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Issue 43 | www.fokus.org


Atiba T. Edwards

Founder & Chief Curator Atiba is an engineer focused on making and connecting creative people, nodes, networks and moments.

Shani Cohen Curator

Shani is a Brooklyn based writer who believes in uniting our diverse communities through art and the power of words.

JoLillian ”Jozi"Zwerdling Curator

Jozi finds inspiration in those who understand timelessness and travel in alternate dimensions.

INSIGHT Magazine showcases and archives emerging contemporary artists from all art disciplines. FOKUS produces this magazine to provide insight into people who are creating art, traditional and non-traditional, in their own way.

Alchemy Contributors

A-B-E • Howard Barry • Suhaly Bautista-Carolina • Ebs • Naima Green • Haze Haze • Herakut • Candice Iloh • Aaron Lazansky-Olivas • Jessie Levandov • Rashaun Rucker • Saydizm • Deborah Singletary • Christine Stoddard • King Texas • Angeles Vera •Jozi Zwerdling

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Questions, comments and contributions can be sent to insightsubmit@gmail.com. To view older issues of INSIGHT, visit www.fokus.org/insight. Copyright © 2015. INSIGHT (ISSN 2164-7771) is a publication of FOKUS, Inc. All rights reserved on entire contents. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.


INSIGHT magazine Alchemy: Contents 4 8 10 11 12 14 15 16 24 28 31 32 35 36 40 42 46 48 54

Rashaun Rucker Fly Away Ebs Conversations with Music 1 & 2 Jessie Levandov Untitled Self-Portrait Jozi Zwerdling 8th House Herakut Alchemy

Candice Illoh Call It Moon Rejected Haze Haze Duet Jozi Zwerdling Inside Harriet’s Apothecary Jozi Zwerdling Birdfeeding Christine Stoddard Muerte Marigolds SpazeCraft Scroll Series Christine Stoddard Desert Storm Naima Green After the Rain Saydizm Lucid Lover Deborah Singeltary Series Angeles Vera Untitled Series Suhaly Bautista-Carolina Sun Magic A-B-E Parable of the Sower lyrics hbcreative

Photography

Visual Art

Creative Writing

Articles


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Fly Away (excerpts) By Rashaun Rucker

My art examines social and cultural issues in America, with a particular focus on human rights, mental illness, the black experience, and the impact of inequality. My work has always dealt with social ills. Partly, this is because of my training and experience as a journalist; it is my job to show people, as James Baldwin once put it, what they don’t see. These issues are of special concern in the wake of the rebirth of Detroit after bankruptcy. Even as parts of the city see huge positive changes, Detroit still struggles with poverty, homelessness, the achievement gap, and under employment. My latest work is a series of drawings titled “Fly Away.” It compares the life of some thing many of us see everyday -- the rock pigeon -- to the identity and, in many ways, the stereotype of black men in America. Europeans introduced pigeons to North America in the 1600s. The rock pigeon is a bird that doesn’t migrate but is considered a strong flyer and is commonly found in American cities, populating the streets. National Geographic described the rock pigeon as being gregarious and forming large flocks; it feeds on handouts and grains during the day. The pigeon, when taken away from its environment, usually returns home. These images I’ve created speak to black men and why we often don’t fly (achieve) even though we have the ability to go far beyond our circumstances. It paints a picture of how the somewhat negative environment becomes a comfortable condition and not simply a momentary station in life. Pi·geon·hole (verb) To assign to a particular category or class, especially in a manner that is too rigid or exclusive. Synonyms: categorize, compartmentalize, classify, characterize, label, brand, tag, typecast, ghettoize, designate Rashaun Rucker is a product of North Carolina Central University. He makes photographs, prints and drawings and has won more than 50 national and state awards for his work. In 2008 Rucker became the first African American to win Michigan Press Photographer of the Year. He also won a national Emmy Award in 2008 for documentary photography on pitbull culture. Rucker was a Maynard Fellow at Harvard in 2009 and visiting professor at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013. He is represented in numerous public and private collections. www.detroitruck.com/ 4 | www.fokus.org


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Grounded

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Cooped Up

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Pigeonhole

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Conversations With Music by Ebs

Conversations With Music 1, 2015. Permanent Marker, 22 x 28 in.

