Thursday, October 15, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Lynne McEniry

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.  ― Gwendolyn Brooks  

Split This Rock Virtual Open Mic announcement includes a black background with red Split This Rock logo, text that reads "Virtual Open Mic," and an illustration of a hanging lamp sending out rays of light over a laptop.
As we journey through political, economic, and global health crises, we turn to poetry to share truths that unearth underlying causes, illuminate impacts, and insist on transformative change. For many of us, today’s challenges are not new. The struggle of isolation, economic insecurity, inadequate medical care, deadly institutionalized negligence, governmental decisions that put Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, disabled, sick, and other structurally precarious people at greater risk are not new. Today, many more people are experiencing the vulnerability of these unrelenting issues. We recognize this opportunity for a heightened awareness of how our very survival depends on one another.

Poetry can help keep the flame of resilience, solidarity, and resistance alive in us. It can help us process and move through grief, anger, loneliness. Poetry can be a comfort when the most necessary actions are to rest and recover. It can remind us of what’s at stake, that our lives and legacy are worth the fight. As cultural workers, we know that culture shapes our political and social imagination at a foundational level. As poets, we can use poetry to map what is, what has been, and possibly, the way forward, including the reasons not to return to what does not honor and protect our lives, our communities, and our planet.

We asked poets to give us the words they chant to get out of bed, to raise their fists, to encourage their kin, to remind us, as this crisis does, that “we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” To read all of these poems, visit Split This Rock’s website.

***

Four in the morning and I'm
By Lynne McEniry

in the bathroom worrying about a friend

with Covid and for distraction worming my way 

through a FB thread of a person I don’t know who

liked a comment I made on the post of someone

I only know on social media because I made

myself brave enough to reach out and ask

her to be my friend anyway 

and I’m reading the posts of this friend 

I barely know to try to stop worrying 

about the sick friend I know well and I’m clicking

on links of photos where this strange friend had dinner

last night and of the place her sister works and

the photos of her last vacation when I remember

the encyclopedia set my dad brought home one

night when someone had no cash to pay him

for painting their living room and he was damn

well pissed because he had planned to buy

a bag of groceries with food different from 

the cereal and powdered milk we’d been 

eating  all week      but as he turned to pick a 

volume up to probably crash it to the floor

he caught me flipping through one and pausing 

on a black and white of 

a sequoia with a man and a VW bug posed

in front of it for perspective  

and he was reminded in in my wide 

brown eyes, the innocent O of my lips 

that there was more than one way

to cure hunger and here on this

toilet at four in the morning I’m 

reminded there’s more than one way

to lose friends and gain friends

more than one way to worry more than one way

that someone hungry can turn to past 

volumes for answers        for healing

Listen as Lynne McEniry reads "Four in the morning and I'm."

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – M.F. Simone Roberts

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.  ― Gwendolyn Brooks  

Split This Rock Virtual Open Mic announcement includes a black background with red Split This Rock logo, text that reads "Virtual Open Mic," and an illustration of a hanging lamp sending out rays of light over a laptop.
As we journey through political, economic, and global health crises, we turn to poetry to share truths that unearth underlying causes, illuminate impacts, and insist on transformative change. For many of us, today’s challenges are not new. The struggle of isolation, economic insecurity, inadequate medical care, deadly institutionalized negligence, governmental decisions that put Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, disabled, sick, and other structurally precarious people at greater risk are not new. Today, many more people are experiencing the vulnerability of these unrelenting issues. We recognize this opportunity for a heightened awareness of how our very survival depends on one another.

Poetry can help keep the flame of resilience, solidarity, and resistance alive in us. It can help us process and move through grief, anger, loneliness. Poetry can be a comfort when the most necessary actions are to rest and recover. It can remind us of what’s at stake, that our lives and legacy are worth the fight. As cultural workers, we know that culture shapes our political and social imagination at a foundational level. As poets, we can use poetry to map what is, what has been, and possibly, the way forward, including the reasons not to return to what does not honor and protect our lives, our communities, and our planet.

We asked poets to give us the words they chant to get out of bed, to raise their fists, to encourage their kin, to remind us, as this crisis does, that “we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” To read all of these poems, visit Split This Rock’s website.

***

Dair & Cré-umha / Oak & Bronze*
By M.F. Simone Roberts

The plain truth is my shoulders

are almost numb with tension,

oakey, not in a whiskey way, 

but more the barrel holding, holding.

What I can’t do is hold my father

back from his ingrained pride,

gathering unmasked with friends

unprotected. While they love

my father, this malady is a mebd.

