Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Negotiations

By Rae Armantrout

1.
 The best part
is when we’re tired
of it all
in the same degree,
a fatigue we imagine
to be temporary,
and we lie near each other,
toes touching.

What’s done is done,
we don’t say,
to begin our transaction,
each letting go of something
without really
bringing it to mind
until we’re lighter,
sicker,
older
and a current
runs between us
where our toes touch.

It feels unconditional.

2.

Remember this, we don’t say:
The Little Mermaid
was able to absorb
her tail,
to form legs.
This meant that
everything’s negotiable and that everything is played out
in advance

in secret.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Subterranean Homesick Blues

By Bob Dylan

Johnny's in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he’s got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid
It’s somethin’ you did
God knows when
But you’re doin’ it again
You better duck down the alleyway
Lookin’ for a new friend
The man in the coon-skin cap
and the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills
You only got ten
Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin’ that the heat put
Plants in the bed but
The phone’s tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early May
Orders from the D.A.
Look out kid
Don’t matter what you did
Walk on your tiptoes
Don’t try “No-Doz”
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows
Get sick, get well
Hang around a inkwell
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin’ to sell
Try hard, get barred
Get back, write braille
Get jailed, jump bail
Join the army, if you fail
Look out kid
You’re gonna get hit
By users, cheaters
Six-time losers
Hang around the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool
Lookin’ for a new fool
Don’t follow leaders
Watch the parkin’ meters
Get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don’t steal, don’t lift
Twenty years of schoolin’
And they put you on the day shift
Look out kid
They keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle
Don’t wear sandals
Try to avoid the scandals
Don’t wanna be a bum
You better not chew gum
The pump don’t work
’Cause the vandals took the handles

Monday, February 5, 2018

Not Enough

By F.I. Goldhaber

Your tears are not enough.
Your prayers are not enough.
Your shares are not enough.
Your hashtags are not enough.

Your grief for one dead black man
will not erase systemic
racism that has imbued
this country since its founding.

Get off Facebook. Take to the
streets. If only black faces
show up, protesters will be
dismissed as rabble rousers.

Bear witness. Take videos
and distribute them to lift
the veil of secrecy from
rampant police malfeasance.

Your tears are not enough.
Your prayers are not enough.
Your shares are not enough.
Your hashtags are not enough.

Demand police accept blame,
face murder charges, prison.
Punish cops who refuse to
testify against their own.

Insist on changing laws that
target POC, protect
cops. Fire judges who send black
men to prison but not white.

Recognize your privilege.
Use it to foster change, to
hold others accountable.
Don't shrug off racist jokes, posts.

Your tears are not enough.
Your prayers are not enough.
Your shares are not enough.
Your hashtags are not enough.

Leave the echo chamber and
expand your world view. Read books
written by POC, buy
POC movies, music.

Teach your children to respect
diversity. Expose them
to stories featuring non-
white heroes and good guys.

Educate your parents, your
Fox News watching uncle, and
your neighbor who displays the
confederate flag inside.

Your tears are not enough.
Your prayers are not enough.
Your shares are not enough.
Your hashtags are not enough.

Don't accept the status quo.
Never assume it's only
someone else's affliction.
Police murder white men, too.

Don't condone cop shootings, but
don't blame all POC for
their deaths. Accept that we all
suffer when race wars explode.

Racism creates toxic
environments that only
hate can sustain. That poison
is tearing our world apart.

Your tears are not enough.
Your prayers are not enough.
Your shares are not enough.
Your hashtags are not enough.

