Thursday, July 9, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Ayling Dominguez

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.


Will You?
By Ayling Dominguez

When he speaks in hyperbole it is legitimate
When I do it is
Another language
Without basis
He speaks his mind without ever thinking twice
But for me, carelessness is too overpriced
Can’t afford not to crash test every thought
And maybe that’s just the way it is when
Meticulous planning runs in the blood
Same way my mother did in the mud
Waited for rain to obstruct border cameras
Render her a bit harder to see
Migrants got that shit down to a science
Because they know better
Know that for us, it is ill-advised
To roll the dice
That if I did, I’d probably get snake eyes
Even though chances of that are 1/36. 2.7%.
And I’ve only ever scored 90-above
2x the work to get half as far
And since it’s numbers we speak of
Oh, I would like to be counted.
But not the way you do
With two red hands’ ten greedy fingers
I am
much to be held
& not up for inspection from atop your high horse or watchtower
My fuller consideration
Requires your dismounting
Climb down
Count with your toes
Look like a fool as you attempt to
adjust, adapt — after all
We’ve always had to
Then again
Maybe I don’t just want to be counted, but counted justly;
Maybe instead
If given the option
I’d ask to be
turned into a tree seed
And planted
But only if
you would stop turning me into money
And only if
you would recognize and do right by Native family
Only if
You would
Adjust, adapt
after all
We’ve always had to

Listen as Ayling Dominguez reads “Will You?

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