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2013 Staff EXECUTIVE EDITORS Lillian Dunn Tamara Oakman POETRY EDITORS Warren Longmire Alina Pleskova FICTION EDITORS Eve Gleichman Andrew Ly
Tamara says: I first met Sonia Sanchez in the basement of her parents’ house in 1997. I was seventeen then. Standing in front of hundreds of my father’s books, he placed Does Your House have Lions? into my hands. He told me to always, always have the courage of Sonia Sanchez in my poetry. I read her poems ravenously, trying to find that spark. “How to learn to love me amid all the pain?” Sonia asked. My heart ripped open. What I learned from experiencing Sister Sonia’s lectures and performances over the last decade was how not to be a poet that pats herself on the back, but to be a poet that embraces others, holds them to her bosom, heartbeat to heartbeat, and shouts, “Sister!” This philosophy has made it easy to search through our submissions, not only for level of technique, but for the emotional core, the substance that connects one human to another. Moved by Sister Sonia’s commitment to action, as well as to words, I began to hold events bringing together poets, artists and writers to raise money for underserved communities at home and abroad. At one of them I met Lillian. And what was once an idea pressed firmly to our hearts – to actively spread love and understanding in Philadelphia through literature – became APIARY Magazine. Lillian says:
ART EDITOR Amy Scheidegger WEB EDITORS Lisa Yoder Alexandra Stitz VIDEO EDITOR Nick Forrest OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Amelia Longo PRODUCTION MANAGER Alina Pleskova BUSINESS MANAGER Lauren Otero
I’ve heard Professor Sanchez read many times, and have always been inspired by her radiant peacefulness and conviction. But because of this moment in Philadelphia’s history – a season of rallies against school closings, marches for immigrant rights, and protests against the funding of new prisons – her simple explanation of why her poetry and her activism are one and the same resonated deeply with me this spring.
DISTRIBUTION MANAGER Leslie Burnette DESIGNER Michael Martins
From getting arrested for protesting at an Army recruitment center, to teaching students the “sedition” of peace, each anecdote she told illustrated how she fights for what she believes in everywhere she goes.
Our city, our communities, and our families face very real trouble. For many of us, it can feel hard to know what to do in the face of so much chaos.
But as Sister Sonia says, “This thing called poetry keeps us all human.” We founded APIARY, and chose our tagline, because we believe her claim. And when we hear one another’s stories, grand or trivial, we wake up to one another. We wake up to ourselves. We might not know where to start just yet. But we can let these voices in. They’re our neighbors, our brothers and our sisters. We can read. We can listen. Perhaps our fellow humans will point the way. Love,
Steve Burns SPOKEN WORD OUTREACH Warren Longmire WEB CONTRIBUTORS Steve Burns Alina Pleskova Bridget Boylan INTERN
To learn more about the artists and artwork you see in this issue, please visit apiarymagazine.com. Photo by: Jovon Fearon
Imaginary Craigslist Ad
F. OMAR TELAN
Between Django & The Thrill Is Gone
The Allure of the Green Light
Thanks for Thinking About Me
My Father’s MRI
Every Year, Every April
JAMIE J BRUNSON
For My Mother, Love Your Little Girl Boy Queer
The Author Admits She Suffers From the Stereotypical Affliction of Other White Women Poets
A Little Girl With A Little Fear
Cambiarse Los Zapatos/Changing Shoes
Caroline Rivera (Flash Fiction Contest Winner)
Catherine Mosier-Mills (Flash Fiction Contest Winner)
interview with sonia sanchez
10 Haiku (For Max Roach)
Bruno And The Dragon
In Essence Of Being A Beautiful Colored Bastard Child
Come Join the Jubilee
Red Horse: My Student In A Maximum Security Prison
5 Things I Can Say To My Mother
Welcome To The Museum Of Jurassic Technology
Rachel R. Taube
And Being Dead Is Hard Work
Living In The Killing Fields: Supper For Survivors
Poetry Is A Verb
The Mountain Thinks
Italics denote a youth author
AH-Hah! WE SEe YOU’VE FOuND a FReE COPY oF APIARY ! Why is this beautiful magazine yours for free ninety-nine? Our staff is all volunteer. We do this for fun, and for free. And our awesome advertisers and members help pay for printing costs. If you like what we do, we’d love you to join us as a member. We have big plans – more copies, more workshops, an all-youth edition for schools – and we need your help. Your membership will go a long way in helping us proceed with our mission to promote cross-cultural understanding through the literary arts. And for as little as $10, you can get APIARY delivered right to your door!
Since our first issue in September 2010, we’ve: Increased our print run from an initial 250 issues to 10,000 free copies in just 3 years
Printed six issues, featuring over 200 local authors ages 8 and up
Hosted literary events totaling over 1,500 audience members to enjoy local writing and music
Conducted writing and editing workshops for over 150 young and beginning writers
TO BECOME A MEMBER OR TO MAKE A DONATION, PLEASE VISIT apiarymagazine.com/about/membership
e in z a g a M Y R A I P A Submit Your Work to
prose collected from d an ry et po ry ra empo ly magazine of cont ar ye eic tw a around the world. is d an y, tr APIARY un co e th iladelphia, across writers here in Ph watch on t, we keep a close en m le pp su eb w d IARY Online also gularly update AP re r s. ou on e, iti in ed nl t O in pr r At APIARY tween ou ances that that appears in be e ur at er lit g dio/visual perform au tin r ci he ot d the ex an es r spoken word piec provides a home fo . ain black-and-white pl in ed ur pt ca , and be can’t in all sorts of styles s, nd ou gr ck ba d es an begun om writers of all ag hether you’ve just W n. io at ic bl pu r We publish work fr ork fo APIARY to consider your w it for years, we at ng ui rs pu en be would be delighted have submit. ssion for writing or encourage you to e w d an k, or w to discover your pa ur e for yo a welcoming hom e at believe in making ease visit us onlin pl k, or w ur yo it ion on how to subm For more informat sions.
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THERE BE Don’t bore me. Take me right to the place. Open the door. If we need a flashlight, bring one. If we open the door, and there’s light, don’t tell me your pockets are full. If we stumble on monsters asleep and holding onto old pots they’d found like they’re dolls, don’t think of them as children. But don’t wake them either. Don’t say I’m foolish to come here thinking of monsters. My foolishness becomes me.
IMAGINARY CRAIGSLIST AD sam seeks woman. Age unimportant. Race unimportant. Relationship status unimportant. Wishes to sit with you on a park bench and make you feel pretty. Will stare at you as if the rest of the world is static and you are the only signal in the noise. Wants to listen to you speak for the cadence of your voice. Wants to rest his arm over your shoulder and press his lips to your hair as he inhales your scent. Needs to heap his love upon you. Does not expect or need your love. Wouldnâ€™t know what to do with it anyway. After an hour or two will thank you and leave you be. No strings. No obligations. No problems. Just needs this release so he can go on living the rest of his life without the burden of loving and the desire for companionship. Will travel to any public park. Your pic gets mine.
F. OMAR TELAN
You, inside me, inside my lukewarm waters, breathing, both eyes closed. The plunge, plunge, plunge of you
I was in the middle of a seminar I was giving about the seven bridges you must cross and the one bridge you must burn to attain true love when someone in the audience interrupted and asked about my qualifications about why should I know about this and I pulled out the tabloid my romance being the most well documented the most well photographed of the decade, but the audience member was fractious and stood up and walked out in protest. I don’t know if they were protesting me or true love or what the difference would be.
through my waiting stillness awakens me to circumfluence. Like growing rings — ellipses from a penny thrown to a wish. You, who I have many summers known, but only understand in simple ways — whatever human form you might present thru varied strokes and movements. You, a muscled torso, arms gliding underneath, dividing clarity from haze. Hands like gentle bowls, straining through my blueness. You, rolling front to back, thrusting, like a lifting Cormorant. You, pulling me towards, along, above, again and again, while the outer world falls away to silence. Your panting soon becomes my sole reminder of an other’s life on earth. You, your skin in apposition. Infinite. And nothing in between — two bodies touching one perpetual expanse. And me, receiving you in sway. Glinting back toward a sun, or fickle moon. Holding on, when you leap into my depths and unseen vacancies.
AUBADE This morning I take the photo down and rub the outline off the paint. In my mind you’re still alive and this grief is rain wasted on a river. The bedroom where we stuttered over our secret selves, our tongues fiercely learning each other’s mouths, is now a simile of shadows with the blinds down. In my mind the world is eucalyptus scented from your skin, your lashes like the pistols of violent flowers thrashing purple in the yard. Your soap and sea sponge welcome still wait on the shower shelf, a repeat in the rain of your voice stuck to the windowpane in the bathroom. In my mind you’re still alive and we meet in the sound the carpet makes as we step, the room opening up to us, the place where love is scratched into walls.
CARDIAC Since October I have grown to thin and to bone. I drink coffee and thrill to feel the caffeine have its way with my body. Outside everyone dances and I feel a hand on my hip, but I do not answer. Now I know that he cannot make my pulse pound at my collarbone. And I have learned to decide who touches my hips and my bones. Outside everyone dances to the sound of their pulse. I wear my veins like garlands and laugh. My heart does more than keep time.
EXPERIMENT In which you try to remember your whole life. Yes, we understand this isnâ€™t possible. Everything has its own conceit. Allow the memories to stay as bobbers atop the skin of consciousness. Do not wait for them to catch anything, simply watch them move, how they bump into the water, each other. Unlike your usual mind, there are no trout beneath the surface and you are not fishing for them, not here. Here, your feet never touch the water. Do not scramble to make them make sense, how they move or do not or how they touch or do not. These particular memories are not the root of anything. These are things that happened that you cannot control. For this experiment, you are something that cannot be broached. Rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10. Can you describe how this feels?
New 777 “what’s invisible I feel”
Larry Eigner, #50, 1952
message from Laurie: Christmas card coming soon… Been a crazy few months. Father in nursing home, without short-term memory or control of bodily functions. Mother at home in wheelchair, without father. Son without ability to sustain attention or stay awake! Me without wits! You?
Where the Sam hell do you think you’re going in that get-up? Christ, if it’s not one goddamned thing it’s another. Friends? Friends? You’re father had a lot of friends til he got fired.
cement guy Biegalski says he was smoothing a load on the sidewalk at 8th & Market once when first one then a 2nd shoe planted themselves in the mix “I said: Whadda you, fucking blind?” That, in fact, turned out to be the case
ladybug plopt on the book’s open page turns out to be 2 touching down no doubt to get a better grip & catch their little breaths then: away! must be fun to fuck & fly not that I’d want to try it
people are generally no more inclined to acknowledge a mistake than they are to say they’re grateful tho they’re always ready to say how grateful they are that they didn’t make the mistake they didn’t make
coincidence or historical bad luck that an age when digital distribution abolishes the evening’s solitude is also one so utterly bereft of taste that the pronouncements of the self-congratulatory evince not a wince & issue like toilet tissue in a dysentery epidemic?
