C U N J U H M AG MAGIC Februar y, 2017
From the Editors: We made it!! After (dozens) of google hangouts, hours of reading, emails, editing, tears, sleep deprivation, a move across the country, and all types of stepping out on faith, we did the damn thing. You’re about to read the first issue of Cunjuh Mag! Congratulate yourself. We are for damn sure celebrating over here. We know how difficult it is to choose joy. To persist and work to be spiritually and mentally afloat. They make it this way. Fear and despair are carefully chosen tools of the oppressor. Each of our accomplishments are part of a collective. Every win is significant, no matter how small. The persistence of our existence is radical. Each ounce of light we exude and attract is a reason to celebrate. And if that is not enough, there are plenty of gems in this issue that will snatch you regardless if you came to celebrate. We hope that this mag is a beacon, a quiet home, a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. We see this mag as a resource; for us by us (FUBU). As artists of color, we crave spaces where we don't have to explain ourselves. Where our context is already understood, and the will to learn is present because we know how it feels to be silenced. We hope this mag combats those spaces, and grows into one beautiful free flowing nurturing hub. Here you can heal from the ways white supremacy and colonialism seep into your pores and make you apologize for dysphoria. Here the water is clean and you grow tall. As much as we want to hold each other up, we also want to hold each other accountable. The political/spiritual climate we currently exist in has NO room for complacency. We must mobilize. There are various entry points, but it is important that you find an aspect of resistance that feeds your soul. Zora Neale Hurston said “If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it”So in the very least speak out, but furthermore educate yourself, meet with your community. Combat antiblackness where you see it. Listen to and amplify indigenous voices and leadership. Protect and amplify our trans siblings.Protect undocumented folks who face deportation. Stand with our immigrants our muslim family. The time is now yall, it is our duty to fight, it is our duty to win, we have NOTHING to lose but our chains. So here we are. The pivoting point. The nexus, in spite of every disappoint, every dark hole here we are at the crossroads once again. Existing in spite of like always. Our joy is sometimes too heavy to wear face first, so we hold it close, in quiet, in color. Conjuring resilience from laughs amongst friends, from a maiden name, from silence. We hope that this mag gives you solace, an embrace that feels like summer, some hot tea, and goosebumps. Thank you for believing in us. As always, #protectyamagic -Love n light The Cunjuh Editors
TABLE OF CONTENTS Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering for some readers. We advise you be cautious. Willie Kinard <> 1 Juan Carlos Corredor <> 2 Carolina Poveda <> 3-4 Willie Kinard <> 5 Juan Carlos Corredor <> 6 Haleigh Nickerson <> 7-11 Olivia Engobor <> 12-13 Sophia Ross <> 14 Anisa McGowan <> 15-16 Shelby Moring <> 17-18 Noemi Martinez <> 18 Shah Noor Hussein <> 19 Tian Tran <> 20 Shah Noor Hussein <> 21 Wayne P. Tate Jr. <> 21 Al Chavarry <> 22 Shah Noor Hussein <> 23-24 Ike Nwoye <> 25-26 Interview with Ms. Nona <> 27-34 Sarah Oâ€™Neal <> 35 Jamal Parker <> 36 Jada Mosely <> 36 Melvin Backman <> 37
Shah Noor Hussein <> 38 Kush Thompson <> 39 Cantrice Janelle Penn <> 40 Susana Cardenas-Soto <> 41-42 Sophia Karina English <> 43-44 Alyxandra Goodwin <> 45-46 Mina Nieto <> 47-48 Youree Kim <> 49-50 Jayla Neely <> 49-50 Elise Swopes <> 51 Enrique García Naranjo <> 52 Joseph Jordan-Johnson <> 52 Diane Exavier <> 53-54 Jamal Parker <> 55 T. Chen <> 55 Willie Kinard <> 56 Katerina Annunziato <> 57-58 Shivani Narang <> 59 Anisa McGowan <> 59 Enrique García Naranjo <> 60 Bios <> 61-70
DANCE RECITAL FOR CLEANSING RITUAL Willie Kinard (he/him/his) Smoke emerges and dances to an audience of one, intently watching with a burning bouquet to throw graciously upon its finale. This incenseâ€™s swan song is a winding trail of pear and vanilla. Preceded by prayer, interrupted by breath, united with oil, the scene ends. Ash has drawn back the curtain. Scorched lavender hurled into the air, Smoke has taken its bow. The lights go on. The dancer disappears. The space refreshed. All whole.
Juan Carlos Corredor (he/him/his) The grind of your bay leaves spark my nose. Pimpled roots upheave a christening of herbs. Your grind pops open the soil. The weeds defend the oranges, the oranges hustle with thickets of rosemary, a bounty of cactus stretch their prickles as smoke gulps charcoal. Towns of bay leaves and white sage congregate under a waning moon. Bases of canyons march with the sea, forming a grave. The towns march, stripping their high heels and sequins. The mortar misses its pestle.
Eclipse of the...
“Eclipse of the…” Is a series about isolation and inferiority. Using self portraiture as a tool to encrypt a visual language, I depict the effects of dissociation and emotional turmoil. My body as a site for this exploration, it contains a history marked by trauma and silence. In these images my body is the celestial object that is hidden by the shadow of the sun.
My work is a self exploration, a documentation of my personal magic and history. By using secret languages and coded symbols to communicate my feelings, I slowly manifest my own secrets. This creates an opportunity to step back and investigate. My process is slow and intentional it is meticulous and tactical. My goal is to heal myself and others from the pain that is caused by colonization and systemic oppression. I often address themes within my intersecting identities. Which grants me the opportunity to speak on a multitude of experiences. Through the use of a variety of mediums, I create a mythology that speaks to a collective consciousness accessible through diasporic knowledge, political solidarity and a common experience of dystopic reality.
<> Carolina Poveda (they/them/ey/em)
ACCENT Willie Kinard (he/him) Combustion is the native language I don’t speak in front of strangers. I only use my mouth for a lighter when the room is too dark to see anything in
exhaling warmth, cycling in destruction, designating these ashes as both beginning and second chance.
its stench is too loud to not burn whatever reeks in it, and I don’t mind hearing the scrape of my tongue on the floor. Close my eyes for prayer. Dowse my chin with water. Plug my nostrils for sage. Wipe my lip of cinders. I have tended to many wildfires in my mouth, singed the ends of my sentences like punctuation hellbound on Salem crosses. Bloodlines full of arson, left us mouthfuls only family understood— voice as fresh fire, dancing and bowing with the breath, inhaling light,
No Name One
Juan Carlos Corredor (he/him) I find you tucked in the paint on my ceiling. Relaxing, not worrying about the ground. Your hips widen and compress as the lights turn on and off. Skin cells stretch away from house paint slicking off. You peel from the ceiling and dive into the crook of my lamp. I turn to my sideâ€”you peek from the glass. Jump from the lamp, stare at me before taking off and caress the 4 a.m. sky like itâ€™s your, New-Lover-I-fucking-hate-you. You swim in and out of bedrooms and I still swim in my sheets. I dream of morning searching for you. its rays become spotlights, and you keep swimming until you find yourself resting in the paint on my ceiling.
Werk Through It
Haleigh Nickerson (she/her) “Magic is the creating of something out of nothing. Magic is memory and remembering, but it is also the piecing together of those memories. Magic can be anything, but in this case, magic is a formation. Magic is the construction of black identity; the construction of our very own identities. Magic is The New Negro.” Former VIBE editor at large, Hilton Als. Hilton Als states: The New Negro is an inventive amalgamation of past and future trends that are indigenous to black American style. Generally, the new negro who is “new” every decade or so --is female, a woman who considers her marginal status a form of freedom or challenge: she takes the little she has been given and transforms it into something complex, outrageous, and ultimately fashionable. - former VIBE editor Hilton Als, The New Yorker, 1997 Just like Missy Elliot, these other black female rappers are also interesting formations of contemporary identity. All of these women have taken the little that they have been given and transformed it into a complex identity. They have used hip hop and style as ways in which they could form their identity out of nothing. The Hilton Als describes and relates the idea of the New Negro in terms of contemporary black female identity. Als proposes Missy Elliot as an example for helping us understand W.E.B. DuBois and Alain Locke’s concept of the New Negro. The concept of the New Negro understands black identity as being a raw construction. This construction of culture or identity emerged out of severe displacement. The concept of the New Negro emphasizes a ‘making of something out of nothing’; a formation of identity. The New Negro is essentially a strategic combination, compiling or piecing together of scattered information or fragmented parts. A non-place or a non-space is a space that is indefinable. It exists in the past as it exists in the present; simultaneously; Shifting from the past to the present. Back and forth, warping our understanding of time and space. Let me see you go, Let me see you go/ Back, Back forth and forth/
Back, Back forth and forth/ Here, I am understanding memory as a non-space where I construct a certain reality. Here, I am understanding the collecting and piecing together of memories as a glitch. A glitch can be defined as a sudden malfunction or irregularity of something. Each thing is a fragment; a piece. Each object is a glitch, or halt in memory. The space in which these compiled objects exist is a dislocated, displaced space. Each object is stuck; stuck in a specific time and stuck in a specific place. Each compiled object is data or information. With each object, a specific stacking occurs. With each object a compiling occurs. Such a non-space is a series of glitches or scatterings; a compiling of information or data. This non-space also functions as a room or stage; a stage or room in which a specific transformation occurs. In Sarah Ahmed’s essay Happy Objects, Ahmed writes, “…happiness functions as a promise that directs us toward certain objects. My essay will offer an approach to thinking through affect as “sticky”. Affect is what sticks, or what sustains or preserves the connection between ideas, values and objects.” Sarah Ahmed describes her reasoning behind the objects in our lives and the associations that we have with those objects. Ahmed understands and describes objects as being entities that can ‘sustain or preserve connection between ideas, values, and objects’. Our personal associations with specific objects can be formed through specific experiences that we have with those objects. This textual archive of objects functions as a scattered intertwining of Memory, Thought, and Rhythm. As I werk, w-e-r-k through each object I am werking through my memory, further grasping the construction of my own identity. Duke Ellington’s In a Sentimental Mood plays through my head as I remember A golden beat box. This is a journey into sound/ This is a journey into sound/ A journey which along the way will bring to you New color/ New dimension/ New value/ Pump up the volume/ Pump up the volume/
Pump that base/ A hand. A hand from an old 1970’s ad. A hand that looks like my auntie’s hand. A hand that looks like my mother’s hands. Fake flowers. Fake flowers like the one’s in my grand momma’s house. Everything was fake. Just like the clear plastic furniture covers that were extremely uncomfortable to sit on. If you sat for too long, your legs would end up sticking to the plastic, having to peel them off.