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Conversations With Music 2 2015. Permanent Marker, 22 x 28 in. Ebs works with high school students that have special needs. Creating, studying, and learning about v​ isual ​art is her true passion. www.fokus.org |

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Untitled Self Portrait By Jessie Levandov

Jessie Levandov is a visual artist, jewelry designer and filmmaker currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Her practice is rooted in a deep commitment to making living sacred and joyful. 10 | www.fokus.org


8th House

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By Jozi Zwerdling

Sometimes you are a house in a neighborhood of your own. There is a rounding mass at the base of your back, beginning to ache. Your foundations are becoming worn by weather; warped. It is so beautiful on wood: the crumble & overgrowth, the tumbleweed, bouquets of scrap metal, rust & jagged edges, red ants spilling from the cracks. You wish you could love so well the ruin in your skin, know if you decomposed into the earth today you would be nothing but nutrients; food for deer-the ragged fawn who crossed the street on Saturday, so lost & unafraid, blinking at you softly. Your house is surrounded by grass & paved over histories. You do not know carpentry-how to do more than hang a framed photo or piece together an ikea shelf. You take your sewing to the dry cleaners & pay for repairs, You take your skin to the doctor. He only takes some seconds. He does not find your ruins beautiful. You will tag your flesh, an abandoned building by the ocean, cleanse with sea enzymes --salt & ink. Tell stories with pictures. Save a room keep it swept, the windows; oiled and open, in case one day a wandering visitor climbs in through a fire escape & despite the flames, gushing water & rot that once drove others out-stays. www.fokus.org |

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Alchemy

By HERAKUT

If You Can Change - So Can I.

The German artists Hera and Akut, both with roots in the graffiti scene, joined forces in 2004 and began creating collaborative work under the name of Herakut. www.herakut.de

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I Wished There Was A World In Which My Life Did Not Come At The Price Of My Mutilation. www.fokus.org |

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Call It Moon By Candice Iloh

at the barely touched age of 11 this is the highlight of your day the blood has spilled into your panties and you’ve never been more proud you are a woman now and because of this you can have babies if you spread your legs to the boys you could have 10,000 of their babies cause that’s all this really means, the brick tint that will never quite wash from the fabric between your knees is really a warning a quiet thing the end the mark of an angel fallen next time it comes around you better not tell daddy because this aint none of his business he doesn’t like to think about the things his little girl can do with her body if she spreads her legs for the boys with your body squatted over this widemouthed porcelain you look down and greet yourself as the salt and nickel reach up and graze your nose you will soon be taught how to hide carefully under your clothes and what a tragic thing you will carry for the rest of your life, oh how you will master the art of tucking a tampon into the bottom of your sleeve, the maxi pad smooth into the back pocket of your jeans, god forbid your friends at school discover you now bleed every month like your mama, you’re as much woman as your mama and now in danger of getting pregnant at 16 this will not be the first time you look down upon yourself your neck in a constant bend toward the ground, it will not be enough that every 27 days your body will give you front row seat to its biggest magic trick, how is it that no one called it moon no one said the natural order of your body is worthy of practice of breath of ritual of reverence of praise

This poem interrogates the damaging internalized messages many young girls have unknowingly received about the natural functions of their bodies and how those messages birth shame. It then briefly and indirectly asks the reader to reconsider a new perspective and transform, instead, this shame into a reclamation of the female body and its actual magic. Candice Iloh is a creative writer residing in Brooklyn, NY whose writing has appeared in Fjords Review, The Grio, For Harriet, Lambda Literary and The Black Youth Project. A VONA fellowship recipient and educator, Candice is currently writing her first full-length young adult project in verse. www.becomher.com 14 | www.fokus.org


Rejected

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by hbcreative

“Rejected� is a tribute piece celebrating the tenacity and spirit of Misty Copeland, who was told at a young age that she had the wrong body type for Ballet. The shadow wings in the image were my way of equating her to a literal Black Swan. Howard Barry has been a creative since birth. His style and approach further developed after incurring a traumatic brain injury. He works with digital and traditional mediums & he is obsessed with merging the two. www.facebook.com/hbarryCreative www.fokus.org |

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Duet

By Haze Haze

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Often times in our society today, family isn’t portrayed in a positive Light. We strive to illustrate healthy sibling relationships through our photography and collaborative clothing, in hopes of encouraging others to do the same (in their own way of course). 18 | www.fokus.org


