Yourself Together (dancing girl press, 2016) and Fit to Print (Harsimus Press, 2015) a chapbook anthology of 3 artists (Barbara Henry, Rosaire Appel, Amanda Deutch) who use The New York Times as inspiration. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and she has been awarded grants, fellowships and residencies from Footpaths to Creativity (Flores, Azores), Then Betsy Writer’s Room (Miami, Florida), Poets & Writers and NYFA. Deutch lives in Brooklyn, where she curates Parachute Literary Arts site-specific events and libraries. For more information about her curatorial & community arts work, check out

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The months fly by
   from last November
      until September;
these past ten months
    I’ve been admitted and discharged
         from the hospital six times
The cancer metastasized
      into both lungs
and then the brain:
   radiation in February
        to a mass by the right temple
neurosurgery to the top of the brain
      in July and last Friday
  the last radiation treatment
      to the tumor
             in the frontal lobe
A cancer survivor for twenty three years
   diagnosed when my daughter
         was only four years old,
I feel blessed having seen her grow up
   feeling blessed to still be here
          and to still be standing
Fay Chiang is a poet and visual who believes culture is a spiritual and psychological weapon used for the empowerment of people and communities.Working at Project Reach, she is also a member of Zero Capital and the Orchard Street Advocacy Wellness Center. Battling her tenth bout of breast cancer, she is working on her memoir.Seven Continents Nine Lives (Bowery Books) is her most recent collection of poetry. And she is the mother of the inimitable Xian.

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September Villanelle 

blue morning glories and cloudless blue sky
on spiraling wind, flocks take wing, leaves fall
the first breath of autumn, summer’s last sigh

in dreams I’m searching for rhymes low and high
a nightmare! my screen hits a fatal stall
still, blue morning glories, cloudless blue sky

ripe tomatoes spill seeds, milkweed seeds fly
so much abundance till hard frost takes all
the first breath of autumn, summer’s last sigh

from spring to beyond plants bloom, bear and die
I love each in passing, death casts no pall
blue morning glories and cloudless blue sky

who is not stirred by wild geese in full cry
or the raven’s raucous, comical call
the first breath of autumn, summer’s last sigh

so many poignant ways to say goodbye
one day I’ll pass through the gap in the wall
blue morning glories and cloudless blue sky
the first breath of autumn, summer’s last sigh


Elizabeth Cunningham is best known for The Maeve Chronicles, a series of award-winning novels featuring a feisty Celtic Magdalen. So Ecstasy Can Find you is her most recent collection of poems. Murder at the Rummage Sale, her debut mystery novel, has just been published. She is a fellow emeritus of Black Earth Institute.

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Another September


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…

!Ay bendito!


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.

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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,

a commotion.


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

—each alone,

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.