poetry

I Suppose by Serena Castillo

Suppose I stayed with this guy?

Maybe I would have a nice house and a fancy car

I wouldn’t have to work

I wouldn’t have to stress about unnecessary habits

and school

Suppose we didn’t break up?

I would be graduating by now

We would have been living together

It would have been six year in November

I don’t regret him

I don’t regret leaving

Suppose I never met him?

Would he have been my Prince Charming; would I have still been his princess?

There wouldn’t be heartbreak

Suppose I wasn’t stressed?

There wouldn’t be any more pain

Suppose I never got the chance to smell the Caribbean blends?

The chicken foot soup

The curry goat

The rice and peas


Suppose I never got the chance to hate someone the way I hated you?

If I hadn’t banged my hands on the dash board

Broke a few necklaces

Kicked my feet against the car window

Suppose I never got the chance to meet you?

Your short dreads at the time

Your smile

That jumpy pep in your step

Suppose I never got the chance to love you?

Gave you hugs in bed at night

Shared my headache

Showed you the true me

For you to give me a great beginning to a wonderful ending.


Suppose I had grey hair?

My eyes low

Drowsy

Sleepless nights

Missing you

Suppose I had only four fingers?

If the bursts of smoke flies from my mouth aren’t stressful enough

Suppose I didn’t have three children?

The sun filled joyous summers

Red, blue, purple, pinks all surrounding on my kitchen table

The fast breeze of the trees, flying past the windows

Suppose I never met you?

Where would life have taken me?

Your soft touch when you hug me

Your soft kiss

Your sweet lips.


SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO GET LOST IN THE WORLD

By Greg Moglia

I got lost in Venice once

In the labyrinth of sides and sides of streets

With shop after shop that sells

Those little carnival dolls

Black circles about the eyes

No canals to be seen

A sense of death ready to slip out

of any of the tiny shops

grab me by the neck, pull me down

Say to me Did I need this walk?

In a sweat I turn this way and that

Still lost, but then up this lane and there

The cafes, the music - safe

Freed into the everyday - Venice for the visitor

Yet travel into the back streets

Where day light turns to dark,

something digs at me…something about dying

To be lost without trying…without choice


For Miss Shirley LeFlore

For Miss Shirley LeFlore
(March 6, 1940-May 12, 2019)

By Kevin Powell

I want to say
thank you
Miss Shirley LeFlore
for being a supernatural word 
warrior who 
allowed your poet laureate tongue
to be baked and bronzed by
the smoke-y laughter of
sister-girl hair salons
and the ham-hocked hallelujahs
of ancient Black churches with
Black Jesus in their ancestral bones
just means you
done seen some things 
that you knew
as a little Black girl
resurrected there in the gumbo pot
of African soul they
baptized Saint Louis
that you were born
to witness 
the weary blues
of a people
who made high ways
from no ways
just means
you is fearless
Miss Shirley
you is mad cool
Miss Shirley
you is forever
Miss Shirley
like the sugary taste
of a ripened watermelon
busted open
the way 
your poetry
busted open
your womanhood and your Blackness
and your purple majesty
as the queen 
you were ordained to be
the way 
your momma and your grandmommas
were queens
the way
your daughters
are queens
the way
Black girl magic
is Miss Shirley LeFlore
swinging and bebopping
from World War 2
through the soul struts of Vietnam
and Civil Rights
to the boom baps of hip-hop
and orange monsters in the 
White House with crooked eyes
yes, the way
Ella Fitzgerald
Gwendolyn Brooks
Billie Holiday
Nina Simone
The wash lady
The numbers runner
and the school teacher were magical
‘cuz magicians dare, Miss Shirley
like you dared
you made a march to Washington
you made a commitment to poor people
and the arts and the telling of
“it”
like it is
because you dared to believe
that art was for the people
all people
your people
your beautiful lightredbeigebrownchocolatedarkblack
people
“I am the Black woman”
you said, Miss Shirley
and the people’s church said a-women a-men ashe
go on with your bad self, Miss Shirley LeFlore
teach us how poetry is 
Buddy Bolden cutting a rug
with the blues of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey
while Miles Davis and John Coltrane
blow segregated nightmares into the wind
move us, Miss Shirley
from Saint Louis to New York and back again
embrace the young poets of my generation and the young
poets of today’s generation like they are your equals
make me feel like you are one of my mommas
you Audre Lorde Sonia Sanchez Nikki Giovanni
Mari Evans Amina Baraka Camille Yarbrough Maryemma Graham
sister-girls who survived 
sick and tired of being sick and tired
to become, like that God they call her,
sacred healing women 
keepers of our culture
protectors of our sanity
believers in the spiritual voodoo 
we call freedom songs
Miss Shirley LeFlore is not
good enough for you any longer
you are now dancing with the ancestors
cool jerking and twisting your woman-child
around the sweaty nostrils of the sun
and you are now Saint Shirley
Shirley, yes, same name of my birth momma
you are
Black
you are
Beautiful
you are
Powerful
you are
Unapologetically free
a caregiver and a caretaker to the very end
I cried Saint Shirley when I was told
you left us
on Mother’s Day
but then I smiled
because Black women
like you
are the mothers
of this nation
are the mothers
of this universe
if there were no you
there would be no us
none of us
so take your bow
and your grand exit, Saint Shirley
I see you with your pressed and creased angel wings 
hovering over
Saint Louis
hovering over
America
hovering over
our sobbing hearts
reminding us
to kiss laughter daily
reminding us
that when we channel
rivers of women
we must drink slowly
from their eyes
we must swallow the juice from their tears
so that we can be
free
free
free
as you 
Saint Shirley
always were—