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An African collective of two sibling photographers/creative directors that promotes UNITY through fashion, art, love, and good deeds. www.fokus.org |

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Inside Harriet’s Apothecary

by Jozi Zwerdling. Photo by King Texas An interview with Harriet’s Apothecary Adaku Utah

What was the inspiration or catalyst for founding Harriet’s Apothecary? There are a number of key inspirations for Harriet’s Apothecary. As an organizer, as an educator, as a healer who’s been doing this work for over 15 years I saw patterns in my community. And not just in terms of these labels I’m choosing to define myself as, but just as a person living in this world, as a black queer Nigerian person living in her community experiencing the deeply traumatic generational sources of trauma—particularly what people of color and LGBTQ folks and poor folks experience on a daily basis in places they call home, at work, in relationships, just walking down the street and being impacted by that on physical and emotional levels. And not having enough spaces that are honoring what we’ve experienced and the nuanced ways our identities are affected and not honored. And wanting more for us and wanting more because we deserve more than what the world offers us. And our ability to be open to the possibilities of existence, whether that is creating a more equitable food system in our neighborhoods or eliminating gentrification or making healthcare more accessible to trans folks, our ability to meet the needs of our communities. We need to have more access to ourselves. If our bodies, our minds and our spirits are constantly being impacted by trauma, what does that make available to us? Not only in the work we’re doing but in how we choose to love each other, dream, re-imagine this world. So there’s that—and also really believing that one of the beautiful things about existence is in the midst of so much trauma is so much resilience. We have figured out so many ways to survive. How can we figure out intuitive, instinctual, and ancient ways of practice that have honored our survival and kept us intact. And wanting to be able to remember these tools that we have inside of us that have been passed down in a number of different ways. I come from a long line of herbalists and healers. I had the fortune and honor when I got sick or something was wrong with me to have my mother say, let’s go to the backyard and make something for this thing, or say some type of prayer to usher this thing out, and that was such a wonderful example to experience and bear witness to. So this practice was very accessible to me as a child. A lot of it because of my mother, my grandmother, and great, great grandmother sharing their own knowledge and my own exploration of what my powers are. Another source of inspiration is the responsibility, the legacy of our histories, speaking in particular of Black history and how this work is a responsibility to make sure this work does not die and passing on and living this legacy for future generations. I think one of the great things about HA is that most of the people in the collective know each other and have known each other for many yearsfriends, lovers, worked together. We’re participating in creating an intentional community of people who deeply love each other. Not just coming together to work on this specific collective, but also how do we build a family that takes care of each other, and by taking care of each other take care of our communities, with our communities. I feel that in the spaces that I work, I want the space to be informed not only by the work we’re doing but by the relationships we’re building on a short and long term basis. I was sick a lot as a child. My mother would oftentimes find all these different ways to support healing in my body through working with herbs or working with intuitive energy or spells (that was my grandmother, actually not my mom, she’s very Christian). I had to go to the doctor too. 24 | www.fokus.org


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The hospital was one of the most unsafest places that my body would venture into—and having to confront being in a place that was supposed to take care of you and heal your body and feel so disturbingly unsafe was debilitating sometimes. Harriet’s Apothecary is also a response to the ways in which the medical industrial complex is an unsafe place for folks of color, for folks who are immigrants, for folks who are queer and trans, for folks who don’t have any money.

What would you say are your core powers/practices? At the center nucleus of who I am and what I do is Love—and making love visible in as many creative boundless majestic magical ways as possible where I feel connected to all the different parts of me and support that capacity in my folks and community. That is the lens through which I see and push myself to move from. Without it, everything just doesn’t make any sense. I would say being in a practice of deep listening—listening to what’s on the surface and digging deep to all the layers—with myself and then with anyone. Deep listening is a very important space to really understand and develop a deep sense of compassion and connection. It’s a necessary tool for people to work together—and for work to really coalesce in a way that is helpful and sustainable and substantial—being in deep listening of what are the needs, what are longings, what are desires, what are challenges, what are spaces of creativity. It is deeply important, doing that before acting. I’m a super fire sign so I can be like let’s do that! Let’s jump in! But the gift of listening and how much that opens you, particularly when you’re in partnership with more than just yourself, is so important. The third is magic: for me that’s defined by experiencing yourself and the world beyond what we’ve been socialized to believe is possible for us. In many ways we stifle ourselves from blossoming into greatness and blossoming into making our dreams and values come into fruition. Some of those things can’t be planned and some can be. Really orienting yourself to the unknown and the unexpected and the undiscovered is an important part of my existence. And magic that’s also really connected to experiencing the self beyond our humanness. We’re more than just this human body—we’re vast beings that are connected to stars and soil, so getting to experience this vastness of magic beyond ourselves is super crucial.

