Cuppa, Selina Nwulu #poem #poetryday #blacklivesmatter

Thinking about a poem with a migraine on the right side of your head. The one thing I noticed reading the poem the first time: I had trouble understanding what was going on, too much buzz. The second read and I skipped the sentences in italics. Didn’t do that on purpose. Both the buzz and the skipping are what this poem is about: people chatting with friends about their life, a crush, ignoring news in the background about lives drowned and lost.

Actually it probably is not the news, because the sentences read more as scattered thoughts. Maybe there is a third person listening. They go from sinking boats, long borders, back to ships, drowned people, memories, sinking people and sinking memories and then to the horrible image of bubbles, last breaths. A friend of mine drowned herself in the February ice. And how do help those people fleeing from religious armies?

I drank through a grande Earl Gray cup, going over this poem at home. I love the female gaze (if Selina identifies as a woman- not sure). A man’s face as a work of art and then he is quickly dismissed for a Friday Night outing. That was funny. We don’t know how to talk about art. And films spend so much time on men.

Do you know anyone with a face you could keep looking at, not someone necessarily that you have a crush on? In painting class the longest pose we did was 6 hours I think. Sculptures for sure. My nephew. People in youtube videos. Friends drinking coffee? The little boy face down on the beach.

And we spend such a short time thinking about drowning desperate people, refugees, that the kettle has boiled. I don’t have to finish the sentence. She didn’t finish her thoughts and we’re off to planning the weekend. And so am I, migraine still there.
Cuppa
by British poet Selina #Nwulu, April 30, 2016
.
.
Put the kettle on.

I’m not being funny but he’s well fit

no, you don’t understand

they’re all sinking in the Mediterranean sea

I’m actually speaking objectively here

our borders have become dense and long

it’s more an observation really

his face is near symmetrical

and their ships have burst into splints

it’s hypnotising

the sea is bloated with people’s limbs

it’s post attraction really

I’m appreciating him as a work of art

their memories did not make it either

well, of course I wouldn’t say no!

they’re all sinking in the Mediterranean sea

but that’s not the point

anyway, we still going out Friday?

watch how the bubbles float and pop.

Kettle’s boiled.

.
.
http://www.selinanwulu.com/poetry/

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A Beautiful Town by Haya Pomrenze #poem #Jewish #death #mourning

A Beautiful Town by Haya Pomrenze

When my father died I was twelve hundred miles away
because a giggly-bosomed hospice nurse
in loud pink scrubs chirped
that it could be weeks, even a month.
That evening he had mushroom barley soup
then gave each child an I love you.
Over the phone it sounded like a regular I love you
not a final phrase, which is why
you have to see people when they speak to you.
I wish I could say that looking back
I heard my father’s wet cough, his rattled breath
a long pause, which forced me to board a plane.
Instead that night my father went to the bathroom
with his walker and his Jamaican aide he loved like a daughter,
which makes me feel happy and sad. His kidneys shut down
the way his face did when he was hurt or angry.
Back in the railed hospital bed he counted down in real time
the same way he did when we were late for carpool or synagogue.
Five minutes, four minutes, faltered at three.
He made it to one minute, eyes at half-mast.
It’s a beautiful town, he said.

—from Rattle #45, Fall 2014
Tribute to Poets of Faith

__________

Haya Pomrenze: “With the exception of eating rice pudding and chocolate babka, writing poetry is the closest I’ve come to a true spiritual experience. I’m a believer in God on my own terms. I write poems in synagogue, on carpool line, while having sex, working with my psych patients. I have absolute faith in a higher power when I write. There’s a bit of the divine in my mortal words.”

The Bagel & Rescue The Dead, Ignatow #poem

The Bagel

I stopped to pick up the bagel
rolling away in the wind,
annoyed with myself
for having dropped it
as if it were a portent.
Faster and faster it rolled,
with me running after it
bent low, gritting my teeth,
and I found myself doubled over
and rolling down the street
head over heels, one complete somersault
after another like a bagel
and strangely happy with myself.

 

And this weird, ridiculous, desperate and lovely poem…He sounds so depressed. Obviously  everything that he describes as not being love, can be love. Love of the small things in your day. A commitment not to draw attention to drama- which is fine, if you work through the drama at some point. Anyway. It is interesting to see his muted style.

Rescue the Dead

Finally, to forgo love is to kiss a leaf,
is to let rain fall nakedly upon your head,
is to respect fire,
is to study man’s eyes and his gestures
as he talks,
is to set bread upon the table
and a knife discreetly by,
is to pass through crowds
like a crowd of oneself.
Not to love is to live.

To love is to be led away
into a forest where the secret grave
is dug, singing, praising darkness
under the trees.

To live is to sign your name,
is to ignore the dead,
is to carry a wallet
and shake hands.

To love is to be a fish.
My boat wallows in the sea.
You who are free,
rescue the dead.