And the beat goes on/ Still moving strong, on and on/
A yellow basketball that resembles the sun.
I remember when I thought that I was Monica from Love and Basketball. I remember the hoop dream. My dad taught me how to hoop. He was no Harlem Globe Trotter, no MJ, No Kobe, but he taught me how to imagine. I thought I was Lisa Leslie. Monica made me love it. As I fell more in love with Sanaa Lathan’s character, Monica, I fell in love with the dream. I remember dreaming I remember imagining I still dream. I still imagine. I still wonder. My Nigga, what if ball really is life though? Long painted nails. I remember when I used to run track. I was pretty fast, but i wanted to be fast like Flo Jo. I wanted to run it like Flo Jo. She was so fast.
Her hair was laid to perfection and her nails were nail shop fresh Always did Longggg Those nails were long and sharp like claws. Like cat woman. Like Eartha Kitt. Like Halle Berry. Like a black panther runnin’ Like the nails of the hair lady who braided my hair for the first time; Sharp, like knives cutting my scalp. Blood trickled, but it was just my imagination, once again/ Runnin’ away with me/ Tell you it was just my imagination/ runnin’ away with me./ Sharp, Like my auntie Coco. She had long nails too. I remember her nails glistening like diamonds from the chicken grease while she was cooking soul food. Those nails were somethin’ else. Scattered 1960’s Jet Magazines. A black Annie mirror. I remember the stacks of Ebony and Jet Magazines at Ahma’s house. There was so much dust on them touching them felt like a violation. She collected everything. Everything. I flipped through every page of those magazines. Flipping through those magazines was like entering ‘a whole nother world’ as she would say. I thought I was the girl on the cover, the girl in the relaxer ads, and the girl on the back. I’m every woman/ it’s all in me/ Anything you want done, baby/ I do it naturally/ I’m every woman/ it’s all in me/
My grandma looked like Lena Horne. Actually, she looked like all of these women. She was my Lena Horne. She was My Shirley Basey. She was my Diana Ross. She was my Josephine. She was my Ebone, The color of beauty. Everything she collected was strangely a reflection of her. A brush with spikes. A comb sharpened like a razor. I remember getting bapped by the brush while getting my hair done every morning; for acting up and not acting right. I was a tender-headed child. I couldn’t sit still. I would run and hide. The basic task of my mom doing my hair every morning felt like torture. I remember my grandma telling me i needed to me more lady-like. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but I assumed that just meant for me to brush my hair more often and maybe start wearing makeup. I remember Ahma taking out my braids after I got braids for the first time. I remember squirming in discomfort. I remember screaming and crying and yelling. I remember her yanking and tugging and me yanking and tugging. I remember her combing my hair and scalp which felt like it was being sliced open into a bunch of tiny pieces. Books and a raised black power fist. My mother’s the one who taught me everything I know about African American history. THere were always books scattered around the house. She taught me about the Tommie Smith and John Carlos 1968 Mexico City Olympics silent Black Power Salute and everything else. She was my library. A gold chain. I remember my dad putting on his gold chain in the morning. It was a conclusion to him getting ready every day. He bought it as a gift to himself for makin’ it out the hood. My father’s thick golden chain feels like an extension or a part of him. I still wonder why we wear chains when we were in chains.
Recipes for Herbal Cigarettes Olivia Engobor (she/her)
I have here some recipes for herbal cigarettes. I call these little recipes potions. Bonne Nuit, Beaux rêves
½ parts Mugwort ½ parts Blue Lotus Sprinkle of lavender Smoke in the late evening before bed, to unwind relax and prepare the mind for entering the dream state. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is a shrub-like perennial plant of the sunflower family. Mugwort is commonly used to aid with indigestion, constipation, and other ailments of the stomach. These benefits are important when considering other uses of Mugwort which include enhancing one’s ability to lucid dream, memorizing dreams, and possibly even strengthening precognitive dreaming. It has been noted by many that what one consumes before bed influences the dream state the individual enters that night, so the Mugwort serves to balance the body as a means to strengthen the mind for a good night’s dream. Blue Lotus (Nymphaea Caerulea), which is most commonly found on the banks of the Nile, contains light sedatives and gives the user a sense of relaxation and euphoria. Historically, it has been used in some rituals to reach higher levels of consciousness. This blend will not only allow for a relaxful evening and active dreaming, but the eventual goal is to gift the smoker with the ability to tap into a higher level of consciousness in the dream realm. Lavender for calming and fragrant properties.
“In Love with you” Erykah Badu
½ part Damiana ½ parts Red Lotus Sprinkle of Rosebud Damiana (Tunera Diffusa) is a light aphrodisiac most commonly used as an antidepressant. Due to the light aphrodisiac properties it works well as a curator of bright compassionate energy. The flowers of this plant are yellow and vibrant much like the mood it creates. It reduces anxiety for sum and is a great pairing with weed. Paired with the Red lotus flower however, things get a little steamy. Red lotus, can be added to sensualize the mood. Rosebuds add taste and fragrance. This blend is perfect for a romantic night with a honey
Magic Personified Sophia Ross (she/her)
â€œI do believe in an everyday sort of magic -- the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we're alone.â€? - Charles de Lint
Unlearn the idea that magic is something fictitious and intangible. Magic exists
in the weight of our bones and in the plump of our flesh. It is as palpable as the songs of a Canary in the morning and the reflection of the moon on water and it is within you. Lean against its shoulders as it walks with you through the most wonderful -- and sometimes unpleasant moments of your life.
I myself attempt to do the same; However, there are times when I feel as if my
magic is faulty or defective due to the recurring pains in life. In order to feel more confident that my magic is unyielding, I self reflect and cleanse. I remind myself that I am nothing less than amazing and that I am nothing less than beautiful. I reflect on the times when I have let my magic wither by being careless with the space that I share with others. Energy travels. Now I rid myself of anyone or anything that makes my sacred spaces less ethereal. You have the right to do so as well.
The constant cleansing of my mind and body is not only therapeutic but essential
for keeping my magic afloat. Meditation, caring for my skin, and journaling has been my medium for doing so. It has taken me some time to determine which methods work best when cleansing my mind and body. There is no need to fret if you have yet to figure out what works best for you. Patience is key. Soon enough you will discover your own methods of self care. Whether your methods are conventional or unconventional, you deserve a care that will soothe the soul and aid your celestial magic in flourishing for ever more.