What has the process been like since Harriet’s Apothecary coalesced? What has manifested the way you expected? What has morphed to something else? So we started officially last year on my birthday, which is so surprising to say. We started with the intention of offering four seasonal healing villages. Each session was incredibly successful, slightly different from the last one. When I say successful I mean the community we wanted to work with and we wanted to be nourished by this work were the ones that came through- and were constantly reflecting how much they felt seen, safe, sacred, and healed by the depth of the healing work we were offering and their own ability to tap into their own healing powers. The folks that make up the healing team were also nourished themselves. We can often land in spaces where we’re giving so much of ourselves and not inviting or receiving anything in return. A point of success is having the healers name how filled they are by the work. And I really appreciate our deep collaboration with Black Women’s Blueprint—not only as the space that holds HA, but as a significant partner. Also, as an entity that is working to end sexual violence against black and trans-women, having their leadership and their partnership has been really instrumental. And then through the work we’ve also widened our connection to the community where we’re from. A lot of us live in Brooklyn so housing Harriet’s Apothecary in Brooklyn has been so wonderful for deepening our relationship with this home we love so much. The last thing that has been really great—a variety of us come with a lot of different wisdom and indigenous and intuitive practices and I see us all widening and deepening in our healing practices in ways that were unexpected. This year we’ve grown quite a bit. www.fokus.org |

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That has been a gift from the community—the growing level of trust that our community has placed upon us. What the trust has meant has been us being invited into more spaces to reclaim and transform different places into healing spaces. This year every single space we’ve been in has been completely different from the last. With MOCADA was the first time we did an outdoor space. With Movement for Black Lives we had to use hotel rooms as a space for healing work. Some of the spaces we’ve been in we’ve had to confront police presence and navigate keeping our community safe from state violence. Taking over Brooklyn Museum, which was a space that never had something like we offered it—we completely transformed it and offered these ancestral medicines. We are headed to Soul Fire Farm in upstate New York to do a healing village there and work more intimately with land, which is a space a lot of our powers are from. It will be our first time inside a criminal injustice system when we go to Riker’s Island in October. We will learn more about how to best serve and work with the energy and the people that are there.

Do you see healing as an art? How so? I see healing as an art, and as an art practice. In the ways we traditionally consider art and also untraditional ways. Art innately can be healing. I consider it healing in the ways in which art has a way of giving us language and rhythm and melody to speak our truths in ways we might not have access to—helps us to realign and rebalance our bodies on a very deeply cellular level and widens and explodes our imagination—for those reasons I say yes.

What are some current visions for the future of Harriet’s Apothecary? We’ve had a really rich year of working with communities, and I’m really excited about creating opportunities for our healers and village and team to heal with each other—creating space for us to exchange more tools and skills and strategies with each other. We just created a healer’s exchange—there’s 25 people on our team, there’s a range of magic in our space—herbalists, acupuncturists, spiritual divinators.

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A lot of us haven’t gotten to experience each other’s work. I want to be able to have more of that exchange of each other’s work and learning and teaching each other—an acupuncturist learning from our Thai yoga massage person and incorporating magic—someone who’s really good at de-escalation tactics doing a skill share with the whole group. I want us to be constantly deepening and expanding our work—create more listening circles to hear more about the needs of our community. Both on a neighborhood level, in the different organizations we’re working with-- how can some of the work we’re doing start to shift these systemic forces that are keeping our people sick. And then we’re really excited to in the future curate a convening of black healers nationally to talk about what can Black healing and Black Heath look like on a national scale. That honors indigenous wisdom and practice. And rooted in dismantling systemic forces of oppression. Next year we’re going to be launching our apprenticeship program—a way of honoring the intergenerational part of our work. We worked with an incredible young person named Emily Carpenter who’s going to be creating HA at her college. So we will be creating an apprenticeship program that develops young people at a younger age.

