WHIRLWIND STAFF Founding Publisher Lamont B. Steptoe Founding Editor Sean Lynch Art Director, Designer Melissa Rothman Community Outreach Coordinator Courtney Gambrell Lead Designer Erin Kelly ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Thanks to Larry Robin and Brandon Blake of Moonstone Arts Center for their help in printing this publication. A special thanks to Robert Zell of The Pen and Pencil Club for hosting our launch parties. Sandra Turner-Barnes’ poems “SWOOSH” and “But, Mostly Love” were originally published in her poetry collection But, Mostly Love (BTS Enterprises, 2011). Lamont B. Steptoe’s poems “A Great Grandaddy Speaks” and “Of Slavery Exile and Freedom” were both first published in his American Book Award winning collection, A Long Movie of Shadows (Whirlwind Press, 2004). Cover art by Andrea Walls Copyright © Whirlwind Magazine, 2017 All rights reserved to artists and authors. No work may be reproduced in any form without the permission of its creator. All inquiries should be addressed to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: Sean Lynch PO Box 561 Camden, NJ
Empire Jorge Oâ€™Connell
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Hello and welcome to the tenth issue of Whirlwind Magazine. The theme of this issue is on the meaning of the word Empire in the 21st century. In this issue we are focusing on the voices of those who have traditionally been marginalized in the literary world. Imperialism in the 21st century has evolved along with globalization, so that the term doesn’t exactly have its old implications (i.e. 19th/20th century American Imperialism, or 18th/19th/20th century British Imperialism) but that of an international elite who wield financial capital as a weapon in order to oppress the vast majority of humanity. In the meantime, well-meaning individuals who act for progress have become entangled in debates over identity politics. With this issue, we aim to unite the fractured voices of writers and artists of all identities against the real root of both Western oppression and neo-colonialism: those who control globalized financial capital, otherwise known as Empire. In the 21st century, Empire adapts to resistance against it by means of implicit control over media, technology, and education systems, in order to convince people around the world that the process of globalized capitalist oppression works. We all know due to current events that this is not the case. The following pages include engaging poetry written by contributors from the Philadelphia area and all around the world. Vernita Hall’s poems are beautifully self-aware and steeped in history as she candidly reveals the ugliness of racism. Ryan Eckes boldly speaks out against injustice, exclaiming, “never thank a democrat / for anything / we’re not supposed to be / raped and killed...” and does it in such a gritty and urgent Philly way. Savannah Cooper-Ramsey eloquently criticizes “...walls constituting nationalism, nonsense.” Mark Danowsky’s chilling prediction of a Post-Trump apocalyptic wasteland speaks volumes. Robin Knight describes the excesses of Oberon in his intellectual isolation. Jessica Murray walks us through the automatic checklist of Empire’s quality control. Julian Tirhma introduces us to Empire’s training video. Our old friend from Jamaica, Gervanna Stephens gives us her take on how oppression makes her feel. Justin Alley’s poem juxtaposes imperialist war in Iraq with our decadent consumption of reality television. Mara Buck’s “What is Aleppo?” takes that now famous question and flips it on its head. Catriona McAlister’s poetry confronts the luxuries we are so accustomed to in the industrialized world. Tom Pescatore’s poem reflects on the human condition in a lonesome, Philly fashion. Juanita Rey, Sandra Turner-Barnes, Kymberly Brown, Preston Hood, and Molly Day all take a look at womanhood in their own way. Our final poems come from Lamont Steptoe, who delves us into the ultimate form of oppression in slavery. And finally, we have Pegi Eyers with another brilliant essay on the many problems we face when encountering Empire. As always, we’d like to thank you, the reader, for your support and hope you enjoy reading Whirlwind issue #10. -Sean Lynch
TABLE OF CONTENTS The Game by Vernita Hall: pg. 1 Where William Walked by Vernita Hall: pg. 2 Free Stuff by Ryan Eckes: pg. 3 Elevator No Love by Ryan Eckes pg. 4 Language State by Savannah Cooper-Ramsey: pg. 5 The Great America National Park by Mark Danowsky: pg. 8 Oberonâ€™s Empire by Robin Knight: pg. 9 Effects Of Animal Transport by Jessica Murray: pg. 11 Empire Industries Introductory Video Transcript by Julian Tirhma: pg. 12 Monopolized by Gervanna Gravity Stephens: pg. 14 Attention! Attention by Justin Alley: pg. 15 What Is Aleppo? by Mara Buck: pg. 17 Reverberations by Catriona McAlister: pg. 18 Aw Hell, Too Soon by Tom Pescatore: pg. 20 Guanimos by Juanita Rey: pg. 21 S W O O S H by Sandra Turner-Barnes: pg. 22 But, Mostly Love by Sandra Turner-Barnes: pg. 23 Ode To Woman by Kymberly Brown: pg. 25 The Self Portrait by Preston Hood: pg. 27 Home by Holly Day: pg. 29 A Great Granddaddy Speaks by Lamont B. Steptoe: pg. 30 Of Slavery, Exile and Freedom by Lamont B. Steptoe: pg. 31 Say No! Rejecting Empire by Pegi Eyers: pg. 33
THE GAME by Vernita Hall After Robert Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night” I have been one familiar with the game. I have read my cards—been dealt my cards. I have dreamed to catch Olympic flame. I have hefted weight, trained, trained hard. I have advanced the inching trek of pawns, borne the scripted smiles, salved the scars. I have dared compete before the throng— a cheering crowd by day, a mob by night. Swung, struck, scored, run home strong flying the colors, infused with light to find broken windows, the missing pet. Burning to catch a ghost dead to rights. You cross the line: the rules remain the same. I have been one familiar with the game.