the young who lack the empathy to imagine what it’s like to be old become the old who lack the sympathy to remember what it’s like to be young
sex at 59: every now & then I give it a wank just to keep my hand in the game
+ JIM CORY
BETWEEN DJANGO & THE THRILL IS GONE u melt my melancholy dew my bop canyons licked clean my heavy girl mouth draped with your kisses u disarm me with the traffic light of your musk u blow your horn & cause an ancient accident between these nipples with each thrust of your steamboat romance u exert somethin over me u make somethin rise under my cheeks u are the rose pressed between these bible belt legs if i could hit a high note for every epiphany u rustle in my bush & briars, every rake u run through my dread i’d make opera out of the begone eras in your eyes i’d make altun ha shiver with ruin comin out of your pores i’d thrill u with this voice that wells up to say your name
THE ALLURE OF THE GREEN LIGHT
I tried to look away. But what reason does a hairless man have for standing stark naked in the first floor window facing the street? Then again, why would another man stand outside in a cold rain, watching him? Curiosity over came my strict observance of man law and I stared into his window from across the street. My neighbor, a familiar face I had barely nodded to in broad daylight, began setting up a card table. I looked away to spare my eyes. Then I imagined his soft body contorting around the legs of the table anyway, which was worse than actually seeing him set up the table. Once, Jade told me my mind manufactures its own misery. Now, I understood what she meant. I squinted under the street lamp and took one last hit of my joint. I put it out under my shoe. Louie, my terrier, sniffed the damp sidewalk and sneezed. When I looked back at the window, the table covered my neighbor’s indecency from the waist down, thank bloody Christ. The man’s pale face reflected the green of a jarred liquid on the table in front of him. What an intimate little portrait of neurosis. I slid Louie’s leash down on my wrist. I took a blood
orange out of my pocket. I pierced the blushing rind with my thumb. The oils sunk into the cracks in my hands and my skin tightened like a callus. The pith peaked out from under the spongy rind. I peeled it and shoved a segment in my mouth. The juice trickled down my chin until the rain washed it all away. Maybe some weird experiment gone wrong had previously singed off all of his body hair. I thought of all the cancer patients I had seen. I continued to postulate what kind of strange cult this man could belong to; Brothers of the Holy Green Mason Jar. The Eternally Benevolent Nude Science Servants of Oz. The man gripped a credit card with tongs. He submerged the wafer of plastic into the green liquid and counted. I stared, dumbfounded, like a half-blind cow and racked my mind for an explanation. On the block, we all lived in modest brick row homes, yet his house was like a prop in a magician’s show. He appeared as if he were on stage. I think he knew I was watching him. He became a part of his ritual, anointed by green light. Strange as it seemed, I envied him. As I brought another orange segment to my lips, the man in the window pierced me with his gaze. I pretended to check my phone. I inhaled another orange slice and shoved my phone back in my pocket, ignoring the five missed calls I had from Jade. I walked down the street to my house. I felt the burn of his eyes in my peripheral vision. As I neared my house I saw my elderly neighbor, Mr. O’Connell. He lived alone since his wife died of cancer six months ago. Occasionally, I gave him a few minutes of my time in conversation. Every time he saw Louie his face wrinkled up. He told me about his childhood dog, Gyp. His accent sounded worn around the edges, flattened and Americanized away from his homeland. “Ey, Gyp was a good dog. Back home every country boy had a dog named Gyp. Those terriers are all wanderers. Like the gypsies. You’ve got yourself a nice dog there. Dogs are a real comfort to a man.” We both nodded. Mr. O’Connell didn’t look up as we approached him. “Good evening, Mr. O’Connell,” I said. He stirred after a few seconds. “Oh, good evening, Greg.” “Weird weather, isn’t it?” I commented as I dug for my keys in my raincoat pocket. “Not if you grew up measuring yourself against the mold on the walls. Belfast was so damp you had to
wring out your woolens after walking outside, even if it wasn’t raining. How is the back of an ambulance these days?” he asked me. “Work is the usual. Picked up a kid high as a kite on meth the other day. He walked in front of a car. I don’t know if he had teeth or not before he was hit, though. I don’t mean to be callous but you become a bit desensitized to all the pain and gore day after day.” “I can appreciate the dark humor. Poor lad, though. Sounds like a lost soul. That meth, it is an epidemic, eh?” “You can see how terrible meth is in someone’s face. But I’ve picked up more people who fatally overdose on acetaminophen.” “You didn’t have enough drugs in this country without having to cook up some more?” “Acetaminophen is in Tylenol. You take over 7,000 milligrams and there’s nothing we can do for you when we pick you up. Liver fails within eight hours.” Mr. O’Connell stared at the ground a moment and then excused himself for his tea. Louie pulled me into the house as soon as I opened the door. I flipped on the overhead fluorescent light. Louie ran upstairs. I heard him rustling around as I popped open a beer. My house smelled musty. I felt disgusted, remembering I had no one to blame for the mess but myself. I kicked a few crushed beer cans out of my way, cheap aluminum tokens of wasted time. I sunk into a chair and stared at the fridge. There were no pictures, just tax paperwork I had to fill out regarding the inheritance of this house from my father four months ago. A smattering of mildew graced the door of the fridge. The swirl reminded me of a snail shell. When I was eight, I observed the snails after it rained. Droplets of rain dappled their shells. I picked one up. It recoiled. I touched the part of its gelatinous body I could still see. It squirmed against my finger. My father came outside with a container of salt. He snatched the snail from my hand. He poured salt into the shell. He looked away from me and said, “That’s how you get them to come out of their shells.” He left me with the snail and salt. The creature twisted and contorted as it dehydrated. I watched it until it stopped moving. I tapped the shell against a rock. I imagined crawling inside. I took out my phone. I listened to the first of seven voicemails. I felt a pang as her distressed voice trailed on, but I chased the tight knot in my throat with more beer. The nasty wall behind the fridge was molting scabs of floral wall paper. The stillness in the room buzzed under my skin like an infestation. I can’t be who she
wants me to be. I downed five more beers. Somehow I conquered the stairs and collapsed on my mattress. The next morning Louie stuck his tongue in my eye to wake me up. He always wanted something from me. “Piss off, Louie,” I sputtered. He sat there whining until I threw a pillow at him. It hit glass, an empty beer bottle, and sent it in circles on the wood floor, echoing like a voice. I felt by the side of my mattress for my phone and called out of work. I stumbled downstairs to feed the damn dog. At the bottom of the staircase my socks met warm liquid. Jesus, Louie. He pissed on the stairs. Sometimes I think he is more trouble than he’s worth. When Louie and I returned from our morning walk that day Mr. O’Connell was entering his house with a bag from the pharmacy. We nodded hello at each other. He looked me in the eye and walked inside. I spent the rest of the day in the house, melted into my lone recliner. My stomach churned and gurgled but I didn’t feel hungry. All I had in the cabinet was dog food, anyway. So I stared out at the wall. A small gray moth beat his wings above the bulb of the floor lamp. Then its movement ceased and a current of gravity carried it to the rug, as if it were a sailboat bobbing amidst the waves. An image of my exposed ribcage flashed through my mind. Skin is such a thin veneer, much like the dusty particles that make up a moth’s wings. I felt like a moth beating my wings against gravity and surrendered to the pull of my eyelids. Around eight that evening sirens woke me up. Red lights spun and flashed outside the window. Confused, I looked down and saw an ambulance in front of Mr. O’Connell’s house. I walked outside towards the commotion. My co-worker, Tom, was strapping my neighbor into a gurney. “Greg, you live next door?” Tom wasted his breath stating the obvious as my elderly neighbor strained for oxygen. I nodded, unable to grasp any words. “What happened?” I managed. “We don’t know yet. The docs will run their tests but I’d venture that he overdosed on something,” Tom said. He hoisted Mr. O’Connell up to the other technician in the ambulance. Shocked, I turned away and went inside. Later that week at the hospital, I bribed a tech to get me the results of Mr. O’Connell ‘s autopsy. I held the report in my hands and heat flooded my face. Mr. O’Connell had taken a fatal dose of acetaminophen, 7,500 milligrams. I let that sink like a lead weight in water. Air bubbles appeared at the surface as thoughts. My gut lurched and I leaned against the wall for support
as I read on. His tests also revealed a fatal pathology in his blood. He would have died from the cancer in a very slow six months. I don’t blame him for offing himself before he lost the ability to clean his own ass. If I got a diagnosis like that I’d eat a bullet sooner than I’d take an IV to my veins. Poor old man. I guess he got tired of being lonely. On the way home from work that day I called Jade. I dialed at the stoplight and held the phone to my ear as the light turned green. She answered and relief and fear overwhelmed me at the same time. “What the fuck do you want?” she asked me. “I want to apologize and talk.” “Greg, I was ready to talk last week.” She is seething. “I know. Please, Jade, let me see you. I do respect you. I don’t have enough sense to show you. I am an asshole and I never meant to — ” “Yeah, damn straight you’re an asshole,” she cut me off. Rightly so. “My blood is warm, Greg. I know you’re more comfortable with unconscious patients, but wake up, for fuck’s sake. I am right here in front of you.” I swallowed my stale spit. Silence threw a blanket over my head and held it down. I strained to breathe, let alone talk. I heard suction escape from deep in her throat. “Fine. I guess we’re done.” I heard the click of the phone and then just my own breath and pulse in my ear. Movement continued outside. I stared through the windshield but shapes and figures outside only grazed my eyes. A glare blinded me. In shock, I pulled over to the side. The tires screeched and the guy behind me honked and yelled something as he swerved around the car. My nudist neighbor was standing at the bus stop. This time he wore clothes. A beige cotton sweater and creased chinos. “Would you like a ride home?” I asked, in an attempt to cover embarrassment over my erratic driving. In the pause I noticed that he looked fragile, even in natural light. Then he nodded. He cleaned off the door handle with a cloth and uneasily got into the passenger’s side. “I appreciate it. I just had chemo and I am very tired,” my neighbor said. “Greg,” I said. He formally extended his hand and it swam through our handshake like a damp fish. I politely pretended not to notice him swabbing his hands after. “John. You live at 7834, don’t you?” “Yeah, I am about a block away from you,” I confirmed, startled by his accuracy.
What a strange formality to go through after I had seen so much of him in the window. I said nothing about it. He did not seem to mind that I had seen him. “It is a shame about your next-door neighbor. The Irish man. I watched the ambulance take him away.” “Mr. O’Connell.” “Did you know him?” John asked. “Better than I thought I did,” I said. After that we didn’t talk until I pulled up in front of his house. “I wish I could have known him,” John said. “Who?” I replied, jarred by the intrusion on our silence. “Mr. O’Connell. He seemed like a nice man from my window.” “Well, he died so at least you don’t have to deal with that now. He killed himself,” I blurted out, in a voice that did not feel like my own. He calmly replied, “It gets lonely being invisible.” He thanked me for the ride and disappeared into his house. Admiration for my strange, hairless neighbor overcame me. Then I was alone. The street lamp turned on. I felt like an empty snail shell after a rain. I drove down the block to my house and parked. When I entered my house Louie ran at me. I knelt and ran my fingers through his coarse fur. His breath warmed my skin. The weight of his body against mine anchored me to the floor. His heartbeat bounced against the pulse in my wrist. He licked my face and my tears.
THANKS FOR THINKING ABOUT ME You wake up with swamp mouth and brush and rinse and think it’s just another day of Bugs Bunny chewing his carrot. But Elmer Fudd is poking his double barreled shotgun at your heart. It’s like a child clenching his fist around a water filled balloon. Our next breath is held ransom in small slippery hands and all our photographs memories kidnapped in the next squeeze or sneeze or drop to shatter and splash. It’s like a sharp spiked turn of your head and someone else’s transmission is impaled in your lap along with the rest of their engine. We were laughing once. A forever of moments ago. Now in our ears country music shoots hard whiskey, while the MRI halo bashes you with its industrial magnetic speed dial.
Man, it’s just another day till it isn’t. No one is promised another. Exhaustion closes my eyes and the Devil comes at 1.41 Sunday morning. He pulls and pulls like pissed off mules and almost rips me off the hospital bed. But I wouldn’t let him. I wanted to see my cat and my girlfriend. I wanted to see the guys at work again; Putting hammer to nail, paint to brush, screw to steel. I wanted not to laugh at Pat’s next inappropriate joke. I wanted to touch Denny’s beard and listen to Allen complain about everything.
MY FATHER’S MRI To prepare me for the test they searched for an available vein to inject dye needle to flesh to dehydrated passageways. I watched the bruising spread across my skin like blue flowers. Remembered years before, how they searched you for a vein. Were you looking up at the ceiling as I did? Not making eye contact as flowers emerged on skin? I didn’t need this test as you did but it was available to me. You were 5th in line to a machine you would never enter. At the edge of your graceful skull by the intersection of infinity a quiet garden of scarlet was blooming. I know you felt the weight of me hanging on to your jacket, our veins eclipsed suns intertwined under cold hospital lights. That was me, trying to give you my spot in line, pushing all of time into a corner shoving everything out of the way that stopped your breath & pressed you into the sky. “This will only take a moment,” they said. I entered a machine.
Every Year, Every April Every year, every April The derelicts congregate
Every year, Every April
Under the broken jaw Of the boulevards,
The imposto of construction marring fallow black tops, the unchanging
As April weeps the Schuylkill Back into itself, and the congress of clouds
Love song of steam resettling As it does
Finally falls to the river bed. Every year, every April
Every year, every April.
Hot with the maddened wind of cars, And the rain clad with cement. The wet bronze lion combats The wet bronze snake. The chimera caught in the comedy of Perpetual suicide, as children swing from its tail.
#43 the house knows He is a catastrophe yellow kitchen light long-waits stranded for His war or surrender quenchless He stumbles in tearing away at the silence sour from the days and nights of unhealed vile flesh still in His teeth I play dead we (womenfolk ) all play dead pots and pans scream clink clank His mumbling temper unravels ‘till He’s beating the floor down there alone this is not the night when I was 17 and went charging down the steps at Him when He picks up a chair to hurl at me calls me a motherfucker threatens to throw not the night I say “do it” with tight hands tonight the stairs creak a staggered approach in my doorway – His wailing wall
He’s in the hallway now
He’s hating us telling us so loudly click push of a heavy stream of His water in the toilet heard through the cracked bathroom door light escapes curling outward into a sinister grin unflushed stomps back downstairs the brown leather recliner patched with duct tape squeals as He settles into his brittle soiled nest for the night chamber- jammed soon He’ll snore off darkness is a thousand itty bitty electric needles pricking at my shoulders when I open my eyes there are spots in the air they are not angels a single thought converting my coffin to a rest bed consumes me “one day he’ll be dead”
JAMIE J BRUNSON
For My Mother, Love Your Little Girl Boy Queer Capture the boy in my bones. Kill him. Scatter his ashes across my skin. Tell me murder makes me Beautiful. Tell me conformity makes me Lovable. Tell me Glistening and pregnant, you imagined me In tutus and pig tails, dreamed me Your little girl. Always more Damned than damsel. I’m not sorry I traded in lipstick For this dick in my pants. Rip the ties, Suspenders, and suits from my closet Like men pulling niggers Down from wide oak trees. Brown bark against brown skin. Is that the pretty balance you look for When you cover up my foundation With your powders and creams? Tell me homicide is healthy. Tell me dresses bring out my personality And the blue in my eyes. Capture the boy. Engrave X’s in his leather, his slackened stance, His uninhibited libido that, God forbid, chases after Not girls or boys but something in-between. Mark double X’s on his grave so the hatred will travel In the tradition of your slave speak. 180 coffins Would be needed to fit this year’s gender breaking victims Shot, stabbed, hung, and burned — Tell me Murder makes me Beautiful. Tell me Conformity makes me Lovable. In Brazil, a women was not just beaten and killed, Her genitals and ears were hacked off So even in death, there’d be no hope For her to hear redemption. Scatter her ashes across my skin. Tell me homicide is healthy. Tell me All you wanted Was for me to be your little girl. GINA BLECHMAN
for my daughter
Don’t you dare pick my own zinnias to woo me in color. Do not unsheathe your knife in my garden. Invite me to yours. Watch the sunflowers turn to me and the peas jump in my mouth. See, the earth is mine and you are a traveler. No one can be native to me.
Past the train station, I walk the slope of the sink, where a creek must run beneath, where, above, night just shadow puddles. Water, Night. Speaker and listener. See, Mariah, it’s not even 8 a.m. and I’ve parsed, however mundanely, this portion of neighborhood into its “parts”, laid ‘em together as if starting a game of dominoes. Light spattered upon dark – day, night end-to-end. As I said – while music thumps like blood – I walk. To you I say the heart is just the beginning. To you I say take care because I know you will be taking your chances. I say take chances … and that advice is cheap. We might laugh at that. Speaker, listener. Ditch that template. We cannot plan this ahead, but laughing together is the best. Cannot print our own money, but we can place old Cubans at a table beneath the eaves of this train station, can allow them cigars, tumblers of water, espresso-filled demitasse cups, can let them lounge as long as a thought. Café. Sangre. Musica. Home. You have one. You will make one. The Boneyard awaits us all. But till then, music, carry me., carry you. I will tap my feet. I will make my play.
