Power | Audre Lorde

The policeman who shot down a 10-year-old in Queens
stood over the boy with his cop shoes in childish blood
and a voice said “Die you little motherfucker” and
there are tapes to prove that. At his trial
this policeman and in his own defense
“I didn’t notice the size or nothing else
only the color.” and
there are tapes to prove that, too.
Today that 37-year-old white man with 13 years of police forcing
has been set free
by 11 white men who said they were satisfied
justice had been done
and one black woman who said
“They convinced me” meaning
they had dragged her 4’10” black woman’s frame
over the hot coals of four centuries of white male approval
until she let go the first real power she ever had
and lined her own womb with cement
to make a graveyard for our children.

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“It’s a lie that poetry is only read by or “speaks to” people in the universities or elite intellectual circles; in many such places, poetry barely speaks at all.

Poems are written and absorbed, silently and aloud, in prisons, in prairie kitchens, urban basement workshops, branch libraries, battered women’s shelters, homeless shelters, offices, a public hospital for disabled people, an HIV support group. A poet can be born in a house with empty bookshelves. Sooner or later, s/he will need books.”
— Adrienne Rich, What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics,

To the Man Who Shouted “I Like Pork Fried Rice” at Me on the Street | Franny Choi

you want to eat me
out. right. what does it taste like
you want to eat me right out
of these jeans & into something
a little cheaper. more digestible.
more bite-sized. more thank you

 

come: i am greasy
for you. i slick my hair with msg
every morning. i’m bad for you.
got some red-light district between
your teeth. what does it
taste like: a takeout box
between my legs.
plastic bag lady. flimsy white fork
to snap in half. dispose of me.

 

taste like dried squid. lips puffy
with salt. lips brimming
with foreign so call me
pork. curly-tailed obscenity
been playing in the mud. dirty meat.
worms in your stomach. give you

 

a fever. dead meat. butchered girl
chopped up & cradled
in styrofoam. you candid cannibal.
you want me bite-sized
no eyes clogging your throat.

 

but i’ve been watching
from the slaughterhouse. ever since
you named me edible. tossed in
a cookie at the end. lucky man.
go & take what’s yours.
name yourself archaeologist     but

 

listen carefully
to the squelches in
your teeth & hear my sow squeal
scream murder between
molars. watch salt awaken
writhe, synapse.
watch me kick
back to life. watch me tentacles
& teeth. watch me
resurrected electric.

 

what does it
                                    taste like: revenge
squirming alive in your mouth
strangling you quiet
from the inside out.

Things Lost in the Divorce | Mary Ferguson

one mug
green with white polka dots, famous for earl grey with
two sugars and a splash
of milk.
the left side of my bed.
the song of songs
              (I am for my beloved, my beloved is for me).
the ability to differentiate between you
and the hallucination.
Pablo Neruda, who could write the saddest lines and
taught me to say I love you.
All those spaces in me that you filled
now
throbbing —

i thought to myself yesterday
how is it possible that I am going to die without kissing you again
i lost so many things to you, things i’ll never get back and I will go the rest of my life

not kissing you

The Forest of Sure Things | Megan Snyder-Camp

In this land the children tear their hearts in half.
Let me explain. If ten things are wanted, only ten
can be had. If a stand of birches is found to be made of tin,
the soil around them will bleed with rust. In this land children
study their magazines in broad daylight, and in their books
any soldier who stumbles will not fall. No one will fall,
a gift parents try not to make much of. At every meal
some is set aside. In every garden a patch lies fallow. At parties
there are whispers of illegal cheeses. Camembert, especially,
is said to taste alive. And so the children learn
to make room. To leave some.
Nothing will come, but nothing will go.
To love like this half must rattle in its pit.

Empty Space | Amrita Pritam

There were two kingdoms only:
the first of them threw out both him and me.
The second we abandoned.

Under a bare sky
I for a long time soaked in the rain of my body,
he for a long time rotted in the rain of his.

Then like a poison he drank the fondness of the years.
He held my hand with a trembling hand.
“Come, let’s have a roof over our heads awhile.
Look, further on ahead, there
between truth and falsehood, a little empty space.

Stand and Burn | Claudia Boleyn

I once told a joke about a straight person.

They came after me in droves.

Each one singing the same:

Don’t fight fire with fire.

*

What they mean is: Don’t fight fire with anything.

Do not fight fire with water.

Do not fight fire with foam.

Do not evacuate the people.

Do not sound the alarms.

Do not crawl coughing and choking and spluttering to safety.

Do not barricade the door with damp towels.

Do not wave a white flag out of the window.

Do not take the plunge from several storeys up.

Do not shed a tear for your lover trapped behind a wall of flame.

Do not curse the combination of fuel, heat, and oxygen.

Do not ask why the fire fighters are not coming.

*

When they say: Don’t fight fire with fire.

What they mean is: Stand and burn.

 

(x)

Facts About the Moon | Dorianne Laux

The moon is backing away from us
an inch and a half each year. That means
if you’re like me and were born
around fifty years ago the moon
was a full six feet closer to the earth.
What’s a person supposed to do?
I feel the gray cloud of consternation
travel across my face. I begin thinking
about the moon-lit past, how if you go back
far enough you can imagine the breathtaking
hugeness of the moon, prehistoric
solar eclipses when the moon covered the sun
so completely there was no corona, only
a darkness we had no word for.
And future eclipses will look like this: the moon
a small black pupil in the eye of the sun.
But these are bald facts.
What bothers me most is that someday
the moon will spiral right out of orbit
and all land-based life will die.
The moon keeps the oceans from swallowing
the shores, keeps the electromagnetic fields
in check at the polar ends of the earth.
And please don’t tell me
what I already know, that it won’t happen
for a long time. I don’t care. I’m afraid
of what will happen to the moon.
Forget us. We don’t deserve the moon.
Maybe we once did but not now
after all we’ve done. These nights
I harbor a secret pity for the moon, rolling
around alone in space without
her milky planet, her only child, a mother
who’s lost a child, a bad child,
a greedy child or maybe a grown boy
who’s murdered and raped, a mother
can’t help it, she loves that boy
anyway, and in spite of herself
she misses him, and if you sit beside her
on the padded hospital bench
outside the door to his room you can’t not
take her hand, listen to her while she
weeps, telling you how sweet he was,
how blue his eyes, and you know she’s only
romanticizing, that she’s conveniently
forgotten the bruises and booze,
the stolen car, the day he ripped
the phones from the walls, and you want
to slap her back to sanity, remind her
of the truth: he was a leech, a fuckup,
a little shit, and you almost do
until she lifts her pale puffy face, her eyes
two craters and then you can’t help it
either, you know love when you see it,
you can feel its lunar strength, its brutal pull.