WHERE WILLIAM WALKED by Vernita Hall
I shall throughout this study use the term "Negro," to designate all persons of Negro descent…I shall, moreover, capitalize the word, because I believe that eight million Americans are entitled to a capital letter. —William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, The Philadelphia Negro Philadelphia: Where William walked the Seventh Ward to pave the study of The Philadelphia Negro. Where Quakers walked to manumit their slaves. Where Jimmy Bland cakewalked a minstrel show in O, dem golden slippers, before the Mummers. Where Tanner walked in Fairmount Park to seek in the brush his brush with Thomas Eakins. Where Rebecca Cox Jackson walked Negroes to join the Shakers. Where Jarena Lee walked to plead for equal rights to preach—a woman—at the A.M.E., where women walked in silence, out of sight. Where Harriet walked slaves to liberty. Where William Still and the Forten dynasty walked Underground to friend a freedom train. Where Richard Allen walked away in protest, St. George's loss fired Mother Bethel's gain. Where Marian meteored over Jim Crow’s rails and Octavius Catto plucked that black bird’s tail. Where Rebecca walked tradition’s nerves to read, twenty-two percent lack basic education. William—first black Harvard Ph.D. Who follows in his steps to lead the nation born where William walked A.M.E. - The African Methodist Episcopal Church Per the National Center for Education Statistics (2003), 22% of Philadelphia County lacks “basic prose literary skills.” 2
FREE STUFF by Ryan Eckes jesus didn’t want to be a white cop millionaire
old trip, starved star, no it—all things tremble w/ blood
shake my hand, he says, work w/ me
“get a life!” says a pigeon sandwich
call swamp thing’s office right now
to some activists pulling the poor out the police
watch yourself on tv fall down
what kind of hall of fame is this, everyone crying bosses like to die in poems so write them everywhere never thank a democrat for anything we’re not supposed to be raped and killed
who do you protect who do you serve a nazi crawls into the e.r. begging for free stuff broken windows, teeth of nation in street, rain—water we can’t drink
ELEVATOR NO LOVE
by Ryan Eckes
dear internet world of non-action goodbye we’re free the temple’s in the toilet my keys are on the table nobody’s rich and patter in the dark empty seats thank god we’re a flea in a ferris wheel we put a cap on the pomp like a boss made of water here you cannot teach for america you will not cut out your eyes you will not cut off your ears and hang your balls from the wire for a name you can’t feed enough there is no name there is no israel god is a football roofed in the gutter forever a boy screams after it until he is the scream my gums bleed in the morning for new work to circle the drain “you” as no as loved to the bottom throws rocks at dead goalies each rock a no as the sky bruised into question no as the moon if you wanna live stop saying “sky” and pick up a rock and look at it
LANGUAGE STATE by Savannah Ramsey Raphèl mai amècche zabì almi My feet, so thick and dry and white. Why so calloused? This skin does not shed. No trail left behind. No child. Plath stored her babies in jars, missed the sound of ice clinking in a glass, here, in America, my womb resounds empty. Pilgrims get angry before they tire, and my poetess mother is absent. She’s peddling her progeny in Western PA where wards of the state fill fridges, pill bottles rattle, the high school, a steed, dappled overnight, this system, designed to foster care. All doors locked at the Hall of Presidents, Gettysburg, PA. Tourists got no interest, so kick the New Year off with forty-three figures sheathed wax wheeled, one-by-one, to the auction block (some move! a few can even talk!) high bidders parse the brood, irony intact. I end up on the battlefield, effortlessly, climb a steel tower. Not-yet barren branches bowing under late October rain, fields spliced by asphalt, leading the occasional car from monument to grave, land stretching expansively, in proportion to height; not like perspective.
Put me out to pasture, I cry. I visit utopias, llamas and ponies of stunted growth. One is named Columbus. To breed is a transitive verb, I meet a nice donkey. “Hey! What’s your name?” The sign says: MAY BITE. DON’T FEED. This is what we call rescue words, walls constituting nationalism, nonsense.
We animals. Still I yearn to exhume futures endangered for my own production. Now, where did I put my cantos? Wounds either flush or fester. Partigiano and Partisan are not the same words. My brother was in service. He shipped a shard of painted rock, chipped blue, aqua marine, gloriously unintelligible save for a box, stamped: “BERLIN”. Serving new masters, he asks, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” “Oh that fork in the road? Just keep doubling back; there’s always a guide.” I know a bit about discourses; see, my institution deems me a Fellow. Laws protect flags against flame, guard speech. Row or wade in the water, the same chill wind blows. Heels dig in. The center is a pipeline is a railroad, States will govern bodies and we could still call wars cold. Patriotism ex nihilo, PTSD Plan B: tell loved ones, get out. Place faith in natural barriers. Between us? A great sea. Being. Exile or adventure, it’s all comedy. Organic matter now immaterial, subject lines read: “RE: what remains” Ethics, never so cryptic as when ecological. We can’t conceive where life begins, so we assign a premium to its incubation. Mine is a natural selection. She chose. My body. Luxurious and drying up. 6
If we must live within these fault lines, please don’t do it like my brother. Don’t tell me you’re sick of rhetoric. Language is a mirror, not cosmic geometry. What we built, we will destroy. It’s an order. I invite a friend to dinner; his name is Nimrod. Together we are grace, we remain. Backs against this crumbling monolith, watching the stampede, we babble on and wait for our mothers.