F.I. Goldhaber has worked as a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, and she has produced news stories, feature articles, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now her poetry, fiction, and essays appear in paper, electronic, and audio magazines, books, newspapers, calendars, anthologies, and street signs. Her fourth collection, Food ♦ Family ♦ Friends explores how those three things send us feasting, flinching, and/or frolicking through life.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I want a president

By Zoe Leonard

I want a dyke for president. I want a person with aids for president and I want a fag for vice president and I want someone with no health insurance and I want someone who grew up in a place where the earth is so saturated with toxic waste that they didn’t have a choice about getting leukemia. I want a president that had an abortion at sixteen and I want a candidate who isn’t the lesser of two evils and I want a president who lost their last lover to aids, who still sees that in their eyes every time they lay down to rest, who held their lover in their arms and knew they were dying. I want a president with no air conditioning, a president who has stood on line at the clinic, at the dmv, at the welfare office and has been unemployed and laid off and sexually harassed and gaybashed and deported. I want someone who has spent the night in the tombs and had a cross burned on their lawn and survived rape. I want someone who has been in love and been hurt, who respects sex, who has made mistakes and learned from them. I want a Black woman for president. I want someone with bad teeth [and an attitude], someone who has eaten [that nasty] hospital food, someone who crossdresses and has done drugs and been in therapy. I want someone who has committed civil disobedience. And I want to know why this isn’t possible. I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always a clown: always a john and never a hooker. Always a boss and never a worker, always a liar, always a thief and never caught.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Story Like Mine

By Halsey

It's 2009 and I'm 14 and I'm crying
Not really sure where I am but I'm holding the hand of my best friend Sam
In the waiting room of a Planned Parenthood
The air is sterile and clean, and the walls are that not grey, but green
And the lights are so bright they could burn a whole through the seam of my jeans
My phone is buzzing in the pocket
My mom is asking me if I remembered my keys 'cause she's closing the door and she needs to lock it
But I can't tell my mom where I've gone
I can't tell anyone at all
You see, my best friend Sam was raped by a man that we knew 'cause he worked in the after-school program
And he held her down with her textbook beside her
And he covered her mouth and he came inside her
So now I'm with Sam, at the place with a plan, waiting for the results of a medical exam
And she's praying she doesn't need an abortion, she couldn't afford it
And her parents would, like, totally kill her

It's 2002 and my family just moved and the only people I know are my mom's friends, too, and her son
He's got a case of Matchbox cars and he says that he'll teach me to play the guitar if I just keep quiet
And the stairwell beside apartment 1245 will haunt me in my sleep for as long as I am alive
And I'm too young to know why it aches in my thighs, but I must lie, I must lie

It's 2012 and I'm dating a guy and I sleep in his bed and I just learned how to drive
And he's older than me and he drinks whiskey neat and he's paying for everything
This adult thing is not cheap
We've been fighting a lot, almost 10 times a week
And he wants to have sex, and I just want to sleep
He says I can't say no to him
This much I owe to him
He buys my dinner, so I have to blow him
He's taken to forcing me down on my knees
And I'm confused 'cause he's hurting me while he says please
And he's only a man, and these things he just needs
He's my boyfriend, so why am I filled with unease?

It's 2017 and I live like a queen
And I've followed damn near every one of my dreams
I'm invincible and I'm so fucking naive
I believe I'm protected 'cause I live on a screen
Nobody would dare act that way around me
I've earned my protection, eternally clean
Until a man that I trust gets his hands in my pants
But I don't want none of that, I just wanted to dance
And I wake up the next morning like I'm in a trance and there's blood
Is that my blood?
Hold on a minute

You see I've worked every day since I was 18
I've toured everywhere from Japan to Mar-a-Lago
I even went on stage that night in Chicago when I was having a miscarriage
I mean, I pied the piper, I put on a diaper
And sang out my spleen to a room full of teens
What do you mean this happened to me?
You can't put your hands on me
You don't know what my body has been through
I'm supposed to be safe now
I earned it

It's 2018 and I've realized nobody is safe long as she is alive
And every friend that I know has a story like mine
And the world tells me we should take it as a compliment
But then heroes like Ashley and Simone and Gabby, McKayla and Gaga, Rosario, Aly
Remind me this is the beginning, it is not the finale
And that's why we're here
And that's why we rally
It's Olympians and a medical resident and not one fucking word from the man who is President
It's about closed doors and secrets and legs and stilletos from the Hollywood hills to the projects in ghettos
When babies are ripped from the arms of teen mothers and child brides cry globally under the covers
Who don't have a voice on the magazine covers
They tell us take cover