Did they hug hello?

Did the couple from the condo

building -- all those public

surfaces -- wash the hands

that held one curve of a bowl

as my father the other? 

This pandemic is a context

masked in granular confusion:

we’ve all been tested, it’s 

safe to share féasta, gather in 

close for comfort, right?

Which headline? What day?

My father’s hugs are healing, even

over video chat, solid as an oak, as heavy, 

completely surrounding. My six oaks, 

though they whisper their waking each

Imbloc, can’t hold me. One, a red oak, fell

from wind just at Beltane. Our ancestors stilled

uicsce beatha from wheat, rye, barley, into oak 

barrels and made them bronze. Whiskey was a ward, 

sláinte, water of life, then illness, eventually a weapon,
a bright and murderous alloy.

Comorbidities include: heart conditions. 

His heart beat a relaxed 70 in the ventricles,

but a panicked 140 in the atria. Like most

hearts now, his can’t calibrate emotion.

He texted a pic of his latest last-whiskey 

after the latest defibulation. 

Comorbidities include: cancer. Radiation 

starts Monday. What day will his 

immune system confuse erythrocyte

for corona and then clot? He’s so slow

to humble, to just hold back a little.

People of oak and bronze are dare and careless. 

We see a fetch before a loved one falls.

The luck, the bounce back, the devil may care.

The speeds my parents drove, the races home from the bar,

the way my mother shone a Brigit victorious, 

bronze with sun-gleam even past my young bedtime. 

My shoulders kenning this tension,

anticipating mourning, as if steaming over a fire

of ambient grief and soon cured, bound 

round with metal, holding, holding, reticent, drained

and refilled, cooping up my breath.

Maybe that’s what barrels are,

just bounce and roll,

smash and spirit.


*From Irish Gaelic -- Dair : oak, Cré-umha : bronze, mebd : confusion/war goddess, féasta : feast, uicsce beatha : whiskey/water of life, sláinte : health.

Listen as M.F. Simone Roberts reads "Dair & Cré-umha / Oak & Bronze."

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Sunu Chandy

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.  ― Gwendolyn Brooks  

Split This Rock Virtual Open Mic announcement includes a black background with red Split This Rock logo, text that reads "Virtual Open Mic," and an illustration of a hanging lamp sending out rays of light over a laptop.
As we journey through political, economic, and global health crises, we turn to poetry to share truths that unearth underlying causes, illuminate impacts, and insist on transformative change. For many of us, today’s challenges are not new. The struggle of isolation, economic insecurity, inadequate medical care, deadly institutionalized negligence, governmental decisions that put Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, disabled, sick, and other structurally precarious people at greater risk are not new. Today, many more people are experiencing the vulnerability of these unrelenting issues. We recognize this opportunity for a heightened awareness of how our very survival depends on one another.

Poetry can help keep the flame of resilience, solidarity, and resistance alive in us. It can help us process and move through grief, anger, loneliness. Poetry can be a comfort when the most necessary actions are to rest and recover. It can remind us of what’s at stake, that our lives and legacy are worth the fight. As cultural workers, we know that culture shapes our political and social imagination at a foundational level. As poets, we can use poetry to map what is, what has been, and possibly, the way forward, including the reasons not to return to what does not honor and protect our lives, our communities, and our planet.

We asked poets to give us the words they chant to get out of bed, to raise their fists, to encourage their kin, to remind us, as this crisis does, that “we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” To read all of these poems, visit Split This Rock’s website.

***

First Quarantine Poem
By Sunu Chandy

1. How to Wash Your Hands

 

First, find a song. 

Then, double-check, how many seconds to scrub. 

Don’t forget underneath your fingernails. 

Don’t forget your wrists. Include your palms 

and each finger, one by one. 

Remember integrity. 

Repeat after the morning walk. 

Repeat after you pick up the mail. 

Repeat after you wash the produce. 

Repeat after you wash the milk carton. 

Repeat after you use the bathroom. 

Repeat after you get the week’s piano sheet 

music printed from the leasing office. 

Repeat after you take out the recycling. 

Repeat after you make lunch for the family. 

Repeat after you retrieve the package from the lockers. 

Repeat after you return from the building’s laundry room. 

Repeat before you start making dinner. 

Remember integrity. 

Remember what is at stake. 

Repeat after the morning walk. 

 

2. How to Avoid that Place called Panic 

 

First, find a song. 

The song is entitled: We have survived hard things before.  

The song is sub-titled: So many are suffering, and in worse ways. 