FOKUS loves to ask people to define art from their unique perspective and to expand their brains and hearts by claiming what they love to do as an art, even if it’s seen as nontraditional. What are ways you think healing could or should be recognized more en masse as an art? One of the most important definitions of art is a vessel of expansive expressive capacity. And being able to conjure up deep creativity in a variety of different ways. And healing for me really falls inside of this definition and using our bodies as this very palpable, evolutionary and malleable canvas of creating, what we imagine and what we may not imagine or feel like is possible. Healing is such a beautiful artistic process of really reconfiguring a landscape that is deserving of our life potential. Of our erotic power, of being able to eradicate and create beyond the boundaries we’ve been given. Truly amazing to put the right pieces together to be whole. And that’s amazingly powerful and such a deeply artistic and healing process. I really believe human beings, all of us are artists, whether or not you choose to define yourself as that—in different ways we’re using our imaginations to figure out how to survive- that in itself is healing. For me it’s more that the medical industrial complex, or people who are tied to that, should see themselves as artists. One of the most destructive patterns of the medical industrial complex is seeing in very rigid ways, choosing to base our health care system on white ableist rich bodies. One of the gifts of artists is seeing beyond—what would it look like if we’re defining ourselves as artists and seeing every person we work with as an opportunity to be deeply creative. That creativity has to stem from a place of deep sacredness, deep appreciation of one’s humanity, and being able to listen to that and work with that artistic energy and treat work with human beings regardless of what their identities might be. I feel like creativity within an artistic space thrives when it’s reciprocal – so whatever you’re creating is speaking back to you. If that level of reciprocal practices is introduced into our medical industrial complex—not this hierarchy where doctors’ word is bond and they’re choosing to treat and prescribe only off one sense of knowledge- but listening to the fullness of people’s bodies and understanding what is needed. I think it would really shift what’s possible, how people stay alive, how people feel connected to themselves, how people can feel empowered inside their own healing processes. For more on Harriet’s Apothecary, visit www.harrietsapothecary.com www.fokus.org |

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BirdFeeding

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Muerte Marigolds by Christine Stoddard

El Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a holiday celebrated in my mother’s home country of El Salvador. As the children of an immigrant, my sisters and I sometimes feel disconnected from our mother’s culture, but we look for those intersections between the New Country and the Old Country. 30 | www.fokus.org


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In this case, I staged a photo shoot with my younger sister dressed as a calavera in Richmond, Virginia, the capital city of the state where we were born and raised. I finalized the collage with images I took one Christmas, another holiday that mixed Catholic and pagan traditions. Christine Stoddard is a writer and visual storyteller whose work explores issues of identity and social justice in folklore, history, and the digital world. www.wordsmithchristine.com www.fokus.org |

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The Scroll Series by SpazeCraft

The scroll series is about fragmented memory, displaced energy, and forgotten languages that all weave together through line, shape and color. The juxtaposition of hard lines, abstract shapes and delicate subliminal messages mix to produce an organic tension that rests at the edge of a flat world & in the swirl of a mysterious universe. In this series, I tell stories of battles between good and evil. I ask philosophical questions through metaphor and produce a new level of urban art with a nod to graffiti in my former youth. This an ode to calligraphy and symbology in its rawest form. A careful appreciation of the NY masters of abstraction and a penchant for finding a place, rather a home, within urban sprawl and displacement. The symbols in each piece represent my collective memory of different languages and typography from around the world. Each symbol is improvised and is a personal meditation that is channeled through me. I have the ability to define and decipher the meaning behind each symbol but I ask the viewer to participate in the work by feeling what it is they get from this intuitive language, symbology, form and vibration. I’ve been working on the Scroll series for over 10 years. I strive to push the work into unknown territory with each piece.

