Wednesday, May 23, 2018

For all the Dorias of the world

By Leslé Honoré

For the Dorias of the world
Who will sit alone
At graduations and weddings
At baseball games and school plays
At proms and award ceremonies
Who will carry the load
Of everything
Wiping tears
And celebrating
School projects
And first heartbreaks
Who stay up all night
Helping write papers and college apps
The mothers who silently
Create a universe for their children
Launching pads to toss them in to the
Solar system
With hands wide open to grab
All the stars their hearts desire
The Dorias who always leave space
For a father’s redemption
Knowing it may never come
Because they have spent a life time
Patching their children back together
Picking up the crushed spirits
Rebuilding them with love
This is for the Dorias
Who will watch as their legacies
Take steps towards their own journeys
Armed with love
Armed with hope
Armed with strength
That the years of struggle
Lack
Survival
Forged onto their souls
And for the children
Who have watched their mothers
Make a life out of thin air
A dollar out of 15 cents
Who have seen ceilings shattered
Barriers leapt over
And are covered in black girl magic
They know that there is
no limit
To their dreams
To success
that hard work can’t achieve
No trial that last forever
They have learned to
Weather the storms
Know for certain that the sun will come
Warm their faces
And illuminate their paths
The way their mothers have
From their first breath
For the Dorias
In that last car ride
Driving to your children’s
Next adventure
For the Dorias
Free spirited
And strong
Who know they are never alone
Who know there is a
Matriarchal militia marching
With them
I raise my glass to all of us
Salud

Friday, May 18, 2018

not a pretty girl

by ani difranco

I am not a pretty girl
That is not what I do
I ain't no damsel in distress
And I don't need to be rescued, so
So put me down, punk
Wouldn't you prefer a maiden fair?
Isn't there a kitten stuck up a tree somewhere?
I am not an angry girl
But it seems like I've got everyone fooled
Every time I say something they find hard to hear
They chalk it up to my anger
And never to their own fear, imagine you're a girl
Just trying to finally come clean
Knowing full well they'd prefer you were dirty
And smiling, and I am sorry
But I am not a maiden fair
And I am not a kitten
Stuck up a tree somewhere
And generally my generation
Wouldn't be caught dead working for the man
And generally I agree with them
Trouble is you got to have yourself
An alternate plan, and I have earned my disillusionment
I have been working
All of my life
And I am a patriot
I have been fighting the good fight
And what if there are no damsels in distress?
What if I knew that, and I called your bluff?
Don't you think every kitten
Figures out how to get down
Whether or not you ever show up?
I am not a pretty girl
I don't really want to be a pretty girl
I wanna be more than a pretty girl

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Jerusalem is a Spinning Carousel

By Yehuda Amichai
 
Jerusalem is a carousel spinning round and round
from the Old City through every neighborhood and back to the Old.
And you can’t get off. If you jump you’re risking your life
and if you step off when it stops you must pay again
to get back on for more turns that never will end.
Instead of painted elephants and horses to ride
religions go up, down and around on their axes
to unctuous melodies from the houses of prayer.
Jerusalem is a seesaw: Sometimes I go down,
to past generations and sometimes up, into the sky,
then like a child dangling on high, legs swinging, I cry
I want to get down, Daddy, Daddy, I want to get down,
Daddy, get me down.
And like that, all the saints go up into the sky.
They’re like children screaming, Daddy, I want to stay high,
Daddy don’t bring me down, Our Father Our King,
leave me on high, Our Father Our King!

Translated from Hebrew by Vivian Eden

Monday, May 14, 2018

Jerusalem

By Naomi Shihab Nye

"Let's be the same wound if we must bleed.
Let's fight side by side, even if the enemy
is ourselves: I am yours, you are mine."
-Tommy Olofsson, Sweden


I'm not interested in
Who suffered the most.
I'm interested in
People getting over it.