Excerpts from “THRUDAT” <> Anisa McGowan (she/her) Being a woman, especially a black woman raised by a single immigrant mother, often means being everything you have to be and rarely who you choose to be. You have to be strong, book-smart, focused, respectable, forgiving, self-sufficient, confident, attractive, modest, and small, all at once. Finding a balance between the two as I’ve matured has been an integral part of figuring out my intentions as an artist. I intend to inspire discussions about the intersections of racism, sexism, and classism. To create representations of how these isms affect Black communities and Black individuals in a plethora of settings. My artwork spans from figurative work like minimalistic portrait paintings, to digital arrangements of obscure objects like paper cranes. It has become increasingly mixed media, including audio, text, video, and digital images. I aim to challenge myself and the viewer with the manner in which I confront these complex social-political constructs. I strive to not only uniquely depict the vast spectrum that is the Black experience, but also empowering my subjects to transcend the experience.
by the grace of your ancestors, protect thyself Shelby Moring (she/her)
gather your materials from the earth always leaving offerings of your own, charged by the sun and flooded with the purest intentions I thank the earth, she asks for little and shares nothing but abundance. remove the rosemary leaves from the stem carefully, so as not to cause tears cleansing and banishing all that ails you. palo santo smoke wafting across the musky room, suspended in the air, the way clouds hover guard your sanctuary, woody presence sharing secrets and wisdom of the Brown women who came before you. moon water for good measure (leave water out on the windowsill during a full or new moon, see how it absorbs that lunar energy) feel its rippling vibrations as the drops kiss your skin wrists, the tender skin that craved violence stomach flab, pouring over high waisted jeans never ending ocean, stretch marks like storms and hair above belly buttons as wispy as sea moss feel its magic bring out yours. grains of salt, protection in its simplest form watch them cling to the lips of empty jars, see how they dive to the bottom when youâ€™re not looking clink did you know lavender is an herb for the spirits? intoxicating fragrance inducing soporific tranquility,
blessing or cursing you with the gift of sight, the thinning of the veil adorn your altar with caution, welcoming only what you wish. brown, blue-black, caramel, sandy skin fingertips stained with ash, nails dirtied with the earth. healers, mediums, dare we say witches in a blink, we dareth. there is much to learn from the brown angels who walk the fine line between the earth and the divine world never forget your bloodlines, never let the looming presence of pale, greedy demons steal your practice. pay homage through your self-preservation, and leave the candles burning for a while longer.
Weapons Of Mass Destruction Noemi Martinez (she/they) > Magic is no > trick, > It's a sharp machete > that lies at the tip > of my mother, > Tongue.
Shah Noor Hussein (she/they) My first in class poetry assignment Must have been second or third grade We make little books of poems And I write one about mama Mama and i Our love in this book Reading it out loud to her In our living room after receiving an A plus And so nervous That I didn’t look up until the end To see her crying And smiling So scared she wouldn’t understand my poetic language That was not in her native tongue And maybe slightly ashamed That it wasn’t And so nervous That I didn’t look up Until the end To meet her eyes And discover them wet And alive
BITCH FACE AS A TAPU Tian Tran (she/her)
we are born from a womb of needles carefully kicking our feet to avoid the bleeding and when two moons illuminate our world we swallow them as pills into our bellies we watch eclipses from afar each moon inverting the darkness yet both cratered in their complexity. assaulted by rocks not happy to be meteors, and mountains not worthy to be planets. but we will make atmospheres from asteroids etch navigation charts as talismans into our freckled skin because the moons need only another sun to eclipse and we will be harbored by inconvenient, benevolent tides. my skull was manufactured from rafia lace and turtleshell teeth so invert concavity and cartilage turn flesh and bone into your mask of dance the great bitch face bleeding over all leaving only tranquility in its place.
Shah Noor Hussein (she/they) A dream About warrior me caring for mama missing baba writing a book and kissing my ancestors living in their home living in their names and approval.
Seeking More Than 4 Hours of Sleep <> Wayne P. Tate Jr. (they/them)
Al Chavarry (she/her) My natural line of sight is parallel to the terrain I walk, but with any doubt or discomfort I have, and the closer the sun gets to the horizon, to me, or to invisibility, that right angle becomes acute— I look down to the wet ground to see my feet. I give them a critique they do not ask for. They’re quite narrow and long and a little pigeon-toed. They often plot against me to determine a literal downfall. They have each other so they don’t feel alone. They take no offense. I rely on them for much. My shoulders hunch forward; I believe they want to hear me clearer as I whisper under my breath. They think they’ll hear my secrets. They think they’ll know my pain. They know nothing but bad posture. I like that they’re physically separated by my neck, they can’t be as deviant as my feet that way. I am shorter with nerves or nausea. I am also less of a sight to those I don’t wish to be seen by. I do not want their critique. I do not want their eyes meeting mine. I thank my feet and my shoulders and everything in between for helping me dress in layers of invisibility, much like the sun at this time. The stars are out but one, and I don’t care to be any of them.
Love Never Fails Us
The Black Woman Is God (pt 1)
Excerpts from “BLACK GRRRL HEALING” <> Shah Noor Hussein (she/they)
The Black Woman Is God (pt 2)
GOD HAS A TUFF GIG Ike Nwoye (he/him)
I IMAGINE GOD AS A KICKASS ANDROGYNOUS STAR WITH AN ARM SLEEVED WITH ALL THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE EVEN THE ONES ALL THE WHITE PEOPLE DELETED, LIKE SUPER PUNK, LIKE NOT EVEN ON SOME LIKE HIPSTER SHIT LIKE THEY ACTUALLY FUCK WITH LAMB OF GOD AND TOOL AND INTERPOL AND OTHER ALT ROCK BANDS SO GUESS NOT SUPER PUNK BUT THEY ALSO FUCKS WITH HIP HOP AND RAP, HEAVY! AND NOT JUST LIKE NAS AND OR WU TANG OR DRE OR SNOOP OR THOSE GUYS WITH THE BIG AFRICA MEDALLIONS AND SHIT ACTIN ALL BETTER THAN EVERYBODY BUT THEY FUCKS WITH YACHTY AND KEEF (SPECIFICALLY BACK FROM THE DEAD 2)AND DRAKE SOMETIMES BUT LIKE THE OLD DRAKE U KNOW BEFORE THE BEARD AND THE APPLE MUSIC BULLSHIT BUT ANYWAYS SOMETIMES SHE BLAST THE SOUNDTRACK TO BASQUIAT ON THE TRAIN AFTER HIS DEAD END JOB ANSWERING PRAYERS AND SHIT,AND THEY BIKE AROUND HEAVEN ON A FIXIE AND SOMETIMES THEY GET HIT BY CARS IN HEAVEN BUT IT'S OK CAUSE IT'S HEAVEN, NOBODY IS GONNA FUCKING SUE, OR YELL OR EVEN BREAK A FUCKING BONE FOR THAT MATTER, ITS ALL CLOUDS ANYWAYS SO, SHE JUST GETS UP AND GOES TO THEIR STUDIO APARTMENT AND EATS CHEEZ ITS OR AS GOD LIKES TO CALL THEM, JEEZITS, AND HE WATCHES ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK AND THEY CUTS THAT SHIT OFF BC BLK DEATH IS BEING SOLD ON THERE LIKE A FUCKING GAME SHOW AND THEY DIDNT MAKE BLACK WRITERS FOR WHITE ONES TO BE TELLING ALL THE STORIES AND SOMETIMES THEY TURN ON THE NEWS AND SEES POLICE CHIEF AFTER POLICECHIEF AFTER POLICE CHIEF TALK AND TALK AND TALK AND TALK AND TALK ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY AND “FULL TRANSPARENCY” BUT THEY TURN THAT SHIT OFF CUS GOD RLLY DON'T ROCK WITH UGLY EVEN THO THEY MADE IT, THEY HEAR ABOUT SYRIA AND BOMBS CRUSHING LIVES AND PEOPLE AND HOPES
AND ALL THE POLITICIANS ARE ALL LIKE “WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING” ON THE NEWS AND SHIT AND SOME OF EM...SOME OF EM EVEN HAVE THE BALLS TO SAY THEY WANT HELL ON EARTH. HAVE THE NERVE TO CHUCKLE AT JOURNALISTS WHO ASK THE QUESTIONS HE CAN’T. SOME LOOK UP AT THE SKY AND PRAY TO GOD THAT THEY DIE... QUICK A TEAR ROLLS DOWN THEIR FACE, AND HE DECIDES TO SMOKE A CIGARETTE MADE OUT OF CLOUDS, AND GOES TO SLEEP AND STAYS ASLEEP CUS THEIR KIDS ARE ANNOYING TF OUT OF THEM. And they wonder Why they even started playing this game/playing god In the first place. So God Dreams. AND HER DREAMS Crash together like lava Form into a new dream Green and blue Just like the old one A new toy ONE WHERE GOD DOESNT HAVE TO WORRY ANYMORE. ABOUT DEATH ABOUT CAR ACCIDENTS ABOUT BOMBS ABOUT PRAYERS ALL THEY HAVE TO DO IS watch.
