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.”



BEI 30 Days Proposed Graphic

                                                                   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.