THE AUTHOR ADMITS SHE SUFFERS FROM THE STEREOTYPICAL AFFLICTION OF OTHER WHITE WOMEN POETS Depression is a gray sky leading into a colorless sunset. Depression is a few too many tears shed over a sappy, heteronormative TV commercial. Depression is an angry sock puppet Constantly whispering lies in your ear even though you are the one in control. “You suck.” “Get off the stage.”
“You’re never truly going to be happy, just accept it.”
Depression is the number on my medical lab tests that never equals normal. Depression is questioning just how soon I until I pack up and start over. Depression is a hand cramp in the middle of writing a very personal poem. Depression is the rat race. Depression is I identified a little too much with the main character in the film “Melancholia.” Depression is hearing, “I don’t care about you”, even after he tells me the opposite. Depression is the open hand that appears to me as a closed fist. Depression is belting the oooohhhhh part from Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” at the top of my lungs, sobbing in my car, and Hold your mistake up, before they turn the summer into dust. Depression is an open window and the sidewalk looks so beautifully bleak from up here. Depression isn’t the reason to write. Depression is crossing out lines in this poem, right now, as I speak. Depression is a half bucket of cheeseballs at 11 p.m. and yeah, I took a shot of your vodka straight out of the bottle, big whoop. Depression is the fight-or-flight smile, laugh, tell everyone I’m fine, just a little distracted. Depression is the incomplete poem, the un-conceptualized story. Depression is don’t let me go, I can’t do this alone. Depression is the door is right there and isn’t it such a lovely day outside, they will never notice that I’ve gone. I’m leaving a note. I quit. Depression is the vibration in my limbs, ready to run. Or hide. Depression is no really, I’m okay. No. Stop worrying. I’ll be fine. Seriously, I don’t know what else to tell you. Depression is I am trying so hard to help you because I can’t always see how to help myself. Depression is my brain is my most hypocritical foe. Depression is knowing your love is so great, and I feel so small. HANNAH McDONALD
A Little Girl with a Little Fear I was a little girl in a little world I was a little girl with no dreams. No little dreams. No big dreams. I was a little girl with no sense, no passion, no power. I was a little girl with one fear that would crawl up my spine and into my heart. That fear was a fear that I was overwhelmed with. That fear was being that one person who shared her ideas, her heart, her sense. I stood in front of the classroom, 21 pairs of little watching eyes, Waiting, Waiting, Waiting. I stood under the mobiles, drawings, paintings, paragraphs, essays. I stood under my friends, my teacher, my fear. I ran as if I walked. Walked as if I stood. Stood as if I sat. Sat as if I lay. Lay as if I slept. I was a little girl who, when I stood in front of a crowd, would say “H-Hello. My piece is –” And I didn’t have the strength to overpower my fear. But look at me now. My little sister says, “ You are a big girl. I want to be like you.” One day, that little girl will say, “I am a big girl. I have overcome my fear.” I am a big girl in a big world with big dreams to fulfill. I am fearless. SADIA CHOWDHURY
CAMBIARSE LOS ZAPATOS
Y en el futuro cuando por fin lleguen los tiempos para ayudar al prójimo, vuelvan una mirada indulgente hacia nosotros. — Bertold Brecht
And finally when future times arrive for man to aid his fellow man, turn your lenient eyes toward us. — Bertold Brecht
Regresamos a los que nacerán para hablar de los zapatos: cuando ya no se cambien como países ni se rompan como soldados. A los que con la isla vayan, suavicen las debilidades que nos acechan a todos. Y a la ciudad que no se llega caminen pensando en los descalzos que quedaron atrás y marchan hacia el frente.
We return to those yet unborn To speak about shoes: When they are no longer changed like countries or broken like soldiers. All turns of mind expanding with the Sun, considering the weaknesses within, gather no news now arriving from the edge. And nearing the city we never reach we must walk full of thoughts about the barefoot kind who remained behind in their endless march toward the front.
Youth flash fiction contest winners ——————————————— BLACK MAGIC Black magic crept in the depths of my mother’s country of Uruguay. She had always lived a life of no sin, with whispers as soft as a buzz from a bee. Black magic has no exceptions and no mercy and to rid your life of it would mean to sacrifice love, fate, hope, and faith. We all have chosen to take that chance. So as my mother moved from one country to the next, it followed her like a caged dog, and despite the silent warning she fell in love. She was accepting her fate the moment she laid eyes on my father and he was accepting his when he didn’t look away. A life they planned to build, but a life that was never seen. Ten years later and the caged dog is suddenly released and my father becomes terminally sick, I think it never mattered with what. I hope to this day she doesn’t regret taking the sacrifice of falling in love because it was worth it. I hope that my father died having hope for me and that he didn’t hear the crows singing in my gut. The next morning it was time for mourning and my mother had her eyes filled with questions. How three people can love each other so much that they are neither one or two or three. Not a queen, not a worker and just barely a bee. If you are wondering what the result is, it looks a lot like me. CAROLINE RIVERA
With our first-ever writing contest, we sought out the best flash-fiction from Philly youth. The prompt? Bees. The word-count? 250. Exactly. Our celebrity judge, nationally renowned fiction author Robin Black, had this to say about Caroline Rivera’s winning story:
“Black Magic” does what the best flash fiction does. It provides a tiny window onto a vast world, compressing lives, time, yet seeming whole and somehow vast; and this story does so with some remarkable language and imagery. “I hope that my father died having hope for me and that he didn’t hear the crows singing in my gut.” This is a sentence any writer would be proud to have written, and is all by itself a miniature story that says absolutely everything there is to say in an original, vivid and heartbreaking way. The author of this piece has an extraordinary gift with words and I look forward to reading more through time.” — Robin Black
The scent of honey followed her long after she’d settled in her Manhattan apartment. It clung to her sweaters, laced her aromatic perfumes, and lingered on the nose of her six-year-old tabby cat. She could pick out its flavor in anything she cooked, any tea she brewed. Survived a thousand washes and scrubs. She was the trained hound of the block. It was just there, like drops of sweat or blood oozing from a cut. Mark was the Bee’s first boyfriend, a city boy who was finishing his graduate studies at Columbia, a window-box-is-just-fine kind of kid, a despiser of all things with stingers. He claimed Bee had some kind of sixth sense, the kind “that enabled her to detect honey in, like, the floorboards of the freaking kitchen.” Harry was a little better; he’d spent a few summers on his grandparents’ farm and suggested they buy a dog, and a cat, and, what the heck, a few birds, but the scent of honey made his insides churn. (In short, it reminded him of his beloved old bulldog, who’d been decapitated by an Omaha-bound honey delivery truck. “Honey delivery trucks?” Bee had asked. “They still make those?”) Number three, awaiting the test. Chris unpacked his bags on that fateful June morning and sighed, staring at the knitted potholders and garage-sale abstract art with graduate student skepticism. “Oh,” he said, with that sculpted little face of his. “It’s perfect, honey.” A degree in philosophy; part time barista. No pets. She knew. CATHERINE MOSIER-MILLS
OUR 7 No No No No No you see, we don’t like your body It just isn’t a manbody well not to us you’re just so soft and mushy I can bend you into paper airplanes! No No No No No it’s not a bad thing it’s just that we hate your body so we will be taking temporary ownership of it this is the people’s body now the body of the people we will break it in celebration for each citizen to melt in their spit filled mouths *** when a people don’t make new memories they carve each other for nostalgia they eat bread in the rain, thinking of cycles of stifling circles of the rain touching all the men that came before ignoring all after ***
They say: hola taco burrito nacho grande sombrero ayayayayyyyy piñata maraca enchilada isla bonita fiesta siesta but american words forget naked children tan from dirt kissing adobe walls *** he is curled, like a baby’s fist, naked on the bed un refugio I have lied before everything is required of him everything will be given the tickle on my naked feet means the crops are growing again somos así ***
¡ay! ¡esto es una sinvergüencería! said my mother when she walked inside my stomach ¡que sucio está! ni has recogido tus tristezas ni has limpiado tus enfogonadas tu alma esta demasiado sucio hijo I can if I try I can if I try Only for you no hay dios aquí ave maría, que refugio para mierda y polvo my brother holds the door open for her I’m just so glad you’re here I’ve shaped my veins into a big glittery banner that says “welcome home” ¡y que sucio está! ¡yo no te crié así! ay virgen santa a blood-filled “welcome home” staining the carpet
when the chameleon brought the news of eternal life the people were already convinced of death when they forgot their own spirits they tucked their wings under well-fitting suits and ever spoke of flight again all the headlines read: “¿qué puedes hacer con la muerte?” they were always afraid
the chameleon saying “¡aquí, aquí lo tengo, una vida eterna! ¿por qué no la quieren? why are you so scared are you too tired of sacred too scarred by dictators always remembering the smell of hunger and the curse of your ending days? I have it here: eternal life! just read it and it’s true! this is not a gospel or dogma. this is the news!”
songs remind me of my father when they smell of mate and cancer
they said “no, your brother the walking lizard has taught us too much of what we cannot be.”
CYNOSURE Philadelphia Museum of Art May 17, 2009 Warmth. Bodies in a hemmed space. Muffles and Whispers move in museum light. Hums, dimmed speech, Hushed etiquettes. Human whelm Around Cézanne, four views of Mont Sainte-Victoire, Mountain dressed in shivered mica strokes, umber Rooftops heaped in the middleground. Her Favorite painting. She shares A bench with museumgoers And the ache in their feet. Seeing Cézanne, She had to sit. She sees in all bodies One body, as Plato saw a bed in Olympus – variation And chance, flesh jazz, shuffles from deuce To ace through a deck of infinite faces, to each The only way it could be. Fiddle Of necklaces, spectacles, wristwatches, hands Correcting the surface of Selves. She doesn’t mind The crowd without excuse Between her and her Cézanne (over A shoulder, a village; between two heads, a Pine bough, gesture of a river). They stand and look: each claims the right To be art critic in a Republic of Ignorant Remarks. They Stand and do What they think you’re supposed to In a museum, a museum of Cézanne. She Faints in this press of looks. The stories Behind the eyes. How Endure the urgency of sightlines Homed on a single thing? Gaze Zero, visual mesh, azimuth crossroads. Sainte-Victoire, azure Corona, shirr of cascading aspect. Cézanne Seen; cyme; sine; scene zone skews; skies seize; squeezed Queues see Cézanne. Beholding and the consequence of Beholding shift the life that lugs around its personal Here. All these lives regard Cézanne, Who ended here And there. Echoes among floors and walls, damped; long Blond legs, doughy hocks; bellies swell shirts as zephyrs Swell sails; thrust breasts; phoenixes curl on biceps. Brain tick, pressure whirr, how
Stand it? Air almost screams with glances, Charged armies of regard. Hear the armies tread: To know how other minds Ignite might immolate the mind almost as much As Cézanne, who held the truth a stranger. And She cannot hold a single body around her? Generous Seats; shelves of muscle; a village of backs (umber Seas of roofs); surfacing depths of Sainte-Victoire. She Tastes these shapes, aroma amalgam, Medley of minds under her skull that hears the valley And village and mountain beneath her dress. Provence Afternoon engulfs the museum and all its Lives. Across the separating lie, no looking. Vision, crucifixion of glance, sets off Changes, charms (how can she stand it?), connections So she is all legs and backs, within not among, And for all she says: When I come to see Cézanne I come to see them come between me And Cézanne, to see Cézanne.
EXCLOSURE ] 15[ Emblems aside, every individual will at some moment, and to some unnamed and unforeseeable degree discretely resign or ambiguously redefine themselves in order to decrease or to avoid the risk of:
[unseemly creasing of the pants] [exhaustion] [toxic exposure] [another bus-to-trolley roll over] [monetary fines] [having to apologize] [prolonged underemployment] [the dementia of stigma] [being on stage] [a fruitless search for free parking] [profound disillusionment] [scarification] [total isolation] [grass stains] Of course, this capitulative vein of tempered retraining, this at - some - level auto-gainsaying is not in the least the same as at - every - level.
It never the devil is.
The resistance moves elsewhere. It flares. It waves. It brays. Else we go crazy in the face of our own restraints.
The mother who says “don’t take my son!” is potentially a friend, a daughter, a sibling, a father, an uncle, a semen donor, a seaman, a stewardess.i The father who cries out “don’t rape my daughter!” is potentially a husband, a granddad, a niece, a sister-in-law, a lawbreaker, a cake decorator, a traitor. His daugher, in turn, is a bonafide otter: she’s everywhere. A feral, if tottering, potency of terrible agilities. Her cagey lack of fidelity before all the boundaries that she’s been given is the best smidgen of radical hope we’ve got to our lot. She’s a polyglot. She knows it’s impossible and so she tries to make do with everything. She tries to make everything do. EMILY ABENDROTH i
This line is a modification/extension of an observation made by the poet Carla Harryman in an interview appearing in The Poetry Project Newsletter (April/May 2011) conducted by Corina Copp. In it, Harryman observes: “You know the mother who says, ‘don’t take my son’ is potentially a friend, a daughter, a sibling, a father, or an uncle” (10).
P o e t . P l a y w r i g h t . N o v e l i s t . M e n t o r . A c t i v i s t . M o t h e r . P r o f e s s o r . Sonia Sanchez , one of the foremost authors of the Black Arts movement, moved to Philadelphia in 1976 from New York City. Living in Germantown, teaching at Temple University as the Laura Carnell Professor of English, and traveling the world to lecture on black culture, literature, peace, and racial justice, she became known as “the unofficial poet laureate of Philadelphia.” In 2011, Mayor Nutter did the right thing and named Sanchez our city’s first official poet laureate. Now, as the (official) print outlet for the Philadelphia Poet Laureate program, run by the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture, and Creative Economy, APIARY is immensely honored to present her work in our pages. Sanchez’ poetry draws upon many influences, including tanka, haiku, the blues, and Beat poetry. On stage, she is known for her mesmerizing performances. Sanchez’ poems are elusive at times, stretching out across the carpet. They claw, leave marks on our souls. Sometimes they purrrrrr. Sanchez challenges us to write about current events, to write what is real, to be the truth serum for the world. She makes space for writers as the daring storytellers who delve in between the lines of history. In the following interview, Louise Bogan is quoted by Sanchez as saying, “You know many people have talent, but the question is, what are you going to do with it?” Sanchez’ answer is to write poetry that has no fear, which gets right up in the face of injustice and shouts, “Here I am!” She makes of her poetry a candid observer, a friend, an advice giver, a mother, a sister, a grandmother, and of her life a body unafraid to walk through fire. Sanchez also chose the work of several young poets to appear in our magazine. She named one, Siduri Beckman, as our city’s first Youth Poet Laureate, and another, Jaya Montague, as Runner-Up. Sanchez has taken on the mentorship of the two young poets. Sanchez says of the young poets, “Hear the sound of these young poets’ rhythm on our teeth this year. Hear the sound of beauty on their breast this year as their poems explode from clouds, and kneecaps, and veins, and eyes. As their tongues embroider us with their pyramids. I want you to understand that I take it seriously, this whole idea of mentoring two young people. They’ll be hanging out with me.”