Red Hot Knowing a conversation with Ms. Nona by Imani Love
Miss Nona is a clairvoyant, audient, sentient, cognizant light worker and all around bad bitch from New Orleans. I stumbled across her twitter in a time of spiritual depression, and her sage, sharp witted spiritual guidance and advice has helped me, along with her 21.9 thousand odd followers, understand and cope with spirituality, as it uniquely applies. I am so honored to have had the opportunity to interview her, create a spiritual tea session, to spiritually kiki if you will. Following is ancestral sharp tongued wisdom served up hot. Enjoy. Imani: Can you explain what it means to be a lightworker? Nona: Behind the scenes when all hell is breaking lose, I’m setting intentions and doing meditations to help illuminate the heaviness, the darkness. I’m doing things so that although shit is falling apart, the people who are in the right headspace and heartspace, are being sustained. Lightworkers counter all of the heavy darkness universally. Energy is palpable. You can walk into a room and feel when you get close to the wrong person and recoil. You can feel that. Lightworkers get vibrations, and work to elevate the vibrations of the universe. So when things are super heavy, we feel it, but we not at max impact. I: That’s something that’s so strenuous. How do you find the balance? N: Acceptance is a huge part of lightwork. You know what it’s gonna be already. When I’ve been shown what it’s gonna be already, I have to accept that. Sometimes dark, negative energy is gonna prevail in that specific instance, but you understand that it’s for a reason. That has to happen, so that this can happen, so that this can happen. When you understand things are multidimensional, you understand that you have the power to shield yourself and others. It’s grounding. We’re not in control of other people. We can only do what we can as a collective, and at the end after enough work, things are gonna start falling like dominos behind the scenes. When the dominoes start falling, the lightworkers are responsible for that. We operate in the shadows. I: Can you give us some personal background? How did you come to embrace your gifts and was there a point where spirit became impossible to ignore? N: In my family, it’s always been an unspoken that everybody kind of has something. My family is Afro-Cuban. I would see things around the house I just wasn’t quite sure of what it was. My grandmother raised me, I would see she’d have her altar or her novena, her saint cards, she’d have a dream book next to her bed to write her dreams because people would call and ask her what their
dreams meant? And I always paid attention, but I didn’t think that had anything to do with me. My dad died when I was 3 and I remember vividly at his wake everybody was so upset and I was just like “He’s sitting right here! What are ya’ll talking about?” I can remember it clear as day. We were just talking and he was just telling me “You can’t talk to me just let me sit here.” The next day was the funeral. We’re catholic so she asked the priest to come talk to me and explain that I’m not going to see my dad anymore, to let me know this would be the last time. So literally my dad is like “You’re not going to see me like this again. I can’t do that, but I’m just letting you know I’m here.” I told my grandmother “My dad says he’s here and this is the last time I’ll see him like this.” and so she knew then it was me who had it because she had it and her mom had it. I figured out where it came from. I really put it down for a long time because I didn’t want to be high strung or really emotional. When I was a teenager and I started whiling out, because my moods would get affected by other people and I didn’t know why. So I’m the weird one. I wanted to know more. I was always watching things and somethings were always ritual. It was the little things I would see. Like on Mardi Gras Day my grandma’d do a little a ritual so it wouldn’t rain while the parade ran. Little stuff you’d think is weird grandma stuff, but it’s really conjuring. On New Year’s Day, especially across the Black diaspora, a lot of women are like “Shit, shouldn’t nobody walk through your door if a man walk through your door first on New Year’s Day”. That’s conjure. That’s ritual. You can’t pick and choose all of that is a conjure. All of that perpetuates alternative faith. It’s funny how people especially, Black people, try to deny that we get into that and be like “Oh that’s not something that WE do” but it’s literally all we do. Like step on a crack, all that kind of stuff, don’t split a pole. We are comprised of conjure yet are always tryna push it out the way and make it evil instead of embracing and trusting it. So that’s a little bit about me. It’s very informal. I: That really resonates with me because I’m always thinking about my mother and my grandmother and those little small “superstitions” or rituals that I thought were mundane but were magic. I have a collection of little gems from my grandmother that I’m realize aren’t random, but history. Where do you find the confidence in yourself to feel welcomed to share your gifts with others? You seem to feel called to help others. N: Well for a long time, I kept it inside because I didn’t want to be crazy, or labeled as a witch. I’m from New Orleans so everybody’s all ready to be like “Oh she do Voodoo!” There’s so many pejorative correlations with it. I wasn’t
emotionally stable enough to deal with both my gift and the blowback from it, but there came a time where spirit would say to me “Listen people are going to need to know it’s okay and people are going to need to know that you can still be a normal person. It doesn’t look like the Voodoo queen with the black lipstick and all the dark stuff you see in old movies. Angel Heart and Pirates of the Caribbean, they make the conjure women look unattractive and ugly it up so you don’t want parts of it. They make it look so dark and dirty and evil to make you want no parts of it, but yet there’s allure. Because it’s like how did these women who are so witchy get their way? And what they want happens. I got to the point where I knew I wasn’t the only one. I knew there was community. So I started by saying things, especially on social media. I would tell people to be on the look out, be ready, somebody major is gonna pass away. Just get yourself together and 2,3 weeks later “You called it!” I got tired of getting “You called it” mentions. I figured I’d do more with it than that. I was testing the water and people received it, so I knew people would receive a larger message to help themselves. That’s when I got out there. And to be honest, my confidence has been on ten since then because it’s not really anything anybody can tell me. If somebody comes to me and they’re like “Oh look at this crazy Voodoo bitch” I be like “Bitch you thought” whereas before, I would have got in my feelings and went all day with them. It’s made me more confident because I know that I know what I know. I don’t need anybody to confirm it for me or to tell me “Oh that’s not real”. I: Is it an everyday practice? Do you separate the mystical from the everyday or is it always coincided? N: The mystical is the everyday. You’re creating as you go about your day. You’re in a constant creation in a constant cellular interaction with your environment. You’re in constant connection with your consciousness. You’re connected with where you are. When you wake up and decide to get out of bed, you put one foot on the floor. That’s a choice. Everything you do throughout that day, you’re choosing to walk your walk. If you’re truly out here, spiritually outchea, then you can do it to the point where it’s fluid. I’m almost in constant observation, listening. But I’m listening for what I need and nothing extra. I’m enjoying life, but I’m not listening to universal noise. I: I think it’s the noise that makes me anxious and can make a lot of people anxious. The overstimulation. What do you do when you get anxious or scared? N: There are times where I get overwhelmed when something really major is
happening universally. But in the mornings I do a meditation. It’s real simple. People think that meditation is something you have to sit, be still, hunker down, and be real *makes gyan murda hands* you know? “Don’t let me receive anything that I’m not supposed to share today, that’s not for me to take or for me to give to someone else. Let me receive what’s in my best highest interest. Let me hear what I need to hear to help somebody else. Help me to drown out the noise.” I make a conscious proclamation that the things that keep my interests are what need to receive right now. It’s a simple matter of asking the universe to take you down a notch I tell people “Baby do whatever you want.” It’s the same thing when they ask about Moon rituals. Whatever you want. You don’t have to follow something because it worked for me. I don’t know your spiritual makeup, I can’t tell you what’s a fit for you. I tell people not to automatically give credit to who gives the prescription. You need to pay attention to the intent behind them giving it to you and behind you taking it. I can give you a prescription, but if you don’t take the medication.. I: Then what are you gonna to do with that? N: What is you gonna do?! Your ritual is fueled by your intent. It’s all fueled by your intent. You cannot let the possibility of your manifestational power be diminished because it looks impossible to somebody else. You can’t do that. That’s just what it comes down to. Finding what works for you in terms of asking the universe, because whatever you ask for, it’ll give to you. I: Speaking to not being so dependent on the person who gives the prescription and having to follow through with that, I remember reading some tweets where you drag some people, but more importantly N: Was I dragging somebody?! I: YES! Yes you did! Yes you did. N: That was not a drag. That was me telling the damn truth. I: Okay. I don’t wanna see you drag nobody. N: Y’all ain’t see me drag. Them days are gone. Over. Cancelled. But we don’t have the luxury in this time to imparting spiritual laziness on people. I’m not going to sit and let people who don’t know how to get the answers put themselves in harm’s way. I know how to get the answers. And even when I don’t, that’s okay for me to say. That’s called being honest, you cannot expect somebody to do your work for you.
