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ORIGINS I Am From - by Carl Oliver

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I Am From - by Julissa Jerez

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My Quest for a New Family Crest - by Cyndy Escribano

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Home - by Rebecca Christian

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Buy Local - by Lisa Torrisi

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Where I’m From - by Grace Beniquez (gbeni)

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And I’m From - by Ummi Modeste Where I’m From - by Esther Saintus

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Where I’m From - by Gloribel Gonzalez

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De Donde Soy - by Eliana Martinez

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I Am - by Ceci Lewis

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PORTRAITS Dixie - by Ceci Lewis

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Steve / Joshua - by Esther Saintus

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Dad’s Shoes - by Vicky Wallace

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My Girlfriend is Awesome - by Carl Oliver

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Gaby - by Chantel Kenol Desmornes

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This Is For My Uncle Joe - by Lou Bernieri

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Elaine Johnson

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The Artivist - by Lisa Stott

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Clair / Clara - by Vicky Wallace

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Eulogy From an Angry Child - by Lisa Stott

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Love is… - by Lisa Stott

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Black Beach on France Street - by Mosi Makori

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What I Want to Buy When I Win the Lottery - by Lisa Torrisi

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Marley - by Mosi Makori

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Ego Poem - by Rich Gorham

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Staff - by Pascal Theodore

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ODES Ode to Ice Cream - by Vicky Wallace

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Ode to Books - by Rebecca Christian

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An Ode to Anything - by Grace Beniquez (gbeni)

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Ode to the Sneaker Shrine - by Ummi Modeste

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Ode to Sunshine - by Vuyelwa Maqubela

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PEDAGOGY OF THE FREE 10 Things I Want to Say by Rebecca Christian

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Poet by Grace Beniquez (gbeni)

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Nowhere Like India by Jane Chang

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Liberate… Rebecca Christian

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a declaration by jack judson

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I’ve Learned That… by Castro-Yves Arboite

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Declaration of Independence by Eliana Martinez

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A Call to Action by Rebecca Christian

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ORIGINS


“I am from” By: Carl Oliver I am from ceiling fans Summer breeze, 80% humidity 90 degrees, sprinkler sprints “Too hot to eat” And Popsicle twins I am from grandma’s house Geraldine or Lovie D Detroit yards or Gary streets Mac N Cheese or Sweet Potato pie Hugs goodbye, kiss on the cheek I am a quick walk to Eastover’s playground Its court, its field, and its school The dirt road past Aubrey’s house, and the Ranellas’ swimming pool I am from asphalt cracks from salt and weather Auto shows and “cloth or leather?” Ceaseless fights and arguing whether this year’s cobra or SS is better I am from Halloween snow but not enough on Christmas Put another comforter on my bedroom mattress Cold? well, first put on a sweater, then check where the thermostat is I am from tackles missed 3 into one Barry making defenses look dumb NFL greed and Silverdome seats And no TV ‘til chores are done I am from molasses and cornbread each night at dinner Shovelling the small driveway each winter American cars, Industry And unrepentant sinners


By: Julissa Jerez I am from a seven mile radius Brick building perched up on a hill From my mother’s arroz con pollo And from her “OOh Yes You Will” I am from Crunchy Brown Carpets And a broken ceramic sink “Don’t you lean on that, Girl Don’t you know it will Spring a Leak” I am from Lupe’s Piña Cake And Ceci’s Fat Gold Fish I am From my sister’s cassette tape “Can I use it.. PLEAssseee?” “YEAH right you wish” I am from my cozy living room Floral sofa bed pulled out To Maduros Yellow, Ripe and Ready, To my mom’s Jane Fonda Work Out I am from the Wooded Lands With that Broken Knocked Down Fence I am From Clean it Up… “I don’t like This House a Mess!” I am from Rent-a-Center Dreams Saturday Morning Merengue Mops Blown Nintendo Cartridges And all Night Tetris Marathons I am from doing the dishes “If you want to hang out today” I am from you have to work hard in this life There’s no time for play I am from red metal bunk beds Cigarettes Blow Dried Hair I am from “Sientate Bien” “stop rocking in your chair” I am from a line of strong women Who do what they have to do I am from Lawrence MA And some strong Madera Too!


My Quest for a New Family Crest By: Cyndy Escribano I hear footsteps Running up and down the stairs, A barking dog as my name Is being shouted...”ma, mom, mommy” I smell the soft scent of my Caribbean Salsa candle burning, Competing with the profound mystery Growing inside my son’s gym bag. I see history hung on walls, Ancestors staring, their souls constantly reminding me Of where my roots were formed, Afro, Taino, Spaniard. I taste un cafecito Freshly brewed from la cafeteria, One part nutmeg, two parts sugar. I touch soft golden skin, Run my fingers through long thick black hair, Wipe away the shed tears, Offer a warm embrace. I feel empowered to break the mold Of the example that was set for me. I stick to my roots, Determined to create a united front, Create a strong foundation.