To learn more about the Poet Laureate Program, including how to apply for the Youth Poet Laureate post, visit creativephl.org/youthpoetlaureate.
APIARY: You teach in many different settings. And you’ve taught
AN INTERVIEW WITH SONIA SANCHEZ apiary: So we’re here to speak about your poetry. What is the
role of poetry, versus prose, in your life today? sanchez: It’s an amazing thing, this thing called language, this love affair with words that is much more consistent than any other love affair. When you write, it’s always there.
Poetry is much more polite and much more giving, and on many levels much more human. You know. They will understand all of the other things you have to do. You have to work. You know, you have to go and do a job. You have to travel. You have to wipe kid’s noses. And they will look and watch you do that and just wait. The patience of poetry is something that is really wonderful. But once you produce some characters, quite often, they are not necessarily polite or giving or loving. They’re amazing, you know. But they also are anxious to be finalized. And as a consequence, will quite often take you through some changes. They quite often say, “Where have you been?” You know, you say, “well you know, I’m teaching full time, you know, I have a book that I’m finishing up. You know I have to take the kids to school. I have to cook. You know, I’m a single parent. I’m a mother. You know, whatever.” And the characters say, “I don’t care.” And, so you think you can just take those characters and put them right back in the box where you had them before. No, no, no because they say, “No, I’ve changed.” A poem won’t do that to you. A poem won’t say, “I’ve changed.” A poem will say, “Hi, how are you doing? Oh Sonia, so good seeing you. Yes, here I am. Here’s all the material that you need, and here’s some information. You were looking for this when you put me down. Here it is, and finish me.” But, a novel or a short story doesn’t do that. So, I found that out, out the hard way when I left a piece for about two years and came back to it. And the characters were rebellious. You know they’d just… apiary: They’d gone on living. sanchez: Gone on living. And had changed. And then I said things like, “I am your creator, you can’t do that, I created you.” And they look at you and laugh. They fall down on the floor laughing. As if, you know, that once you create us we don’t have our own separate lives from you. So, it’s fascinating that thing called prose and that thing called poetry.
in academia. You’ve taught workshops with young people. Sanchez: Well I make my living as an academic, yeah, because you can’t make your living as a poet. Afraid so. APIARY: So what would you describe as your teaching
philosophy? We’ve seen you teach just in the twenty minutes that you have on stage. How do you approach the teaching of poetry? Sanchez: I always say I taught for 40 years and it was not until my last 20 years that I truly understood what it really was to be a professor who really engaged students beyond questions and answers and exams and papers.
I always put my students in small groups, but I didn’t understand what that was truly all about. I didn’t understand the democracy that that brings to a classroom until one day I said, “We’re going to do a final and the final will be in the group that I put you in.” And of course the students who were going to be Phi Beta and who had like a 3.777, you know, looked at me and said, “I don’t think so.” Because what I said is that, “Whatever grade I give you with this group final, right, is the grade for everyone, all six of you.” And an amazing thing happened. They became very much responsible for each other and protective of each other. They also taught one of the students who was not particularly good as a writer all the tricks that they were taught when they were in high school. It socialized the class in such a way that people were not only protective but people also in that class were very generous with each other, with the knowledge that they had. They became teachers also too. That kind of elitist thing that happens in the classroom, it just dissipated, it became very unimportant to them. It was like, you know, my head popped back. I also always try to teach my students that they must learn to call one another brother and sister, so we treat one another as brother and sister. My students say to me, “Oh god, Professor Sanchez, why don’t you write that poetry you used to write where you used to tear people up and call them all kinds of names?” And I say, “Yes, that was my early poetry, my dear brothers, my dear sisters, but it didn’t change anything. And if you’re trying to affect change, at some point you need to bring people up here, to your level.” Especially with high school students, the young men say, “What do you mean, forgive?” When someone comes up and says something to you, and you know they are really sounding on you, and you have to say, “Excuse me, my brother, I really didn’t mean to offend you, and please tell me how to correct this.” Everyone in the class goes, “Whooo! Are you out of your mind? People will think I’m a punk.” And I say, “But my dear brother, people will think what they think about you anyway. You actually have no way of influencing how people think about you over the long term. That’s actually really seditious. Because the moment you do that, you are in control of that person.”
And that’s when they stop and they get it. Because the one thing you learn about young people is that they love being in control. And they love that answer. They might say, “the teacher doesn’t like me,” and I say, “That’s ok, but the teacher doesn’t have to like you. But what you have to do is like school. You want to be in control of that teacher, you got to make that teacher teach you.” [ laughs ] That’s what I’m teaching the young people, how to be seditious without cursing or hitting. They think that power is the mouth, and cursing. But you give that power right back to the school and get kicked out. How do you run a school from the classroom, from your brains? These kids are smart. So put that to use. If I’d known that in my early years, it would have been amazing. But now it’s much more powerful, and I can do it from the stage. Also one of the things that I try to do most especially when I teach writing is to bring in all kinds of writers for the students to see. You know, one of the key things I do is I teach form. Why do you emphasize form in your teaching? I studied with a woman by the name of Louise Bogan. I was at NYU and I had taken one class in undergrad. I was hesitant because there were many moments where I was the only woman, and the only black, in the sea of men. And every time I said something there was a silence. Just nobody responded at all. So I would drop out after about three sessions. So I took this class and I sat by the door and I wanted to see if really this is going to be any good. And then Louise asked, “Does anybody have a poem to read?” But that’s like asking an alcoholic if he or she has a bottle hidden somewhere in the house. We all had them in our bags, in our pockets. She made us go to the bookstores and go through all the journals and poetry magazines. She made us write down in our notebooks about 12 to 15 journals that we wanted to submit to. She was the poetry editor for the New Yorker, and she said, “You’re in here? And you’re going to tell me that you don’t want to publish? That’s not true, you know you do.” She taught us how to do the mechanical thinking around submitting by putting it in the notebook. So it was in that workshop at nyu that I published my first poem. It was in the Minnesota Review, one of the big reviews, and I brought in bottles of wine in paper bags to celebrate. I knew Bogan drank, too! So I brought in paper cups and they all toasted me. One day I went to her office and asked her, “I want to know if this is worth pursuing. Do I have any promise?” And she said, “Oh Sonia, you know many people have talent, but the question is, what are you going to do with it?” And I said, “Well, if you would just inform me whether I have talent or not, I think I can figure out what to do with it.” And she said, “Yes, you do.” In that class she told us to write weekly, and she taught form. I was grateful to her for that. I don’t want to be didactic about it, but at some point you should know that haiku, that villanelles exist, if you’re going to call yourself a poet. And free verse should not be the only thing you recognize. Period. And so I’m very grateful for that.
I teach form and I let them make up their own form too. Since I love haiku I did a form called sonku. Once they made up a form then they were able to go into that arena of poetry and feel that they had some control over it. Many of my students are known for their forms, and their forms are known, which I think is lovely and wonderful. That’s what I mean about taking that kind of control. Bogan also taught us things that we all ignored because we were young. She said, “You must always read your poem aloud so you can train your ear to hear what is working.” I remember once when she called my name for an assignment and I got up and went up front, and as I was reading I heard some stuff that was really not working. So after I finished she said – and the other students gave me an “I’m glad it’s you and not me” kind of look, right – and she said, “Sonia, did you read that poem out loud?” It was a no win thing so I just stood there. And she said, “If you had, you would have heard the following,” and she did this litany of stuff, whatever. And that was the last time I did not read something out loud. So people always say, “You read your poetry well,” but I got that from a woman by the name of Louise Bogan, who said you must practice reading your poetry. It helps you to truly understand the poem. I really put that to heart and practice. What do you think about the distinction between “performance poetry” and “page poetry?” Well, I don’t know. We’ve always had actors read poetry. We’ve always had poets who read their poetry well, like Amiri Baraka and other beat poets. We actually taught in a sense an entire group of people how to read poetry. But we’re not performance poets. We’ve learned and studied a very long time to be called poets. And there are still some people in academe who insist that people of color are not really good poets. But there are some young people who would say to me, “I’m a performance poet, Professor Sanchez, I just write it down and I read it.” And I always say, very gently, that there comes a time when you also will have to rewrite. And not just make use of a dramatic pose to put something across, because then you cross the arena as an actor, as opposed to as a poet. If young people are in my workshop than they have to make sure that they hone it down and hone it down until it is the poem that it should be, and they can still fill it with their exuberant way of looking at lines and words. I always say to young people, you have to read. You must read everything that exists, every poet on this planet earth that there is to read. APIARY: Can you tell us a little bit about your most recent work
on the Peace Mural with Mural Arts? [ The mural is located at Broad and Catherine streets, and features haiku on the theme of peace written by people from around the world.]
Sanchez: The idea came from an assembly I did at a school where they had problems with bullying. It was a huge assembly. In order to engage them I did two poems that were very hip, you know, that young people would like, and they did the “Woah, who is she” kind of thing. You know, because I took them to the edge.
And then I pounced and said, simply, “You can’t do what you’re doing here. We cannot call people names. We cannot tell people what their sexual orientation. Because it’s not being human.” I said, “I was a stutterer in school, you know,” and I showed what that was about, and how people were cruel. So therefore I am saying simply that, you know, we must understand. And we talked a regular talk, and then they clapped. I came off the stage, and thought, in fact, on each floor you should have a table and a chair with a bell and maybe a book or a picture there. And if you feel that you are going to be not friendly or violent, you go sit and ring that bell, so you can talk to someone. If you think someone’s gonna beat you up, you go and sit and ring that bell too. It dawned on me that you needed what I called a peace site in schools. People can be much more aware of what their emotions are. So that was that was that motion and movement, and also teaching the haiku, which is something that I love. I changed the teaching of it. I didn’t come in and just teach the form. I made them stand up. I taught them breathing, because I said the haiku is a breath. One breath. It’s amazing how many people coughed the first time. But it’s amazing, especially in elementary school, how quiet they get. The breathing calms them down. It’s a different class. I also teach them to face each other. I put my right hand on their heart; they put their right hand on my heart. By this time they’re all like noisy, noisy. Then I say simply “okay, shhh. Shut up. Keep quiet. Let’s listen to each others’ hearts beat.” When you have college students, high school students, elementary school students listen to each other’s heartbeat, they hear and see a human being. They look up into each other’s eyes. And it says human being. You know, not student, not somebody to beat up, whatever, but a human being. It’s human contact. Eye contact. From the heartbeat to the eye contact, they see a human being. It’s amazing what happens in that classroom. When I first saw it I almost shook. So without peace, you can’t teach the haiku, which is such a human form. There’s no greed, there’s no larceny, there’s no war. There’s no hatred in a haiku, this very pristine form. So you bring them to it. You can have modern day urban haiku. But the point is, you bring it to them and that’s when they begin to write haiku. What you’ve done is that you’ve made the classroom peaceful. So I brought this idea to Mural Arts. I had an idea for a peace mural. I called Maya Angelou and Alice Walker, I called Common and Talib, Kweli, and I said, I’d like for you to respond to do a peace haiku for a peace mural. We also put it on the website there and we have a map in the book that’s coming out with people from all around the world responding to it.
So I also brought up the idea of peace sites and benches, from the Mayor’s office on Broad Street down towards the mural. The idea is that you can sit down and read what the children say about peace. Every place where I go to teach the peace haiku, they’re going to place peace benches on those sites. We need to intrude on our children, let them see the intrusion of peace, instead of the intrusion of violence. It’s amazing. Peace doesn’t make money. I always tell econ students, one of the extra assignments is to make peace profitable. Then we’ll have peace tomorrow. So yes, this thing about poetry is that keeps us all human, because there are so many things that will keep you from being human. That will make you understand that during the time that we’re, if it’s 10 years, 80 years, 100 years, we’re supposed to walk and react and act in a certain way, as upright actors. With a capacity to think and to love. Other animals love but to think about this love, and this loving that we do, and to look at one another and treat one another as we’d like to be treated. APIARY: Is there anything else you’d like to share with apiary
readers? Sanchez: I just want to say to the young people who are writing, continue to read every poet poeting on the planet Earth, in this country, outside this country. Read translations. Above all, read your poetry out loud, train that ear to if what’s working or not. And train yourself to read poetry well. Because poetry has two lives – the life it has in the book, and the life it has when you take it out of the book and give it to the people. When you read your poem out loud, you begin to truly understand what your poem means, what those words are saying.
Someone asked Toni Morrison, do you vote? And she said, yes I do, and when I do, I remember all of those people, like Fannie Lou Hamer, and all those people who were beaten. When I vote, it’s like a prayer by the road. But when I write, also it is like a prayer by the road. That’s what I want people to understand. This is a holy thing we do. It is something not just to do real quick and become involved in applause. Don’t applaud, just listen. Let the silence, let the poem come back and almost come back up to your throat and then send it back down to your stomach, to your vagina, to your penis, to your legs, to your feet, to your hands, and let it settle. And when it’s settled, read another poem. That’s what you do with this thing called poetry. It’s not getting up with the applause. It’s getting up and bringing something that makes sense, or something that is beautiful, or something that can change someone sitting there. Or that might change you. That is the joy of this.
Someone said to me when I was someplace downtown, “You know, Professor Sanchez, we can’t have peace.” And I just hugged him and said, “Well, at least we can have a walk towards peace.”