It’s like me saying I want my refrigerator clean and then just go set the bucket of water and the sponge next to it and be like “oh it’s gonna to clean itself ”. There has to be work behind it. We don’t have the luxury of spiritually handicapping people. That’s gone on long enough. That’s something that religion does, renders people spiritually impotent. You relinquish all of your power to something else to fix what’s here. God understands that you are here and you have to live here. You need to do your part. I: What else do people need to be cautious of besides being spiritually lazy. N: If it sounds really too good to be true, it probably is. Anything promising to give you something that you can’t give yourself, that’s a negative. That’s dark. We are all our own conjurers. We are the makers. The period that we’re in it’s gonna be on us to help those who don’t see, hear, touch, feel, normally. It’s gonna be up to us to navigate people. To make that path. When we come out on the other side, those who benefited from lightwork are going to appreciate that.It’s gonna come be “Let me show you who helped me, let me show you how I got here.” It’s not gonna be light work done in the dark no more once it’s all over. I: Do you have a favorite song for you low times? What’s your favorite song that will switch up your mood? N: Oh girl Square Biz by Teena Marie. Teena Marie is one of us. She is largely responsible for me embracing my knowing. It’s why I feel so connected with her. I: What makes you say that? N: Teena was signing about consciousness beyond earth on a cosmic spiritual level when it wasn’t a trend. If you listen to songs like Deja Vu and if you have access to her albums she would always write something calling you to your higher being. She always talked about spiriting. The universe, the galaxy, things like that. She’s talking about everything I tell people all the time. You’re just energy occupying a physical space. You’re just a spirit having a human experience. That’s how the spirit operates It says “I want to see, taste and do things. I know the last time I went it didn’t work out and I think I want to go back and jump back in and try again”. We all know what we’re getting into when we come here. But the universe is looking like “Hmm let’s see how they navigate this. Let’s see how they do with this.” They just kind of watching. I: Waiting in the wings
N: Yeah like people like to think that the physical body is in control of everything. No it’s not. I: That’s why we in all these situations that we are in right now because we think that the physical human body or that man controls everything. That’s why we end up with people like Donald Trump. N: Right! I: What are some tips that you have for low income or working class conjurers who struggle with time or supplies? N: Let me tell you somethin. One thing I learned in watching my grandmother’s practice is they never have much. If you have a white candle, some water, and a white cloth you can do plenty. You can get these things from a dollar store. People think they have to go to a specialty store. No no. All you need is water. It’s the intention behind the ritual that matters. Not the ritual itself. To be honest, you don’t need a candle. Those things are tools. You power your intentions. You can write it down and recite it to yourself. The way the universe works is that you have to do something in exchange for something. Mutuality is something that humans struggle with. We like to take, take, take, take, but give very little and then wonder why there’s no growth in our lives. Well, that’s why. The universe will only give you as freely as you give to it. I: How do you manage ascension symptoms? By returning to spirit and grounding yourself ? N: Yes and lots of self care. When you’re tired, honor that. Lay down. When you have a headache, honor that. Take you some tylenol. When you’re hungry eat. You beat it by honoring what you want in those moments. It’ll pass because you not in constant ascension. Right now, I’m in a period of my ascension where I’m gaining weight and I hate it, but I also understand why I’m gaining weight. I’m gaining weight because I’m taking on heaviness that’s happening universally. In order for me to stay grounded, spirit needs me to be a little heavier, physically. So that’s okay. My message is always whatever you feel like you want, need, desire: Treat yo self. Self care is the most important thing, but we’ve always been taught, that self care is you being lazy. No. That’s what slave masters told us. You gotta be moving all the time. You can’t just be not doin nothin. I: And be content. N: Yeah, or that makes you lazy. No. That makes you care about yourself. Guess
what, the slave master had no problem sitting on his ass while somebody else did his work to get him his money. When you get to a point when you feel like you need self care, you better do it or the universe will penalize you for not taking care of yourself. You’ll get sick and wonder how and you think back like I just been ripping and running, I ain’t been eatin, I ain’t been sleepin, well you wasn’t taking care of yourself. So the universe said “Okay. You don’t wanna take care of yourself while you healthy? Oh, I’ll show you”. Bam!” I: What are 3 things that brown and black people do that are inherently magic? N: (Laughs) Our ability to laugh when everybody else is crying, is the most magical shit ever. That’s inherently magical. There’s nothing funny about what’s going on, but we gonna find a way to laugh. The fact that we’re always the source of the solution in some kind of way. Literally always. I said the other night that white guilt is really gonna help going forward. They’re starting to see everything that we’ve been saying. You wanted to know what we’ve been talking about? Here you go cuz now it’s starting to touch you because you and you’re about to see just how little you matter. They gonna be like “Oh my god they really knew”How can we help?” because they need us. We always lighten the mood. Lighten the load. And our ability to see the magic in each other. We will call each other’s magic out. We will be like “Girl do you just realize what you just did?” Real quick. That’s why I call people out all the time This is also why I stan religiously for Beyonce. Beyonce makes me feel like “Girl do you know who you are?!” She be havin me like “SIS! do you understand?” I: Somebody come look at this! N: I be like girl! How you just snatch everybody life girl? Everybody. Black, white, Puerto Rican Chinese, yellow, brown, purple. Girl you snatch everybody and you one of us! That’s the part that gets me. She is one of us. The fact that a black woman is able to hold that much court.. That is phenomenal to me. What black woman you know has white men dressing up in leotards on Saturday Night Live? I: Can’t find one. N: A black woman, girl. Black magic is Beyonce. I don’t care what nobody say. She comes from a family of conjurers, so I’m not surprised. Black magic bitch. Yes sis”
Sarah O’Neal (she/her) now, i wake with God’s name in my throat Alhamdulilah for this miracle called breath mama wanted to name me yusra but baba chose sarah instead yusra, bringer of blessedness, of comfort and ease sarah, bringer of happiness, a cause for joy would yusra have made better use of these lungs? last night, she answered my phone call in tears said it was all too much at least back home i can shim shwiyish dyal h’wa smell a little breeze/ breathe a little oxygen smell a little freedom/ breathe a little life she tells me to stay qwiya lest the wind empties you, makes you forget and I hear her speak to a younger self the one praying with her dead mother’s name the air is too heavy here and what good are you hollow?
A B ul l et Bo unces O f f of L u ke C a ge' s B o d y Jamal Parker (he/him)
and i fell, like Satan did from paradise i bow to ground without being gifted with blood i too was in awe at man’s skin exalting:
Jada Mosely (she/her)
my body puts death on hold i be the delayed carcass be a threshold mightier than the gun be something you can’t break and ain’t that power?
Geechee Therapy Melvin Backman (he/him) +++ The consulting room is smoky Contemporary, airless, and reeking Afro-Americans are probably more deeply interested in Africa with a queer, pungent odor. than any other native-born generation in the history of the United States. than in the recent past, and The reasons for this are obvious: so that they can chart their future course in history. Moreover, they feel that they must now control their own destiny. and to know where they have come from The shades are drawn down tightly, and if a visitor is being given advice the door is shut securely This interest against intrusion. is articulated in Black Studies programs, in a concern for Black culture, and for Afro-American anthropology. The furniture is scant, consisting of a lamp on a plain table, a couch for the visitor, and placed directly across the room a wooden armchair in which sits the dealer in magic. Blacks recognize the need to deal with their past The DRUMS are being beaten more purposely the attempt is being made to dispel the SHADOWS.
Shah Noor Hussein (she/they)
Song for My Edges Kush Thompson (she/her)
lace trim skyline of my forehead, how vaselined gleam its grease. how defiant the ponytail. the wind come, uninvited as a stray pale hand, pushing apart my kanekalon dangle, its pink twine curtain, thinking it’s slick. thinking it might stumble upon some faulty origin clumped at the root, some panicking track piece masquerading as 3⁄4 cherokee to prove me regular, unambiguously blk as gnarled new growth & ashed elbow. instead, unveiling sculpture. my edges, smashed to wet silk. slicked sideburns wiggle baby hair blaxploit, the wax-dipped brush strokes glide fat forehead rink to clear iced curl slop. a frosted arabesque peeled from slow bandanas and slippery sleep scarves. how satin the strangle. the toil of bathroom sink ritual. gunk-bristled toothbrushes muddy with tar paste against the porcelain. the medicine cabinet toothy with plastic tub assortments of promising, custards that melt back naps in the daylight, jam gels that sticky the phone, nourish oils that rub prayer into a patch gone missing in the night: gnawed to skin by chafe-pillow, or rinsed down the sink in a milky stream of perm, or sacrificed to the asphalt god of girlfight. my edges are a crooked autumn, the way they’ve died. clinging to scalp somewhere between leaving and a pleading summer. how they were suitcases my fro carried to the doorstep when I told her to come back home. when I say don’t touch what I mean is let yourself live long enough to see what you can accomplish with both your hands before I van gogh them gone. this is quick shatter crop. a wet paint beneath gravity, my joyful reneging magic. the way I wake without a scarf, crusted crest like the lip of a glue bottle. my edges, blk girl restless. how they curdle, pumpkin at midnight. how incessant the ancestor of sparked nape. how sun fried the sharp, bush-necked negroid daughter of field.
â€Ścloser than they appear Cantrice Janelle Penn (she/they) i.
though it was dark i saw you take a flame to the wick when you thought i wasnâ€™t looking and the glass got hot and the light tried to swallow my shadow when i gathered all of me and didnâ€™t bother looking over my shoulder this time.
another galaxy took me in, an interstellar othermother, and i danced while stars rolled off my back and into the eager cups of kindred beings taking a particular hydrogen to their lips and they drank it to and from their core and they thanked me and i reminded them that their tethered snaps and chants called me here and that i look forward to the moment they, too, will find themselves engulfed in a great black void made of only mirrors.
Susana Cardenas-Soto (they/them) October 28th, 1492. Christopher Columbus arrives in Cuba. The Indians are exterminated throughout the Caribbean, The creation of Horchata Humans, rice milk with cinnamon, brown but not quite brown, white but not quite white, Mestizo. Mixed. January 1st, 1519. Hernan Cortez’s first attempt to conquer the Aztecs with 500 men. now, they are White because they are no longer Brown, but they are Horchata Humans too. September 15th, 1997. I am born in Spain and immediately denied citizenship. The Spanish around me curdles and clots meeting MexiCubana sangre. Cortez and Columbus laugh at the Indio in me, the Brown, the Cinnamon, I lift my head in the incubator and scowl back, because to Mother, I am White, to Father, I am Brown, to the colonizers I am Mestizo, to myself I am just a heartbeat, barely horchata, barely Human. In kindergarten, I look at my friends and don’t see Brownness but Blanca Nieves, there are no Horchata Humans, rice without the spice, all sweetness, all cream, sallow arms wrap around me and they laugh and say, “Susana is just like us!” “Where are you from?”, a White Girl asks. “Chicago”. “No,” she says, “where are you from?” In middle school everyone is asked to name their race.