The chorus reminds you there is help out there, if it comes to that.

The chorus reminds you, you can still be 

helpful to others, even when you are worried. 

Remember integrity. 

Repeat after the morning walk. 

Repeat before you start the day’s work. 

Repeat after you teach your daughter the idea of decimals. 

Repeat after your spouse’s salary is cut 

to a fraction.  Repeat after you avoid your parents’ calls that week. 

Repeat after you teach your daughter about the Battle 

of Bunker Hill. And the Revolutionary, War. 

Repeat after you learn that your friend 

may be laid off.  Repeat after your office issues fact 

sheets on how this all impacts on women so much 

more. Repeat because it’s not an anecdote. 

Repeat because it’s not anecdotal. Repeat because 

it’s not hypothetical. Repeat after you press, 

okay, yes, I am still watching. It is 1a.m. I am still 

watching. Repeat when the four health aids’ 

livelihoods are in our hands. Repeat when our own 

health feels in the balance. 

Remember integrity. 

Remember what is at stake. 

Repeat after the morning walk.

Listen as Sunu Chandy reads "First Quarantine Poem."

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – JP Howard

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.  ― Gwendolyn Brooks  

Split This Rock Virtual Open Mic announcement includes a black background with red Split This Rock logo, text that reads "Virtual Open Mic," and an illustration of a hanging lamp sending out rays of light over a laptop.
As we journey through political, economic, and global health crises, we turn to poetry to share truths that unearth underlying causes, illuminate impacts, and insist on transformative change. For many of us, today’s challenges are not new. The struggle of isolation, economic insecurity, inadequate medical care, deadly institutionalized negligence, governmental decisions that put Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, disabled, sick, and other structurally precarious people at greater risk are not new. Today, many more people are experiencing the vulnerability of these unrelenting issues. We recognize this opportunity for a heightened awareness of how our very survival depends on one another.

Poetry can help keep the flame of resilience, solidarity, and resistance alive in us. It can help us process and move through grief, anger, loneliness. Poetry can be a comfort when the most necessary actions are to rest and recover. It can remind us of what’s at stake, that our lives and legacy are worth the fight. As cultural workers, we know that culture shapes our political and social imagination at a foundational level. As poets, we can use poetry to map what is, what has been, and possibly, the way forward, including the reasons not to return to what does not honor and protect our lives, our communities, and our planet.

We asked poets to give us the words they chant to get out of bed, to raise their fists, to encourage their kin, to remind us, as this crisis does, that “we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” To read all of these poems, visit Split This Rock’s website.

***

If This is my Last poem
By JP Howard

If this is my last poem, let it be love

Let it be forgiveness and hallelujah and holy ghost and hell yeah 

wrapped in sparkling yarn

 

If this is my last poem, let it be a praise poem

Fill it with hope and joy and let it scream so fucking loud

that everybody in earshot will clap, clap clap, clap clap clap

 

If this is my last poem, stomp for the sound of my voice

Let this breath, this life, these full lips,

exhale 

 

If this is my last poem, hold it gently in your hands

Hand it around, grab hands y’all, 

Fold it into an origami blue jay and let her fly away

 

If this is my last poem, forgive it for loving too hard,

or not loving hard enough, or for wanting to be loved

more than it would admit

 

If this is my last poem, hold a mirror up to it,

say look how beautiful you are,

say, remember your reflection

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Hari Alluri

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.  ― Gwendolyn Brooks  

Split This Rock Virtual Open Mic announcement includes a black background with red Split This Rock logo, text that reads "Virtual Open Mic," and an illustration of a hanging lamp sending out rays of light over a laptop.
As we journey through political, economic, and global health crises, we turn to poetry to share truths that unearth underlying causes, illuminate impacts, and insist on transformative change. For many of us, today’s challenges are not new. The struggle of isolation, economic insecurity, inadequate medical care, deadly institutionalized negligence, governmental decisions that put Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, disabled, sick, and other structurally precarious people at greater risk are not new. Today, many more people are experiencing the vulnerability of these unrelenting issues. We recognize this opportunity for a heightened awareness of how our very survival depends on one another.

Poetry can help keep the flame of resilience, solidarity, and resistance alive in us. It can help us process and move through grief, anger, loneliness. Poetry can be a comfort when the most necessary actions are to rest and recover. It can remind us of what’s at stake, that our lives and legacy are worth the fight. As cultural workers, we know that culture shapes our political and social imagination at a foundational level. As poets, we can use poetry to map what is, what has been, and possibly, the way forward, including the reasons not to return to what does not honor and protect our lives, our communities, and our planet.