But we are not free until all of us are free
So love your neighbor, please treat her kindly
Ask her story and then shut up and listen
Black, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, Christian
Listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs
Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues
For the people who had to grow up way too young
There is work to be done
There are songs to be sung
Lord knows there's a war to be won

Monday, January 15, 2018

Shafro

By Terrance Hayes

Now that my afro’s as big as Shaft’s
I feel a little better about myself.
How it warms my bullet-head in Winter,

black halo, frizzy hat of hair.
Shaft knew what a crown his was,
an orb compared to the bush

on the woman sleeping next to him.
(There was always a woman
sleeping next to him. I keep thinking,

If I’d only talk to strangers...
grow a more perfect head of hair.)
His afro was a crown.

Bullet after barreling bullet,
fist-fights & car chases,
three movies & a brief TV series,

never one muffled strand,
never dampened by sweat--
I sweat in even the least heroic of situations.

I’m sure you won’t believe this,
but if a policeman walks behind me, I tremble:
What would Shaft do? What would Shaft do?

Bits of my courage flake away like dandruff.
I’m sweating even as I tell you this,
I’m not cool,

I keep the real me tucked beneath a wig,
I’m a small American frog.
I grow beautiful as the theatre dims.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Snow Day

By Billy Collins

Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows

the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.

In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.

But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,
as glad as anyone to hear the news

that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,
the Ding-Dong School, closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—

the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and—clap your hands—the Peanuts Play School.

So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.

And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting,
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Snow Is Deep on the Ground

By Kenneth Patchen 

The snow is deep on the ground.   
Always the light falls
Softly down on the hair of my belovèd.

This is a good world. 
The war has failed. 
God shall not forget us. 
Who made the snow waits where love is. 

Only a few go mad. 
The sky moves in its whiteness 
Like the withered hand of an old king.   
God shall not forget us. 
Who made the sky knows of our love. 

The snow is beautiful on the ground.   
And always the lights of heaven glow   
Softly down on the hair of my belovèd.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Daddy Gave Me Away

over an all-you-can-eat
buffet, a Gravely lawn mower
my only dowry.

So I moved from daddy's home
to his shiny new kitchen,
where I learned to cook
country fried steak
for a husband's fattening stomach
and washed dirty work
uniforms to kill the smell
of grease and soured sweat.

I learned the recipes
by heart at first, and then
gradually learned to dash
in spices for interest,
praying for a secret ingredient,
for some perfect seasoning
to make the deal my daddy made
work, to make my life bearable.

At 17, I knew nothing of the trade,
but time and heat gave rise
to a woman, and she left him,
his kitchen, stomach, mower,
and daddy too.

No daddy, I'm not through,
If God made man from dust,
I can do better.

By Katherine Perry

Katherine Perry has a new book of poetry out, Long Alabama Summer.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

So you want to be a writer?

By Charles Bukowski

if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
fame,
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.


if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Union Sundown

By Bob Dylan

 Well, my shoes, they come from Singapore
My flashlight’s from Taiwan
My tablecloth’s from Malaysia
My belt buckle’s from the Amazon
You know, this shirt I wear comes from the Philippines
And the car I drive is a Chevrolet
It was put together down in Argentina
By a guy makin’ thirty cents a day

Well, it’s sundown on the union
And what’s made in the U.S.A.
Sure was a good idea
’Til greed got in the way

Well, this silk dress is from Hong Kong
And the pearls are from Japan
Well, the dog collar’s from India
And the flower pot’s from Pakistan
All the furniture, it says “Made in Brazil”
Where a woman, she slaved for sure
Bringin’ home thirty cents a day to a family of twelve
You know, that’s a lot of money to her