I don’t know how to answer, if I am White I am not Latina, if I am Black I am lying, if I am Hispanic I am right, but I am not White, to them I am Not White, to them I am Colored, because I am Horchata Human, I am Mezclada, The Gray Area, the Middle Race, I say “Mexican” because I don’t know what else to say. They say this is not a race. I choose White. Indio y Española, Cubana y Mexicana, Horchata Human, cinnamon tinted, white passing if I want to be, except when I say my name, except when I say Mexico or Cuba, except when I show my arms, except when it is convenient. In the back of restaurantes I see Brown Women, stronger hands than mine mezclando the cinnamon and vanilla, sorry, vainilla, I wonder if they are Mezclado too. If they are 100% anything. In the Mexican Art Museum, I look up to see black faces in a world I thought was white, black faces among the Indios that look like my Abuelita, black faces among the Españoles that look like me, like mi mama, when I ask my mom my race, she scoffs, “You’re white. You’re from Europe.” When I ask my dad, he says it doesn’t matter, the color of horchata, A Gray Area.
An Offering to the Bitterness In the Back of My Throat
Sophia Karina English (she/her) Materials: isomalt sugar, lemon, water, table sugar, heat, fire (2016) I’ve inherited a throat, and in it lives a bitter taste. It’s stuck in the back, half way inbetween swallowed and spit back up onto the dinner table. It’s a crossroad left unresolved and it’s a taste that was taught to me by my mother, and by her mother, and by a great grandmother before them. Attempts have been made towards its exorcision. They’ve tried sage, and prayer candles, and sweet candy, and sour men, and rosary prayers, but all these old spells can’t get rid of an older flavour as persistent as this and it’s so far back in there at this point, that I end up choking on most of these remedies anyways. So here is an offering instead: Here’s an offering to everything that I have ever gagged on, everything i’ve never said, everything I shouldn’t have said, everything kept hidden from me and everything i’ve discovered behind closed doors. It’s the flavour of something sweet and burnt, and tasted so many times that it’s become nauseating, like a caramel you have to taste before setting out so you know it’s just right but leave on the stove for too long anyways. It’s what the women talk about in the kitchen when left alone. Its an old recipe card tucked away in between the pages of the 8th edition of “The Joy of Cooking”. It’s why I’ve considered changing my last name. Its why I never will. It’s a familial history that has accumulated into the perfect circumstances for my conception but has forgotten about me upon my birth. And it’s a list of things since inherited.
All The Things I Love... Alyxandra Goodwin (she/her) All the things I love, and chase after, and work towards are intangible – it has always been this way. It is very likely I may never get my hands or mind wrapped around them. And while I know this, I am still driven to find them and bring them to life as I have in my imagination. As a young girl, I couldn’t and never did and still can’t explain the feelings that would rise while watching movies like Alice in Wonderland, or reading the Harry Potter series, or A Series of Unfortunate Events. There was something about being obsessed with these fictional worlds that didn’t come across easily in conversations, I didn’t want to be reminded that these stories weren’t real or scoffed at because I was reading in general – it never had to be explicitly stated, but enjoying the magic of those fictions seemed to be only comfortably reserved for the white kids around me. So, I kept the excitement I felt under wraps. Dragons, mystics, ancient ruins, incantations, adventure, trolls, goblins, witches, wizards,magical forests with vibrant vegetation... These are the things that enticed me visually, these things I wish I could see with my own eyes and experience with my own being. At times while consuming I felt a mounting frustration that these nouns were restricted as far as the creator’s imagination could allow them to go. As I’ve gotten older my definition of magic has expanded. My need for tangible magic is only a longing to escape my reality where I have bills and responsibilities, less adventure and incantations than I had hoped for. In which I once wanted to ride dragons, I now watch dragon shows with my 3 year old daughter. In which I once dreamed of finding Atlantis and becoming a mermaid, my daughter and I watch a preschool show featuring merkids. The magic is still there, it’s just blooming within her imagination and transforming in mine. I’ve always felt disconnected from my physical reality and that I was meant to do something or be somewhere bigger than the place I was in that moment, in a place that
was not here.Inspired by the charmed adventures of the books and movies, I thought that magic looked and behaved a certain way. As The Universe would have it, my stars would align to reveal the reality of magic that is for me. These supernatural forces aligned my mission and purpose, pushing me to create a better world; something that is indeed a different, improved, and removed version of the world we live in today. An indescribable connection between the imagination of my past and my imagined future that makes no sense and the perfect sense all at the same time. Liberation, freedom, justice, equity, hope, unity, love, triumph, victory, purpose... These are the things that now excite my spirit, these things I wish I could see with my own eyes and experience with my own being. These nouns carry their own magic and enchantment and a strong imagination is needed to make them real, an imagination that was made possible by the dream worlds of my youth. As I reflect on how the definition of magic has shifted in my understanding, I think of my daughter’s very vivid and blossoming imagination. She’s told me how she wishes she could play with the merkids on TV, she takes her toys on adventures. When she says these things, I feel what she feels – that longing is familiar to me, and I ache a little bit for her as “the grown up” and understanding just how inaccessible that magic is. What she does with that longing and imagination is up to her, my only wish is that she is driven to find a magic that is tangible.
querida mamá: Mina Nieto (she/they)
what did it feel like for you when you wanted to die? i’m wondering about how much we have in common, same mouth, same broad shoulders, i wish i had the freckles on your skin. ñaño got the slender body papi was born with. and long long fingers. but i’m glad to have your smallness, your softness, your warmth. i wonder if my hurt is more like yours or papi’s, or do they blenda together into a new color and shape. did your fears combine through the genes you gave me? sew into my infant body for a new harvest everyday? and when unwanted skin finds its way onto mine, whose fear is it that makes my body freeze? you always say i’m good i’m patient i’m understanding and you taught me that it’s better to forgive. but how many times in your life did people pushing you to silence translate it to that stupid word “forgive” i wish the most to have your strong voice, and its sureness, even when it’s wavering with tears. but i have also felt your silence, and the weight it carries gets heavier each year. so how much warmth can fit in one small body? and what is the weight to the stories it can’t see? i’ve heard only fractions of papi’s border crossing story, and i saw him cry only once when he told me, at 17, for the first time in my life, about his mother maria. and i fight and i struggle against this useless brain, but i forgot everything he said to me. and i wake up everyday with the weight of that emptiness. all the names i don’t know melt together like a brick of wax at the core of my being. i just learned abuelita maria’s middle name last weekend, through a text message, because i finally bothered to ask. it’s lourdes. it’s beautiful. i feel its strength against my teeth and think of all the things i still don’t know about myself, all the questions i haven’t bothered to ask. and i imagine there are infinite worlds in you i could get lost in. instead they are just lost to me.
i remembered something i haven’t thought about in a long time. i must have been twelve years old the time i sat in my bed, weeping and openly hating my body. it was one of the last times i ever told you how i feel. you and papi were standing in the doorway, two hard working people, in love with the family they’d built. and i cried and i cried for the brown skin and coarse hair you gave me, the way it covered my body from my head to my feet. and with tears in your eyes, you apologized for passing on bad genes. i felt you say it in a way meant to guilt me. and i built a hundred walls against you in that moment, thinking you could never bear my weight. and with all these closed off years, it hasn’t been til now that i’ve been thinking about that hurt i felt; how bad it must have hurt you to feel in charge of that pain. how your heart must have sank to see that painful pregnancy, your miracle baby: alive and resentful, and unaware of all the weight. the weight of movement, of loss, of isolation, the weight of a dream that wasn’t yours, the weight of trauma you don’t have words for. i remember how you cried, and i feel those same tears come from my eyes all the time. i love you i love you to pieces tu princesa, tu guambra de mierda.