Home I see the black paint chipped mailbox as it leans on its post a short walk from the screened front porch The sound of laughter saturates the air and an old rocking chair creaks softly The perfume of greens, cornbreadand sweet potatoes entice your sense of smell and seduce your taste buds The comforts of home are never far away

By: Rebecca Christian

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Buy Local By: Lisa Torrisi I am from the Valley not your California variety. Making the almost daily rounds to places and people and food in seven square miles. A loaf of scali bread from Tripoli. I beg for a cupcake or a slice of pizza as my mother checks in with Rosario and Angelo. Uncle Sammy comes out from the bakers’ kitchen, says something in Italian I can’t understand, tilts his head sweetly, almost proud. Pinches my cheek hard and rough. I smile anyway. I am from neighborhood credit on a handshake. Armano’s across the street. Carl in a soiled white apron comes out from behind the counter. Takes my mother’s hand in his and places the other on top, pats it hello. The packaged cookies here are not Keebler or Oreo or kid friendly, but anise and fig and dried apricot. I smell the salt and spices of meats curing, sausage stuffed with provolone. At six years old, the smell stings. At sixteen, the smell sings. Holding my mother’s hand – I want no goodies from here. She tells Carl she needs a pound of prosciutt, capicol, mortadell. I think there are supposed to be vowels at the end of those words. I am from the local shopkeeper having the best of something. Chuckie’s fruit stand down Newbury Street, on the confusing way to Nana’s house. A storefront of wooden crates filled with sweet treats still dirty from the farm. Chuckie waddles over to greet us, a limp on his left. His fedora makes me smile. He winks at me as he squeezes my mother’s shoulder, singing “Wey Marie” a la Louie Prima. I am from a place where we once showed and received easy affection. The love of food spilled over to the people selling it. I want to buy local like that again.


Where I’m From You can hear the place where I am from the tun-tun-tun-tun / tun-tun-tun-tun Conga players setting the mood for sidewalk gatherings of domino aficionados and pig-tailed jump roping queens moving their feet like Ginzu knives slicing tropical fruit Hear the shhg-shhg-shhg-shhg-shhg of shaved ice – piraguas served up with Caribbean flavors of limon, coco, guava, mango, Shango, Santa Maria and Espiritu Santo because sometimes in the barrio we have to pray all the time to all the Gods Pray that our number’s hit big enough to escape the urban decay: • The gun shots and sirens shape shifting into lullabies • The crack vials and syringes littering our yellow brick roads • The shattered glass of broken windows reflecting the tears of weeping mothers • The hustlers hustling the hustle to young brothers wanting it all too fast, too dubious, not furious enough to harness and divert their energy=mc2 into positive endeavors • But despite all of that, despite of that You can hear the place where I am from the tun-tun-tun-tun / tun-tun-tun-tun the cumpleano feliz of quinceneras and sweet sixteens, Djays channeling spirituals through their wikadawikwik, poets pop-locking metaphors and Mcees spitting jewels, the heart beats of Betances and Albizu in the bomba y plena, the rhythm of King’s marching feet, the blues a cappella-ed in the street, the Last Poets and first Mcees, The Young Lords, Malcolm, Run DMC, Public Enemy and all the revolutionaries passed and all the revolutionaries present and all the revolutionaries to be until the day the messages of Marley’s songs are “no longer a fleeting illusion,” but until that day we pray… We pray that our numbers hit big enough to make the difference We pray that we all come to understand that there is only one village That your child is my child, that my child is your child That your brother is my brother, my sister your sister That we are one despite our languages; pure, broken, or otherwise, despite our varied pigmentation, or the texture of our hair, despite our education, occupation, or form of meditation Do you hear the place where I am from? The tun tun tun tun / tun tun tun tun The suppressed voices emerging through rhyme and spoken word Each word a cornerstone building stronger foundations than the pyramids, Each line a rope, each stanza a life raft, Each poet a prophet, each poem a page in the neo-testament The place where I am from is chanting. The place where I am from is screaming. The place where I am from is shouting. The place where I am from will never be silenced.

By: Grace Beniquez


WHERE I AM FROM I am from a place Where it’s either liberty or death Independence or death The world’s first black-led republic Broken despair and gained hope History made and still in the making. I am from a place Where decades of poverty Environmental degradation, Violence, instability and dictatorship Have left it as the poorest nation in the Americas Surprised the world by taking its freedom. I am from a place Where my nationality is a disgrace Respect never granted, opinions never taken Treated as dumb, boat people, and inferior Culture, religion, and mentality Single me as a nobody. I am from a place Where we declared liberty Riding the train of freedom since 1804. Whether you think it is the pearl of the Caribbean Or the poorest in the West Hemisphere Haiti is where I am from.