Well, it’s sundown on the union
And what’s made in the U.S.A.
Sure was a good idea
’Til greed got in the way

Well, you know, lots of people complainin’ that there is no work
I say, “Why you say that for
When nothin’ you got is U.S.–made?”
They don’t make nothin’ here no more
You know, capitalism is above the law
It say, “It don’t count ’less it sells”
When it costs too much to build it at home
You just build it cheaper someplace else

Well, it’s sundown on the union
And what’s made in the U.S.A.
Sure was a good idea
’Til greed got in the way

Well, the job that you used to have
They gave it to somebody down in El Salvador
The unions are big business, friend
And they’re goin’ out like a dinosaur
They used to grow food in Kansas
Now they want to grow it on the moon and eat it raw
I can see the day coming when even your home garden
Is gonna be against the law

Well, it’s sundown on the union
And what’s made in the U.S.A.
Sure was a good idea
’Til greed got in the way

Democracy don’t rule the world
You’d better get that in your head
This world is ruled by violence
But I guess that’s better left unsaid
From Broadway to the Milky Way
That’s a lot of territory indeed
And a man’s gonna do what he has to do
When he’s got a hungry mouth to feed

Well, it’s sundown on the union
And what’s made in the U.S.A.
Sure was a good idea
’Til greed got in the way.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

If

By Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Unity

By Pablo Neruda

There is something dense, united, settled in the depths,
repeating its number, its identical sign.
How it is noted that stones have touched time,
in their refined matter there is an odor of age,
of water brought by the sea, from salt and sleep.

I’m encircled by a single thing, a single movement:
a mineral weight, a honeyed light
cling to the sound of the word “noche”:
the tint of wheat, of ivory, of tears,
things of leather, of wood, of wool,
archaic, faded, uniform,
collect around me like walls.

I work quietly, wheeling over myself,
a crow over death, a crow in mourning.
I mediate, isolated in the spread of seasons,
centric, encircled by a silent geometry:
a partial temperature drifts down from the sky,
a distant empire of confused unities
reunites encircling me.

Monday, December 25, 2017

I'm Trying To Find a Poem About Christmas That I Actually Like

but they are mostly dated and filled
with words like thine and o’er and behold.

And yes, I do want something about the snow,
and the light as it falls on the snow,

but I could do without the angels today,
or anything unreachable that’s supposed to be

looking out for us down here. And yes, I do
want something about the trees, both outside

and inside, and about the singing, and about
the laying out of the table, or the looping

of ribbons, or the tucking in of children. But
I’m wishing we could leave God out of it.

It’s not God’s job to hang out with us right now
and fix things. I want something that uses

filling stockings as a metaphor for choosing
small kindnesses to tuck into each person’s

heart. Something that reminds us that the horse
knows the way, so if we could just find that horse

and hold on, we’ll come out of all this OK.
Something that, yes, is filled with the glistening

and the sparkling and all things aglow, because
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky—
Yes, that’s the kind of thing I want, all of us

outrunning the storm that’s pushing us out of the year,
and we’re climbing right over the tired pile of reindeer

to what’s really up there for us. The snow coming
down. The way we shape it with our hands and throw.


By Brittney Corrigan
Previously Published in Rattle, December 2017

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Winter Solstice Chant

By Annie Finch

Vines, leaves, roots of darkness, growing,
now you are uncurled and cover our eyes
with the edge of winter sky
leaning over us in icy stars.
Vines, leaves, roots of darkness, growing,
come with your seasons, your fullness, your end.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Dear Straight People

Dear Straight People,

Who do you think you are?
Do you have to make it so obvious that I make you uncomfortable?
Why do I make you uncomfortable?
Do you know that makes me uncomfortable?
Now we’re both uncomfortable.

Dear Straight People,
You’re the reason we stay in the closet.
You’re the reason we even have a closet.

