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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

 

…but

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

emptied.

 

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.

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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

 

pyramid, mark

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.

 

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Extravagance

            For John Coltrane. For autumn.

 

The day spends everything

on color.

 

We withdraw

from the descending

 

shadows

to our houses. Toward

 

the flannel.

One was born knowing

 

long legends. He could fray

changes. Blew

 

cadence. With a horn, he bent

and burdened notes

 

to clouds.

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.

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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.

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Be the Sword: An Exhortation

Cait Johnson

You jeweled hilt

you bright reflecting blade

use your

keen

true

edge–

but not to wound or rend.

Be the sword of blessing,

sword a beacon;

shine light over this confused,

this tangled

human world.

Cut away the killing noise

empty words

reveal the soul’s essentials.

Make something.

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.

 

 

 

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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.