THE GREAT AMERICA NATIONAL PARK by Mark Danowsky (an expanded version of Donald J. Trump State Park) No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. -Third Amendment to the United States Constitution Our structures were repossessed By the land Leaving only the scrawls of our presence We walled ourselves off Closed the park Despite its low maintenance The park was valued Beyond its worth anyhow According to foreign leaders The government sent occasional cables From an undisclosed location Believed to be a bunker Beneath the panopticon erected in Camden Leaders said they were safe Said that their safety meant our safety It was years since we had taken to the streets Since they had taken our homes Since we had had the strength to question
OBERONâ€™S EMPIRE by Robin Knight Oberon had Asperger's syndrome. We lived together in the woods but the plane he inhabited was beyond the eyes of others, save terrifying glimpses. I witnessed him at the crockery cupboard voiding onto the floor, eyes burning holes in the walls. The fury shook him as he hurled each piece at precise intervals, with metered force into the fragmented existence of landfill, He roamed the forest, it was his realm insisting on the difference between a stinkhorn and a death cap, and poisoning himself only rarely. Patched orange with space hopper, his thick black skin kept him warm as he swam deep with the seal people off the Eddystone. His feats of memory belonged in a victorian circus. Do you know what happened on the 24th of September seven hundred and sixty eight? (Pepin the short died at St Denis), or that dicotyledons are not a monophyletic group?
Oberon knew that aEthelredâ€™s son was first Anglo-Saxon king, he knew that William (the bastard) was first Norman ruler of England. He would never compute that Edward is King of the potatoes, nor how to make Goldilocks laugh. Like the library of Alexandria his body of knowledge burnt. In Plymouth crematorium on 17th November 2008, it was lost to the world. We lived together in the woods, absent in the same space. His terylene wand issued my spark of life, but neither of us could forgive that I was Titaniaâ€™s favourite.
EFFECTS OF ANIMAL TRANSPORT by Jessica Murray Bruising: May take place during loading, unloading, transportation, or holding. Imagine a subjectivity, think about money: either wayâ€”gently, gently. Trampling: The proceedings will take place behind closed doors. Suffocation:
This usually follows trampling.
Heart Failure: A result of terror on the heels of pleasure.
Never overfeed an animal before transport or slaughter.
Often the product of distance plus temperature.
Bathe animals before loading. The cooler the water, the more soothing.
Exhaustion: May occur for many reasons, e.g. heavily pregnant animals or weaklings.
Let economics be a mainstay of awareness and vision.
Stress: In this way, the body keeps telling the tale of fear and confusion.
Let the animal rest in a spacious enclosure. Subtract, as much as one can, the human.
EMPIRE INDUSTRIES INTRODUCTORY VIDEO TRANSCRIPT by Julian Tirhma Welcome to the winning team at Empire Industries. Your work ethic, obedience, attention to detail, friendly indifference, and half-hearted brown-nosing secured you a permanent position with our vast corporation. Make sure to tell your friends: getting in on the ground floor gives you access to the stairwell that reaches all the way up to the mezzanine. I’m Roy Nelson, grandson of William Nelson, the founding father of this fine company. While the specific tasks of your essential position will be explained by your immediate supervisor, allow me to give you a broad sense of Empire Industries’ vision and reach. Back in my granddad’s days, it was enough to save a bag of gold, hire a few immigrants with a wagon full of corn, and invite the mayor over for a good steak. Well, times have changed, and we created that change. Today, Empire Industries sports the largest dedicated workforce and boasts the most diverse holdings in quasi-legal diversified investment trusts. Sound like mumbo jumbo? [Laughs.] Remember our motto, “We understand so you don’t have to.” That’s why we hire people like your supervisors: so they can trust that their supervisors know who to trust to understand what’s really going on. It’s a complicated world, what with multi-national cross-branding vertical integration, tax shelters, and balanced acquisitions. We appreciate that your time is too valuable to invest in the “why,” when you can focus on the “what” and feed your family. Remember, there is no U in TEAM! Aside from competitive sub-compensatory wage structures and free purified water, Empire Industries offers the following perks: Self-paced, online courses such as “How to Assimilate,” “Defending Yourself from Naysayers,” and our most popular to date, “Raising Children to Accept Mediocrity.” Harmless, low-impact protests to sublimate your frustration, insisting on better coffee, real cream, and more than one station of easy listening. Trained professionals to advise you on declaring bankruptcy, changing your name to something less terrorist-sounding, or upgrading your devices. After-hours speed dating events that match you to an opposite-gender employee based on a rigorous algorithm that measures lack of ambition, favorite distractifying apps, fertility, apathy, and privilege. We guarantee we can find a person who will never question your admiration for classic white heroes (Indiana Jones, Abraham Lincoln, Atticus Finch, T.E. Lawrence) or draw attention to the ease with which you move through the world. Your comfort is our top priority. The Real Zone, our monthly newsletter, is accepting columns on a variety of subjects of personal interest written by people just like you! I really enjoy reading your opinions, so long as your opinions uphold the moral standards of Empire Industries. Previous topics include, “Rediscovering Reproductive Sex,” “My Grandmother’s Kitchen,” “The Sanctity of Old Glory,” and, “When Freedom of Speech Goes Too Far.” Well, I just can’t say how pleased I am that you’ve decided to throw your baseball cap in with Empire Industries (and its parent company, affiliates, sponsors, and media outlets). Since you won’t ever have contact with me in person, consider this my firm handshake welcoming you to the club. This is Roy Nelson, signing off. Together, we can Make America Ours Again.
Please Enter Fabrice Poussin 13
MONOPOLIZED by Gervanna Gravity Stephens Legacy the untapped, untouched stigma of ancestors past traditions faithfully followed fucking up the future, but its hold canâ€™t possibly be forever. Silent saturated stares, which speak only when spoken to, are seen and not heard lambs to the slaughter patiently waiting for outstretched arms to balance injustices. Alas! Control is bred in the womb of real power and effectively stolen to procure authority discarded like bloody afterbirths legs only to be open when authority sees it a privilege to take worth and pilfer its own royalty. Oy veyâ€Ś The bastards and marginalized sing, in their sweat, their misfortune, their swarthy coverings that stretch from millenniums to now, pedestals set with social chains and likes and taps that whip and falter at fighting back. Finally, the truth? That fortresses stand erect on the back of sacrifice unwilling legacies amassed in the back door of the law empires erect non-erasable and everlastingâ€” do not pass go. do not collect two hundred dollars.