I don’t like closets, but you made the living room an unshared space
and now I’m feeling like a guest in my own house.

Dear Straight People,
Sexuality and gender? Two different things
combined in many different ways.
If you mismatch your socks, you understand.

Dear Hip-Hop,
Why are you fascinated with discovering gay rappers?
Gay people rap. Just like gay people ride bikes and eat tofu.


Dear Straight People,
I don’t think God has a sexual orientation,
but if she were straight, she’d be a dope ally.
Why else would she invent rainbows?

Dear Straight Women,
I mean, “Straight Women.”
Leave me the fuck alone!

Dear Straight Men,
If I’m flirting with you
it’s because I think it’s funny. Just laugh.


Dear Straight People,
I’m tired of proving that my love is authentic. So I’m calling for reparations.
When did you realize you were straight? Who taught you?
Did it happen because your parents are divorced?
Did it happen because your parents are not divorced?
Did it happen because you sniffed too much glue in 5th grade?

Dear Straight People,
Why do you have to stare at me when I’m holding
my girlfriend’s hand like I’m about to rob you?

Dear Straight People,
You make me want to fuckin’ rob you!

Dear Straight Allies,
thank you, more please!

Dear Straight Bullies,
You’re right. We don’t have the same values.
You kill everything that’s different.
I preserve it.
Tell me, what happened to
Jorge Mercado?
Sakia Gunn?
Lawrence King?
What happened to the souls alienated
in between too many high school walls,
who planned the angels of their deaths in math class,
who imagined their funerals as ticker-tape parades,
who thought the afterlife was more like an after party.
Did you notice that hate
is alive and well in too many lunch rooms,
taught in the silence of too many teachers,
passed down like second hand clothing
from too many parents.

Dear Queer Young Girl,
I see you.
You don’t want them to see you
so you change the pronouns in your love poems to “him” instead of “her.”
I used to do that.

Dear Straight People,
You make young poets make bad edits.

Dear Straight People,
Kissing my girlfriend in public without looking to see who’s around
is a luxury I do not fully have yet.
But tonight, I am drunk in my freedom,
grab her hand on the busiest street in Philadelphia,
zip my fingers into hers and press our lips firmly,
until we melt their stares into a standing ovation, imagine
that we are in a sea of smiling faces,
even when we’re not
and when we’re not,
we start shoveling,
digging deep into each other’s eyes we say,
“Hey Baby, can’t nothing stop this tonight”
because tonight, this world is broken
and we’re the only thing
that’s going to keep it together.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Good Timber

By Douglas Malloch

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Know This

By Laura Gail Grohe

Know this: The world is not a safe place.
You are not guaranteed a place at the table.
In fact, you will know grief so profound
it will crush the breath in your chest.

And yet the sun will still rise
and daffodils will glow yellow in spring.
And you will know joy so profound
it will stop the breath in your chest.
And it is between these two
that the work is done.
Speak Truth. Create art.
Build your own table of plenty.
And love, love with all that you are.
Love as if your life depended upon it:
It does.




















Support Laura's art:  https://linensproject.wordpress.com/

Saturday, December 2, 2017

We are the ones

who will break the glass ceiling
who will fight for what is right
who will not grow weary in doing good
who will reap what we sow
who will not give up.
who will teach girls they can do anything
who will not forget the battles of women
who will never relent
who will make history
hers, as it always was.

By Kathryn Dillard


Kathryn Dillard lives in northern California and works as a teacher at a local K-8 Waldorf school. She studied English and creative writing at University of California-Davis. In her free time, she enjoys writing, gardening and playing with her 9 month old son.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Speech to the Young Speech to the Progress-Toward (Among them Nora and Henry III)

By Gwendolyn Brooks

Say to them,
say to the down-keepers,
the sun-slappers,
the self-soilers,
the harmony-hushers,
"Even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night."
You will be right.
For that is the hard home-run.
Live not for battles won.
Live not for the-end-of-the-song.
Live in the along.