We asked poets to give us the words they chant to get out of bed, to raise their fists, to encourage their kin, to remind us, as this crisis does, that “we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” To read all of these poems, visit Split This Rock’s website.

***

Ingat: As I Come Back
By Hari Alluri

Taking off my outside clothes 
in the doorway is a kind of prayer. I strip 

and I am asking for the safety of those 
I live with. I had to go out. Yes, 

when it was groceries and soap. Yes, too, 
for addiction. I still smoke. I got the message 

when my boy in England enumerated for us 

how and why we need to get ready. Also to stop sharing 

 

the memes giving us levity with our solitude. Sorry, brother. I share 

what’s funny anyway. Our desperation belongs 

everywhere right now. Doors or no, someone is entering 
a space they share with people they love 

or tolerate. Or like or just help out or want to touch or wish they could get 

away from. The door, barely closed and I’m praying 

in my socks. May I not have brought 
what we’re all afraid of catching 

the way I bring how thin 
my threads already are. Shouting 

before I left the house carries 
an older poison. I act like I can leave it 

on the shut side of a door. I roll 
my outside clothes into a plastic bag.

Listen as Hari Alluri reads "Ingat: As I Come Back."

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Naomi Ortiz

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.  ― Gwendolyn Brooks  

Split This Rock Virtual Open Mic announcement includes a black background with red Split This Rock logo, text that reads "Virtual Open Mic," and an illustration of a hanging lamp sending out rays of light over a laptop.
As we journey through political, economic, and global health crises, we turn to poetry to share truths that unearth underlying causes, illuminate impacts, and insist on transformative change. For many of us, today’s challenges are not new. The struggle of isolation, economic insecurity, inadequate medical care, deadly institutionalized negligence, governmental decisions that put Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, disabled, sick, and other structurally precarious people at greater risk are not new. Today, many more people are experiencing the vulnerability of these unrelenting issues. We recognize this opportunity for a heightened awareness of how our very survival depends on one another.

Poetry can help keep the flame of resilience, solidarity, and resistance alive in us. It can help us process and move through grief, anger, loneliness. Poetry can be a comfort when the most necessary actions are to rest and recover. It can remind us of what’s at stake, that our lives and legacy are worth the fight. As cultural workers, we know that culture shapes our political and social imagination at a foundational level. As poets, we can use poetry to map what is, what has been, and possibly, the way forward, including the reasons not to return to what does not honor and protect our lives, our communities, and our planet.

We asked poets to give us the words they chant to get out of bed, to raise their fists, to encourage their kin, to remind us, as this crisis does, that “we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” To read all of these poems, visit Split This Rock’s website.

***
Content Notice: Migration, border crossing, PTSD, intergenerational/inherited trauma, state violence

Seeker in the Borderlands
By Naomi Ortiz

1.

Seeker, enter softly. Great fear lives here. 

Enter only with what you must take. 

Be ready to separate from it all - even your child,

 your child,     your heart, 

 your child,              your heart, 

 your child,              your heart, 

 your child,     your heart


My father still will not talk about

crossing. 

His story always starts in the cotton fields of Texas.

His story always starts with survival,

the ways he was useful. 


In his history of self, 

there is before crossing, and there is after.

In between 

is a trauma that breath is not strong enough

to carry past lips, 

to breathe out into sunshine.


I’ve learned there is no good time to ask. 


The rigidity of his inner strength, his stubborn streak, 

reminds me 

that sometimes the body can endure what the soul cannot speak of. 


I wonder if his journey started now, 

if in addition to all that is unnamed,

had been separated from his mother, 

the only family who held his hand

in this new place, 

would his story still be one of survival?


If he was placed stagnant and alone 

in a crowd of children,

would his blood have forgotten how to move?

Would his child mind conformed to the weight of hate? 

Folded to self-protect, to accept -

how to live in a cage?


What will be the stories of these fathers?


2.

In my family’s borderlands, 

tears flood the crevices of canyons eroded by bulldozers and Border Patrol tires.

The inter-generational devotion to duality is being torn away, 

replaced by a 30-foot metal monument to a false sense of security.

Plants, animals, people all try to survive without movement. 

Without movement, one can never belong. 

                                                             Here.


Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Naazneen Diwan

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.  ― Gwendolyn Brooks  

Split This Rock Virtual Open Mic announcement includes a black background with red Split This Rock logo, text that reads "Virtual Open Mic," and an illustration of a hanging lamp sending out rays of light over a laptop.
As we journey through political, economic, and global health crises, we turn to poetry to share truths that unearth underlying causes, illuminate impacts, and insist on transformative change. For many of us, today’s challenges are not new. The struggle of isolation, economic insecurity, inadequate medical care, deadly institutionalized negligence, governmental decisions that put Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, disabled, sick, and other structurally precarious people at greater risk are not new. Today, many more people are experiencing the vulnerability of these unrelenting issues. We recognize this opportunity for a heightened awareness of how our very survival depends on one another.

Poetry can help keep the flame of resilience, solidarity, and resistance alive in us. It can help us process and move through grief, anger, loneliness. Poetry can be a comfort when the most necessary actions are to rest and recover. It can remind us of what’s at stake, that our lives and legacy are worth the fight. As cultural workers, we know that culture shapes our political and social imagination at a foundational level. As poets, we can use poetry to map what is, what has been, and possibly, the way forward, including the reasons not to return to what does not honor and protect our lives, our communities, and our planet.

We asked poets to give us the words they chant to get out of bed, to raise their fists, to encourage their kin, to remind us, as this crisis does, that “we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” To read all of these poems, visit Split This Rock’s website.

***

Make a Season of Me
By Naazneen Diwan

on some days I go for walks
completely inverted 
my insides untucked
no protection. 
and it suits me 
my heart no longer
behind ribs but  
the breast of a robin
calling its love home. 
my breath
no longer a wheeze 
caught 
between 
narrow strictures
but a dance
that frees  
magnolia petals and prisoners 
into a pond.
and I pull
yards off myself
generously
eagerly
until
I am the path 
I walk on
and I match 
the laziness of the river. 
I loosen 
what’s been  
carved into me 
in ribbons of bark 
let the raw 
materials of my hurt 
be foraged 
to build a nest 
high 
in a branch. 
a perfect place 
to sing
of coming
undone.

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Liza Sparks

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.  ― Gwendolyn Brooks  

Split This Rock Virtual Open Mic announcement includes a black background with red Split This Rock logo, text that reads "Virtual Open Mic," and an illustration of a hanging lamp sending out rays of light over a laptop.
As we journey through political, economic, and global health crises, we turn to poetry to share truths that unearth underlying causes, illuminate impacts, and insist on transformative change. For many of us, today’s challenges are not new. The struggle of isolation, economic insecurity, inadequate medical care, deadly institutionalized negligence, governmental decisions that put Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, disabled, sick, and other structurally precarious people at greater risk are not new. Today, many more people are experiencing the vulnerability of these unrelenting issues. We recognize this opportunity for a heightened awareness of how our very survival depends on one another.

Poetry can help keep the flame of resilience, solidarity, and resistance alive in us. It can help us process and move through grief, anger, loneliness. Poetry can be a comfort when the most necessary actions are to rest and recover. It can remind us of what’s at stake, that our lives and legacy are worth the fight. As cultural workers, we know that culture shapes our political and social imagination at a foundational level. As poets, we can use poetry to map what is, what has been, and possibly, the way forward, including the reasons not to return to what does not honor and protect our lives, our communities, and our planet.

We asked poets to give us the words they chant to get out of bed, to raise their fists, to encourage their kin, to remind us, as this crisis does, that “we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” To read all of these poems, visit Split This Rock’s website.

***

There is a Mountain Stream at my Door
By Liza Sparks

the babble and meandering here to remind me
to keep on moving they enter my apartment
they tell me the most important things 
are the living things they water all of my plants
the spider plant I have been neglecting 
mountain stream hugs my cat
apologizes remembering cats
do not like being in water
invites the dogs to take a drink
giggles and laughs in that mountain stream way
all sparkle I want to tell you
says mountain stream about seasons
about cycles about winter about rest
about the cold and the freeze
about life about death
about continuing about my friends
about salmon and stone 
I want to tell you about even the smallest
creatures I want to tell you about clouds
tell you about mirrors and reflections
tell you…remind you to drink water
and also that it is okay to cry
make room
make room
I want to tell you about the leaves that fall 
from the trees dance in the water 
I want to tell you about the roots that feed 
that drink what feeds you what nourishes you 
can you send your roots to those places 
I am here to remind you 
that these are places you have already been 
already known 
mountain stream smiles 
and flows through the house 
strums the guitar 
plucks the strings on the viola 
remember they sing 
that song in your heart 
it is still there 
even in the rain 
mountain stream 
leaves as quickly as they arrived 
babbling all the way down 
the stairs of the apartment 
complex