SpazeCraft reaches the hearts and minds of youth across all artistic disciplines. Through stop-motion animation, graffiti art illustration, book making or digital music production, his goal is always to open up new worlds for others. www. sohnup.com 32 | www.fokus.org


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Meditate, 2015. Acrylic, Spray Paint, Marker, Ink, Newspaper on Canvas, 72 x 38 in.. www.fokus.org |

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Mask, 2015. Acrylic, Spray Paint, Marker, Ink, Newspaper on Canvas, 72 x 34 in. 34 | www.fokus.org


Desert Storm

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by Christine Stoddard I did not lose the baby—she died. There was never any question about where she was. First she was inside of me and then she was in the toilet. She didn’t hide. She didn’t run away. I never had to phone a search party. When she called my womb home, I felt her. When my body expelled her like poison, I saw her. I always knew exactly where she was. We did not try again for a year because that meant putting his cock where she had been last. Trying again would mean replacing her and I was still sorting out what had happened. One day I was pregnant and the next day I wasn’t. I couldn’t figure out the cause, only the effect. He said I would be my normal self again if only I said yes. But I kept saying no, and soon he was the one who would break down sobbing because blue-veined cheeses go with gin and stout, didn’t I know that? Or the lint roller belongs in the top left drawer, so why was I putting it in the top right? The first time we embraced in all those months was right after I downed too much Moscato because I had grown cheap and childish. Even though his first thrust was hesitant and shy, I thought he had punched my cervix. When I squirmed, he dotted my forehead with kisses and I froze. The next thrust was faster, bolder. Each thrust went harder, deeper. A voice told me to lunge for his neck, so I heeded the call and bit him like in the old days before she died. He bit me back. At one point we established a rhythm, an understanding. The last thing I remember before falling asleep was suppressing a tiny burp that tasted like semen and sweet wine. The next morning, I did my hair. I did my make-up. I put on my most beautiful Oscar de la Renta. I left the house and I walked the way elegant people walk in old movies. I noticed birds and sunshine and little white flowers pushing out from the sidewalks of

Washington. I even noticed little boys playing catch in their front yard without cringing. It was Tuesday in Tenleytown and I headed to Chevy Chase on foot. I joked that I wouldn’t get there until Thursday and had a real chuckle. Not a polite one. An actual chuckle. He and I got into the beautiful habit of making love. We left hickeys with no remorse. We wrote notes to each other and left them for each other around the house. We said fuck it to cheese and wine pairings and had what we wanted. And then one day, the test came back positive. “When will I feel the baby?” I asked the doctor several weeks later, wringing my hands. “Soon,” he said and smiled. “No,” I said, suddenly realizing how small my voice sounded. “Why haven’t I felt the baby yet?” I met my husband’s eyes. He looked away. The doctor clasped my hand and said slowly and firmly, “Your baby is healthy.” On his way out the door, he patted my husband’s shoulder. I sighed. The next night, January 16, 1991, we were watching TV after dinner. ABC News correspondent Gary Shepard was on the air, reporting live from Baghdad, where the city crouched in silence. Suddenly, at 6:35 p.m., Shepard said, “Peter, I’m looking directly west from our hotel now, and throughout the entire sky there are flashes of light.” Then came the sound of tracer fire. I almost turned to my husband and cried that the war had started when the quickening occurred. It felt like the baby was brushing a fluttering butterfly against my belly. “She’s kicking!” I cried.

Christine Stoddard is a writer and visual storyteller whose work explores issues of identity and social justice in folklore, history, and the digital world. www.wordsmithchristine.com www.fokus.org |

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After The Rain by Naima Green

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After the Rain, 2015 Naima Green is a Brooklyn-based artist and arts educator. Her work investigates issues of urban design, class, contemporary culture and place. She is currently working on Jewels from the Hinterland and The Rooftop Growing Guide (2016). www.naimagreen.com www.fokus.org |