© Kevin Powell 2019


Kevin Powell is a poet, essayist, blogger, filmmaker, journalist, activist, public speaker, and author of 13 books, including his autobiography, The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood


Golden Giant

Written by Chinese Poet Hongri Yuan

Translated by Yuanbing zhang

 

Who is sitting in the heavens and staring at me?

Who is sitting in the golden palace of tomorrow?

Who is smiling?

Golden staff in his hand

flashes a dazzling light.

Ah, the flashes of lightning-

interweave over my head...

I walked into the crystalline corridor of the time-

I want to open

the doors of gold.

Lines of words in the sun-

Singing to me in the sky-

I want to find

the volumes of gold poems

on the shores of the new century

to build the city of gold.

 

Laozi with rosy cheek and white hair-

Smiles at me in the clouds,

A phoenix dances trippingly

and carries with it, a book of gold.

 

Lines of mysterious words

made my eyes drunken,

countless giant figures

came towards me from the clouds.

 

Ages through seventy million years

emerged leisurely before my eyes,

the cities of gold

surrounded with crystalline gardens.

 

A sky of sapphire

sent out a colorful miraculous brightness,

onto green hills of jasper,

dragons and phoenixes were flying

 

Exquisite pagoda-

with majestical palace of gold,

the airy pavilions and pagodas

stood within the purple-red clouds

 

Laughing girls

riding the colorful husbands and wives,

propitious clouds

sprinkling the colorful flowers.

 

I opened the door to a golden palace,

saw the rows of scrolls of gold,

a giant who had the haloes all over his body-

there was a golden sun over his head.

 

Smiling, he picked up the books of gold

recited the sacred verses-

Intoxicated with the miraculous wonderful words

I was enveloped with purple-gold flames.

 

A golden lotus

bloomed beneath my feet,

lifted up my body,

wafting it up out of the golden palace

 

The red clouds

drifted by my side,

in the far distance I saw

another golden paradise

 

the leisurely bells

calling to me.

There- countless giants

roamed in a golden garden,

 

with skies of ruby,

rounds of sun

like the golden lotus

blooming in the sky,

 

intoxicating fragrances of flowers

like sweet good wine,

golden trees

laden with the dazzling diamonds,

 

wonderful flowers

in bloom for a thousand years,

this land of gold

inlaid with the gems.

 

The pavilions of gold were

strewn at random, clustered in multitude.

Someone was playing chess

Someone was chatting...

 

Quaint clothes

colossal statures

miraculous eyes-

happy and comfortable.

 

White cranes

flying in the sky,

husbands and wives

crowing leisurely.

 

Beside an old man I approached

as if he were waiting for me

in this golden pavilion.

He opened an ancient sword casket-

 

A glittering ancient sword

engraved with abstruse words and expressions,

which were clear and transparent, like lightning,

dimly glowed with purplish-red patterns.

 

He told me a metaphysical epic:

The sword came from nine billions years ago,

made from hundreds of millions of suns.

It was a sacred sword of the sun-

 

It could pierce the rocks of time,

open layer after layer of skies,

let the sacred fires forge the heaven and the earth

into golden paradises.

 

The old man's eyes were deep, archaic, difficult to discern-

Dimly showing the joyful flames.

He let me take this sword

to fly towards a new golden paradise:

 

The huge golden lotus floated leisurely-

I flew among the skies, for a thousand miles.

Huge pyramids

loomed impressively in front of my eyes

 

Mountainous figures of giants

walked about in front of the pyramid,

the huge pyramids of gold

far taller than the mountains.

 

The giant trees of gold

like a forest

stood in the sky

laden with the stars.

 

The multi-colored propitious clouds

were like a colossal bird

in a silvery sky,

crowing joyfully.

I came to the front of a pyramid-

a door was opening wide for me,

a group of blond giants

sat with smiles in the grand palace.