—David Ignatow

From: Contemporary American Poetry edited by Donald Hall

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Because if you write it enough maybe you can save them? by Yovanka Paquete Perdigao

Beautiful and sad and strong and vulnerable.

– See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2015

By Yovanka Paquete Perdigao

I.

You are one of those introverts that fidgets way too much and, drinks too much wine to conceal how shy you really are. It’s not easy for you to connect with people, usually it takes a second meeting to come out of your shell and a third to really be comfortable around someone. But first time encounters you do the standard nodding at whoever is talking and smile even though you have no clue what they just said. Then they ask you the usual niceties of your background, you gladly volunteer that you used to be a refugee. “Three times a refugee, once in my country and twice in Ivory Coast.” They usually look at you unsure to offer pity, hugs, or just act as normally as possible. You’ve always loved to throw off people with the refugee line, it’s sometimes the best icebreakers for an introvert like you. You chuckle. If pressed, you tell them that you spent the summer of 1998 underneath a bed with your sister afraid a bomb might rip the ceiling.

II.

They become awkward, and you laugh even more. You remember that strangely enough you spent that whole summer too laughing away. Like when your aunty was too big to fit underneath the bed so she hid in the closet. Or when you crossed your city waving around a white flag. Just in case. Or when you finally arrived in Senegal and sat inside the bathtub of the hotel looking at the luxurious soap bottles.

 III.

You don’t tell people that although you are one the fortunate ones, although you pretend like it’s nothing, although you pretend like you barely remember it, you live in a house of ghosts with a pen that doesn’t stop writing.

Because if you write it enough maybe you can remember what went wrong?
Because if you write it enough maybe you can give them another life?
Because if you write it enough maybe you can save them?

Because if you don’t write, who will tell their story?

The door closes ,and you hear Nha Clara sighting as usual:

“Guerra fidjo, Guerra ta dana tudo” (War child, war ruins everything)

 

– See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2015

#BlackHistoryMonth #poem Old People Speak of Death #blacklivesmatter

Quincy Troupe the poet is an amazing black poet, prof and writer for children!

Quincy Troupe feels like home, because he is Emeritus Professor American and Caribbean Literature at the University of California. Anyone who loves Caribbean literature has a special place in my heart.

He is #BlackExcellence: Quincy Troupe publishes Black Renaissance Noire, an academic, cultural, political and literary newspaper co-published by the University of New York through the African studies and the Institute of Afroamerican Issues program/department.

And, and, and… He was co-author along with Miles Davis of Miles: The Autobiography, 1989.

What a fine man!

The Old People Speak of Death,
For Grandmother, Leona Smith
by Quincy Troupe

the old people speak of death
frequently, now
my grandmother speaks of those now
gone to spirit, now
less than bone

they speak of shadows that graced
their days, made lovelier by their wings of light
speak of years & of the corpses of years, of darkness
& of relationships buried
deeper even than residue of bone
gone now, beyond hardness
gone now, beyond form

they smile now from ingrown roots
of beginnings, those who have left us
& climbed back through holes the old folks left
inside their turnstile eyes
for them to pass through

eye walk back now, with this poem
through turnstile-holes the old folks – ancestors – left inside
their tunneling eyes for me to pass through, walk back to where
eye see them there
the ones who have gone beyond hardness
the ones who have gone beyond form
see them there
darker than where roots began
& lighter than where they go
carrying spirits heavier than stone –
their memories sometimes brighter
than the flash of sudden lightning –

& green branches & flowers will grow
from these roots – wearing faces –
darker than time & blacker than even the ashes of nations
sweet music will sprout from these flowers & wave petals
like hands caressing love-stroked language
under sun-tongued mornings –
shadow the light spirit in all our eyes –

they have gone now, back to shadow
as eye climb back out of the holes of these old peoples
eyes, those spirits who sing now through this poem
who have gone now back with their spirits
to fuse with greenness
enter stones & glue their invisible traces
as faces nailed upon the transmigration of earth
their exhausted breath now singing guitar blues
voices blowing winds through white ribcages
of these boned days
gone now back to where
years run, darker than where
roots begin, greener than what
they bring – spring
the old people speak of death
frequently, now
my grandmother speaks of those now
gone to spirit, now
less than bone

 

Quincy Troupe was born in New York , United States , in 1943. Poet, narrator, essayist, college professor. He has published, among other works, the poetry books: Embryo, 1971; Skulls along the River, 1984; Weather Reports: New and Selected Poems, 1991; Avalanche, 1997; Trascircularities; New and Selected Poems, 2002; and more recently, The Architechture of Language. He is Emeritus Professor of creative writing and American and Caribbean Literature at the University of California .

His poetry and prose have been translated into French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Polish and Dutch. He has read his work throughout all the United States as well as in Europe, Africa, Canada , The Caribbean, Mexico and Brazil .