Once when my father was a boy
A stone hit him on the head.
Hair would never grow there.
Our fingers found the tender spot
and its riddle: the boy who has fallen
stands up. A bucket of pears
in his mother's doorway welcomes him home.
The pears are not crying.
Later his friend who threw the stone
says he was aiming at a bird.
And my father starts growing wings.

Each carries a tender spot:
something our lives forgot to give us.
A man builds a house and says,
"I am native now."
A woman speaks to a tree in place
of her son. And olives come.
A child's poem says,
"I don't like wars,
they end up with monuments."
He's painting a bird with wings
wide enough to cover two roofs at once.

Why are we so monumentally slow?
Soldiers stalk a pharmacy:
big guns, little pills.
If you tilt your head just slightly
it's ridiculous.

There's a place in my brain
Where hate won't grow.
I touch its riddle: wind, and seeds.
Something pokes us as we sleep.

It's late but everything comes next.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Detaining a Poem

By Dareen Tatour

One day,
they stopped me,
shackled me,
tied up my body, my soul,
my everything…

Then they said: search her,
we’ll find a terrorist within her!
They turned my heart inside out—
my eyes as well,
rummaged through even my feelings.
From my eyes they drew a pulse of inspiration;
from my heart, the ability to sketch out meanings.
Then they said: beware!
She’s hiding weapons deep in her pockets.
Search her!
Root out the explosives.
And so they searched me…

Finally, they said, accusing me:
We found nothing
in her pockets except letters.
We found nothing except for a poem.
Dareen Tatour is currently in jail in Israel for writing a poem. Whether you agree with her interpretation of the situation in Israel/Palestine, the idea that her poem is somehow dangerous in and of itself is absurd. This poem was previously published in In Translation.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

As the World Splits Open*

By Andrena Zawinski
Fear of rape is a cold wind blowing...
on a woman’s hunched backMarge Piercy, 1975

Six men rape and murder a New Delhi medical student 
on a bus, her ashes and their crime scattered 
to winds crossing the Ganges. 
  A woman is raped 
  every twenty minutes in India.

Three brothers take two low caste village girls, 
twist their scarves into nooses to cut deep into their necks, 
leave them to die hanging from a mango tree.
   Women protestors are blasted 
   by police water cannons.

A mob of twenty attack a girl in Cairo's Tahrir Square
in front of her parents at a presidential inauguration,
her body bloodied, clawed raw, clothes torn from her.
   Crimes against women 
   are repeated and unpunished.

Women go shopping, to school, to jobs in Ciudad Juarez. 
They disappear, their bodies found stabbed, dismembered, 
mutilated, torched––desert blood.
  Crimes against women
   remain unsolved and unstoppable.

Five soldiers rape a Nairobi mother, charge her for insulting 
a government body, her sentence delayed to breastfeed. 
  A crime against one woman
  is a crime against all women.

Buried neck high, stoned before a thousand spectators, 
a Somali girl suffers a public death for reporting her rape. 
Hundreds of Nigerian girls are kidnapped for sex slave trade 
to be brokered across the Middle East, Europe, Russia.
Girls bought and sold as talismans of youth and virility 
in India, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, are more likely 
to die than learn how to read. 
  Countless millions of children
  are ravished in times of war. 

On the home front two Steubenville quarterbacks 
and one receiver brag a girl you get drunk can’t say no
are videotaped for a youtube splash. 
  One in four American women
  will be raped in her lifetime
on dorm floors, in labs, in classrooms, bathrooms, at work,
or just walking home watching the moon and the stars
        as the world splits open, 
        cold winds blowing 
        across their hunched backs.

Andrena Zawinski, long-time feminist activist in the Women Against Violence Against Women Movement, is the author of three full collections of poetry: Landings (Kelsay Books), Something About (PEN Oakland Award, Blue Light Press), and Traveling in Reflected Light (Kenneth Patchen Prize, Pig Iron Press). She founded and runs a Women’s Poetry Salon in the San Francisco Bay Area and is Features Editor at PoetryMagazine.com.