By: Esther Saintus Where I’m From


…And I’m From By: R. Ummi Modeste, 2011 I am from the old fashioned, square monkey bars and “Meet me at the flagpole” from the bedroom shared with my big sister (hmph “shared?”) matching blue corded cotton bedspreads from Sears. Standing on those cold tile project floors, we could see my public school out of our window: PS 307, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams. I am from planting a tree for a classmate killed in a fire, the Brooklyn Navy Yard and watching Mommy learn to drive on Dead Man’s Hill, from “Hot peas and butter, go and get your mother… Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack…” and “Oh little playmate, come out and play with me…” I am from riding the sweltering IRT #4 train, wicker seats sticking to my skin, bare, incandescent lights flickering, fan blades beating a rhythm against the drum of humidity. I stepped out onto the platform at Borough Hall, even the tile was sweating, and walked down cobblestone streets-slick in the rain, bumpy all the time, with Wendi, Leon and Keith to Heights and Hill YMCA, 62 Joralemon Street, Hi Bob Jacobs, Dave Loyd, Karyl, Alison, Liz and Dave Fleming! We played hopscotch on 100 year old slate sidewalks, and took weekly trips to the foaming surf and soothing bay of Jones Beach, Leon, Keith and Marshall Miller at the top of the horseshoe Darren, Cleve and Will at the breakers, protecting us younger ones in the middle. I am from once a month to “Palisades Amusement Park, in the day and after dark…dum da dum dum dum…” Please don’t make me get on the rollercoaster; I’ll hold the bags. I am from Lynn, Sherry and me at the Brooklyn Museum, with its old façade, when the statues could still see each other with their peripheral vision, now they look like they’ve had a fight, I am from the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and Prospect Park, not West, the Caribbean side, from spending whole days with Laura Schaller in the central library at Grand Army Plaza, “These ceilings must be 50 feet high!” I am from paying a nickel with my bus pass to go to Beverly’s house. I am from stately brownstones and barrel shaped planters spilling over with hasta, marigolds, coneflowers, tiger lilies and purple flowers that I haven’t learned the names of yet I am from the Bainbridge Homeowners and Tenants Association, second place winners in the Greenest Block competition, a group whose cultural diversity would shock Leon and Hattie,


the original Modestes at 183, I see WHITE people on my block! from block parties, backyard barbecues and cooking out on the sidewalks too! You know how we do… I am from the B46 and the B45 that take me back to the other place where I’m from Uncle Wilson and Aunt Cordie Uncle Bill, Auntie Laine and Grandma Pulley where I, always the “baby”, finally had Julie to take my place from the clash of bright Caribbean colors and dinghy black with white fringes from “Where yuh a go, gyal?”, “Oye mami” and “Shalom Aleichem” all on the same block, but not to each other from Gloria’s Roti Shoppe, la “Bodega y Restaurante” en la esquina and Apple Pharmacy, closed on their Sabbath, my shopping day, from peas and rice with ox tails, arroz con habichuelas y potato latkes. From jumpin up on the Parkway and Kiddie Karnival the Saturday before. I am from Brooklyn born and raised, left and returned, love it and hate it, but you bet’not talk about it ‘cause that’s where I’m from!


By: Gloribel Gonzalez I am from la isla del encanto (island of enchantment) I am Boricua, African, and Spaniard. I am also a Taino. I am a campesina. I am from the red, white, and blue bandera puertorriqueña. I am from the sounds of the coqui-coqui-coqui and the warm breezes from the wind. I am from a paradise island of beauty. I am from the rhythm of the beat of the tambores, guido, el cuatro y maracas. I am from the plena y bomba, festivales y danzas en la calle. I am from las fiestas patronales. I am from la barriada Santa Teresita, Cidra, Puerto Rico. I am from mis abuelos Juanita y Don Pancho. My grandmother Hama de casa and grandfather Un musiquista. Abuelo el diseñador del cuatro, a 10 string Spanish guitar. I am the daughter of Herminio Flores-González y Juana Maria Aponte-Cortes. Nacidos y creados en Cidra, Puerto Rico. I was born in September and weighed 2 lbs 11 oz. Raised as a Roman Catholic. I am from arroz amarillo con gandules Lechón asado y ensalada de papa. I am from Cidra, Puerto Rico Donde mi corazón siempre se quedara.

De Donde Soy


By: Eliana Martinez You want me to tell you where I’m from? I’ll take you there. I’m from a bright green house with the number painted on in 3rd grade handwriting, Bead curtains that don’t billow, Old family portraits, faded and distant. I’m from my grandmother’s dark closet down the hall, An altar to the saints that ‘saved my life’ when I was born premature, Candles, incense and a Bible. The mosquito net on each bed tells you just as much about where I’m from, As the broom made of twigs and the old TV with the antenna and hand dials. If you must know, you can get there a few ways, Hop a plane, hitch a ride, flag a concho, pay a busfare on Caribe Tours, And then have your cousin pick you up at the end of the road, Because no one will go that far. Have some spare cash for the guards at the checkpoints, And if your skin is dark enough, have your Dominican or American passport handy. It’s a long ride, but people will sell you fried everything along the road. Just eat it! You will know you’re in my town When you see the fences made of sticks with laundry shamelessly hung to dry, The decrepit unpaved streets with sick-looking stray dogs And children pushing tires with a stick. There will be chicken coops and wooden benches in the yard. Between 12 and 2, everyone will be sleeping. When the lights go out, find a house or a colmado with a generator. The Doña will offer you some fresh-squeezed fruit juice in a tin cup. You’re not allowed to say no- they look down on desaire. At some point, stop and smell the ocean, even if you can’t yet see it. Don’t ride your pasola too fast near the beach, you can lose grip on the sand. Wave at the kids in the makeshift basketball court; they love strangers! Are you there yet? Are there kids rain-bathing in their underwear? Is everyone wearing a t-shirt that someone brought them from “Nueva Yor”? Then you’re there. Now make yourself comfortable. Enjoy the tamarindo, quenepas and guayava. Listen to the story of how Monchy, Tuto, Chacho and Chelo Chased down the dog that was biting Mamá’s goats. By the way, no one here goes by their real name, Especially not Teofilo and Narciso. When my family gets comfortable enough, They will show you the photo album that is falling apart And ask you to stay the night because, “El Diablo no duerme en su cama.”* Welcome to where I’m from. Enjoy your stay. * Translation: The Devil doesn’t sleep in his own bed.


