If the back & arms you carry riddle with black
spots & marks made by birds who don’t want us here—
I will remind you: There are people who did this before us,
brown & black-spotted, yellow, with rattails,
born from what others did not want & loathed & aimed
to never let belong, & so, we are here today—
the field is wide. We make saliva from root & light.
Our spikelets grow, & do you feel the wind?
- Joe Jiménez, Smutgrass
Orlando. Dhaka. Istanbul. Baghdad. Medina. Nice. The killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and the murder of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. This summer, terrible bigotry and violence have rent our global community. The killings must end, and we in the poetry community must contribute in any way we can. As we search for answers to these horrors and for ways to combat hatred and prejudice, we are reminded of poetry’s capacity to respond to violence, to help us regenerate, like spikelets sprouting in a contested field, claiming our public spaces for everyone.
In solidarity with all those targeted at home and abroad, from the LGBT community in the United States to devastated families of Baghdad, Split This Rock is offering its blog as a Virtual Open Mic. Over the next couple of weeks, from July 14 to 28, we are requesting poems in response to and against violence toward marginalized communities. After the Virtual Open Mic closes, we hope to print out and mail all of the poems to Congress and the National Rifle Association.
I dreamt of scissors
by Kim Goldberg
I dreamt of scissors
I dreamt of lizards' tails falling off
in my hand
I dreamt of frantic wingbeats, frail cries,
anchored, tethered, flailing, failing
I dreamt of snipped attachments
I dreamt of unthreading needles wedged
deep in bristly hearts of haystacks
I dreamt of unfinished pancakes, unfinished
maps, unfinished engagements, unfinished
I dreamt of a face with no eyes or nose or ears
or mouth or hair, just a bare egg naked and
I dreamt of letting go
of the branch
[Originally appeared in Ride Backwards on Dragon: a poet's journey through Liuhebafa (re-issued 2011, Pig Squash Press)]