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Untitled, Antigua I & II

Negro Sunshine www.fokus.org |

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Lucid Lover by Saydizm

Seems as if true romance only exists in my mind. When will it come to a point where I am not scavenging for reasons to be fully satisfied, and I can elevate from minimal extrinsic efforts, to maximum intrinsic bliss. Is the mindset of a recovering manic depressed loner so flawed that this damsel is cursed to always be in distress. Have I branded my chains from the era when I was once bound, and my suffering is all an illusion. Most of my emotional thoughts play out in slow motion, with a magical glow and the objects of my past, present, and future desires looking eye to eye to eye. Should I begin to make those experiences more intense, since reality can’t seem to coexist… When approached, I can drift further away, with a slight hover above my ideal other, and see if this is really what they want. I will allow my heart to freeze, crack, and shatter that area of my body to expose the wildfire that smothers my organs as electricity shoots through my veins. My eyes will resemble the keyhole portal I have tattooed on the back of my neck: filled with dark clouds, that will lurk and swirl like the birth of a supercell storm. The electricity from my veins will emit sparks from my fingertips, and my blood will hemorrhage into pools beneath me, boiling. I will be the Alpha Medusa, with my hair breathing a life of its own, sprouting into sections, forming Venus Flytraps among rotating vines of poison ivy… a beautiful filigree. Of course, I will cry. Liquid hematite that will solidify soon as it drips into the boiling pool of blood, then roll to the edge of my vicinity, forming beautifully polished stones. It will be quite a scene, as some will run away in fear, some will observe in the distance, some will accept it as a summons. The fearless will not be phased, but I will not be soothed. If they shall move closer, I will hyper-ignite, forcing them to be displaced. The daredevil will be overcome with the thrill of a challenge, taking an untamed leap to reach but their ill-mannered gesture will disgust me so much that I will pixelate into a transparent hologram and they will fail to ever achieve the slightest grasp. The observer will not understand the purpose of such an occurrence, nor do they want to. They are content, pleased that they have the opportunity to see as they juggle the possibility of whether or not to believe. Some may take some abstract meaning from it, some are waiting to see what comes of it, if there is an end result. They rarely inch forward, some hide in the distance, keeping a safe distance in case I erupt. So the observers do not pose much of a threat unless I sense a shift in their intentions. The empath is a gamble. Since I am unable to see or hear as I am in that state, I cannot identify the species of fellow empaths. I can only feel the pulse of their soul, and if they withstand my distractions I will stabilize and their identity will be revealed. A lot of times I encountered animals being drawn to me because of their pure compassion, or muses that conjoined to form a protective barrier from outside forces as they harnessed and amplified my output. Those with the capacity to truly love, to be a True Love, will endure, absorb, and reciprocate my force. Patient, still, and vibrant… my Lover matches the height of my hover, being a force that magnifies the hematite, cools the boiling blood pool, while emitting light into my dark clouded eyes. They will reveal their core to me, so that I can feel the electricity 40 | www.fokus.org


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and warmth of their soul. The only difference we have between us is that their heart is warm and mine is cold. The longer they stay, the more my core repairs. My hair will lose its venom, and sprout into exotic flowers. My tears will cease and I will be able to see. I will observe my Love thoroughly, and after I am reassured of their intentions, I will be calmed, relieved, and exhausted from the magnitude of immense energy I released. I will fall faint for an extended amount of time but my patient ideal other will nurture and respect my idleness until I resurrect. By the time I regain strength and consciousness, we will unite as if we knew we would find each other after the universe played the greatest game of Wander & Seek, placing us on opposites sides of the world with a burden of awareness, hypersensitivity, and a vast assortment of obstacles and distractions to prolong our fulfillment. I will finally thank my muses for preserving me: as some lived through me vicariously, others whispered cosmic affirmations, and others hummed mystical hymns to keep my pulse going. The creatures I drew near me will rejoice and flutter, dance, and sound off their praises. The observers will maintain their distance: some relieved the phenomenon did not end in disaster, some disgusted at the time they spent waiting on some grand spectacle, some apathetic about the entire ordeal...just proud to have yet another story to tell. My Lover will become my other lung, staying close, in sync as I share all the visions and explorations I had while in my mode. We will laugh and play with the possibilities of never finding one another, secretly cringing at the reality of ending up with a completely opposite mate. We will be triumphant in the way our cosmic alchemy ordained our fate. The holes will fill, the cracks will mend. We will be able to choose whether we will return to earth’s standard of gravity or ascend beyond cosmic reach. The reality we construct will overcome and surpass those unfortunate scenarios of separation. Passion galore, what more. We will be free… weightless, waitless.

In my writings, I reach my truth through painful realizations as a result of my transparency. Hence, the name Saydizm, which is derived from the word ‘sadism’ [pleasure obtained from inflicting pain]. The shortened form ‘Say’ is the command to initiate words, which are my weapon of choice.

