Article Category Archives: Poetry

A Design for Humankind

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There it stands–my mother’s time-worn loom

Holding life’s sweetness and life’s sorrows

A glorious tapestry of entwined lights and darks!

Threads of all colours harmonizing.

Imagine this as a map of the world

Bound together with threads of compassion

Fastened firmly with knots of love.

 

 

 

Dear Daughter

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Open Letter to my future daughter:

Burden Versus Blessings

What if I told you this world is dark, cold and ugly?

What if I told you your whole life they’ll try and convince, blame and force you into believing it’s you?

What if I told you you’ll be confused and some parts you’ll believe are true?

What if I told you that they’ll downplay your features, assets and accomplishments, never being recognized or acknowledged as qualified?

Even the ones that look the same will try and tarnish your name

In the hierarchy of life you will be labelled lower than men less than women

They’ll criticize before they copy

They’ll laugh and be envious

They’ll take with no apologizes

You’ll cry

And cry

And cry

Until there’s enough tears to drown in

You’ll question your purpose

The more you crave the need to be saved

They’ll remind you you’re worthless

You’ll pray to be different

Not realizing you’re already unique

Weak

You’ll fall victim but you’ll never be allowed to call yourself that

They’ll disguise forgiveness as forgetting

They’ll hate you

To the point you hate yourself

You’ll break

And break

Until it feels like there’s too many pieces to fix

But what if I told you this

World wouldn’t be the same without your existence?

What if I told you you’re stronger than the weapons formed against you?

What if I told you on your back those aren’t burdens but the spirit of your sisters?

Step by step as your saviours

What if I told you, you are smart, beautiful and warm?

What If I didn’t warn

You about the world

I warned the world about you?

The fearless, force and fighter you are

The roots of richness you reach from

Dear Daughter, you are special

And as much as I love you I want you to love yourself

That’s how you shield yourself

From the darkness to get light

The cold to be warm

And the ugly to remain beautiful

Not hiding but protecting

Your soul

You’re not just a Queen

You are a Black Queen

Carry your crown with pride

Never lie

Because your truth is powerful

What Counts / Dirt Medicine

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What Counts

Some days
life crumples you
folds you
in on yourself
pulls you
inside out
leaves you raw

Some days
the puddles
seep through
your boots
the coffee burns
the bad news
comes in torrents

Some days
you are foggy
with grief
dazed and confused
thoroughly fallible

On such days
there is only
one question:
How many ways
can you
sing your praises?

And if
you can
stay with
that question,
follow it with
how many ways
can you
count to ten?
And how many ways
can you count on community
to pull (you) through?
How many ways
can you count
your blessings?

Blessing by Brona Wingell

Dirt Medicine

We, the fossil fuel-addicted,
gather:

AA circles of the present
include true confessions of grief
for lost land and
wayward soil,
disconnection from earth
and mourning
the changing ecology
cars, cars, cars,
and where did all
those trees go?

Sunshine resting
on the backs
of armchairs
encircling such
sadness shared

Let them eat
the future
Wendell Berry writes

But with
no memory of community
among the 20-somethings,
is the future here
now?

Moving
into guilt
limits
language
reclamation, revolution
and my mind
hearing the offered answer
less, less, less,
shouts back
more, more more!
of the pluriverse
diversity
multiplicity
complexity

I am
holding tenderly
my friends
the milpa farmers
the mud-bathed paddy planters
the sukuma wiki sorceresses
in shanty towns and slums
and high rises and huts
in countrysides and downtowns,
heart steadfastly beating
in solidarity with
peasants, taxi drivers,
CEOs, agrarian royalty,
indigenous, immigrant,
settled, unsettled, resettling,
creatures, lives, people
worlds away,
across the street,
underfoot.

If I were
to relinquish,
focusing even less
on the practice
and letting go of the theory,
the world would
continue
to breathe me,
at least until that time
my body passes
back through the land—
the phase of rest and change
these molecules know best.

Until then, the land
continues passing through
my body, while I:

monitor the stripmining
of its sources of nourishment,
knowing intimately the effects of
bread more obscene
than our movies

learn the call
and answer
slogans of the struggle
for liberty, community,
land and life

sit in circles
with new friends
reveal myself in earnest
hope and
loving curiosity
somehow still believing
—a magical secret
scorching through my pocket—
that the answers
are not
as valuable
as the questions

walk in mindfulness and quiet
contemplation
swelling full to
teary-eyed brimfuls
with the scent of pine
cooked by sun

fall to my knees
catching the sight
over my own shoulder
of dried wind-dancing
flower spines embroidering
the rolling field

let myself be
fully embraced
in the lap
mother earth provides

drink in
late April brilliance
of awakening life—
squabbling crows in counterpoint
to windchime birdsong—
supported by rich
dark soils, sharp
green cedar sparkling
on my tongue,
sky so blue
it cracks the
winter exoskeleton
clean off,
welcoming me back,
here,
home, home, home.

Four

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Crow’s shadow slides
Down icy perch
Calling no one
Howls and hisses
Screaming, spitting
Echoes over
Empty morning
Of bitter air
And spiteful frost
Reverberates
Over concrete
And inside me

 

Mother’s Solstice and Her Sacred Bundle: The Child by LA Harris

Duty: Three Poems

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Playing Nancy

The city sleuth, I was bestowed the role of Nancy.
My cousins, farm girls, were George and Bess.
We dug through Grandma’s attic for clues in old letters,
the stone pile for startling treasures,
the hay mow for hidden bones,
though mostly we made tunnels from bales
and became human moles.

Retired now, and back in bare feet, I walk the beach,
watching for sand dollars and garbage bags full of cash
or hash or other illicit goods thrown overboard
to avoid approaching Coast Guard vessels.
All I spot is a rubber glove, cuff buried.
I approach tentatively. It could hold a hand.
But no, only sand.

Each wearing a silver cross, the young widow and
her three children stepped away from the casket.
I took my place.
His uniform was fresh, bearing only the one medal
marking his tour in Afghanistan.
Shrapnel scars were disguised with putty and makeup.
I touched my fingers to his sleeve.

Filled with sand.

I know a man who had been an ambulance driver in Palestine.
He had been responsible to scrape up all the particles
of bombing victims.

Their entire bodies would be buried
together. As though whole.
For religious purposes.

No cheating with sand.
No buried treasures.

 

She Still Flinches at Fireworks and She’s Only Been to KAF

Fuck, she only faced
a couple of rockets and
a guy deaf to ‘No.’

(KAF: Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan)

 

Duty

Cat whiskers waken me early enough to listen to poetry on PBS,
reheat yesterday’s oatmeal, eat it set with walnuts and banana and
(thank you) chocolate chips.

Before I go I kiss your whiskered, bed-warm cheek—see you at supper?
Maybe tomorrow after work.
Walk my prayer, rush through cardinal calls.

Two requests already for prayers pre-surgery. Two sets of twins coming,
but, well, but. Too early, too early.
Births and deaths come crowding when my weather finger moans.

The three-month-old in Peds misses his mother who hasn’t been seen all week.
Nurses fight over who wants most to take him home.
A woman, sixty-three, misses her mother. Orphaned now.

I miss lazing with my husband in bed. Instead, I am bedside with the husband,
of the woman stripped near-naked, red-painted toenails incongruous with
quivering, heavy flesh as doctors take turn riding her chest in search of a beat.

Reflections by Justine MacDonald