ATTENTION! ATTENTION by Justin Alley In a week of awkward dancing and fake sign-language that over-shadowed the poor sales for the state funeral, get over—Iraq’s bloodiest week since I can’t believe he was voted off early. It’s totally rigged! The lesson we learned was that, up-the-skirt shots demand the Apache gunship mow down the clump of crabgrass [thirteen civilians] it thought might be carrying a telephoto lens, but it turns out, this just might be one of them special occasions where the cover-up is worse than the crime. The crime? A minor misstep when always we demand an act of— Attention! Attention. Do you realize all these spare-the-air days mean we had so much smog that... —Yes, it does get very foggy.
Through His Eyes Walter Savage 16
WHAT IS ALEPPO? by Mara Buck The pale white man—a candidate for the world’s highest office—is puzzled when asked what he thinks of Aleppo. “What is Aleppo?” he blinks into the camera lights. On election day, he doesn’t win (he wasn’t expected to) but still wrangles votes from millions of citizens who don’t know Aleppo from Groucho. Look at a photo of the American Secretary of State (back when he was a Senator) dining with Assad. The restaurant table linen, virgin white, hovered like détente. The crystal sparkled. The wives’ jewels gleamed. Blood oozed from the Châteaubriand. Years ago in Aleppo. Transport your mind to Aleppo. It isn’t difficult. We’ve visited on newscasts, heard the bombs and the screams, winced from the percussion while we ate dinner. Our eyes are bruised from visions of dead children. There is—at the moment— a cease-fire! You’re in Aleppo, your wounded starving child in your arms, your shell-shocked mother leaning against you. You stand in the rubble of what was your home, your market, your job. It doesn’t matter. It’s all rubble and you can’t orient yourself. You don’t know which way is out. They’ve just called a cease-fire and ambulances are screaming— or is it you who screams when you see that at this very moment of hope, the life of your wounded child has slipped away. What, in your widest nightmares, is Aleppo?
REVERBERATIONS by Catriona McAlister I see the best minds of my generation destroyed by Apathy, submerged in a sea of cellophane, Gagging on the contradiction of their times. Fat, flaccid and infertile, they bow to the god of self-help, Or sprint from the shadow of contemplation, To seek refuge in the fathomless place between their eyes. Others fumble in a transcendent blackness, Startled by the moonlight of their smartphones. Trolls who divert their cancerous brains with the oracleâ€™s bounty, Who gaze at their Buddha bellies, whilst feasting on low-fat franken-foods. Uniformed slaves to the corporate beasts they allow to Grow fat on tree-stripped hills, and piss in the drinking water. In hot houses brimming with electrical goods and sweat-shop trainers, Televisions deliver: The latest veiled threats and voyeuristic porn, Pimping products for a better life. They, whose arteries are clogged by bad debt, Whose riches are thrown by an invisible hand on roulette, Who marinade in the secret tears of their communal isolation, Fear, too much, to question the cost. Dawn ransacks disremembered lands, Where supervisors lay blankets of insults over woodpecker Mothers who sew too slow. Foundations creak, Flustering the carpet of children at their feet. Fields grow green-wash - landfills where fathers toil, Sifting waste for salvage gems and sucking plastic from copper coils.
I see the wonderland of the one per cent, their gilt-castles Founded on the skeletons of shanty slums, Golf-course gardens that gurgle barren the greenbelt, Where loungers recline in the shade of corruption. Idlers with malignant riches and statesman servants, who Snarl by in spaceships too fast to show their faces, Who gobble on gold leaf, oysters, kobe beef and lobsters, Whose obese hearts are vacuum-packed In the plastic sculptures of their bronzed bodies.
This media-constructed marvel, a manifold fabric Of mercenary headlines and canned distractions, Satiates our inflamed minds, making us believe Our cannibalism is justified, And our sacrifice Is worthy.
AW HELL, TOO SOON by Tom Pescatore emptying the closets of the rich to leave bundles of pens on market street nostalgic johnny appleseed there was a time I carried nothing with me found a pencil everyday on sinking curbs and university streets I'm repopulating the earth with ink check the map at 1:05 pm still uncapped standing there what eyes looking down not I's looking around this is a grassroots revolution notebooks soaked in rain running blue lines red spots white toilet paper sheets bygones swept up by car tires and brooms.
GUANIMOS by Juanita Rey Once more I cook the perfect dinner. It's good enough to be photographed. Guanimos wrapped in banana leaves, stuffed with beef, adorned with raisins, capers and olives now if I only had a camera if I could only stay focused. Now what wine goes with this? And what man? No, it is too good for any I've met here. Not even the baby's father. The little one's a charmer of course but he needs his bottle not corn-flour. I concocted it but am I even deserving of such a feast. Someone has to eat it. So it may as well be me. I followed every step from an old family recipe. Sadly, I am from an old family recipe myself. We choose men badly. We have babies. But cooking is in our blood. So no need to take that photo anyhow. A glance in the mirror will do.
