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Shapeshifter

 

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 www.ParachuteArts.org.

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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

 

…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.