I Am By: Ceci Lewis I am from weekend picnics in Cave Creek, Rustler’s Park, Wonderland of Rocks, and Rucker Lake Places burned into my heart and now scarred and displaced. I am from the low lying branches Of the “dirty tree” Whose seeds scattered across the neighborhood Producing a long line of ancestors. I am from the gentle “good morning mi’jita, como amaneciste?” To the shrill “If you can stay out all night, you can get up in the morning!” From the smell of crispy bacon, chorizo con huevos, and coffee brewing That bring to mind the importance of a father’s love, To the cold frijoles in the fridge and the multiplying cans of deviled ham That painfully elicit the awareness of a mother’s intentional distance. I am from Shorty’s dreamy vaquero’s restless search To Lil from Brazil’s “better living through chemistry” approach to life, From Pretty Ida’s subtle humor to Sweet Bea’s gentle nature, To Tichi, Pancho, Lalo, and Michael – siblings sin rivalry, From the silent strength and enduring love of De Lewis, To Nieves, Isla, G, and Elli Jelly Belly They are from me and I from them. I am from a reciprocal world that has shown me that When I love a little, I am rewarded a lot!


PORTRAITS


Dixie By: Ceci Lewis Papers flutter all around as the fan rotates across the expanse of the room Sending some sheets of paper on a wild journey, While others only flip up a corner and dream of departure. Books lie opened flat; their spines screaming for relief. They sit on the cluttered desk, looking like butterflies ready for flight. Occasionally, she will pick one up, Thumb through the pages until she reaches the exact passage she needs, She… Reads it, Smiles, Reads it again and then relegates the book back to its customary position on her desk. Intermittently laughing out loud, and cussing under her breath, The sounds blur into each other. I peek over her shoulder, admiring the translucent skin covering her fingers as they Furiously tap, tap, tap. Silver hair pulled back by straight silver barrettes, She appears to be completely in the moment – Electronically connected to the mission at hand – Seemingly oblivious to her surroundings. Suddenly, she stops – looks at me, grabs my right hand with both of hers sheltering it from the world. “So tell me about that handsome husband of yours, Ceci.” A wave of gratitude rushes over me as I embrace the moment when I am Happy to be in Dixie Land!


STEVE Someone special that’s who you are Thoughtful, caring and loving Endearing Vanish away the fear of mine Exciting so full of love and understanding a charming style

JOSHUA J is for Joshe, Jay, jovial, and fun to be with O is for outstanding behavior S is for splendid personality H is for Happiness you always bring U is for understanding you show for others A is for adventurous, active, always ready to go

By: Esther Saintus


DAD’S SHOES By: Vicky Wallace My dad’s shoes were heavy--weary from the day’s work Heavy from the responsibility of raising a family…. Slow--from being tired of the burden. Work shoes –black leather Heavy work shoes Old from time Bruised from hitting into things Comfortable from frequent use…..broken in. Sturdy thick leather supporting a man of great honor Who up every day ….very early or very late To drive a bus and pick up passengers then transport them around town. He works and walks for the future of his children. “Become a teacher Vicky……..……you get the summers off.” “Become a teacher Vicky ………….You’ll have a secure job.” “Teachers I know travel the world and bring stories back to their students!” And so I did!


My Girlfriend is Awesome By: Carl Oliver Out of the house She’s composed like Chopin Inside the house She sprawls across the bed until way past ten Knee-length skirts and wedge heels 3 inches or more Workout shorts and tanktop bare feet on the floor 16 smooth black inches of Pantene commercial hair Twisted up with a chop stick or pony tail if she really cares Her glow is irresistible playing violin or instructing a class Or loudly singing while cleaning 90’s R&B on blast


Gaby Par: Chantal Kenol Desmornes I feel I didn’t know my Mom until she came to live with me. I saw her slowly slimming down to bones and skin. She hardly ever goes out but always carries her bag around. “A treasure is in there,” she says laughing. If I insist she puts it down, she gets upset and says she is entitled at her age to do whatever she wants. Yet, sometimes she says otherwise when frightened by her own shadow. She started moaning in her sleep after my father died. I heard it that very first night. I didn’t know it never stopped. At times, she stares at her reflection in the mirror, at the dark circles under her eyes, at the dress hanging loose around her figure. She sighs, naming herself: “Adye!* Gaby, what has become of you?” *My God or Good lord in Haitian Creole.