SWOOSH by Sandra Turner-Barnes Seven, eight, almost nine Going hard for the two And then one Each hoping to be "The Answer" * Without question Three to four foot baby-ballers Self-trained on bullet-strewn streets Yet to Learn The whys, why nots, the rules Or roar of this jungle Triple spins double jump shots Young hearts like wild lions Would-be N-B-A-ers Hungry for love more than points Starving for safety and survival
* The Answer = the professional nickname for former Philadelphia 76er, NBA legend, Allen Iverson
BUT, MOSTLY LOVE by Sandra Turner-Barnes At mid-day a dry hunger stirred my senses Bringing back well-fed childhood memories Mom's hot-buttered biscuits and homemade soups Flavored with herbs, spices, and a wholesome goodness, But, Mostly Love Despite food, hunger often lingers, digging deeper Into the mind's taste buds, which remember No Dad - but crispy chicken, fried, never greasy, Dripping with a soft kindness and a caring concern, But, Mostly Love And, although full, I could never resist the sweetness of homemade apple or lemon meringue pie, Or the comfort of crĂ¨me puffs or Banana Bread Pudding Prepared with a fresh, brown sugary delightfulness, But, Mostly Love Mommy's gone on home to rest now, But I am forever satisfied Sweetly savoring my precious life long memories Of my sassy, sometimes set-in-her way, wise and Wonderful Momma, who fed me many things Over the years, But, Mostly Love... Mostly Love... Mostly Love...
Tounge Depressor Andrea Walls
ODE TO WOMAN by Kymberly Brown Yes! o Woman, Woman, Yes! Yes! Yes! o woman assiduous portraiture, the ways in which you don’t see me, the erotic excellence of this exotic idea that alone is ecstasy more afraid to be together than apart or in pieces, you stare wide-eyed at the mysterious growth of the marble-leaved plant as it roots its deep desire for darkness yet living only for the love of light How can the enslaved soul sing amongst the sickened peonies— held at the end of a divining rod, nowhere the hand of the lord? How can the enslaved soul sing without its knowing a word? Hand me my palette— It is time I showed you the color of sharps and flats, the ridges of these curving maps, the contours of my figure very far in an outer space
the destiny of this sad guitar mingles with the dust in my cheeks, pebbles dabble the mood, embarking on the lucidity of certain eddying emotions, the very instruments of endlessness
I feel the distant looks of ancestors toiling again through these hands, in the immediacy of their elaborate dreams where the sighs of the undead and their elemental signs pervasively bleed through lives in strong tides of stinging dyes and these, along with the lost precautions of strong drink that dwelt in the fabulous fabric long before the loss of amoebic unity, make for the emergence of woman, the primitive ink of this blood a blood both menstrual and minstrel a blood so thick and dark a blood so deep and wide the beautiful story of creation is really the creation of a beautiful story the imprints along the way the rendering of perfection in their solitary expression the sound of my name the syllable of my cry the piercing swell of my ecstasy in spite of the ugly urgency and the disastrous details, I sing my singular claim drawn in the inventive characters for the wombs of womanhood everywhere! I sing the erotic ritual of mind-over-matter, body-and-soul creation, and excellent selvesâ€” 26
THE SELF PORTRAIT by Preston Hood bridges the gorge of ordinary day half-dead half-alive between the leaf-nose & basin-boat of burning women chained-angels taken from left-eye-assault of thought into a series of blood punches right-eye-trauma where a woman lives fiery-vertigo-rape tries to push iced-shackled numbness-suicide away with muteness tethered to daily living she plays by rules in this black-bellied stanchion of fear tells herself her prisoned heart is someone else's life something bad then only seems bad now soon a lark will sing her awake she hates long day's invisibility beneath stars when she loses herself in blue-black pigment-loss she doesn't always recognize flare-ups everything is something to a kick-ass Marine she'll kick out monster opaque-fright still there are nights the moon tells her how the heart's dark repairs itself the mouth you don't see stares us down pukes up bile was kissed by not-asking-permission would make dislocated sounds if opened
she feels a sequestered stare is grit enough to tell she's falling doesn't need a mouth to speak her truth caged tears translate pain to art her swim through oceanfroth is cleansing.
System Fabrice Poussin
HOME by Holly Day No one believes I exist, but I still have to call someone. Inside, I have crumbled to dust, hollowed out from resisting the embraces of superstitious old women with coffins and business cards. I was hoping the beatings would stop once I had an audience. I am not afraid of anyone, anymore, not even the man crawling into my bed to see what it’s like he breathes His Breath on me and shouts “Live!” but I tell him I am an only child and cannot be healed.
A GREAT GRANDDADDY SPEAKS by Lamont B. Steptoe For Edward Dawson Sr. “Boy, you tell my tale 'cause I couldn't read couldn't write back there in slavery's night worked from 'can't see to can't see' I wasn't born free! Somehow, in my blood I knew you'd come along pick up the pieces make a song!”