Youree Kim <>
Jayla Neely (she/they)
Elise Swopes (she/her)
Notes on Mexicans & Magic Enrique García Naranjo (he/they) i. café en la mañana, sweeted by el azúcar of abuelo Víctor’s sugarcane field, imported by apá’s minivan, stored in the closet where sweets & spices sit,
my life is the flesh & bone of an ancestor’s dream. this weighs on me like bitter fruit on my tongue. it is a taste i’ve learned to love.
ese café is a potion of memory. stir well. sip slow. ponder, joyfully. ii. amá Lupe’s curandera hands apá’s farmworker hands, primo Jesse’s gang hands, tía Chelo’s janitor hands, apá Juan’s baker hands, prima Ana’s junkie hands, sobrino Hector’s angel baby hands, tío Pepe’s wino hands, madrina Yeyé’s shaking hands, amá’s pious hands & my hands, all holding our lives like notes in waiver. iii. i’ve come to realize
Joseph Jordan-Johnson <> (they/he)
The (Garden) Path to Place Diane Exavier (she/her/hers)
My father was a florist. He arranged flowers for the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. Flowers and their accompanying objects have populated the spaces I inhabit for as long as I can remember: shears, floral foam and tape, vases, pedestals, ribbons, wire, little useless vials of water. As of late I’ve felt like flowers everywhere have been blooming, opening up and making themselves present to me in moments more particular than ever before. A brief walk through my garden reveals: • Last winter someone told me poetry is the encounter. • My family is from a city in the southwest countryside of Haiti called Jérémie. It is known as the city of poets. • My family is from the city of poets. • I am from the place of encounter. • My family moved to Brooklyn during the 70s and 80s. • Everyone keeps moving to New York: to meet new people and dreams, to encounter their lives. • I was born in the city where people (are still trying to) meet. • L’histoire, as in the stories, rumors, and songs that circulate in my family through time, tells me that I am a site (a location). • History, as I’ve learned in many years of schooling, tells me I am a sight (a thing to behold). • At the risk of being a thing, quite literally an object to hold, I’ve spent a lot of time turning myself into a location.
• I’ve become a site to save myself from becoming a sight. I’ve become a site in spite of being a sight. I am from the site of sights. • I’m a big, bad, black poem. • I became a poem in a world that keeps trying to convince me that I am a thing, or more specifically, a no-thing. • I make you encounter. That is my work. • My poems work. I know this because I’m tired. • I am exhausted, which is sometimes surprising to me because I very rarely get to be a person, a body that could get tired. • Every evening my mom asks me, “But don’t you ever get tired?” My answer is always and honestly “no” because I am a place. • A place doesn’t have a body. • In this campaign to not stop being a person before I should, I have almost successfully (regrettably) erased from my body any sign that would allow someone to practice their sight on me. • I am no thing. I’m hardly a woman. • An ocean is a mesmerizing thing to look at, but you can’t hold it.
December 25th Jamal Parker (he/him) on christmas morning my baby brother unwraps his gifts- delighted in the fact he got everything he asked for we jokingly call him spoiled as if to say:
â€œI envy you for the multitude of your joy & how your smile has yet to surrender to grief, or chaos, the burden or bulletâ€? because today i know a mother grieves her son & a father collects seasonal ornaments wishing his boy was there to adorn the tree and perhaps my brother-- full of benevolent mischief is the reason i offer god a smile today instead of blaming him for another black childâ€™s bloodletting
NOT JUNE, BUT JUNE Willie Kinard (he/him/his) Drool to lip. Gasp to thrust. Echo to wall. All tied to the latter, but escaped, aloose. How we wiggle, how we writhe yet no longer flinch at backwashed pasts blown in their faces or slapped on our lips or spat in our mouths.
to be sank by waters in claw-footed tubs. Like ducklings still joyful in spite of oil slicks. Like one day preceding solstice, beaming, present. Like matches discarded still used as firewood.
It is fuck and fight. We have always flown. Or forgets stroke. And remembers to moan. Independence is no more of a winding trail of smoke still tethered to its flame than a jig one dances despite what holds it there, thriving. How we move, how we saunter, how we make light work of the darkest of places trying to anchor us. Like ships refusing
â€œThere is a lot to be said on the language of weaving. It is tedious work, intertwining threads together that speak to one another through lines and shape. There are many layers to weaving and I think its complex nature is what makes it the perfect mode for storytelling. Perhaps a story that holds pain or gaps, meant to be filled with imagination and not with real facts. Memories become interpretations that develop into identities. And the liberty of being able to reconstruct new memories, not just by words but with textures and collected items is far more appealing and perhaps more surreal than the truth. Weaving is similar to the nature in which our brain remembers and registers experiences. There are some memories buried deep and asleep in our subconscious that it would take time before it ever reached the surface and made itself known. The woven piece above also takes on the life of a piece of jewelry which is another form of language, a more immediate form of communicating with others. I married together the nature of weaving as a parallel, to the way humans reconstruct and deconstruct memories in order to develop identities. And the weaving takes the form of a wearable object to show the immediacy of how humans communicate these identities.â€?
Pictures by Milo Selchaif <>
The Witch <> Katerina Annunziato (she/her)
Shivani Narang (she/her) look, how i have this tendency of running into the night with my eyes open. ever since i was eight, my family calls me raath ki raani & maybe they saw the poet in my hands before i did. look, how the night holds me with freezing fingers & no sympathy. how the only thing spiritual i know is our willpower & my friends’ hearts. how one of these stars is kind enough to cup my tears in its twinkling & this means part of me is in the sky & this sky says it’s okay if i’m not whole yet. look, how the night never fails to come. how i can depend on its quiet & this means the world is giving me time to write. how all of this healing spills out of these same bones that are hurting. how tonight, these words dance in all their unsaid glory & this means there are poems i haven’t written yet. look, how these poems draw cities in my lungs. how the streets of these cities are lit as fuck & how tonight these poems put breath into my body again & again & look, how i am alive enough to be poet & isn’t this something worth breathing for.
Anisa McGowan (she/her) <>
Raindrops in Pascua
Enrique García Naranjo (he/they) little containers of earth, young brown bodies running past me, past the door— in laughter, in joy— it’s raining & their skin has darkened like mesquite bark. this ceremony of steps, of storm, of ancestral clouds— all these young yaquis & xicanxes trying to find shelter to later admire the crying of their guardian angels.
tears of joy, of sorrow, of love. we all stand, in awe, as the droplets kiss the concrete & the arid earth— rain in the desert is a spectacle of the greatest form of love.
BIOS Willie Kinard (he/him)
“Black, queer, and old-souled, I am making space for writers of color as an editor at For The Scribes. Author of chroma.(2016), I am currently talking to the Moon in Newberry, South Carolina.”
Juan Carlos Corredor (he/him)
Juan Carlos Corredor is a poet-critic whose work marries the pedestals of institutions with the overshadowed niches of the streets. His criticism strives to spur dialogue across high and lowbrow audiences. He probes the cultural values of artworks found in museums versus the mundane moments found everyday. Juan’s goal is to combine intellectual observations with intuitive responses in his writing. Juan Carlos has worked for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, ART WORKS Projects, Creative Time Reports, and Bad at Sports Contemporary Art Podcast amongst other places.
Haleigh Nickerson (she/her)
Haleigh Nickerson is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and is currently based in Manhattan, New York. Nickerson holds a BA in Art Practice from The University of California, Berkeley. Nickerson is currently an MFA Fine Arts Candidate at Parsons. Nickerson is a multidisciplinary artist whose work investigates and explores notions
and intersections of race, representation, and gender through self portrait photography, installation, sculpture, performance and other media.
Olivia Engobor (she/her)
Magic to me is abundance.It is the very essence of the world we live in. It is planting one cherry tomato seed and hundreds of cherry tomatoes being born. It’s a relationship between cause and effect. The abundance that comes from the earth is not only evident in its harvest, but it in the benefits one can reap from its many plants.I see magic most in nature, particularly in the elements, but most clearly in plants and it is made most evident in its potions.Herbalism is a practice that has been around for ages, and to me is a beautiful example of how we can implement magic in our own lives. It is the practice and discipline of taking these herbs (by tea Kenny smoke) that will produce a harvest of abundance in our spiritual Lives.
Sophia Ross (she/her)
Sophia Ross is a womanist, music-lover, and an admirer of the arts with an avid interest in prose and poetry. You can find more of her work via Twitter @sophiathepoet!
Shelby Moring (she/her)
Shelby (or Florea) is a 19 year old, Black and Chinese, gender studies major living in San Diego and Washington, D.C. When she’s not writing poetry, she’s reading up on how to better understand wtf is going on with her natal chart, experimenting with natural skincare recipes, and practicing healing spells. Florea’s pronouns are she/her/ hers. You can find them on social media @floreashelby or visit their skincare and holistic healing blog at floreashelby.com.
Noemi Martinez (she/they)
Born in Guanajuato, Mexico and raised in the south side of Chicago, Noemi is a multidisciplinary artist who expresses her creativity through her migrant/xota experience. Giving you a glimpse into a world created by laughter, community, and self determination.
Shah Noor Hussein (she/they)
Shah Noor Hussein is a poet, activist, and scholar working through the mediums of writing, publishing, ethnography, film, photography, yoga and more to create healing in black and brown communities. Shah’s work focuses on African cultural histories, queer narratives, storytelling and multimedia studies in order to shed light on the powerful role of ritual, magic, and healing in revolutionary movements and cultural reproduction. As a Queer Black Womyn raised in an immigrant Sudanese household with tribal and Muslim roots, Shah embodies an intersectional identity that pushes the boundaries of embodiment, personhood, and spiritually reflected in the multigenre publications, collaborative research, and creative projects produced thereof. spiritually reflected in the multigenre publications, collaborative research, and creative projects produced thereof.