Brooklyn-bred visionary, creative enthusiast, accessories designer, natural hair+skincare developer, writer, philosopher, wanderer... and still defining. www.Saydizm.tumblr.com www.fokus.org |

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Series

by Deborah Singletary

Daughter of Oya_

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Joy Child Giving birth to artwork that didn’t exist before strengthens my faith in my potential to live life beyond limited and apparent circumstances. Making art requires me to courageously negotiate the moments of not knowing, fear, and mistakes with courage--same as in all aspects of my life.

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Frieda Kahlo

Deborah is a contemporary urban folk artist whose artwork has appeared in The New Yorker and other publications. Her work as an interfaith minister encompasses her passion for art and spiritual counseling using astrology. www.visioncarriers.com www.fokus.org |

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Untitled Series by Angeles Vera

When I made these drawings I was aiming to portray how everyone of us has an entire universe within. We have so many different sides and possibilities. We can make ourselves into anything we want if we just know what that is. Angeles Vera was born in 1982 in Asuncion. Vera is an architect and likes experimenting with drawing or painting, or taking pictures. Vera thinks visual media is a very universal and powerful tool to communicate beyond any cultural boundaries. 46 | www.fokus.org


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Sun Magic

by Suhaly Bautista-Carolina

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Parable of the Sower Lyrics by A-B-E

* The Last Emcee’s Verse * Everything you change changes you I’ll be damned if that ain’t true What you gonna do when life pushes you And even you think you’re through I’m an animal with a parable Careful, I got horns like a caribou I’m in my element walking down the avenue Thinkin’ how I’m a break out, I’ma find an avenue They pitchin’ on St. Nick I’m spittin’ that flame shit Hustlin’ yea, some would say same shit * Chorus * Cuz everything you change Touches you profoundly Things’ll never be the same I think I finally found me Cuz everything you change Touches you profoundly Things’ll never be the same I think I finally found me‘ * Abe’s Verse * I found them heron baggies inside the toilet You thought they flushed away, they wasn’t even moist yet I saw ya yell at mommie, I heard ya punching auntie Told me respect women, is this how you grow manly? Uncle looking comatose, goddamned nearly overdosed But this the shit I been exposed since I been like six years old Okay I’m looking for God now, pray you answer my probs, how? I hear no words it ain’t odd, Thou never seem to respond out loud And this nigga weed so goddamn loud, I ain’t hearing shit but banging out/ Bandanas, hammers, Mario (POW), Charles Bronson Death Wish/ Action Bronson rhetoric, Little brother wanna step in this Regulating with my fists, Do what I do or catch The Reckoning/ Let down by my heroes, I swore not to be em Till I became em- Had nothing to fear- Then Lil Bro was killed… Lost my reason for living Now this Peace Poet (just) hope to save a life that listen cuz… * Chorus * * Frankie 4’s Bridge * Cuz everything you touch, touches you back, true dat, who knew that // Making a mark on the world could leave you blue black till you blew back to the // Starting line, life keeps testing this, heart of mine// Why would I follow rules when I see outside the lines?// (2x)

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* Luke’s Verse * I’m admitting it, I’m spitting it, and I’m fitting it in your brain All I am is what I’m living dancing with my DNA Grandma passing whiskey down-- That’s plenty for today I’m feeling kinda tipsy now I got too much to say Around my way-- a holiday’s an alcoholic séance I started spitting WORD so I had something to play on Papa was a rock star-- teaching me to pray on But I was just another kid for this system to prey on Teaching me to kill, whatever’s in my path (and) Act like I know everything and never have to ask (and) Forget about my people, only focus on the cash (and) Have a heart of stone till it all come crashing down Down… And now I am transformation, Found me on the corner: work and liberation Making music for the movement: to FREE US ALL Making mirrors outta mics til we: SEE US ALL

A-B-E (EHH-Bee-iii) n; 1. South Bronx rapper 2. perpetual cypher initiator 3. beatboxer extraordinaire, 4. Co-Founder of The Peace Poets, LLC., Love Living® Entertainment, Cage & Key Apparel and 5. BS & MA from NYU. www.ASouthBronxTale.com www.fokus.org |

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Thank You for reading INSIGHT: Alchemy We hope you enjoyed the work shared with you. The theme for the next issue is: Fracture Read more issues @ www.fokus.org/insight


INSIGHT: Alchemy