OF SLAVERY, EXILE AND FREEDOM by Lamont B. Steptoe Henry “Box” Brown nailed and mailed himself Upsouth to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the nineteenth century from Richmond, Virginia found that little bit of freedom Blacks are allowed but that little bit of freedom wasn't never enough for Richard Wright or James Baldwin decades later so they planted America like a potato and said later ended up in France like ink spots on white linen mooning America with they Black asses Wright died in an antiseptic cloud of mystery and embraced a fiery angel Baldwin expired/tired his eyes filled with visions Frenchmen nailed and mailed “Jimmy” back to his Momma in Upsouth New York and unlike Henry “Box” Brown he wasn't smilin' when they opened the lid he was dead serious
Intensity Walter Savage
SAY NO! REJECTING EMPIRE by Pegi Eyers As we engage with the transition to individual and collective eco-resilience, it is truly liberating to pinpoint the source of our outmoded thinking, and to understand exactly how the long emergency of our cascading environmental, economic and social crises has come to pass. In the Americas, the current era of Empire goes back to 1492 and the “Age of Discovery,” when the “colonial imagination went global”1and was imposed dramatically and violently on indigenous peoples and localized cultures worldwide. Scientific reductionism in the 1700's followed by the industrial revolution changed the whole basis of society, including people’s relationship to each other and the land. Christianity continued to teach us that human beings were superior to other life by virtue of having a soul (other beings were “soulless”), and the nascent theories of mechanistic science went on to program humanity into viewing natural phenomena and the other-than-human world as lifeless “resources.” “While Western culture has in the past been based on an earth-centred and later a God-centred worldview, its current foundations are human-centred, whereby the Earth is seen as primarily for human use.2 (Thomas Berry)The many heinous theories that separate humanity from the holism of nature have justified the expansion of colonial Empire, what Winona LaDuke calls “a predator society based on conquest”3 into the industrial era and beyond, ravaging the natural world and enslaving and killing millions of indigenous people in the process. “We live at a time when the living body of our Earth is under attack, and the attacker is not an alien force but our own industrial-growth society.”4 (Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone) In our own lifetimes we have all participated in the prevailing meta-narrative, which has promoted parochial Empire building, industry, technology, and the paradigm of limitless progress - undisputed principles that went on to fuel the “good life” and the realization of the American Dream. During the boom years that followed the great world wars, who would have believed that the same paradigm of wealth and technological innovation so full of promise and benefit would bring us to the brink of economic and environmental collapse today? In just a few short decades, as societal problems worsen and environment degradation intensifies, we now see that the dominant paradigm is unsustainable, and millions of us are waking up to the impossibility of continuing to believe in the imperialist lies of Empire. Instead of saying “yes” to civilization, we should have been saying “no.” Why did we assume that the things so good for us, like industrial agriculture, millions of gas-fueled cars, endless expansion and unrestricted consumerism would not kill us in the end? It is time to undo the colonial legacy of domination and destruction, to reject the destructive principles of monotheistic religion that claim humanity to be superior to the earth, and to reject the fantasies of a utopian existence as extolled by the proponents of a technological, industrial way of life. The values of Anglophone Empire that created the hegemony of colonization and guided unchecked progress in the Americas for the past five hundred years are patently untrue. The idea that “evolution equals progress” is an outdated Victorian concept, and instead of some kind of futuristic utopia, what we have is crime, homelessness, lack of community, harmful technologies, destruction of natural systems, unsustainable growth, environmental breakdown and tremendous inequality. Technological progress has been widely embraced because of its perceived benefits, but the fact “that millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make those people sane.”5 (Erich Fromm) One of the greatest impediments to moving away from the destructive agenda of Empire and bending the curve, are the beliefs and “memes” from the civilizational ideology we have internalized as part of our psyches, and normalized as our collective reality. Right now in the Americas, as kings and queens of our own domains, we are the first generation ever to have the material wealth and luxury comparable to individual fiefdoms, and we may be the last to have such incredible privilege. Our attraction to the newest trend and our total choice in escapism, fantasy, luxury, travel, food, health, wellness, wardrobe, entertainment, hobbies, arts, literature, technology, toys, gadgets and conveniences are the direct result of 33
capitalist consumerism, and this excess (or surplus) in the western world has led to a very real change in the human condition. Never before in history has our unlimited choice in accouterments, lifestyle or opportunity outpaced our ability to manage this barrage, or to make the right decisions based on the infinity of possibilities. Both a blessing and a curse, the modern lifestyle that we take for granted (which fosters no loyalty to our neighbours or dependence on community whatsoever) is an unsustainable construct and doomed to expire. Being both the best and worst of times, these last days of Empire are the most innovative, clever, diverting, exciting, amusing, extravagant, contradictory, disturbing, deceitful, immoral, wasteful, rapacious, criminal, destructive, chaotic and tragic times ever. We have been in a colonized trance, and in addressing the social and ecological crisis we now face, we must reject the values that emphasize the accumulation of commodities and growth economics, and abandon the technologies that are incompatible with sustainability. “We live on a continent that thinks man’s laws are the highest laws, and we have a ‘centric’ civilization - it is all about us - ethnocentric and anthropocentric; and greed and public policy make paupers of all our relations. No matter how many times they tell the lies does not make them true. We are subject to the natural laws of sustainability, and we need to live in accordance with Creator’s Law.”6 (Winona LaDuke) At this point in history, it would also seem highly rational to reject the humancentric and hubristic notions that human beings are a “God Species” that rule the world, that more and better technology will solve the problems that technology created in the first place, and that continued “progress” is the only way forward. Our transition, what some are calling the “Great Turning,” must be from the doomed economy of industrial growth to a life-sustaining society, committed to the recovery of the natural