What Kind of Times Are These- Adrienne Rich

It seems as if every week, there is some new bit of news. That shakes us and shapes us. It may be something scary or horrifying or a reminder of just how much we are intrinsically linked as people. In a world that is changing with every blink of the eye it is essential to remember we should feel compelled to resist anything anyone that tries to divide us. 

Please enjoy this piece of resistance literature by Adrienne Rich. 

There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill

and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows

near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted

who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled

this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,

our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,

its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods

meeting the unmarked strip of light—

ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:

I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you

anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these

to have you listen at all, it’s necessary

to talk about trees.

Still I Rise-Maya Angelou

When ​I was younger, I once read that artists bear the pain of humanity. I probably scoffed thinking that was a bit heavy. However, this weekend my heart does bear that pain. And it is very heavy. In light of the events that have taken place in Charlottesville it only seemed apropos to share the work of Maya Angelou. 

I hope we the people, who are human enough to see humanity in all our fellow people, continue to rise. 



You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

For the Consideration of Poets-Haki Madhubuti

When I first started college, I had no idea what my major would be. Now it seems so silly but I didn’t have a major until I took a Black Studies class in my second year. When that happened…it was like all the things that people describe when they have an epiphany. All of a sudden, I knew that I wanted to major in English and minor in African American Studies.

I know that my decision was rooted in the beauty that was the reading material for the class.  However, I also know that it was because the class combined two of my favorite subjects: English and History.

I’ve said many times here that poetry is rebellion. It is resistance and a call to arms. Poetry can be a perfectly formed arrow to aim instead of actual projectiles. This poem by Haki Madhubuti reminds us all of that. Although today is James Baldwin’s birthday, and he was critical of protest literature I am sharing a piece that, in my opinion, pays homage to him.

Enjoy!

black arts movement

where is the poetry of resistance, 
                     the poetry of honorable defiance 
unafraid of lies from career politicians and business men, 
not respectful of journalist who write 
official speak void of educated thought 
without double search or sub surface questions 
that war talk demands? 
where is the poetry of doubt and suspicion 
not in the service of the state, bishops and priests, 
not in the service of beautiful people and late night promises, 
not in the service of influence, incompetence and academic 
         clown talk?

The Waking- Theodore Roethke

This beauty arrived in my mailbox and as I was cleaning and organizing, I decided that I had to share it. I love the form and the beauty of the piece. It’s almost rhythmic and I can definitely see it joining the collection of poetry on the door of my office.

As always, enjoy!

20170727_143613

 

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.
Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.
This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

 

The Exchange 

This is a poem that I’ve been tinkering with for a bit. I initially wanted to post it tomorrow but decided to put it up today. 

Enjoy! 



I am not really here. Instead 

I am watching my chest rise and fall 

Exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide 

Converting tears to smiles 

As if I wasn’t still grieving

Carrying the weight of the most painful losses

Pretending that my heart doesn’t still

Twist and turn these times of the year 

Like I can still live with the blood gushing through my fingers 

While I try to carry on as if 

Sadness isn’t seeping through my pores

Dropping from me like dew

Covering everything around me.

As if

These losses haven’t compounded

Bruising and battering 

My being in unimaginable ways. 

As if the losses haven’t altered me forever. 

Acquainted with the Night- Robert Frost

The past week has been quite draining and I just realized that I didn’t post anything on the blog. So tonight, I’m sharing a piece from Frost that is a classic. I feel as though I may have posted this one before because it’s one of my favorites. But as an insomniac, I am acquainted with the night so it is always apropos.  

Enjoy!

I have been one acquainted with the night. 

I have walked out in rainand back in rain. 

I have outwalked the furthest city light. 

I have looked down the saddest city lane. 

I have passed by the watchman on his beat 

And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain. 

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet 

When far away an interrupted cry 

Came over houses from another street, 

But not to call me back or say good-bye; 

And further still at an unearthly height, 

One luminary clock against the sky 

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. 

I have been one acquainted with the night.

I Don’t Miss It- Tracy K. Smith

This week’s piece is by the new U.S Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. It’s from her 2007 collection Duende, and it happens to be one of my favorites. I wanted to share something to celebrate her appointment as Poet Laureate and this seemed to be the perfect time and poem to do it. I’m sure that we all have those moments when we remember something from the past and just for a millisecond, recall the good times. This poem epitomizes that feeling so well.

Enjoy!

Image result for duende tracy k smith

 

But sometimes I forget where I am,
Imagine myself inside that life again.
Recalcitrant mornings. Sun perhaps,
Or more likely colorless light
Filtering its way through shapeless cloud.
And when I begin to believe I haven’t left,
The rest comes back. Our couch. My smoke
Climbing the walls while the hours fall.
Straining against the noise of traffic, music,
Anything alive, to catch your key in the door.
And that scamper of feeling in my chest,
As if the day, the night, wherever it is
I am by then, has been only a whir
Of something other than waiting.
We hear so much about what love feels like.
Right now, today, with the rain outside,
And leaves that want as much as I do to believe
In May, in seasons that come when called,
It’s impossible not to want
To walk into the next room and let you
Run your hands down the sides of my legs,
Knowing perfectly well what they know.