This Is For My Uncle Joe By: Lou Bernieri This is for my Uncle Joe Who never wrote a poem. He was a boxer, a bartender, and a bookie His calves were carved like granite, His forearms were thick and broad. Uncle Joe coached peewee football in Brooklyn. His teams saved a lot of kids from the streets, They saved me. Smart, a big reader, He got a football scholarship to Miami. But immigrant children don’t play; He joined the army out of high school. After that he had a hard life, even before Aunt Joan died of cancer, leaving him with my 5 cousins. He did what he could do for them, for himself. Uncle Joe died before he was buried, It took 5 orderlies to subdue his Alzheimer’s rages. At his funeral the wiseguys outnumbered the priests, But not the women with rosary beads. This is for Uncle Joe Whose hands were too battered and bloodied To ever write a poem.


By: Elaine Johnson *I am the one who eats. Tasty stuff especially. Pot stickers and soup. Cheese too.*

A poem What new form is this? Words I didn’t even know Flow forth from my pen. A poem about my sister? I hadn’t even realized how much I missed her. My mom’s garden shoes? When seen through the eyes of my poem? A window into our relationship. Each new poem: An insight. A small sort of peace

Eileen I roll out of bed on a lazy Saturday morningtt Maybe 10 o’clock. She’s just gotten back from a run Maybe 4 miles. Before that she was out swimming laps. The cookies she’s made are cooling on the stove. She’ll never eat them though. In fact she’s about to walk them to her friend’s house A birthday present. She’s been up since 4 Busy as a bee Healthy as a horse. I’ve woken up some 6 hours later & she’ll never fail to mention it. We sit in the kitchen We laugh, we smile, We fill in the paper’s Sudoku. It’s Saturday morning And it starts with my sister Eileen


The Artivist By: Lisa Stott Dark chocolate, yum! Covered in change, he stirs me To write with passion


Clair/Clara By: Vicky Wallace She’s got a head of wiry, frizzy, thick OH MY GOD! Did I say thick? White hair She’s got a smile that never goes away She’s a hard worker A hard lover of people and her family…. Never resting or thinking of herself She’s up at dawn and falls asleep to the TV night after night Her head bopping up and down…. But if you leave her side she says: “Where are you going?” “Oh just to the bathroom mom. I’ll be back soon” She’s a creative cook Makes delicious meals out of nothing Some kind of “miracle worker” in the kitchen Once she made me a salad and found some extra pineapple in the refrigerator She says “Oh pineapple is very good in a salad” ….and it was. Growing up she made all my dresses – again from scratch School uniforms, party dresses, Halloween costumes and my High School graduation dress Mint green with pretty flowered embroidery at the hem. She was a talent and some say she could have been famous…. If she knew how to make it in the big world-but she didn’t So she gave all her gifts to us…. Her four children, loving husband and hundreds of adoring friends and family.


Eulogy from an Angry Child By: Lisa Stott Everyone thinks my mother was such a great woman who did things to change people’s lives for the better. She changed my life but it certainly was not for the better. I recall a time when I was about 14 years old and she was supposed to pick me up after school. She never came. I walked to the school where she worked in the middle of winter and waited at the doorway of her classroom. I stood there until she finally acknowledged me. “Forget something?” I said. How does a mother forget her child? Oh, she was apologetic and all but the truth was that her job was more important than I was. Her job always seemed to be more important. I often envied those kids because I think they got more of my mother’s attention than I did. She was not a good mother. She was selfish and self-centered. In fact, when my father died of a heroin overdose, she was happy about it because it meant social security benefits. That money was supposed to go to me. Instead, she used it to pay towards the mortgage on the house. She was a thief and a liar. I think she only cared about her image. She wanted to show everyone that she could do it all. She took me on trips and sent me to summer camps but it was part of the masquerade. She probably didn’t even want me. It was always her job, her job, her job. And you know what? Those kids probably didn’t appreciate her anyway. I know I didn’t. Maybe that’s why I’m struggling so much. I hated her for asking me to leave and I made her pay for it. I refused to talk to her and now I’ll never get the chance to make things right.


Love is… By: Lisa Stott Love is the rev of his motorcycle inching its way up the driveway The hammering of a nail against the rooftop The sound of wind chimes swaying in the summer breeze gently reminding me to take the time to notice him The wasabi that drapes my sushi and the salty ocean water that harbors transparent jellyfish The cotton candy swirled on the cardboard stand at the weekend carnival The shoulder I lay my head upon each time I shed a tear and the fingers that strum the sensitive parts of my body softly in the night The arms that hold me tightly and protect me from harm’s way The scent of Draakar that fills the air when he enters the room or the aroma of dinner that he has prepared after a long day’s work And sometimes, it’s the pungent odor of the musty cellar struggling to break free Most important, love moves in such a way that when our two bodies collide and fuse into one There is no you or me, There’s just us In a world where nothing exists Except this moment where we Express our love deeply, forcefully, and intimately


Black Beach on France Street By: Mosi Makori Bending my knees and crawling with ease I frequently escaped to the roots of our house in my early years As I entered my underworld the skin on my hands and knees were impacted with black dirt The same dirt Khepera used, like a scarab bettle, to create all forms of the Earth In my venture there was difficulty at the beginning Sometimes I banged my head on pipes In due time I remembered to duck and over-climb Subconsciously in training to overcome Western Man-Made pipelines designed with my demise in mind With my crew of yellow, die cast metal Tonka Trucks, I dug, mixed and buried like the scarab beetle While bonding with june bugs I’d unearth glass jars, sea shells, nails As well as discoveries in the form of the avenues passersby strewn syringes and needles Upon sighting, I’d continue to play Later, I’d tell Paw Paw, devoid of location, and they’d be gone the next day Since then, again, again and again and even after transition, He’s still opening the way