*The title “As the World Splits Open” comes from Muriel Rukeyser’s “What if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open."

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bleak Sunlight

A collaborative slow renga written by Fiona Lesley Bennett, Andrea Witzke Slot, Eve Lyons, and Katherine Perry from January-April, 2017

Wild geese streaming in ribbons
across the sky, too many to count
like the women, marching

and bundled in winter coats, knitted hats,
flying together through historic streets.

Branches brush windows,
while sleepers toss violently.
Televisions glow,

the moon glows, lies low in the sky.
The crowd roars with chants and cheers.

A daughter peers through solid glass;
bleak sunlight appears on the swept kitchen floor.
She watches orange fade into white.

The air tepid and full of threat
as day breaks on dark water.

Yellow light spreads gold and purple
soon the sun's angry glare will be here,
we'll play in the ocean.

She chewed the mandarin peel, waiting.
Without paying, she took three more and ran.

A masterclass in initiative, just him
and the chair, the different ways
you could get up out of it.

Leaves decompose, become dirt.
We all have to let go sometimes.

In cupped palms, she cradles an orchid:
not a ghost or impossible-to-find rarity,
but standard white petals promising fertility.

Morning’s milky mist falls soft on worried lands.
Children wake in the flowers, blinking.

Monday, April 23, 2018

No Hands

By Carol Muske-Dukes

He rode “no hands,” speeding
headlong down the hill near
our house, his arms extended,
held rigid away from his body,
our small daughter behind him
on the bike in her yellow sunsuit,
bareheaded. She held on to him
for her life. I watched them from
above – helpless: a failed brake.
Far below us, a stop-sign rose
like a child’s toy shield. He could
not stop, he would not. That hunger
for display overrode danger, illusions
of safety. Even death had less to do
with it than the will’s eventual triumph
over stasis: how he’d finally fly free
and how she might accompany him,
as an audience travels with a performer,
an object of regard. Downward, fast –
so what cannot stop holds on, holds on
to a mind flying away from itself, seeking
release from the soul speeding away, yet
staying close as breath, even at this distance.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Visions at 74

By Frank Bidart

The planet turns there without you, beautiful.
Exiled by death you cannot
touch it. Weird joy to watch postulates
lived out and discarded, something crowded
inside us always craving to become something
glistening outside us, the relentless planet
showing itself the logic of what is
buried inside it. To love existence
is to love what is indifferent to you
you think, as you watch it turn there, beautiful.
World that can know itself only by
world, soon it must colonize and infect the stars.
You are an hypothesis made of flesh.
What you will teach the stars is constant
rage at the constant prospect of not-being.

Sometimes when I wake it’s because I hear
a knock. Knock,
Knock. Two
knocks, quite clear.
I wake and listen. It’s nothing.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Madam Physician

By Fae Kayarian

Madam Physician-
I never saw myself in medicine
until I met you.

I only knew of straight white men,
wearing straight white coats,
who always assured me that
It’s too complicated to explain
and You should try something else.

All I’ve ever wanted to be
is a clinician, a physician, a doctor,
but all people can ever see
is just a girl, a female, a woman.

Madam Physician-
Seeing you changed how
I see myself.

You commanded the operating room,
not by force or fear,
but with a presence that announced
We must do our best
and Let’s fight with everything we’ve got.

I can’t imagine being
a clinician, a physician, a doctor,
who transcends the label of
being just a girl, a female, a woman.

Madam Physician-
I will always be humbled by the gift
you gave me.

I can remember your eyes,
always focused and always giving,
that looked into mine as you told me
You are worthy of dreaming
and You have a place in medicine.

Madam Physician-
I am everything I am
I can become everything I wish to be.