To read the full transcript of our hour-long interview with Sonia Sanchez, including more of her insights into creating democratic classrooms, the sedition of the blues, and reflections on creating peace from your front porch, visit apiarymagazine.com.
10 haiku (for Max Roach) 1. Nothing ends every blade of grass remembering your sound
6. feet tapping singing, impeach our blood
2. your sounds exploding in the universe return to earth in prayer
7. you came drumming sweet life on sails of flesh
3. as you drummed your hands kept reaching for God
8. your fast beat riding the air settles in our bones
4. the morning sky so lovely imitates your laughter
9. your drums soloing our breaths into the beat…unbeat
5. you came warrior clear your music kissing our spines
10. your hands shimmering on the legs of rain.
SONIA SANCHEZ from “Morning Haiku” by Sonia Sanchez. Copyright © 2009 Sonia Sanchez. Reprinted by permission of Beacon Press, Boston.
BRUNO AND THE DRAGON Bruno brother of the poet Yearns for a dragon to come his way
Drawing from an armored side a sword of justice to shine among the darkness
Youth Poet Laureate
His sister hath whispered in small ears of days of old knights fairies trolls On land he will ride a noble steed of snow
One day said the sister you must ride for the poor the weak the helpless ride the sinewy snow fight the dragon His face chubby framed by the window waits watches sirens wail by a man mugged shot left for dead he waits for the dragon. SIDURI BECKMAN
IN ESSENCE OF BEING A BEAUTIFUL COLORED BASTARD CHILD Wrapped in the stereotypes of my people like cannabis in a blunt, I wish that I would never have been born in this skin. I wanted blue and green eyes, blonde, brunette, and red-headed hair. But these colors would only be overshadowed by my burnt ginger-colored complexion.
She said that my hair was kinky because I was a dandelion and dandelions have frizzy hair. My skin was darker because I wouldn’t have to see the colors of my veins when I got older. Then I asked her another question, “Why did my daddy leave?” She paused and her face became angry. Then I heard a knock at the door, There was a man in a green beanie, corduroy gray pants, an oversized purple coat with feathers coming out, and worn out converse sneakers. It was my grandfather.
Youth Poet Laureate
I touched my hair and looked at my skin, then asked mama, “Why my hair dirty and why my skin not clear like ‘dem white girls,’ All she said was, “I don’t know.” I asked my grandmamma the same question; she gave me a different answer:
“Charles, what you want?” “Millicent, you know what I want!” “Hush your voice now, Tracy’s here.” “You done kept my granddaughter from me for too long, woman!” “You don’t deserve to see your granddaughter.” I stood still in the doorway. Maybe my position was made there for a reason. I was supposed to keep sanity between the two forces. I open my mouth to speak but my grandfather came closer into the sunlight, He was a monster, who just walked from the edges of the ghetto. He had open sores on his face and neck that were surrounded by white lines. And when he tried to hug me, I pulled away from him. I saw them on his hands and ran straight into grandmamma’s arms. “Charles, ‘git now!” “You can’t keep her from me forever, Millie, remember that.” My grandmamma let me go and slammed the door in his face. Bang-bang! She came back over to me and I smelt the scent of my grandfather. A burnt, stale, and dry smell. “Baby, to answer your question…” “Black men are ignorant and don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves.”
NAME i’m am tired of people asking me to smooth my name out for them they want me to bury it in the english so they can understand. i will not accommodate the word for mouth i will not break my name so your lazy english can sleep its tongue on top. fix your lips around it. no, you can’t give me a stupid nickname to replace this gift of five letters. try to pronounce it before you write me off as lil one afro the ethiopian jawn or any other poor excuse of a name you’ve baptized me with in your weakness. my name is insulted that you won’t speak it my name is a jealous god i kneel my english down everyday and offer my begging and broken amharic to be accepted by this lord from my parents’ country this is my religion you are tainting it everytime you call me something else you break it and kick it you think you’re being clever by turning my name into a cackle? hewhat? hewhy? when how he what who? he did whaaaat? my name is not a joke this is more than wind and the clack of a consonant. my father handed me this heavy burden of five letters decades before i was born with letters, he tried to snatch his ethiopia back from the middle of a red terror. he tried to overthrow a fascist. he was thrown into prison ran out of his home. my name is a frantic attempt to save a country it is a preserved connection the only line i have leading me to a place i’ve never been. it is a boat a plane a vessel carrying me to earth i’ve never felt i speak myself closer and closer to ethiopia by wrapping myself in this name this is my country in ink my name is the signature at the end of the last letter before the army comes it is the only music left in the midst of torture and fear it is the air that filled my father’s lungs when he was released from prison the inhale that ushers in beginning my name is a poem my father wrote it over and over again it is the lullaby that sends his homesickness to bed i refuse to break myself into dust for people too weak to carry my name in their mouths take two syllables of your time to pronounce this song of mine it means life you shouldn’t treat a breath as carelessly as this. cradle my name between your lips as delicately as it deserves it’s Hiwot say it right.
Come Join the Jubilee If I were a Christian again I would find a church with the best and blackest choir and go there. I would sit next to the oldest church lady, and hold her hand during opening prayer and hold her hand when the children praise dance. When the girls in their white robes slowly lift one leg like little black cranes during the chorus and crescendo of that Donny McClurkin song ‘Stand’ I would cry and the old lady would sleep. I would give with a loving heart as I fill out the tithing card. I would lift the child in front of me to the baskets so that her dollar can join the rest. I would sing with real joy from the pew while the choir does that heartfelt dip during the song ‘The Presence of the Lord is Here’. I would pray with my hands pressed between my thighs. I would block out the pastor’s words and speak to the empty space behind my eyes. While the deacon reads off the prayer list, I would search for a hand in the dark. I would roam across the inside of my skull, groping. And I would keep my eyes closed and I would ask God questions. I would sit with the silence and feel humbled and punished. I would say thank you. I would say I do not deserve your answer or your love. I would feel my heart swell and seep with humility and penance. I would go up to the altar and rest my knees on the pillowed benches. I’d wait for their hands and try not to run. Penance. I would feel the word gauntlet, like these tongues are those of imps and iniquities pulling me to oblivion [not to hell, but the unanswerable]. I would try not to run. I would look around and note bodies splayed out—Sunday dress stiff padded shoulders— diabetic stockings—lace front wigs—gaping mouth of a mother whose son has died of aids because he was too black and too Christian to tell himself the truth. Tears in all our eyes while they touch our foreheads with oil. Not thinking they’re making it up. Words like hot foreign water. Words like a blanket. Like hoodoo in the swamp. Like acid baptism. Cauterized. Then Pastor would say the doors of the church are open and it’s like an escape route. And if that would be a hint of hell, this would be a beam of light. The doors of the church are open and I would be small and clean from now until tonight. I would stand at the front of the church alone like I did when I was 17 and selfrighteous, when I thought giving my heart meant getting something back or giving up my darkness to something that could handle it. I would say sorry for my sex, for seduction, for hating my mother and loving my father, for liking it, for liking anything, for being here. I would be so sorry for marring Creation. For Nietzsche, for atheists all the white boys and hard-legged girls. I would cry and agree and I would say Just take it away, I’ll do anything. I would say Kill me now. I want to die in the light of You, Lord. I want to die at Your feet during this 11 hours of purity. I am awash in pain and I can grovel like an old pro, like a young prostitute, like your boozing born again uncle. Because I have my own dark cross, now take it away.
MISS BETSY say she killed three men back in the day. the first guy tried to rape her so she stabbed him, next guy tried to rape her friend, she stabbed him too, the third guy no one knows what happened only that she used a gun that time a pistol. fixture of the stoop now, crone legs slippered at the bottom, always in a nightgown, smoking cigarettes w/ carol, watching all the kids play, like a warden. like a raisin, tiny shriveled pigtail braids all grey & whispy up top. call me grandma, she says everybody does because i’m everybody’s grandma, even MARIA FLACCAVENTO yours, & winks.
SATTIEâ€™S ROCK Sattie Iyre spent all of her time with a rock in the meadow. She was born near the giant monolith, a tombstone-like protrusion awkwardly situated in a dandelion-ghost field. Her mother, a wild lady, spewed her violently from the womb, and when Baby Sattie hit her head against the rock, the harsh moment knocked comfort and habit into her all at once. As a girl, she played by the rock, decorated it with colorful flower and mushroom stickers, and shouted over it to her friends who romped and laughed on the other side, out of view. Her side was a private and sacred grassy refuge, and imagining what her friends looked like was just as good as the real thing. When Sattie became a young woman, her friendsâ€™ laughter dissolved and mutated into a faint perpetual police siren crying from the far-flung city. She tried to conjure what they might look like, but she could only see smeared faces of children with disproportionate features. The solitude led her to reading, which led her to writing, which led her to a love of writing. The rock transformed into her notepad, a stone tablet to tattoo her language on, a rough-hewn memoir. It became skeletal with each cursory thought and every pummel, thwack and clobber. It became deliriously adorned with incomplete sentences, which turned into labyrinth-like scribbles that required one to cartwheel in slow motion to read properly. Where one sentence started, the next began perpendicularly until conspiracy theorists might say she was carving stars of Baphomet. She promised herself and her parents that one day she would push the hefty stone into the city square where the townspeople and children could read her work and marvel at her opinions, then go about their days tossing crackers at ducks. She sat with the rock, ate with it, talked to it, hid her belongings beneath it, masturbated on it, asked it questions, went to sleep by it, and woke up with it. Bats, birds, grasshoppers, wild dogs, and potential lovers whistled and barked as they passed, but the rock was her nucleus. She knew her whittling would pay off and often daydreamed about her wrists bending, propelling her stone libretto to town where it would become a city figurine. Her parents worried, and they tried to disrupt her rock routine by asking her to attend the Zoo Fair in summer. She agreed. The day of the Fair, the fairest of fairs, she hired movers, and the rock joined her on the trip, wheeling by in a pick-up truck as she ogled zebras and nodded at monkeys. Her parents sulked and never bothered her about it again. Sattie died by her rock, which was slender as a cactus by then, and was found with a chiseling tool in her hand. The coroners discovered pounds of pebbles inside her intestines, rock silt in her blood stream, and a crooked spine from years of hunchback carving. Her freshest chiseling read: I have nothing to say. FROG WILLIAMS
BOYS Down the back of Butcher’s Hill, left at the creek bed, and past the scrubby flats you’ll hit the gap where Robert’s Meats used to stand. Ten and eleven, we’d flock like steers to the burned-out mill, wasting afternoons on the carcass, picking through compartments where heavy hooks hung bat-like in the darkness. We’d set on the hood of a rusted Dodge, sun-warmed and crumpled from our weight, and pass Saturdays trading cards and chucking rocks at window panes hanging on like stubborn teeth. One night in June a pickup ground across the gravel and made us dive to miss the lights. Three boys and the grocer’s daughter tugged across the lot and ducked into an open stall, all white tile pitched towards a drain, dusted with a rime of glass and shining, roofless. Our backs against the tires we heard the scratch of shoes and elbows skating on the crumbs. We heard the girl squealing, the shock of fabric tearing, the heaving and the quiet. Certain she was dead, we stayed pressed against the car for hours until dew soaked our clothes and the half-moon hurried us home.
FOUR TREES Optimism That tree isn’t dead. It’s just tired.
Optimism I am watering my shoe tree.
Optimism I inhaled one of those fuzzy seed things floating everywhere. When the choking ends I will become a tree.
Allergic Mirror Tiny flowers on trees turn my eyes into tiny flowers.
THIS HITCHIKER is young, pocked-faced went to rehab with Bo Diddley’s wife, Mrs. Diddley, he says, you know, the musician and inventor of the guitar case latch, Post-it notes, a certain rhythm, who lived in Troll Haven out in Gardiner pentagram in the front yard the fence beams all carved snakes He (Bo) would walk in certain paths rituals he developed for certain days of the year involving prayers and going back a different way than you came, gates he opened to let the spirits in, or out. This hitchiker goes mushroom hunting, log harvesting in Million Dollar Mile where one log can bring a million bucks in Music Wood, for a Van Halen guitar. Three old women with knotty hands making rock and roll instruments. Grandpa moonshiner, father a postal worker, fell in love with Pansy en route. Knocked her up and ran to Colorado. Pansy’s father chased them down and shot him took the girl, the child, the narrator beginning in her belly. They ran again to Washington when narrator David Wayne was seven. Pah-paw rolls up in a big car and shoots dad twice through the door of the trailer, hit him too, the shoulder and the leg. and hauls the kids back down south. Two years later mom and dad go to get their children back. After a big brawl Pah-paw lets us go for good. Pansy, with a degenerative brain disease only takes a few months to die. The dad of David Wayne, age eleven, catches double pneumonia, dies of grief.