He has published the following books for children: Take it to the hoop, Magic Johnson, based on his popular “Poem for Magic” 2000; Little Stevie 2005 and Hallalujah about old Ray Charles, 2006.”

.

.

From: The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.
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#wintersolstice Sheep in Fog by Sylvia Plath #iNeedFeminismBecause

Sheep In Fog

The hills step off into whiteness.
People or stars
Regard me sadly, I disappoint them.

The train leaves a line of breath.
O slow
Horse the colour of rust,

Hooves, dolorous bells –
All morning the
Morning has been blackening,

A flower left out.
My bones hold a stillness, the far
Fields melt my heart.

They threaten
To let me through to a heaven
Starless and fatherless, a dark water.

sylvia Plath

image

photos by:

Buy the Faber Book of 20th Century Women’s Poetry, ed. Fleur Adcock, from an indie bookseller here.

Black Poet, White Poet #BlackLivesMatter LaWanda Walters

#iNeedFeminismBecause # intersectionality #maleprivilege

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 10.46.34 PM

A white woman poet using a black poet’s invention… No actual reflection done by the poet, so the problem with *using* is still there. But that can be changed! Both poems are beautiful in different ways.

This is the striking original:

The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.
            We real cool. We
            Left school. We

.

            Lurk late. We
            Strike straight. We

.

            Sing sin. We
            Thin gin. We

.

            Jazz June. We
            Die soon.
 .
.

White poet: “What right did I have, though, to use a form invented by an African American poet to write my “Goodness in Mississippi,” a poem about anorexia nervosa, which has been called “a white girl’s disease”? What right did I have to use the “we real cool” to “we die soon” template to speak of my friend Barbie’s death, years after I knew her, of complications from the disease? But something about the form—perhaps how it acknowledges its debts—gave me the courage to write about a particular “we,” two friends from “school,” one of whom did “die soon.” It allowed me to finish a poem I’d worked on for twenty years.”

Goodness in Mississippi

After Gwendolyn Brooks’s “We Real Cool,”
with thanks to Terrance Hayes

My friend said I wasn’t fat but she was, and we
would go on that way, back and forth. She was my first real

friend, the kind who changes everything. Her mother was so cool,
didn’t shave down there for the country club pool where we

sat beside her. I saw a gleam of her secret, silver hair and was left
dreaming of lime floating in a clear drink. I started saying hi at school

and people smiled back. Smile first, my friend said, and we
were a team. The cheerleaders who would always lurk

by the field, showing off their muscled legs—of late
I’d hardly noticed them. We talked about art, we

attended science camp in Gulfport. That’s where her mother got struck
by a car the next year. She must have thrown the new baby straight

as a football to save her. Their family was on vacation, and we
found out at Sunday School, waiting for the choir to sing.

She was so good she comforted me. People saying, “It’s just a sin,”
her mom like Snow White under glass, red lipstick, platinum hair we

knew was genetic. You’ll still look young, I said. I think you’re thin.
We’d skip lunch, drink Sego (“good for your ego”). Last year I drank gin

and called her ex. “She passed,” he drawled, like it was the weather. We
tried powdered donuts with the Sego, sweated to the Beatles and jazz.

Her whole life was beginning. We moved away from there one June,
Mississippi tight-mouthed as a lid on fig preserves. And we—

we white girls—knew nothing. The fire-bombed store, the owner who died
for paying his friends’ poll taxes. Anorexia would be famous soon.

(The Georgia Review, Winter 2013)

  1. Walters states the poem she uses. That is acknowledgment of using.
  2. Walters writes in Mississippi Haze about the background of her poem, civil rights era, but does not show the poem she used. Poem is erased, hidden. The poem she used is easy to find, but you have to want to be aware of appropriation to look for it. Most people won’t look. “Showing” is the poetess’s responsibility towards a black poet.
  3. Walters does not reflect on her *use*, only states there is a question whether it is right.
  4. You can use someone’s idea, sure, the poem came out great, but if it comes from someone oppressed, erased, someone part of a group kept under white people’s boots/books, she has to give back.
  5. How do you give back?
  6. Make room for black poets in the places you get published.
  7. Ask your publishers to print new black poets, as a personal favour to you, a white person, ask them to publish great poems, because it is not a given when you are a great black poet.

LaWanda Walters has work to do. And a white male poet needs to use his cred to support her in doing that.

It is more tiring to face racism every day, than to work your privilege in fighting racism.

LaWanda Walters discusses the psychology of civil-rights era Mississippi—drawing parallels between the injustices of segregation and a childhood friend’s illness from anorexia nervosa—and her use of a form of poetry called “the golden shovel” in her Winter 2013 poem “Goodness in Mississippi.”

http://garev.uga.edu/wordpress/index.php/2014/04/mississippi-daze/

Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1963 by Gwendolyn Brooks. Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Gwendolyn Brooks.