What I Want to Buy When I Win the Lottery By: Lisa Torrisi I touch the small handle of the screen door that gives easy welcome. Bare feet squeeze coolness of polished concrete. One-piece purple bathing suit damp against my skin. This door at basement level. Scattered brown roped rugs. Worn leather green couch and another table for playing cards. Beyond this room is another – it has no name, just four changing stalls, two wide white sinks for cleaning fish and a second refrigerator. I hear grandma opening the door at the top of the stairs, wondering “Who’s down there?” “Meeee… “ always suffices. The spigot of the outdoor shower turns on, rinses sand and shell off grandpa’s feet. A bucket of today’s catch clangs against the stone pathway. The sinks are starting to fill. The melody of the ice cream man’s truck fading two blocks away. I smell the beginnings of a stew, garlic, onion, rosemary. The welcome waft of fish still flapping that pleasantness could soon change. I taste the salt on my lips, Skin mixing with cherry popsicle just bought from the truck outside. I taste the sweet victory of our daily waffle ball game. I am swimmer, shell collector, fisherman, ball player, chef, ice cream aficionado. I am the beach. This cottage that I have been told over and over was built by my grandfather’s hands, Something he did on the weekends. I drive by it now, wishing we were never forced to let it go. I want to step through that screened doorway again, cool concrete against my feet, grandma calling my name, grandpa’s wink as he cleans today’s catch.


Marley By: Mosi Mokori Purple, pink and blue socks but often times short, caramel toes in flip flops She looks to me and says, “Dad, are you gonna make my hair look like freedom?” I unbraid the braids, and unsaddle the ribbon from her ponytail Again, we return to our world Therein lies respect without demands for it A love supreme greater than she and me individually No ownership or control The only force present is primordial One that’s greater when two or more are gathered Once in bed, she gives my chin hairs tender tugs In a mellow mood, I playfully protest “stooooop” Soon, she drifts off to Sandman’s Lavender Land No longer complimented with her smile on her single dimple, my eyes fixate In my peripheral her tummy tells of inhales and exhales, the way she taught me to meditate


EGO POEM (Words spoken with tongue planted firmly in cheek) By: Richard Gorham I was there when Jesus Christ had his moments of doubt and pain I walked over the bridge with Martin Luther King I was Lincoln’s editor at Gettysburg and I helped Sojourner Truth into carriages and over mud puddles I wrote Genesis, Ecclesiastes, the Gospel According to John, the Qu’ran and the Book of Mormon Cee Lo Green cannot forget me. I was the one who finally stopped Ghengis Khan’s army. I have counted to infinity, and I fed Ghandi. (But only after he asked.) Recognizing my superior ability to identify with and thus accurately portray the experiences of troubled youth, Shakespeare cast me as the first Hamlet. Playing around with my piano one day, I accidentally invented jazz When I appeared on American Idol, Simon Cowell treated me nicely. When we broke up, I tried to let Emily Dickinson down easy, but she spent the rest of her life locked inside her house in sorrow over losing my love. I consider John Locke and Thomas Jefferson to be plagiarists of my lesser works What Heisenberg calls his “uncertainty principle” is, in essence, his inability to understand my mathematical brilliance. I drew some doodles once, and in doing so I gave Picasso a career Transformers, Green Lantern and Captain America are incomplete documentaries of my life. George Washington was president of the eighth grade student council when I was the advisor. (I am so proud of that boy!) I advised a young Langston Hughes to write about his hometown, Harlem. The internet, cell phones, GPS devices and Snapple all started out as hobbies of mine I developed the English language because I got bored with speaking only Spanish, Latin, German, Italian and French. I am Kanye’s style consultant. The night before he died, I got Hitler to admit that he’d been wrong all along John Keats wrote “Ode on a Grecian Urn” after participating in my Bread Loaf writing workshop I gave Ansel Adams his first camera, Bruce Springsteen his first guitar and Mikhail Barishnykov his first dance lesson. I made a deal with Robert Johnson at the crossroads at midnight. The real hero of Hogwart’s isn’t Harry, Ron or Hermione – it’s me. Of course, I’m still not as smart as Dixie Goswami But I am a writer. I create reality with my words. Through writing, I can be anything.


Portraits of ABL Staff By: Pascal Theodore Mama Lewis She is a beating heart with arms and legs. Always pumping, always loving. She even made us banana bread. “She’s got talent.” Lou says, this girl from Massachusetts. She is Mama Lewis, the poet.

Vuyelwa Wise and nurturing like the earth. You support us all and catch us when we fall. Understanding, proud and open to all cultures. You feed us at our roots and make us flourish.

Rich Such talent in his voice! When he reads out loud, the text comes alive. Always ready to help anytime anyhow, he brought us coffee and cookies and so much humor too. I’ll miss you a bunch my dear new friend. But do me a favor and tie your shoe lace.