world and our place within it. Empire-building in the Americas subjected indigenous people to genocide, assimilation and ongoing oppression, and ironically, those of us descended from the Settler Society can now look to the original Earth Keepers for models to changing our values, consciousness and behavior. The First Nations of Turtle Island have always been opposed to the toxicity of civilization, and continue to resist in body, mind and soul. Indigenous decolonization movements reject the psychological and physical impacts of colonization, and fuel the collective resurgence of cultural and spiritual traditions. As oppressor and oppressed do not share the same positionality in our recovery from civilization, Settlers have been cautioned not to appropriate the term “decolonization,”7 and to apply alternative terms such as “anti-colonialism” or “Rejecting Empire.” Yet, the imperative to undo our psychological and physical conditioning is gaining momentum daily, and the process of neurodecolonization is key to facing the long emergency realistically. Industrial civilization is headed for a brick wall, and the time to make change is long overdue. For all who call Turtle Island home, rejecting the hegemonic lies of a false and unsustainable economic paradigm, decolonizing ourselves in heart-mind-body-soul, and moving toward an “ecological civilization” is the great work of our time. The good news is that there is a contemporary movement toward sustainable eco-ethics happening, a huge renaissance engaged in anti-colonial work, and a groundswell who are saying NO! to the prevailing worldview. Rejecting Empire is paramount as we replace external authority with community, transcend the colonial identity that is our legacy, and begin to live as Earth-centered peoples again. Before we can work in true solidarity with indigenous peoples, we need to work on the decolonization process both in ourselves and our communities. Taking the long view, there are many questions we need to be asking ourselves at this juncture in history. How deep is the colonization in our souls? In our minds? What is delusional and what is real? As we move away from Empire, what is our level of commitment? This is the vital conversation. To completely decolonize can we truly reject all that does not serve the Earth, like resource extraction and exploitative economies, and to fully understand that capitalism is a brutal, fascistic system that kills millions of beings physically and millions more spiritually? When we reject the juggernaut of Empire and modernity, Winona LaDuke assures us that we “can have a worldview that is not based on Empire.”8 As I see it, the most important activity of anti-colonial work is rejection, a refusal to participate in Empire any longer, and this rejection needs to happen at the core of our being and as the basis of our resistance. 34
It is imperative that all people find their way back to an ecological awareness, the inner and outer narratives that honour the Earth above all, and to attitudes and practices that are in true symbiosis with the landscapes we call home. Rejecting the patriarchal imperialism inherent in governance and economy will lead to our eco-resilience, and our interconnectivity with the evolving processes of all life. First taking place in the heart and mind, the shift from dominator culture to community-collaborative culture will rejuvenate our essential bio-lineage, and empower us to contribute our unique gifts in service to the community and the land. Rethinking habitual patterns, plus the creative redesign of the structures and systems of our local communities, will develop and deepen our sense of belonging in the world. Anti-colonial work insists that we understand ourselves as we existed before modern civilization, and that implementing holistic solutions and traditional earth-connected ways of life are vital to the survival of the human race. By Rejecting Empire we are supporting the many emerging strands of a sustainable world, and becoming full participants in the paradigm shift to Earth Community!
NOTES 1. Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang, “Decolonization is Not a Metaphor,” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education &Society, Volume 1, No.1, 2012 (http://decolonization.org) 2. Thomas Berry, The Great Work: Our Way into the Future, Crown, 2011 3. Winona LaDuke (Anishnaabe), The Winona LaDuke Reader: A Collection of Essential Writings, Voyageur Press, 2002 4. Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re In Without Going Crazy, New World Library, 2012 5. Erich Fromm, The Sane Society, Routledge, 1991 6. Winona LaDuke (Anishnaabe), Keynote Address at Powershift 2012, Ottawa, ON, 28/10/2012 (www.youtube.com), Winona LaDuke at PowerShift 2012 (http://vimeo.com) 7. Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang, “Decolonization is Not a Metaphor,” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, Vol.1, No.1, 2012. The term “decolonization” is applied to indigenous cultures engaged in the recovery from colonization and reclamation of sovereignty as individuals and nations, and by far the majority of scholarship and activity regarding “decolonization” has been by First Nations. Indigenous “decolonization” encompasses healing from genocide and cultural attack, human rights work, anti-oppression and anti-racism efforts, land base recovery through original land claims, and a return to tribal traditions – the Original Instructions, indigenous knowledge (IK), and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of a specific First Nation, including traditional governance and diplomacy. Clearly Settlers need to be careful not to use “decolonization” as a metaphor or combine it with other pre-existing agendas, and to be aware of how we use the term in any ideology or action that would lead to the “resettlement, reoccupation, and reinhabitation that actually furthers settler colonialism.” (Tuck and Yang) 8. Winona LaDuke (Anishnaabe), Keynote Address at Powershift 2012, Ottawa, ON, October 28, 2012 (www.youtube. com), Winona LaDuke at PowerShift 2012 (http://vimeo.com)
BIOGRAPHIES An MFA in Creative Writing graduate from Rosemont College, Vernita Hall has been a second place finisher in the American Literary Review’s Creative Nonfiction Contest and a Salem College Rita Dove Poetry Award finalist. Hall serves on the poetry review board of Philadelphia Stories; her poetry and essays have been published or are forthcoming in Atlanta Review, American Literary Review, Philadelphia Stories, Referential, 823 on High, Mezzo Cammin, and five anthologies. Ryan Eckes was born in Northeast Philadelphia in 1979. He wrote Old News from the spring of 2008 to the spring of 2009 in South Philadelphia, where he continues to reside. More of his poetry can be found in the book when i come here (Plan B Press, 2007), on his blog, ryaneckes.blogspot.com, and in various journals. His latest book, Valu Plus, was released by Furniture Press in 2015. Savannah Cooper-Ramsey is from Philly. She’s finishing a Ph.D. at Columbia University with a dissertation on Dante and dialogue. This is her first non-academic submission. Mark Danowsky’s poetry has appeared in About Place, Cordite, Gargoyle, Mobius, Shot Glass Journal, The New Verse News and elsewhere. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Mark currently resides in North-Central West Virginia. He works for a private detective agency and is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal. Longlisted for the UK’s last National Poetry Competition, Robin currently writes features for Psychologies Magazine and has had poetry published in three anthologies including ‘Poems For The People’ (Lindfield Arts Festival 2013). Upcoming publications include a poem in Artificial/Imprimo’s Travel Anthology spring 2017 (UK) and Halfway down The Stairs (USA). Robin is also currently working on a commission for the History Press of Sussex Ghost Stories and a literary fiction set amongst the 19th century Navajo. Jessica Murray is an educator and poet living in Austin, Texas. Murray also curates an online interview series with contemporary women poets (which has been on hiatus but will be starting up again this spring) at www.if-you-want-to.com. Her poems have been published in journals such as 32 Poems, AGNI Online, Barrow Street, Berkeley Poetry Review, Cellpoems, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Guide to Kulchur, Memorious, QWERTY, Painted Bride Quarterly, Shenandoah, and Sixth Finch. Julian Tirhma performs poetry to disturb the margins. A genderqueer collage artist, they inhabit characters ashamed and intrigued by their warped desires. They also make found footage poem videos, one of a kind cut up books, and fairy clothing. Their essay on vocal recording appeared in PoetryFilmKanal’s publication this year and they have work forthcoming from NonBinary Press. Gervanna Gravity Stephens is a Jamaican born spoken word artist who sees the world in sentences and punctuation that are just waiting to live through voice. She dabbles in education, photography, public speaking and a little graphic design, for creation at heart includes everything! You can check her out at gervannastephens.wordpress.com Justin Alley has lived for most of his life in Northern California. He studied literature and philosophy at UC, Berkeley and the University of Cambridge, pursuing an emphasis in the philosophy of science. He has worked as a welder, a tutor in Oakland and an editor for academics from around the world. His chapbook, Protogenesis, is forthcoming from
Sequoia House. <www.justinalley.com> Mara Buck writes and paints in a self-constructed hideaway in the Maine woods. Awarded/short-listed by Faulkner-Wisdom, Hackney Awards, Balticon, Intergenerational, and others, with recent firsts for the Fitzgerald Poetry Prize and The Binnacle International Prize. Published in Hektoen International, Drunken Boat, HuffPost, Crack the Spine, Blue Fifth, Writing Raw, Pithead Chapel, Maine Review, Tishman Review, Whirlwind, plus numerous print anthologies. Cat McAlister is an environmentalist, consultant sustainability engineer and poet. She’s a Scot who is lucky enough to live in Barcelona. She recites and publishes her poetry with the Barcelona Poetry Brothel and is currently studying online writing courses with the University of East Anglia / Norwich Writers Centre and The University of Iowa. Tom Pescatore can sometimes be seen wandering along the Walt Whitman bridge or down the sidewalks of Philadelphia’s old Skid Row. He might have left a poem or two behind to mark his trail. He maintains a poetry blog: amagicalmistake.blogspot.com. Juanita Rey is a Dominican poet who has been in the U.S. for five years. She has worked many jobs while studying to improve her English. Rey has been writing for a number of years but only recently has begun to take it seriously. Her work has been accepted by Pennsylvania English, Harbinger Asylum, Petrichor Machine and Madcap Poets. Loving the sound and the taste of words, Sandra Turner-Barnes has been a poet since her youth. It was her 7th grade Honors English teacher in Camden, New Jersey, Mrs. Elizabeth Myers, who recognized and sought to inspire Sandra’s writing ability. Sandra has written 4 books of poetry, a children’s book illustrated by poet & painter, Bernard Collins, Jr., as well as having recorded a popular Jazz & Poetry CD, available in the USA and Europe. Sandra is also the proud winner of several writing competitions, most importantly, the 1996 Ebony Magazine International Literary Award. Preston Hood is a former Navy SEAL and the author of two books of poetry: A Chill I Understand (2006), which was a (2007) Maine Literary Award Finalist, Poetry and The Hallelujah of Listening (2011). He was the recipient of the (2012) Maine Literary Award, Poetry. Preston is widely published in numerous journals and anthologies including Michigan Quarterly Review and Prairie Schooner. He is a retired teacher and administrator, stone mason and carpenter, and currently teaches therapeutic writing at Osher Life Long Learning Institute at the University of Southern Maine. Preston holds a BA from University Massachusetts Boston, and an ME from University of Maine Orono. In 2005, he was awarded a residency through Heinrich Boll Association in Ireland to complete his first collection. Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Oyez Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, while her recently published books include Music Theory for Dummies (3rd edition), Piano All-in-One for Dummies, The Book Of, and Northeast Minneapolis: A History. Pegi Eyers is occupied with smashing icons, contributing to the paradigm shift and working with the anti-colonization process in herself and others. A Celtic Animist who sees the world through a spiritual lens, she is a devotee of nature-based culture and all that is sacred to the Earth. Author of Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community, she examines cultural appropriation, the interface between Turtle Island First Nations and the Settler Society, social justice, cultural reclamation, earth rights, sacred land and the holistic principles of sustainable living. She is an advocate for our interconnection with Earth Community and the recovery of authentic ancestral wisdom and traditions for all people. Pegi Eyers lives in the countryside on the outskirts of Nogojiwanong in Mississauga Anishnaabe territory (Peterborough, Ontario, Canada) on a hilltop with views reaching for
miles in all directions. www.stonecirclepress.com Lamont B. Steptoe â€“ is a poet, photographer and publisher. A Vietnam Veteran and also a father who has an adult daughter, Steptoe has published twelve collections of poetry including Mad Minute, Dusty Road, Uncleâ€™s South China Sea Blue Nightmare, In the Kitchens of the Masters, A Long Movie of Shadows, Crowns & Halos, and Oracular Rumblings & Stiltwalking. Steptoe published and edited three collections of the poetry of the late South African Poet, Dennis Brutus and edited two which include Remembering and leafdrift. In 2005, he won an American Book Award for A Long Movie of Shadows. In 2006, he was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts and inducted into the International Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent by the Gwendolyn Brooks Center at Chicago State University. Other awards include: A Kuntu Writers Lifetime Achievement Award (2002) for Writing for Eternity, two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowships and two AfricaNet work awards for Mad Minute and American Mourning/Morning.
Aftet the Fall Pegi Eyers