RED HORSE MY STUDENT IN A MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON maybe he called himself that for the reddish tinge to his freckled skin at 64 a boyish face freckles and curly lashes friendly twinkle in his eyes surprising with his cataracts waiting and waiting for surgery prisoners wait as long for a doctor as for parole one day he said 64 years old didn’t know I’ve been carrying this inner child so hurt because my father left me that child been drivin’ me all these years does a boy ever figure out the man who deserted him was also driven by some deep pain that has nothing to do with him and if he does is he all bent around the hole where the other half of his heart should be and can he rise up straight yes I think Red Horse did he told about a guard who delivered his Christmas bag to his cell then slammed the door blam Red Horse asked Why you do that you so angry you can’t give us nothin’ without wreckin’ it slammin’ that door the guard went on down the cell block and Red Horse said all I heard was click click click
5 THINGS I CAN SAY TO MY MOTHER 1. When I was born did you look at me and think of my future, from the wooden bars to the metal? Did you have a doubt in your mind about your 8th ? 2. To believe in me must’ve been hard, seeing how I betrayed your morals and brought about my own, shaped by my own decisions and experiences. 3. I can imagine your face the day the window between us became two inches thicker, and the innocence of my youth faded with every syllable spoken through a phone before they say “60 seconds remaining.” 4. I think of you even when your words no longer pierce the air waves that rattle the drum in my ear. Still I know you’re there watching me from afar, with a better view than these cameras depict. 5. I love you. KARONN GREENWOOD
WELCOME TO THE MUSEUM OF JURASSIC TECHNOLOGY My mom’s name is Nadia, and she works at The Museum of Jurassic Technology. It’s cool and dark inside, and it only lights up when someone opens the door, and then a scoop of bright dry air rushes past them and illuminates the dust motes inside. The visitors stop at the front desk, where my mom’s friend Miriam works. She smiles and brushes half her hair over her shoulder. The visitors give her three soft green dollars, and then she puts a green smiley face stamp on each of their hands. I have a stamp on my hand too. “Go ahead in,” Miriam says. “Welcome to the Museum of Jurassic Technology.” “But not like the dinosaurs!” I chirp. The visitors walk past the threshold, and it’s a little darker because the ceilings aren’t any higher. This room is claustrophobic with exhibits—all the rooms are, each full of pretty and scary objects. In the center of the room is a big glass case with a typewriter inside. The visitors always step to the right first, and I cover my mouth to hide my big grin. They jump! at a deep growl-growl-bark! Hah! Like always, they spin, at least one man with a hand on his chest, to see the glass-enclosed stuffed fox. The fox is lit from underneath and standing on straw, and his fur looks too dry and his black lips are curled around his teeth. He growls-barks again! My dog Goliath was scared of him as a puppy too, so I understand. I lead the visitors around the room in a circle and show them the other wall, a glass plate with two telephones. When you pick up, you can hear a mechanical woman talking. I let them enter the room to the left, which is an allowed room, and full of framed letters. I can’t read the handwriting, so I admire the designs (a red line, a gold star) and the frayed brown edges of the parchment, curling in the space behind the glass. That’s when the visitors return to the front desk. “Um,” one of them says, and Miriam looks up from her book and brushes half her hair over her shoulder. “So, what do you mean, Jurassic. What is this a museum of ?” Miriam smiles and cocks her head and thinks for a second, like she’s never heard this question before. “I would think of Jurassic as an adjective.” The visitors look at each other. “I’d say the museum is the theme of the museum.” She shoos them, “Just keep exploring.”
The visitors and I walk past a scientist’s desk, a mysterious machine. Next we stop at the needles, which the visitors are allowed to admire. Each needle has a magnifying glass in front of it, and when the visitors step close, or I stand on my toes, we can see. Inside the eye of each needle is a tiny tiny sculpture, a man or a cartoon dog or a clown. This distracts them from my room. I show them the map room, the puppet room, the room with snow globes and crystal balls—they can go in all of these rooms, because they are allowed rooms. You have to go past a corner to get to the room full of superstitions. One woman walks a little ahead and starts to look around. Right at the front she’ll see a severed hand with a fistful of dog hair. I know she’s looking back and realizing she can’t see the other visitors, and then she scurries back, quick as a crow, and bursts in pretending that her heart isn’t twisting. We go into the 3D room—this room is also allowed— and pick up the 3D glasses, cardboard frames with square eyes, one red and one blue, and handles like opera glasses. There are places for six pairs, but there are only five because I already have one tucked into my belt. That way, when everyone admires the 3D pictures, I can join in. The visitors are allowed in all these places, but they are not allowed in my room. My room is the room full of clocks. It’s far back, one of the last things you would get to. You didn’t even know the museum went that far back because it’s so narrow at the front door, and the carpeted corners are dark. Inside, you can hear a hundred clocks clucking. There are swinging mahogany grandfather clocks and little whirring contraptions and an old alarm clock with a real bell that gets hit when a string unwinds. There are broken cuckoo clocks with their insides showing, wooden birds and maidens with clogs and red trains. It can be sad to watch and listen to the steady movement during the day, because the clocks remember about the night. Sometimes visitors try to visit the clock room, but that is not allowed. A man wanders away from his friends, deeper into the museum. He’s getting too close to the clock room. He can’t touch the clocks, I won’t let him stop the clocks, he’s not allowed. He steps closer, and I’m afraid the velvet rope won’t stop him. I run ahead, the way I know how through the room’s second door.
Thump. I knock a table against the wall, and a clock lets out one toll, and the man’s footsteps pause. I can almost hear his heart, quick as a hummingbird. He scuttles back to his friends and touches his eyebrows and says, why don’t they head upstairs? The visitors have missed two allowed rooms, but I don’t tell them, so we follow a short hallway lined with mechanical, moving art behind picture frames. One shows the ocean with birds and a tree swaying; the piece on the end is broken, and you can see the wall and a light bulb behind it. We go up carpeted steps, and that’s where my mom works. There’s a pretty light in this room, and high-up windows draped in color. Vanilla wafer cookies are displayed on a table. My mom wears a floor-length black dress, and her fully-freckled face is annoyed when she asks the visitors, “Do you want tea?” Goliath is lying out of the way on a pillowed bench, and I go over to him straight away. Goliath is our big dusky greyhound, and
his fur is getting white hairs and his face is curved like a C. The visitors want to pet him and they call him over, but he always stays with me. He sits very still with his black eyes open and lets me pet his long curved nose. While the tea is brewing, my mom points the visitors towards an arched doorway with velvet curtains. A blade of sun shines in, and then the visitors are sucked through the curtains. I stay where I am, and I don’t go outside, where the warm light is, even though I used to go. Through there is the rooftop garden. It’s all yellow stone with uneven walls and hanging plants. Sparrows and songbirds fly around and land in the vines or peep into their cages for food, but the net above keeps the birds in. Or, that’s what used to be there, and I’m sure it’s the same now. Eventually, all the visitors leave. I pet Goliath while my mom and Miriam have tea. I like it better this way, when the museum is quiet except for their words and their teacups. I pet Miriam’s hair like I pet Goliath’s;
I stroke the hem of my mom’s dress. “Is the tea warm enough?” my mom asks. Miriam nods. “You’re warm enough?” my mom asks. Miriam smiles and nods. “That boy looked like him. I’m starting to think that they all look like him. No, that’s not true.” I run my hand along the hem of her dress. “I’m starting to think I’m forgetting what he looks like.” My fingers pinch her hem, pick at the loose threads. I look up at her face, freckles fading into her darkening skin, lines deep between her eyebrows. Her thin lips are pursed but her pink lipstick is the same. Miriam keeps nodding while the light retreats between the curtains. Already, they have to leave, too. My mom washes the tea kettle and leaves it by the sink. She closes the shuttered doors to the roof. Then they go. Even Goliath, whose snout looks like it’s drooping even farther. His tail goes down and he walks painfully down the steps because he’s getting so old and white. I hear my mom and Miriam walk down the hall, flicking off lights as they go. The door swings open, then closed, and the lock clicks. It’s nighttime. First, I touch each thing in the upstairs room—the teacups, the still-warm kettle, each pitted-fabric pillow on each chair. When the cold air starts to come in through the shuttered door, I go down the stairs. I sit and bump down, one stair at a time. I touch each picture along the hallway, run my hand along the glass case of needles. In the 3D room, I pull out my glasses, and reach through each picture until I touch the rough paper behind it. I say goodnight, even to the hand. Touching everything takes a long time. I even say goodnight to the fox, and he growls-barks! Next, I would normally go to my clock room, which I save for last. But tonight, I am remembering what my mom said about forgetting. I don’t want to forget anything. I climb back up the steps, touching each with both my hands and feet, like a dog. I enter my mom’s room and put my hand and cheek to the shuttered door: cold air sneaks through. I can hear the birds’ hearts sleeping. I squeeze through a crack in the door, brush past the curtain. It is cold outside, and the wind touches the insides of my ears. And there’s a fountain, yes, I remember that. The birds are sleeping, nested between vines or puffed beside one another in their cages. I forgot how they puff up when they’re sleeping. But how did I forget? And, when have I ever been away from them? This is a good place, with the outside air seeping into my ears and through my nostrils and making my whole mind fuzzy, and
I can feel only the wind. Where have I been besides here anyway? It’s nice, I might just float up with the wind, straight through that net, I’m sure I could just sift through the squares and dissolve, lovely, past the birds. I remember their puffed-up feathers; they must feel like air, soft. I reach into a cage to touch one with a finger, and yes the softness is like air. I can feel, on the tip of my finger, the body’s warmth. I touch its skin— but now the bird’s eyes jump open, flat and black, and its heart beats wild with fear—its heart is going to explode—it falls heavily to the bottom of the cage. The bird that was sleeping next to it has woken up too, it’s wild, it flutters around the cage squawking, I pull back my hand so it can escape, and it flies shedding feathers. I remember that the roof is cold, the roof is so cold that the air stops coming into my ears and nose and it’s dark. My poor bird. I scoop him up and hold him to my chest, no heartbeat. I bring him inside, down the stairs and deep into the museum, and, ducking under the velvet rope, to my clock room. I’m crying, because now I can remember the fallen grandfather clock with the broken glass, in the back of the room. There are glass shards on the floor, and inside the clock, beneath the pendulum, is my bird’s brother. I place them beside each other, choking, wishing I had just floated through the air. I curl up under the wooden table and wrap my arms around my knees. I’m afraid to touch the clocks that move. I don’t want them to stop, because I need to hear them at night, because they can remember the day. They surround me like family, and wag their pendulums like tails. We are all inside together, with their little noises. Whirrr-whirrtick-whirrr-whirr-tock. The swinging grandfather clock purrs deeply eleven times. I breathe. It will purr twelve times next, then one again. I breathe. When it purrs nine times, my mother and Miriam will come back and turn on the lights again, one by one. When it purrs ten times, new visitors will come to explore the museum with me. They’ll let in the light that makes the dust motes dance, and Miriam will flip half her hair and say, “Welcome to the Museum of Jurassic Technology.” And I’ll say, “But not like the dinosaurs.”
Rachel R. Taube
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niggas hovering above grass cut in squares. Area infiltrated. Numbers get long, multiply. Your Zulu Nightmares: Cracked door Ripped Cloth Bare Breasts Yin yang on the bed, the floor, then… The funk. KIRWYN SUTHERLAND
AND BEING DEAD IS HARD WORK * In Chicago there are graveyards make your head spin & ghosts often. They fill the air between brick buildings & that’s what wind is. Sometimes it feels like it’s just me & a crippled umbrella against the world & all of its iterations, wave after wave of bad history coming in from the backward river, from the pretty waters by the Lake Shore. * In my apartment at my worst, unemployed on a Tuesday night & for months, for example, an anachronism visits. He is an immigrant spirit seeking the place he carved out the body of a hog for years in my loft space. Instead he finds me, sleeping, splayed on a floral couch while a woman is in my bed, & searches inside me for meat nonetheless, finds nothing. * In the morning he tells me his name & where he’s from is no longer included in atlases. His strong arms will not weaken from being unworked. He pins me down & I am crushed but he of course has no body. Without a tongue he speaks my name & it is silent but for the polka music in his head, godawful, the searching in mine for whatever it says above my résumé or on the mailbox door but not for long. * The night she ended my life there was like any other. It got dark late in April, the neighbor in the window did her sit-ups, I made tacos. It rained which sometimes seems meaningful. She spoke my name at the beginning of sentences which sometimes seems meaningful. I wondered while vanishing why we still bother with names when there are so many cemeteries.
LIVING IN THE KILLING FIELDS: SUPPER FOR SURVIVORS [W]e worked hard together like my parents. We shook hands and made a promise. — Peg LeVine, Love and Dread in Cambodia The lamp lights our white walls the amber tinge of bodies I once rolled into a ditch. My wife is quiet as the moon, her tongue, a seed sealed in her lips. This table pitched between us fills the space, lifts air as dead and sodden as the chicken in her too red curry, bowled and set before me, red as wells of blood my hands have cupped. A few stars pin the window. She sighs like an ocean forever hemmed by shore. My spoon’s clink on the bowl calls her eyes to my hand, its motion like sewing, scooping through, teeth torn and drawn to meet, the spoon, a needle stitching noise into our silence, gifting it with voice.
1983 this is a picture of my only brother george he is sitting in his house on 54th street with a phone in his hand looking out the window at an approaching storm in five minutes it would ring with results of his test you know the h.i.v. to see if he would l-i-v-e he didn’t
In moments absent of thought I say his name with my mind’s mouth. I concentrate on the syllables, all two of them, and how the hard “c” will taste just before I’ll have to half bite my full bottom lip to make the sound of a “v.” If it’s early morning and I’m alone in my full sized bed, I’ll twist and writhe to get the most of the lavish feeling of my legs against crisp white sheets while I think of him. The sunlight pressing in looks teardrop-blue against the inside of my eyelids just before I part them, sometimes whispering his name aloud so the world, my world, doesn’t get too used to its absence.
How do I answer when people ask me who the name on my bracelet belongs to? To say I didn’t know him is too distant. I tell them I wear it because I care about the Vietnam War — it means something to me. I don’t always say that it’s something more than just historical fascination — something closer to memory but far from experience. I don’t say that he was six years older and forty-three years before me but he sits heavy in my heart.
“Calvin.” His brother’s name is Scott. I see them, the two kids that they were in their early twenties and late teens, laughing together on a Sunday afternoon in March. Their eyes are squinted to protect themselves from the unbearable brightness of the early spring’s Sun. You could almost confuse one for the other in their matching bombers if it weren’t for the yellow and black badge on Calvin’s left sleeve that’s the size of a fifty scent piece. I think about the two of them together from time to time, but mostly I think of Calvin alone. Sometimes I wonder how his death might have sounded. I know, I mean, I feel like I know that there was nothing Hollywood about it. There was no guttural cry or desperate plea, no “screams and moans” through the transmission like they said. No, not Calvin. I imagine the moment of his life ending as a note from a single piano key resounding in the silence of a still forest and then, without fading, gone. I think of that day he may have died, and the footsteps he might have made in the mud by the river. I close my eyes to these pictures, the indeterminable nature of them makes me feel a love or a dust in my heart that twists my mouth and makes me ache. “Calvin.”
It’s hard for me to say that I don’t know him and that I only know about him. What I know or feel about him is the same as what I felt before I got his name and the day he went missing on a stainless steel bracelet that came in the mail — before he ever became an individual to me. It didn’t make me feel stronger, no, just closer. He could have been Robert or Edward or someone who only goes by his last name, maybe Vasquez. He could have been any one of them.