 

An old and great holy man

recited in monotone.

The temple was painted with the magical symbols

and giant portraits of Gods.

 

The palace was full of silvery white light

blooming with magnificent flowers,

a peal of wonderful mellifluous bells

that made one suddenly forget all time.

 

I heard an immemorial verse

that was written hundreds of millions of years past,

relating countless eras of giants,

the creation of the holy kingdoms of heaven.

 

Their wisdom was sacred and great

knowing, omniscently, the past and the future of the universe.

They flew freely among the skies

landed on the millions of planets in the universe.

 

They altered time per one’s pleasure,

encompassed other powers, such as-

turning stone into gold,

making gold bloom into flowers.

 

They were like the bulbous sun,

which could erupt with sacred flames

let all things blaze in raging flames..

Manifest imagination into reality..

 

They landed on planets

establishing golden paradises

and with their magical, cryptic wisdom

built platinum cities.

 

I saw the splendid words

spied from the volume of gold

and the magical wonderful halos

rotating like colorful lightning in the sky.

 

I came to another wonderful planet,

saw a massive monumental edifice of platinum,

the whole city, an intricate work of art

emanating, softly, a brilliant white light.

 

A huge round square

encased unearthly works.

Giants of great stature

came and went leisurely in the street.

 

They wore spartan, common clothing

covering their bodies,

all with smiles upon their faces,

both men and women looked beautiful.  

 

They spoke a wonderful language

intriguing and pleasant as welcome music.

Some of them travelled by spaceship

flying around silently in the sky.

 

I walked into a towering edifice of platinum-

saw a magnificent hall,

its platinum walls were inlaid with gems,

among which was a row of unusual instruments.

 

Their eyes were like bright springs

and they wore multi-colored clothes.

Some were operating the instruments.

Some were talking softly among themselves.

 

I saw a fascinating picture, a simulacrum that

drew giant planets,

arranged cities on those planets,

with crystal gardens.

 

I opened a crystal door-

noticed a group of men and women, who were happily,

singing softly,

with glittering books of gold in their hands.

 

Arrangements of flowers and glasses filled of golden wine

sat on the huge round table.

Golden walls were sparkling

carved with all kinds of wonderful images.

 

I saw a demure girl,

with sparkling golden halo above her head,

adorned in a lengthy purple-gold dress

peerless in its quality.

 

Pages- were marked with cryptic glyphs

or lines of ancient magic words or symbols,

each of their books were made of gold

inexplicably constructed in golden crystal.

 

I understood their euphonious songs-

They were singing the sacred love

They were singing great ancestors

They were recounting the civilization of the universe

 

Gardens filled their city, everywhere,

surrounded with the sweet rivers.

The whole earth was a piece of jade,

the clay, a translucent layer of golden sands.

 

I saw enormous bright, white spheres

suspended high above the city,

emanating outwards a dazzling light-

illuminating the skies and earth- bright as the crystal

 

The towering, great buildings stood in great numbers

As if carved by a singular piece of platinum.

Doves and colorful birds

were flying among the heavens.

 

A mono-train was

flying swiftly through the sky,

the streets were illuminated in bright white,

and any moving vehicle could not have been seen.

 

These people’s bodies were unusually strong.

Playing a wonderful game-

they piled up the pieces of great stones

arranging into grotesque works.

 

Similar to giant eyes

and ancient totems,

there were strange birds

covered with lightning feathers.

I saw a couple of tall lovers-

aviators, riding in their spaceship.

Their eyes were quiet and bright,

colorful halo around their bodies.

 

This wonderful space was gyrating leisurely

like a huge, resplendent crystal.

I said goodbye to the unusual city,

towards a space of golden light.

 

The cities flashed in the sky.

I flew over the layers of the sky again

and I saw a new-fangled world:

the multi-colored city of crystal.

 

The high towers were exquisitely carved

displaying multi-colored pearls,

layers of its eave painted with dragon and phoenix,

hung with singing golden bells.

 

The earth was a crystal garden,

the palaces were limpid and crystal,    

huge mountains were like a transparent gems

lined with the golden trees.

 

I saw the tall giants-

who wore their purple clothes,

with heads of round suns,

bodies enshrined with halos.

 

They sat up in the main halls 

singing a mellifluous song.

Some were roaming leisurely in the garden.

Some were summoning the birds in the sky.

 

The crystalline airy pavilions and pagodas

were beset with jewels and agates,

a huge jewel on the spire,

shining golden lights.

 

I saw a holy giant

sitting in the middle of a main hall

the purple-gold flame, flashed around his body,

which filled with the whole majestic main hall.

 

Full-bodied fragrance filled the hall

like a cup of refreshing wine.

Solemn expression was merciful and joyful,

a huge book was in his hand.