Tian Tran (she/her)
Tian Tran is a student that writes poetry and short fiction. The Scholastic Art and Writing Competition has recognized her writing, as well as her school’s literary magazine. Her photography appears in Red Queen Literary Magazine, Venus Magazine, Sugar Rascals, and TRACK//FOUR. Her poetry has appeared in TRACK//FOUR, and she blogs at L’Éphémére Review.
Al Chavarry (she/her)
The mundane and repetitive nature of daily life is stressed in my work, as I strive to arouse some excitement in the routine feeling of being. I enjoy exploring and investigating stereotypes, associations, expectations and the individual experience. My work typically deals with domesticity, the human condition, the utilitarian, as well as the dysfunctional, in correlation with both my presence in—and perspective on—what surrounds me; recently I have been investigating more of my place as a queer individual and artist in the twenty-first century, casually yet deliberately integrating it into my practice. Through a combination of fabricating structures, assembling or arranging found objects, and performing gestures, I develop narratives and instill ideas for conversation within viewers. Influenced by my studies, identity, and experiences, my work exists differently for each individual depending on their own experiences and personal identity.
Ike Nwoye (he/him)
Ike Nwoye was born in Maywood, Illinois and moved to Chicago a year later where he has lived an eventful and terrible life. His work tends to document lives, and his poems are just short films depicting lives like and unlike his.
Sarah O’Neal (she/her)
Sarah O’Neal is a Black Maghribia poet, born and raised in the Bay Area. She is a VONA/Voices and Youth Speaks alumni. She is currently an English student at Mills College.
Jamal Parker (he/him)
Jamal Parker is a poet, performer, and teaching artist. He’s a Two Time International Poetry Slam Champion. having won Brave New Voices
(2015) and the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (2016). He’s a Watering Hole Fellow, and Co-Founder of the Spoken Word Duo Black Boy Fly. He’s been featured at Busboys & Poets, Orlando’s Diverse Word, Baltimore’s Louder Than a Bomb Festival, the NYC Javitz Center and much more. His written work can be found in The Altar Collective, Teenage Wasteland, and Poetry Nook. As of now he’s the Artistic Director of Babel Poetry Collective, where he produces and directs spoken word showcases.
Jada Mosely (she/her)
I am a photographer from Prince George’s County Maryland. My interest for the arts stems from attending Thomas Pullen Performing Arts School from 6-8th grade. I was a drama major at the time and dreamed of being a professional actress. Producing colorful street/ nature photography has become my favorite thing to do and now I always carry my camera with me. Even though I strayed away from acting, I want to be apart of the film industry in various ways, and pursue a career in photography all at the same time. My portfolio can be viewed at jadamosely.wixsite.com/jadaimanim. My IG & Twitter are both @jadaimanim.
Melvin Backman (he/him)
I’m a fact-checker at The New Yorker, and I’ve been published in Spook and on Seven Scribes.
Kush Thompson (she/her)
Kush Thompson is a political-romantic poet, womanist, painter, avid As Told By Ginger watcher, teaching artist, and organizing co-chair of Black Youth Project 100’s Chicago chapter. Voted runner-up best local poet of 2014 by The Chicago Reader and one of The Root’s 2015 Young Futurists, Kush is the author of A Church Beneath the Bulldozer (New
School Poetics, 2014). In 2014, Kush joined, as a German consul, the Berlin-based Wort.Word.Lich collective for its first bi-lingual showcase tour. Her work has appeared in Poetry Magazine and The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop.
Cantrice Janelle Penn (she/they)
Cantrice Janelle Penn is a writer, decolonial copy editor, multilingual educator, and movement artist. Her upbringing was shaped by forked tongues, lottery dream books, and the steady waters of the Powhatan River in the US South. A VONA/Voices Fellow, Cantrice is also the recipient of the 2016 Firefly Ridge Literary Magazine Women’s Writing Award. Her work has appeared in several publications, including The Fem, Black Girl Dangerous, Sally Hemings Dreams, and After Ferguson, In Solidarity (Mourning Glory Publishing, 2015).
Susana Cardenas-Soto (they/them)
Susana Cardenas-Soto is a poet from Oak Park, Illinois. They are a first year at Macalester College, in St. Paul Minnesota, pursuing a degree in English and a minor in Psychology. The most important things to them are dogs, socks, and making cishetwhitemen slightly uncomfortable.
Alyxandra Goodwin (she/her)
“I write about Black activism and social justice with the hopes of educating others while also transparently sharing about my own journey with Black activism and liberation as a young person, woman, and a mother. I currently live, work, and write in the Chicago area.”
Mina Nieto (she/they)
22 yrs old. Born in Quito, Ecuador. Mina works with themes of guilt and the manifestations of trauma - mental illness, paranoid
obsessions, lots of crying - as they interact with cultural displacement, government conspiracies, and sexual violence.. Medium of choice is emotional vomit.
Jayla Neely (she/they)
“To me that’s a fact to others, it’s fiction. Magic exist in every part of my life, in the form of everyday rituals like stirring my tea and repeating to myself that I can make it through the day. It’s different for everyone but for me, magic is the little things just as much as the big.”
Elise Swopes (she/her)
“Currently living in Chicago, Elise always loved art, science and math. She started designing when she was in 6th grade and continued to for many, many years. After receiving education at Columbia College Chicago, she decided to make it a full time profession as a freelance artist specializing in photography and design, while building a following of 250,000 followers on Instagram. Elise has spoken at the Apple Store on the Magnificent Mile, is an Adobe Creative resident, and featured by Vice with Canon. She has done projects with Adidas, Jordan Brand, GreenLabel, Dos Equis, Beats by Dre and many more. “
Enrique García Naranjo (he/they)
Enrique García Naranjo (he/they) is a poet, performer & pocho from Tucson, Arizona. Their poetry is centered on Xicanx identity and the language of resistance. García Naranjo’s work has been published by and included in The LA Times, The Acentos Review, The New Engagement, Sunday Kinfolkand & more. Between reading, performing & teaching, they can be found crate digging for vinyl and producing beats for the barrio under their alias DJQ. Follow their antics, @yungvat0.
Diane Exavier (she/her)
“Diane Exavier writes, makes, thinks a lot, and laughs even more. As a theatermaker, her work has been presented at California State University: Northridge, New Urban Arts (Providence), West Chicago City Museum, and in New York: Bowery Poetry Club, Dixon Place, Independent Curators International, The Invisible Dog, and more. Her writing appears in the literary magazine The Atlas Review and The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. Diane is currently completing an MFA in Writing for Performance at Brown University. Her hybrid nonfiction and poetry chapbook, TEACHES OF PEACHES, is set for publication in 2017 (TAR Chapbook Series).”
Katerina Annunziato (she/her)
Katerina Annunziato is originally from the East Coast but is currently studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is an illustrator and fiber artist who enjoys creating textiles and wearable sculptures to communicate the manifestation of identity through a transcultural lens.
Shivani Narang (she/her)
“shivani Narang is a second generation indian american womxn attending UC Berkeley. she is 2016 bay area’s youth speaks grand slam champion and is an organizer in UC Berkeley’s slam organization CalSLAM. shivani writes for purposes of collective healing to individual, community & generational trauma. her writing is grounded in resistance to forces of silence that have affected her own life, the womxn in her family, and her community. she writes for self preservation. to allow herself space to breathe and process. she is constantly low key figuring and refiguring her life out.”
Cover by Joseph Jordan-Johnson
Portraits By Wayne P. Tate Jr.
(she/her) is a 19 year old certified Wild Woman™ from the California Bay Area. She’s a poet first, but also a performer, hoarder of half written songs, image maker and ground shaker. Her work directly reflects on her experience as the complex, anciently innovative magical being that is a Black Womyn. She’s probably somewhere thinking about the ocean singing Lil Kim. @thoughtsandkeys // thoughtsandkeys.com
Wayne P. Tate Jr.
(they/them) is a non-binary, queer, secondgeneration mixed hapa Filipinx-American artist. Within their artmaking practice, they identify as a storyteller, usually focused in comics and writing but sometimes in video. They look to find new ways for marginalized identities to exist in fiction and attempt to construct new realities that are based in emotional reality without fetishizing/commodifying the narratives of people of color. They were/are born, raised, and based in the city of Chicago, remaining close to their mother and younger brother, who they owe the world to. You can follow them at @tatertotter on Instagram and @tatert0tter on twitter.
(they/he) is a fat black queer writer & visual artist from the suburbs of Chicago, now residing in Portland as an editor for this lovely magazine. Their work has been featured in Nepantla, Jackalope, and UChicago’s Blacklight Magazine. They make the best chili, eat the best sorbet, and often wish twinks got less attention. @authenthicc
(she/her) is a Scorpio, an absolutely lovely human being who would most likely sacrifice herself for all her cats if it came down to it. She specializes in...pretty much everything if we’re being honest here. You can find her not in art school selling nice soaps to yr fave white hipsters. She's also the top queer rock collector in all of the midwest.
LIGHT / DARK / LIGHT