Thursday, October 15, 2020

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,



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

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