 

The hall was full of men and women

listening quietly to the psalms of the saints,

the lotuses were floating in the sky

where the smiling giants sat.

 

The golden light poured down from the sky

bathing the whole of this crystal kingdom.

The jewels above the giant towers-

the golden suns.

 

The golden walls of a golden tower

were carved with the lines of golden words I had glimpsed-

hovering around the dragons and phoenixes,

as if they were intonating the inspiring poems.

 

The smiling giants in the sky-

With wide halo flashing around their bodies,

were each dignified and tranquil,

floating in the golden translucent sky.

 

I flew over this crystal kingdom,

saw a vast golden mountain in the distance

sending out the brilliant lights in the sky

where the propitious clouds were blossoming.

 

This was a golden giant

sitting in the golden translucent sky

his body composed of thousands of millions of constellations

the golden sun rotating on his forehead.

 

He lit up the whole marvellous universe-

the kingdoms of heaven shone in the sky.

Here there was no the sky nor earth,

lights of pure gold emanated in every direction.

 

The smiling giants were sitting

on the gold-engraved pavilions.

The pavilions levitated in the translucent sky

shining the layers of purple-gold light.

 

A scene of multi-colored translucent mountains,

propitious clouds floating in the heavens,

large wonderful flowers blooming in the mountain peaks,

trees of pure light.

 

A river flowed from the sky

and with river bottom reflecting a layer of golden sand.

There were strange and beautiful birds and beasts

some like aerial phantoms.

 

This was a world of light.

Everything was made of light.

The divine light formed all things

and the golden paradises.

 

The golden giant-

shines the kingdoms of heaven within his body.

The cities of gold-

brilliant and fascinating in his bones.

 

I observed lines, words of incredible profundity

arranged into a huge book in the sky.

It seemed as if they were the bright stars

constituting a wonderous drawing.

 

There was a golden pavilion in the sky

guarded with behemoth dragons and phoenixes.

An old man with a whisk

waved to me and smiled in the pavilion,

 

I seem to be attracted by some sort of magic-

leisurely came to his side.

He told me the golden giant

was namely my great ancestor

 

This was an eternal palace-

There's no concept of time here.

Holy light- was exactly the God.

What I witnessed was better than the heavens.

 

He pointed to the huge book in the sky

told me that it was the mystery of the universe.

The book contained magical wisdom,

created the countless worlds of gold.

 

He pointed to a pagoda in the sky,

told me that it was the temple of words.

The light turned into the sacred words,

and the words created the time of gold.

 

He held up a very large pearl

in which flashed the pictures (and all images).

He told me that it was the future time-

the embodiment of all the wonderful worlds.

 

He told me that it was another universe.

Still desiring to go to these paradises,

he gave me the magical pearl,

to let it be my future guide.

 

I said goodbye to the old holy man,

set afoot onto a new road towards the heavens again.

I sat in a golden pavilion-

lightly flew to the distant outer space...

Sana'a Sunrise

unsolicited cocktails arrive by deliberate airmail

puffing new mushrooms in the landscape

 

little ones dead before they are dead

between the rock and the

            alluvial plain

 

fingers like tapas in random perch

            on granule and boulder

 

hair and face arched upward

mouths open for silence.

 

blood dotted, like painter’s pallet and

            sausage guts

offered to ant farms housed on desert pads

 

how many more will fall before

I die in dust

older than before there was an Arab

Political Poetry Is Hot Again. The Poet Laureate Explores Why, and How. (The New York Times)

Political Poetry Is Hot Again. The Poet Laureate Explores Why, and How. (The New York Times)

In the mid-1990s, when I was a student of creative writing, there prevailed a quiet but firm admonition to avoid composing political poems. It was too dangerous an undertaking, one likely to result in didacticism and slackened craft. No, in American poetry, politics was the domain of the few and the fearless, poets like Adrienne Rich or Denise Levertov, whose outsize conscience justified such risky behavior. Even so, theirs weren’t the voices being discussed in workshops and craft seminars.

History Becomes Her Story (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wins Joe Crowley’s 14th district)

History Becomes Her Story  (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wins Joe Crowley’s 14th district)

If history repeats itself then the story of conquering Hernan Cortes is on the shelf while pol, Joe Crowley‘s hunkering down. She’d said she wouldn’t back the candidate if she should entertain defeat, but campaigned like a potentate, as capable as she seemed sweet.

Sociopath

Sociopath

XYK repeating, replicating the shattered bits of his refracted nullity, the shadow of his elemental hatred sombresaulting up from the endless slurry of his hatchery, where he fluffs the nearly hairless balls of his projective fantasies, cross breeds a sickly effluent with it's cousins, lies and slander, takes the broken offspring of this noxious union and remates it