III. I dialed the number of a house in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The phone rang against my ear and I hurried to think of what to say, careful not to let them think, not even for a fraction of a heartbeat, that I found him. I breathed heavy into the phone and the number was out of service. I sighed at the operator’s machine voice. Was that selfish? Am I ignorant? I told my sister I tried calling and she thought so. She said it was an invasion of a subject that his brother and the rest of his family may have come to peace with. I wasn’t so sure if peace would ever come to them. I just wanted to know more than his age, the day he was born and the day he was gone, the names of his parents and brother. I just wanted to speak with someone who heard him breathe or sat next to him in a movie theater. Maybe they knew what his face looked like when he slept. I wanted to know what his handwriting was like. What was his favorite snack and when was his first kiss? Did he drive stick?
I’ll make do with what little I know and my imagination. He slept on his side and an expression of feigned interest masked his face as he dreamt. His handwriting was illegible. He always wished it weren’t. He liked to eat raisins, like me, and maybe saltwater taffy, but never together. His first kiss was a dare, not much more to it than that. And yes, he drove stick. He died when he was seventy-four years old with his hands wrapped around a photograph of his late wife, Nancy, and his children kissed his forehead and wept against the unforgiving wool of his sweater. Not at the age of twenty-six. Not in a failing helicopter childless, loveless, and fearful. I touch my lips to the name wrapped around my wrist and wonder what October 10th 1969 might have meant for him if it hadn’t been the day he became a piece of the observation aircraft, that fast-flowing river, or the wind over a cliff in South Vietnam. JENNIFER CORTESE
POETRY IS A VERB A simple rule for life: If a person cannot name a poem that moved them, do not take them into your heart. Addendum to this rule: If they can & when they do they name a poem that you love, feel free to take them into your bed. Addendum to that addendum: If they can & when they do they name a poem you that wrote, feel free to run very, very far away. *** 7 movies that would have been better if they had been poems: Rocky III Godfather III Amistad Daredevil Eraserhead Friday the 13th Die Hard *** Being a poet is an immense and vital calling. A good way to think of it is like the guy sweeping up behind elephants in a parade. *** 7 words poets should use more often: frisky pierce swallow forgive orgasm revolt hum *** After failing to quit smoking approximately 327 times, I sat down and wrote a poem. I laid in it enormous brown fields with brown field hands, the drama of the last days of Dixie and the last dollars of my bank account, my desire to run further than the next block and the fear that I was once again a slave to a white skinned master. Before the ink was dry I dragged it out to an open mic and tried it on.
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It was a good reading, the kind where afterwards everyone crowds around & they can’t believe you don’t have like a thousand books & they swear they saw you on Oprah & they all ask for a copy of everything you read & people beg you to sign things you didn’t even write & you wind up staying up all night staring out the window & remembering why you like being a poet. Two days later, sitting on a cool park bench, I pulled out a bent and leaking last cigarette from a pack, and asked a passing teenager for a light. “No fucking way,” he said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a wrinkled, torn, and already fading piece of paper, and handed it to me. I had even signed it for him. “Ah, hell,” I said, and flicked the cigarette off into bushes. I had to wait a good 20 minutes before I was certain he was gone and I could crawl under the bushes to find it. When I finally got a light, I relaxed, staring out into the sky, remembering why I love poetry but not all the dumb fuckers who believe in it. *** 7 things that should not be mentioned in another poem for at least 20 years: clouds, of any shape or size kittens the sound of rain birds moonlight orchids balconies *** I seek double-sided words, words that could smile and slice open the flabby white belly of a Congressman, live on c-span, while simultaneously sliding through the tiniest keyhole to grip the scarred and forgotten hand of a prisoner who hasn’t had a visitor in this century. ***
7 people who should be in more poems: Chaka Khan Nat Turner Miss Piggy Picasso bell hooks Fanny Lou Hamer Prince *** All poets should have to register their pens as lethal weapons. All poets should pay their taxes in sonnets. All poets should be treated like Homecoming Queens. All poets should eat. All poets should be allowed to curse in church. All poets should get their own cover of People magazine. This is the only way to stop poetry. *** 7 words poets should no longer be allowed to use: lugubrious ubiquitous vapid aerie giddyup orange Whitman *** Someone is going to choke on my words. If I write them down, maybe it won’t be me. *** 7 poets I wish I wrote more like: Marge Piercy Rakim Shakespeare Martin Espada Sherman Alexie
Nikki Giovanni Dr. Seuss *** When I started to write Martin Espada’s name, the spellcheck on my computer corrected me, and wrote my name instead. I don’t know what that means. Hopefully, if I say it right, and pause when I’m done, it’ll sound like a poem. *** 7 places poems should always be read: math class football games porches bus stops bedrooms school cafeterias police stations *** Poetry is a verb, a criminal act, and if you’ve made it this far, then you are already guilty. On these pages, there are only some squiggly lines. It is the eyes that make them into words. The definition of a poet is someone who forces you to redefine yourself. I cannot tell you who you are, so I cannot tell you what I have done. Some people say poetry cannot change anything. Well, I cannot tell you that anyone I know has ever been changed by the air around them. I am fairly certain, however, they would all change very quickly without it. MARTIN WILEY
VALU PLUS-ONE (for ryan eckes)
I think people think poets just wander around and waste time and drink coffee and drink beer and drink wine and smoke pot and daydream and scribble in notebooks meant for school kids and go to readings and openings to steal beer and steal wine and eat cheap brie and I think they’re right but only if they mean poets do this stuff while they’re teaching or working soulless office jobs and those who think this think money is important or their car is important or they are important which they are only if they’re also poets, or human beings, and I think only the best poets do all of the above and sometimes they spend hours on facebook and so what you invisible hand jerk-offs get your romney signs off my property, how’s that for small gov’t and individual liberty or did you mean I can live however I want so long as how I want to live is how you think I should live I’m pretty sure most of my friends who are great poets will die penniless as they’ve lived and their pensions will be poems and their insurance is made of poems and their bank accounts are filled with poems and like you they can’t take those with them when they die so they share them while they’re alive they share them, by which I mean they give them away free gratis with their invisible hands to anyone who needs them or wants them and they have no value except that which is bestowed by their creator, which is to say that poor fuck wandering around drunk or hopped up on caffeine and brie and squinting into the center of the earth.
THE MOUNTAIN THINKS it is the same with no you. The stars know for sure. Truth is, the time you sit nameless at night like a different moon, you call the good morning bird. JOANNE LEVA
Author Biographies Emily Abendroth is a writer and teacher currently residing in Philadelphia. Her print publications include: notwithstanding shoring, FLUMMOX (Little Red Leaves), Exclosures 1-8 (Albion Press), 3 Exclosures (Zumbar Press), Property : None (Taproot Editions), and Toward Eadward Forward (horse less press). An extended excerpt from her piece “Muzzle Blast Dander” can be found in Refuge/Refugee (Chain Links, Vol 3).
(PA); Karamu House (OH); and Providence Black Repertory Company (RI). Her playwriting awards and honors include a Panelist Choice Award at the Edward Albee Conference and selection as a Chesterfield Film Company Fellowship Semi-Finalist. Ms. Brunson holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio-Television-Film from Temple University.
Hiwot Adilow is a senior at Central High School. She is a first generation Ethiopian-American, womanist/femininja, poet, and jawn who hopes the art she makes to understand her own world inspires and comforts others. She has been a member of the Philly Youth Poetry Movement since 2010 and represented Philadelphia on the 2012 Brave New Voices Slam Team. Hiwot likes flowers, Philly, Fridays, and feeling happy. She will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall as a member of the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community’s 7th Cohort.
Steve Burke lives in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia with wifeGiselle & daughter-Mariah; has been crafting poems for many years (& has never grown tired of it); has worked as a labor-&-delivery nurse for 25 years; has been a featured reader at the Painted Bride, Moore College Of Art, Big Blue Marble Bookstore, the Monday Series at the Free Library, Bindlestiff Books, the Green Line, Moonstone Art Center; and has two full-length books, Thirty-Six Views Of Here & Removing The Blindfolds, in the can.
Siduri Beckman is a student at Julia R. Masterman School who aspires to be a district attorney and eventually a Supreme Court justice. A sixmember committee selected two finalists, and the city’s first poet laureate, Sonia Sanchez, made the final decision. “I really think [poetry] can be used to help teens with issues,” said Beckman, who sleeps with a pen and adhesive notes near her bed and spends her free time reading, writing short stories and doing community service. “A lot of grown-ups don’t always understand what teenagers feel. Poetry is this super-raw form of expression [in which] teenagers can talk about the issues that they face.”
From Czeslaw Milosz: “The purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficult is to remain just one person, for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, and invisible guests come in and out at will.”
Amelia Bentley completed a BA at Evergreen State College in philosophy and poetry. Work has appeared in 491 Magazine, Gigantic Sequins 4.1, Portable Boog Reader 6, and Tinge. A chapbook ‘&parts’ was released from Damask Press in March 2013. Patrick Blagrave is from Philadelphia. He studied English at New York University and now works in publishing. He writes poems mostly. Sarah Blake lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband and son. She’s the poetry editor for iARTistas. Her work has appeared, or will soon, in Drunken Boat, Boston Review, The Awl, and Barrelhouse. This year she received a Literature Fellowship from the NEA. Gina Blechman is a fiction writer, poet, and musician from Somerset, NJ. She has a B.A. in psychology from Arcadia University and is currently working on her breakout novel, though she has more works in progress than she can count. She is constantly searching for more writers to work with and gather inspiration from and encourages writers and musicians to connect with her via Facebook, Soundcloud, and Twitter. Gina’s life and writing focus on connectedness, the untold experience, and the spaces beyond the Do Not Enter signs. Jennifer Cortese is a third year student at Temple University studying nursing with a minor in writing. Her piece, “Missing,” is inspired by the life of an MIA soldier for whom she wears a bracelet. It is her first publication. She mainly writes poetry and fiction and is currently working on a novel. Her other hobbies include painting, photography, playing the saxophone, and, most recently, taxidermy. Jamie J. Brunson has brought storytelling to the stage within different spheres of the arts and cultural community for over 16 years. She is a published poet, whose work has appeared in newspapers, journals, and anthologies including The Broadkill Review, Blood Lotus Review and the Philadelphia Tribune. An accomplished playwright, Brunson is a four-time Delaware Division of the Arts/NEA grantee for playwriting and an awardwinning playwright who was named a “New Voice in American Theatre” by the Edward Albee Theatre Conference. Her plays have been produced across the country at the Wilmington Fringe Festival (DE); the Kitchen Theatre; (NYC) New Freedom Theatre (PA); the Harlem Theatre Company (NYC), Abingdon Theatre (NYC); Walnut Street Theatre Second Stage
Christine Chiosi retired early from the practice of medicine and now spends her time teaching abroad and writing. She is a doctoral candidate in the Caspersen School for Graduate Studies at Drew University. Enrolled in Drew’s Program in Medical Humanities, she has a keen interest in Narrative Medicine. Christine’s poetry appears in Painted Bride Quarterly, Carpe Articulum, Cloudbank, and the Sierra Nevada Review. NewPages. com has favorably reviewed her work. For National Poetry Month, one of her tweet poems was featured on-air by National Public Radio. During a recent heated debate with her dog over the issue of animal dominion, Christine was forced to concede that she’d unfairly condemned her pet to a life of serf-hood, servitude, and disrespect, simply through poor name selection. To impose a penance for that transgression, Peanut, who hails from the Chihuahua mountain range in Mexico, has re-named her owner, “Queen Christine of the Land of Nature’s Miracle®”. Sadia Chowdhury is a 6th grade student at Masterman. Writing is one of her favorite hobbies, and she does it every day. She has never had her writing shown in public, so this magazine is exciting for her. Every day, she writes in a writing journal. She uses prompts to start off her writing mind. Sadia often shares her stories, poems, and other pieces. Along with writing, she likes to sketch and sing. She mostly gets her writing techniques from her favorite authors such as J.K. Rowling and Sharon Creech. Their writing skills are amazing, so looks up to them as role models. She has lived in Philadelphia all her life, which is a great topic for her to write about. She lives with her siblings and parents, which are also great topics to write about. Everything around her is pretty much an inspiration to write, write, WRITE! Sadia encourages writing because it is a great tool to express all of your feelings about things. She says to go out there and write all you want! Grant Clauser is a frustrated gardener and hack fly fisherman. He’s the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers, which he likes and thinks you should buy. By day he’s a technology writer. Poems have appeared in The Literary Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Cortland Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review and others. He’s interviewed poets for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and The American Poetry Review. In 2010 he was Montgomery County Poet Laureate. He started the Montco Wordshop in Lansdale, teaches poetry writing at Philadelphia’s Musehouse and runs the blog unIambic.com. Jim Cory is interested in many things, lately including birds, the piano, painting, utopias of all types, architecture, and Russian opera. Most recent book/chapbook publication is No Brainer Variations, 2011, from Rain Mountain Press, published in association with the magazine Skidrow