Ummi So colorful and vibrant and such attitude. Made me feel like I was in my students’ shoes. Strong and proud and ready to fight, this amazing black beauty, oh what a sight! She’s the queen of New York, no less, no doubt. I bow to your Umminess. Peace & Love. I’m out.

Lou Megaphone man, football giant. You are the heart of this ABL plan. You always made sure that we were having fun. We didn’t see you much but when we did it was great. It’s too bad that it’s already done. I wish we could toss that old pig skin some more. I’ll be sure to come back to this place I adore.


ODES


Ode to Ice Cream By: Vicky Wallace Oh ice cream, I LOVE you so! Your are creamy and dreamy and tasty and delicious You come in all kinds of fabulous flavors-old and new Like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and mango too And low fat Cherry Garcia and Honky Monkey Funky Fudge with cherries and almonds inside. Oh ice cream you make me feel bliss So let’s go get some Häagen-Dazs OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH. YES!


Ode to Books BY: Rebecca Christian Books, books you fill the shelves and the closet floors And whenever the notion hits me, I go and buy more Revealing knowledge, you are the best Books fill our lives with joy and are something we should always possess


An ode to anything By: Grace Beniquez what might that be? an ode to you. an ode to me. an ode to the sun. an ode to the moon. an ode to lovers. an ode to fools. an ode to anything what might that be? an ode to a nap and zees. an ode to lunch. an ode to a cool breeze. an ode to an ode. why not? Why not an ode to anything?


Ode to the Sneaker Shrine By: R. Ummi Modeste, 2011 My slides are cute, but, geez, all year long? So impractical. My heels are sexy and make me tall, but aren’t good for clacking down the schoolhouse halls. My Land’s End sandals are too cold for winter and my toes are then subject to any splinter. But you, my Nu Balance Sneakers, cushion my feet against the punishing asphalt, protect them from the rain, snow and salt. You keep my ankles from turning as I walk/jog/walk/jog around the track and hold me upright when I step into yet another New York City sidewalk crack. Oh, King NuBalance, I curtsy before your throne; soon I will make my yearly pilgrimage to your palace before I go home.


Ode to Sunshine By: Vuyelwa Maqubela Oh rays of the sun You rise in the morn and brighten the day Whether in the African sky, though that be better Or in New England where your rays are rarer You rise in the morn and brighten the day. Oh rays of sun Not enough of you risks depression And too much of you could cause skin cancer You darken the skin and make Being brown the way to be – swag You rise in the morn and brighten the sky. Oh rays of sun You bring health, life, and everlasting hope To lives filled with fog and hopelessness Without you there’d be no light And light we surely need to make it through this life.


PEDAGOGY OF THE FREE pedagogy of the free


10 Things I Want to Say By: Rebecca Christian 1. Like-minded people must collaborate to build a better global community 3. Teachers can make a difference by ensuring that students of color read about their history. (Pre-slavery and colonialism) 4. First identify the source of a problem, and then you will not be distracted by its manifestation(s) (i.e. problem-an ahistorical individual, = lack of self-love & cultural pride= lack of identity= manifestation=teen homicide, and other form(s) of self-destructive behavior) 5. Do something to stop the mass incarceration of people of color in this country. Read the New Jim Crow. 6. Believe you can be the difference in a world of indifference 7. Live your conscience 8. Foster confidence in youth 9. Be a bridge among communities and nations 10. A revolution needs only a spark, be the spark!


Poet By: Grace Beniquez Unaccustomed to the power of her voice she whispered, “I want to be a poet.� Her words churning lava in the pit of her stomach, wanting to erupt into molten meaning You are a poet. You are a poet if thoughts dance in your mind wanting to salsa across your tongue You are a poet every time You double-dutch with the lines of your loose leaf Yes, poet Who in your dream dreams of a better world Do not let the coldness of the page frighten you, nor the glow of the screen turn your muse into a stone Part your lips, the curtains of your stage and let your muse speak.


Nowhere Like India By: Jane Chang I hear the voices of people begging “Rupee, Rupee� all day, every day I see the holy cow take a step onto the sidewalk and walk right by me I smell a foul scent on the train; everyone throws their trash overboard and into the land I taste the dirt that has been lifted off the ground as the cars, buses, bikes, mopeds, rickshaws, and cows pass by me I touch the holy water of the Ganges River, also a final place of rest for some souls I feel helpless, looking at the many eyes hoping for just a little something.


“

Liberate Your MIND from shackles of thenyesterday we will be Free!