Fae Kayarian lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where she is an undergraduate student enrolled in the Behavioral Neuroscience program at Northeastern University. She is also a research student and a volunteer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. She is a proud Bostonian, and enjoys running, biking and discovering music venues in the city.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Genetics of Leaving

By Shauna Barbosa

Inside, this vessel feels like the 1996 spelling bee when I forgot
u in language. Vovo left Fogo
to Praia. Now she has two sons named José.
Islands apart, I already jelly fished every memory that’s stuck
inside. Saltwater
nostalgia stung, rinsed right up off me.

Vovo left and came back, not recognizing my thirteen-year-old
aunt, her new haircut
resembling the first José. I contracted. I expanded.
I pushed temporary waters behind me. I already forgot
I’ve got two versions of my climb. The one I swam and, I—

I only climbed this mountain to take a picture at the top,
bell-shaped bodies all forgotten.

All this bad luck because I split a pole.
If I could open my mouth
I’d ask my grandmother why
she took so long to return to her first set of fish.
I’d ask if she’s aware she has two sons named the same.
She’s got two versions of herself,
one in the land of a free, haircut, two, me.

As soon as you start to love a city,
a thick-bodied flight attendant touches your shoulder
walking down the aisle. Thought that was affection.

I took care of that part of myself in a complicated way.
There’s only one temperature that’s good enough for a mother
to bring back the u of this vessel that is no longer the you
around my neck.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Testimony

By Hafizah Geter

for Tamir Rice (2002-2014)

Mr. President,
After they shot me they tackled my sister.
The sound of her knees hitting the sidewalk
made my stomach ache. It was a bad pain.
Like when you love someone
and they lie to you. Or that time Mikaela cried
all through science class and wouldn't tell anyone why.
This isn't even my first letter to you!
In the first one I told you about my room
and my favorite basketball team
and I asked you to come visit me in Cleveland
or to send you autograph. In the second one
I thanked you for your Responsible Citizenship.
I hope you are proud of me too.
Mom says you made being black beautiful again
but that was before someone killed Trayvon.
After that came a sadness so big it made everyone
look the same. It was a long time before we could
go outside again.  Mr. President, it took one whole day
for me to die and even though I'm twelve and not afraid of the dark
I didn't know there would be so much of it
or that there would be so many other boys here
and so many names to remember.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Deception

By Natalie Calderon

America, the so-called land of the free
 But is it still free if I take a knee?
Our president wants to “Make America Great Again”
But keeps putting roadblocks in the path of equality
I’m worried things will only get worse from here
I adjure to feel secure but how can I when
My so-called leader is acting so immature
My hope in humanity is fading
Because of all the degrading
My heart hurts as racism is pervading
I feel anger in my soul as it anchors my stomach
My spirit is damaged by the baggage of hate I carry
But I must stay strong for the struggles to come
I just hope my pride doesn’t go numb


This poem was selected by Nicholas Kristof and the Poetry Society of America from a call for poems of resistance to Trump's policies.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Dear Basketball

By Kobe Bryant 

From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
Game-winning shots
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:

I fell in love with you.

A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.

As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one.

And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.

I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

Love you always,
Kobe

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Seven Deadly Sins of Marriage

By Sherman Alexie

Envy

How odd to be jealous of one's lover's
Long ago lovers, when one should thank them
For their various failures. And strengths.
And odder, this desire to rank them

As she must rank them, but will never say.
Where is the handsome Christian? Or the one
Who said he wasn't married? Or the short
British man whose parents were far more fun?

And what about the existentialist
Who kissed so well she swooned in the street,
But was far too rational to feel joy?
I celebrate the men who preceded me --

Just as the bank celebrates its debtors --
Because they make me look so much better.


Pride

A female fan, upon meeting my wife,
Said, "Oh, wow, you must have a wonderful life
Since you have such a wonderful writer
For a husband. That book, The Fistfighter,

Is so charming. Your husband must be charming, too."
And my wife thought, What a literate fool!
Only the poet's spouse fully learns the truth:
We writers are the worst kind of cruel,

Because we worship our own stories and poems,
And what human can compete with metaphors?
Writers stand still and yet vacate our homes
Inside our fantasies. We are word-whores,

With libidos and egos of balsa wood.
We'd have sex with our books, if only we could.