Penthouse, to which he has been a frequent contributor over the years. The poems in this issue are part of a current project called “777,” a suite of 111 short poems, 7 lines in length. The book has been underway for three years and nears completion. A new full-length manuscript called Chopped Liver awaits its publisher. He has received fellowships from Yaddo and the Pennsylvania Arts Council and lives in Center City/South Street area. Katy Diana is a poet and freelancer living in Philadelphia. Her work has been published in Philadelphia Stories, Northern Liberties Review, Broadkill Review, Grid Magazine, Pennsylvania Gazette, Phlare, Mastodon Dentist, Ursinus Magazine, and the Lantern. She is working on a book of poems, Love of Locked Doors, that will be forthcoming in autumn. Katy has received the Dolman Prize for Creative Writing from Ursinus College and the Lantern Poetry Prize. Cole Eubanks is retired as a public school teacher from the Philadelphia and Atlantic City School Districts. Over the past twenty years, he has presented in a wide disparity of venues including a Buddhist monastery, the Tunes Against Turmoil Rock Festival, the Café Improv television show, and numerous radio programs. Cole has conducted three workshops for Richard Stockton College’s Teen Arts Festival (Pomona, NJ) and has been the featured poet for the Sovereign Avenue Jazz Festival (Atlantic City, NJ) for the past six years. In 2010, he won the Literacy Volunteers of America in Atlantic County’s Poet of the Year contest. Cole’s work can be found in Poets against War, INFERNO-no boundaries, and Haddonfield Speaks. Maria Flaccavento was born in southwest Virginia and grew up in northeast Tennessee. She studied anthropology at Temple University, as well as Italian and creative writing. She will be attending the University of California San Diego in the fall to pursue an MFA in poetry. More work can be found on her blog: flaccaventina.wordpress.com. Karonn Greenwood is a 16-year-old poet and writer. He wrote this poetry while incarcerated in an adult jail. He is currently serving a 4–8 year sentence in Pennsylvania’s state prison system. The Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project is a youth-led organization working to end the practice of trying and incarcerating youth as adults in Pennsylvania. YASP runs weekly art, poetry, music and empowerment workshops with young people under 18 in Philadelphia’s adult county jails, and trains recently released young people as organizers in our movement. Kareem Groomes was born May 21st, 1993, in Philadelphia, PA. He moved to Charlottesville for high school where he took French and studied Humanities and English as his main areas of interest. He contributed to the 2011 literary magazine for his school. Upon graduating he moved back to Philadelphia to focus more on developing the craft of his writing. Since then he has enrolled in the Community College of Philadelphia where he is seeking the Creative Writing Certificate and a degree in English. He has been published in the University of Penn’s 2012 Chapbook and has read his fiction and poetry for reading groups in the Kelly Writer’s house and for the faculty of the his college. He is also is co-editing as an intern for Transient literary magazine. A few people who influence his poetry are Robert Lowell, David Groff, William Carlos William and T. S. Eliot. Phillip Laudino is the kind of person to say “hella” and mean it. His friends would tell you that he is “the worst kind of person.” Laudino is trying to get his act together. He has lately become hella fond of cleaning and the warm sponge. He makes ice cream for money. Everyone’s always trying to get their act together though. You can read some more of his writing online at landdial.tumblr.com. An advocate for creative writing and community service, Joanne Leva is the founder and Executive Director of the Montgomery County Poet Laureate Program (MCPL) which has just completed its 15 successful year (woohoo!). Go to montcopoet.com to learn what you can do to support the wide range of MCPL programs available online and onsite for poets and writers of all ages and backgrounds in Montgomery County and beyond. Joanne received the prestigious Philadelphia Writer’s Conference (PWC) Community Service Award in 2011 and now serves on the Board as Vice
President. She is co-organizer of the Philadelphia Poetry Festival and has organized poetry readings at Headhouse Square for Earth Day, the Seven Arts Fest on South Street, the Theater of Living Arts (TLA), The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Musehouse: A Center for the Literary Arts, Ambler Theater, The James A. Michener Museum in Doylestown, The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, World Café, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, colleges, universities, libraries, laundromats and street corners in the tristate area. Joanne is currently seeking publication for her first book manuscript entitled Woman Wearing Red Ruff Collar. Find her on twitter @joanneleva. Tim Lynch is glad to be both human and alive. He begins MFA work at Rutgers-Camden this fall. Thank you. Ras Mashramani was raised in the wilds of web 1.0. She currently heads the Psychocultural Evolution department of the Philly-based speculative reality startup, Metropolarity. She is also working on The Night Space, a multimedia project dedicated to her young internet inner life. Her work can be found at metropolarity.net, among many other web places. Jaya Montague, Philadelphia Young Playwrights Youth Council Member and student at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, has been writing since she was five years old. Jaya says, “I just want to thank everybody who’s ever supported my writing because I’ve been writing since probably kindergarten. My Aunt Sandy who’s not here who, in the summer time, would sit down and make me write for three hours, which I hated, but then I grew to love writing. I’d like to thank my mother who’s always been there for me – through everything; my grandmother, without the strength that she had I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Hannah McDonald is a poet, writer and blogger who now calls Fishtown home. She is the secretary of The Fuze Open Mic & Poetry Slam in West Philly. She loves nerdy people, big words, and the unfettered pursuit of creativity in all things. You can follow her on Twitter at @dorkabetic. Cat Mosier-Mills is a junior at Radnor High School in Radnor, Pennsylvania. In her spare time, she edits the school newspaper, plays piano for the jazz band, leads the Model United Nations team, and tutors ESL children in Norristown. She hopes to pursue a career in music, psychology, or writing. Sham-e-Ali Nayeem was born in Hyderabad, India and raised in both the UK and the US. A previous recipient of the Echoing Green Fellowship, Sham-e-Ali is a poet and a public interest lawyer. In 1997, she initiated a welfare rights program for survivors of family and intimate partner violence to challenge the devastating impact of “welfare reform” in NYC. The program provided free walk-in legal clinics at soup kitchens, food pantries, and domestic violence shelters throughout the city. Sham-e-Ali’s poetry has appeared in publications such as SALT Journal, SAMAR, Roots & Culture Magazine, and Mizna,and can be found in anthologies such as, Shattering the Stereotypes: Muslim Women Speak Out (Olive Branch Press, 2005), Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak (Beacon Press, 2005) and Shout Out: Women of Color Respond to Violence (Seal Press, 2008). Sham-e-Ali has performed her poetry internationally at various events including the Oxford Literary Festival and the “Sister Fire Cultural Arts Tour of Radical Women of Color Artists and Activists.” She is a mother to one 7-year-old boy who is her inspiration. Jenna Ogilvie recently received her MFA from American University, where she was awarded the Myra Sklarew Award for excellence in a poetry thesis. She hails from Philadelphia’s favorite suburb, the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, and now lives in downtown Washington, DC at the base of a beautiful park that reminds her of home. She is currently working on her first collection of poems, titled Juggernaut. Gabriel Ojeda-Sague currently resides in Philadelphia where he studies English at the University of Pennsylvania. His work has also been published in The Colors Project and The Daily Pennsylvanian. Caroline Rivera, winner of the flash fiction contest, is a writer from Philadelphia who drinks large amounts of coffee. She is the proud daughter of a Uruguayan mom and Puerto Rican dad. No one has ever met her, she
only comes alive when no one is around. If you see her, she has dark hair that is always down. The important things she has to say are always written. She understands herself but is confused about the world around her, which she likes. Her biggest dream is to find someone that she can speak to. Molly Ruddell loves her free time. She likes people-watching in the corner of her neighborhood coffee shop or walking in the woods. Enrique Sacerio-Garí was born in Cuba. A professor at Bryn Mawr College, he is known especially for his work on Jorge Luis Borges, and for his poetry. He has contributed poems to anthologies and magazines in the United States, Spain, Germany, India, Mexico, Chile and Cuba. His poetic works include: Comunión (a concrete poem), Poemas interreales (Pennsylvania, 1981; Madrid, 1999; La Habana, 2004) and Para llegar a La Habana (Madrid, 2013). His website: poeticsolutions.com Gaetan Sgro has deep roots in the city of Philadelphia and in the surrounding countryside. He draws inspiration for his poetry and creative nonfiction from experiences growing up in the exurbs of Chester County, and from encounters as a physician. An internist with a writer’s disposition, he encourages medical trainees to reflect on their interactions with patients through writing and storytelling. After spending five formative years in Queen Village, he travelled westward, where he currently lives with his wife and daughter in The Paris of Appalachia. A Bucks County Pa. native Roy Smith has been published in River Poets Journal, live at Karla’s – An Anthology of Popular Performance Poetry, Phantom Billstickers Poem Posters in New Zealand and Bucks County Poet Laureate 2000 Second Runner-Up. Roy’s multi-cultural Japanese-American background, his childhood time spent in the U.S. military and overall insights into the world inform his writing. He currently resides in New Hope,PA. More of his work can be found on Facebook at Roy ‘Word’ Smith. Laura Spagnoli is the author of the chapbook My Dazzledent Days (ixnay press). Her poems have appeared in various places, including Jupiter 88 and ONandOnScreen, and her story “A Cut Above” was published in the collection Philadelphia Noir. Kirwyn Sutherland is a black CHRISTIAN poet. Seeing movement/ changes/experiments from various viewpoints allows him to experiment with different voices in his poems. Kirwyn’s motivation is to expose himself to allow others to heal. Rachel R. Taube lives, works, studies, and writes at various locations clustered around the University of Pennsylvania. She works in Acquisitions at Penn Press and studies English and Creative Writing at Penn’s Master of Liberal Arts Program. Her fiction has appeared in Cleaver Magazine and Penn Review. Born in Philadelphia and educated at Emerson College, F. Omar Telan has directed at La Mama ETC; performed at the Dodge Poetry Festival, PS122, the Philippine Embassy; published in a Gathering of the Tribes, In Our Own Voice, 225 Plays from Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. John Timpane is Media Editor/Writer and Assistant Books Editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer. His poetry has appeared in Sequoia, Vocabula Review, Apiary Mixtape, ONandOnScreen, Painted Bride Quarterly, Per Contra, 5_Trope, Poetdelphia, Wild River Review, and elsewhere. His books include (with Nancy H. Packer) Writing Worth Reading (NY: St. Martin, 1994); It Could Be Verse (Berkeley, Calif.: Ten Speed, 1995); (with Maureen Watts and the Poetry Center of San Francisco State University) Poetry for Dummies (NY: Hungry Minds, 2000); and (with Roland Reisley) Usonia, N.Y.: Building a Community with Frank Lloyd Wright (NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2000); and a book of poetry, Burning Bush (Ontario, Canada: Judith Fitzgerald/Cranberry Tree, 2010). He belongs to the band Car Radio Dog (Fetch!, 2008), and lives in mid-New Jersey. He is husband to Maria-Christina Keller, copy executive for Scientific American. They are the amazed parents of Pilar and Conor. Kevin Varrone’s long poem, box score: an autobiography, has just been published as a free, interactive iPad and iPhone app (see boxscoreapp.
com, or box score: an autobiography on Facebook). Eephus, a chapbook selection from box score, was recently published by Little Red Leaves Textile Series (textileseries.com). He is also the author of passyunk lost (Ugly Duckling Presse) and Id Est (Instance Press). He teaches at Temple University and lives outside Philadelphia with his family. Madeleine Wattenbarger began her living in Philadelphia at age three. Now she is nineteen and continues to live in Philadelphia. She is a rising sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, where she works and eats cheese at the Kelly Writers House. Martin Wiley is a recovering poet and struggling fiction writer who lives in the magical kingdom of South Philadelphia. A long-time activist and writer, he currently teaches English at Delaware County Community College. He would like to say that he draws his inspiration from music and politics, dirt and glory, concrete and collards, from aggression and resistance, but in the end, he knows it’s mostly from his patient wife, his joyous daughter, and the soon-to-arrive second child. Frog Williams is an American writer of poems, short stories, and a middle grade novel in the works. Rather than bore you with institution credentials, Frog would like explain the name Frog as it relates to writing, taken from the great Toni Braxton: “I’m not a diva. I’m a tadpole trying to be a frog.” Born in Philadelphia and raised in North Wales, Pennsylvania, Yolanda Wisher began writing and publishing poetry in grade school. At the age of 23, she was named the first poet laureate of Montgomery County, PA. Wisher holds degrees in English, Creative Writing, and Black Studies from Lafayette College and Temple University. A Cave Canem fellow and former English teacher, Wisher directed the Germantown Poetry Festival from 2006 to 2010, showcasing the talents of local youth and adult poets. She currently leads the art education department at the Mural Arts Program and lives in Germantown with her husband Mark Palacio – a double-bassist, her son, Thelonious – a superhero, and her cat, Marpessa Django.
Image listing Michael Haeflinger www.michaelhaeflinger.com What Delicate Love Hath Flowers Wrought? Page 8 Tweety Page 11 Apprentice Page 12 Grounded Page 17 Pool Page 22 The Great Escape Page 26 Hold, Please Page 60 Shaft Way Page 65 Karina Puente Maharashi Holding En el Jardine (Underpainting) Lis Birds of Abundance Flower Garden Carry A Focused Premonition En el Jardine
kpuente.bigfolioblog.com Page 5 Page 15 Page 18 Page 21 Page 31 Page 41 Page 45 Page 46 Page 56
Tieshka Smith Feed the Meter Whimsy II Cycle of Life Sad Eyes Lil Man Heavy Load Two Different Directions
about.me/momof3photography Page 6 Page 25 Page 42 Page 49 Page 51 Page 54 Page 59
In a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write.
f ust be more t o l i ere m “Th
av an h e th
ing everything .”
Simplicity is the glory of expression.
Come Write. ePublish. poetry, creative nonfiction, short-story, novel, dramatic writing, or writing for children and young adults
MFA in Creative Writing at Rosemont College Suburban Philadelphia
poetry, creative nonfiction, short-story, novel, dramatic writing, or writing for children and young adults
MFA in Creative Writing at Rosemont College MFA in Creative Writing at Rosemont College MFA in Creative Writing at Rosemont College Suburban Philadelphia
Rosemont College offers M.F.A. in Creative Writing Graduate Certificate in ePublishing M.A. in Publishing
The Writing Studies Master’s Program at Saint Joseph’s University Congratulates recent graduate Marisa McClellan on her first book, Food in Jars! Come write your book with us! To learn more about how our M.A. program nurtures writers, from budding cookbook authors to poets, scholars, novelists, memoirists, and writing teachers, visit us at sju.edu/apiary
Graduate Studies College of Arts and Sciences
Visit Food in Jars Blog: www.foodinjars.com
Join us for an OPEN HOUSE June 25, 2013 5:30- 7:30 p.m. sju.edu/apiary
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What do successful teachers, writers, publishers, lawyers, non-profit leaders, actors and scientists have in common? Many of them got their start with a graduate degree in the Arts from Villanova University. Graduate Degrees and Certificates in the Arts: • Classical Studies
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Villanova has competitive tuition rates and educators qualify for a significant tuition reduction. For more information or to apply, visit gradartsci.villanova.edu.
Our 6th collection of Philadelphia's best local literature, featuring Philadelphia Poet Laureate, Sonia Sanchez.