By: Rebecca Christian


A declaration. by: jack judson just as a jail-bird sings that injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere so too do we hold our children hostage by truths we do not make self-evident all people equal through education but an education not equal to all of the political proliferation and oppression of that we call other of liberal consumption of assumption of skillful willful elite denial of subjugated enslavement of other the alienation of a nation from a promise founded on a fallacy that left countless children left behind that left countless children all alone that left countless children powerless an act of treason against our country when a rich man’s dog has more dignity than the child of a rich man’s worker then the sheer force of enforced conformity shatters the rectitude of intention and justifies drastic action against these destructive ends that seek to negate the most powerful words ever spoken of the people by the people for the people for these are not light and transient causes for the cause of freedom is in great measure the one true cause of all humankind and there is no greater act of freedom than that of education made equal thus it is within our right to revolt it is our duty to take up the cause

it is our moral imperative to fight to engage in war louder than a bomb of revolutionary rhetoric and action based on authentic reason but we must maintain our humanity must maintain our commitment to the cause and trust in our critical consciousness to promote democratic principles of celebratory education where we garner respect and establish high standards and a strong steadfast belief that all students deserve equal station and the right to write their own history for what is freedom without dignity and though the walk to freedom might be long though we may grow weary along the way though we may fear the road that lies ahead though we may want to turn back and give up we must never never never give up and know that we are never all alone for the sun shines warm upon our face and against all else we have each other so in whatever way we can or may let us bring our individual voice to a community chorus that sings that sings a rhetoric of revolution upon which we build a foundation that sings of action against the oppressor upon which we build a foundation that sings of celebrating education upon which we build and sing and sing and sing the pedagogy of the Free


I’VE LEARNED THAT... ...It’s very easy to believe someone, especially if they tell you what you want to hear ...i haven’t quite learned how to forgive yet. That’s something that takes a lot of time & practice. ...that i should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time i see them. ...that the people i care about most in life are taken from me too soon.

...that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be. ...that i cannot make someone love me. All i can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them. ... that no matter how much I care, some people just don’t care back. ... that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.

...that no matter how bad my heart is broken, the world doesn’t stop for my grief.

...that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you’ve had and what you’ve learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.

...that your family won’t always be there for you. It may seem strange, but people you aren’t related to can take care of you, love you and teach you to trust people again. FAMILY IS NOT JUST BIOLOGICAL

... that there is always two sides to a story, so don’t go judging someone off of what you know from one point of view. It’s only by putting the two together that u can get the true story and know who was at fault.

...that being honest can sometimes hurt more than lying.

...that it’s not what i have in my life but who i have in my life that counts.

...that just because someone doesn’t love me the way i want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love me with all they have.

...that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you’d better know something. ...that i shouldn’t compare myself to the best others can do. ...that i can do something in an instant that will bring me heartache for a life-time.

...that i am responsible for what i do, no matter how i feel. ...that either I control my attitude or it controls me. ...that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place. ...When you really love someone most of the time you can’t just be their friend, and i know i don’t want half of anyone. ...That no matter what people do to you, you have to forgive them, not for them but for yourself. When someone hurts you they take power over you, and if you don’t forgive them they keep that power. So forgive others but most importantly forgive yourself.

...everything that irritates you about others is your key to understanding yourself. What angers you in another peson is an unhealed aspect of yourself. If you had already resolved that particular issue, you would not be irritated by its reflection back to you. ...I’ve also learned that i still have much to learn, so until next time ...

By: Castro-Yves Arboite


You cannot make me learn this. You’re the one who doesn’t “get it.” There’s no precision in this poetry, These are white men, and they’re dead, So there’s no e-motion in this ocean. No hero in his-story, See, this formula is ancient; You’re the nurse, and I’m the patient, But I don’t want your med-ucation. Just let the ignorance and hatred slowly kill this diseased nation. This America must die, Because Americans must rise, grow wings, take flight. Let’s take your name and mine and make it Wright. If God had intended for teenage boys to sit still, harness hormones, And read about the Intolerable Acts of 1774, He would have made them interesting. Instead you’ve undertaken Coercive Acts of your own Choking us on bourgeoisie concoctions of fancy words bought with federal loans. Must be an acquired taste. With a dainty dollop of delusion and a silver teaspoon of assimilation for taste? What did they spoon-feed you in college? Hopes and dreams of Teaching for America, Yes, Miss, the Industrial Revolution Has inspired my personal evolution. So I have taken flying shuttle, spinning jenny, cotton gin, And the power from the dammed water of this damned river To weave me a new flag, To weave us a new flag, To weave a new flag. But you don’t even raise your fist. You said you was like me. Is that what they teach you at your (un)professional development? You don’t know what I’m like, and you’re nothing like me. “I’m just like you.” Definition: lie politicians tell when they want people to turn a blind eye to everything they’re about to do wrong. You don’t know what I’m like, and you’re nothing like me. That’s why you cannot make me learn this.

Declaration of Independence By: Eliana Martinez


A Call to Action When it is time for a Revolution, all you need is a spark! When there are no taxes for the rich and no jobs for the poor, It is time for a Revolution! When you can be arrested for dancing at the Lincoln Memorial, It is time for a Revolution! When your education has been reduced to shading in test Scantron sheets, It is time for a Revolution! When the Supreme Court rules that corporations can give unlimited amounts of money to politicians, your Democracy has been hijacked. Meet your new president, Exxon Mobil. It is time for a Revolution! When your country is #1 in having the largest prison population in the world, It is time for a Revolution! When education does not allow your community to flourish so that health care, housing and jobs are a right and not a privilege, It is time for a Revolution! Breadloaf Community It is time for a Revolution! You be the Spark!

By: Rebecca Christian


Andover Bread Loaf 2011 Pictures By: Castro-Yves Arboite


Andover Bread Loaf 2011

Breadloaf Anthology  

Collection of poems writtings and exerpts from ABL summer session '11

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