Gluttony

If I were single, would I be thinner?
Do I overeat because I don't compete
With the flat-bellied bachelors? Or do we
Thick husbands look and feel thicker

Whenever our wives see a slender man?
Or does it matter? Of course, it matters.
I can't stick with any weight loss plan,
And though my extra twenty won't shatter

Any scales, I despise my love handles,
And often feel ugly and obese.
But my lovely wife always lights the candles,
Disrobes, and climbs the mountain called me,

Because wives can love beyond the body
And make mortal husbands feel holy.


Greed

Every summer, my wife travels to France
To spend a week or two with her good friend.
Of course, my sons and I welcome the chance
To de-evolve and cave it up, and yet,

I sometimes wish that my wife gave me all
Her love and attention. But it's selfish
To want such devotion. There should be walls
Inside any marriage. My wife can wish

For more privacy and solitude
Without me thinking it cold and rude.
She should have friends I rarely meet,
If ever, and I shouldn't let my needs

Become demands, but when I'm most alone,
I often wish my wife was always home.


Sloth

To save time, I put the good pots and pans
In the dishwasher and ruined the damn things.
And, once again, my wife can't understand
How thoughtless I can be. And, again, I sing

The same exhausted song: I forgot, I forgot.
When left up to me, the bills go unpaid,
The fruits and vegetables go unbought,
And the master and twin beds go unmade.

Once, when a teacher wondered why our son
Spent so much time lying on the classroom floor,
My wife said, "Because he's seen it often before."
On a basketball court, I will madly run,

But anywhere else, I will use sedate
Opportunities to pontificate.


Wrath

In the hotel room next to mine, women
Talk and laugh and keep me awake 'til three.
Exhausted and soaked with sweat and venom,
I stare at the walls and think of twenty

Ways to get revenge for their selfish crimes.
At five a.m., as I walk by their door,
I pocket their PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB sign,
And then, from my taxi to the airport,

I ring their room. "Who the hell is this?"
Asks a woman, still drunk and irate.
And I say, "Hey, I just wanted to wish
You a good morning and a great fucking day."

When I tell my wife about my adolescent rage,
She shrugs, rolls her eyes, and turns the page.


Lust

Yes, dear wife, we were younger and slender
(And, damn, I had terrible hair and clothes).
Our marriage was new, exciting, and tender.
Naked in front of me, you still felt exposed,

And I had yet to learn how to touch you
Properly. But now, sweetheart, I've memorized
The curves of your breasts, belly, and thighs,
As you've memorized me, and if we do

Each other less often than we should or need,
Then we can blame time's ground and pound
And not the lack of carnality,
Because, D, I still want to lay you down

Hour by hour, and make you cry for more,
As I cry for you, adoring and adored.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

You Make The Culture

By Amy King 

The words became librarians, custodians of people
I looked for on the bridge.
I forgot my own face.
I read the book backwards, and
I painted your name in lace
(I drink only the milk of script as beer).
I dislocate all gallery aesthetics,
I carry keys for Baltimore and
Go where no one is my name.
I wish I could sculpt a healing street
from a blanket of guns. The way the sun drops
behind a one-armed cop & we default
to believing in voices. This is the trough of sleep
we draw from. Even gravity works at night.
If I pull your speech on the carpet of impossibility,
will you speak this immediate need for movement?
The immediate need of not drowning in public?
I will walk with the sharks of our pigments
if that’s what inconclusive data requires,
until we leave rooms that hold us apart.
What you see as a small minority, I see
as closer to liberatory. Nothing comes from the center
that doesn’t break most everything in parts.
I break bread with the handwriting of words.
Nothing of appearance is always an illusion.
Lend me your book when you finish
writing it. I’ll be the first to fill in its spaces.

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.