Thursday, November 12, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Elliot Frost

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.

***

Seahorse and Empty
By Elliot Frost

In the time between
Mother’s and Father’s Day 
in quarantine

spent some time online
moving clock hands
and filling pockets
for a baby that can’t exist here.

He asked if I could “make them a nursery”.

I catch his seahorse belly in the Zoom 
like a projector light bobbing awake -
there is something about a pregnant man
that mops up blood I spilled on wrinkled sheets once, in my early 20’s.  
   That September morning the blinds were pulled
   and the coffee was cold as I poured it
   down the drain — there was nothing
   I could fill myself with.
   My belly skin lapped thirsty at a pillow.

I ask him what colors he’d like me to use.

“Yellow” he says, “just make everything yellow” ... and I think about the “Yellow Wallpaper” from that story I read in High School about the woman
with postpartum... “resting” off “hysteria” alone.

“Sure” I say, but I mean “no”.  
I mean,
I want kids.

I think I’d be a good father.

But I’m stuck behind these yellow walls.
The villagers in this virtual town
keep repeating all the same 
wrong 
questions.

Listen as Elliot Frost reads "Seahorse and Empty."

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Shivkanya Shashi

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.


***

Come Walk With Us
by Shivkanya Shashi

Tens and thousands of migrant workers are walking home with their families in the boiling heat in India. They are calling their leaders to "Come walk with us" and feel the pain.

O my PM, O my CM, come walk with us
Walk with us n’ burn with us, in n’ out,  in n’ out
Without a drop of water, without a morsel of food
Come walk with us, come walk with us…………

The marble beneath your feet we carry on our back
The bricks of parliament pillars we carry on our head
The food on the dish we knead n’ toil with our hand
In the darkness the glorious nation glows with light
But my PM, we aren’t a part of it, we aren’t a part of it…..

My daughter walks a little, a very little distance
Of some three hundred kilometers 
And the glorious aircraft showers flowers
When she breathes her last in my arms
How splendid, how spectacular the nation is
But my PM, we aren’t a part of it, we aren’t a part of it…..

Thank you virus, half dead half alive virus, thanks a lot
You’ve shown the true colours of the strong system
Never heard the jingle of coins from a mega-package
In my pocket, in his plate, on her slate, never ever
Statues, metros, roads, and malls
We wade through the notes of millions n’ billions n’ trillions
But my PM, we aren’t a part of it, we aren’t a part of it…..

No no PM, we’ll never ask for a single rupee
You need it to run our powerful country
We see it, we see it when we see our cracked feet ..

Meanwhile, how about walking n’ burning with us?
Take the opportunity, walk with us, go live on Facebook
Because tomorrow we all may die,
On roads, on tracks, in gutters, on trees, in fields
With whom will you walk,
With whom will you click the photos?
Then who will work for the marvelous nation?

O my PM, O my CM, come walk with us
Walk with us n’ burn with us, in n’ out, in n’ out
Without a drop of water, without a morsel of food
Come walk with us, come walk with us…………

Listen as Shivkanya Shashi reads "Come Walk With Us."

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Jen Martin

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.


***

To talk to you
by Jen Martin

How are you?
Question beckoning a barrage 
Is soft, swift, sequence
what you want to hear?
 
How are you today?
Living breathing
I was told this was the way to ask people who don’t have that sense of week, month, sunrise
catch up
sequence.
 
Are you in sequence?
Do your words line up orderly 
today?
you are off the hook
because
 
Today, yesterlate, undersunday
Upintomorrow, latemorn, latetimecontinue, 
That’s your right.
 
Here when you are
Gone when you’re gone
In out of step we fall in step.


Listen as Jen Martin reads "To talk to you."

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Kelsey May

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.


***

Bathsheba Marries Jezebel
by Kelsey May

Bless the eyes that immortalized
your loving, you who lived like the sun;
what teeth couldn’t tear from the narrative;
glitter the years and return. Let me

be your vessel; slake my thirst; I yearn.

Bless your hands for washing; bless
the sheets that caught you; praise the stones
for their breaking. You gave to the king;
you satisfied your husband; you bore the blame

and sons. Bless the women who hear your cries;

bless us all for the trying. Let us love like birds.

Let us scorn the men who cage us.


Listen as Kelsey May reads "Bathsheba Marries Jezebel."

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Philip Metres

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.


***

The Olive
by Philip Metres

زيتون

 

 

            (

 

consider the olive: it gnarls as it grows 

into itself / a veritable thicket / it throws

 

            (

 

up obstacles to the light to reach 

the light / a crooked path in the air

 

            (

 

while beneath our sight it wrestles the rock 

wrests water from whatever trickles

 

            (

 

beneath / it doesn't worry it looks like hell 

refuses to straighten for anyone

 

            (

 

each spring offers itself meat to be eaten 

first brambles / then olives


Listen as Philip Metres reads "The Olive."

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Purvi Shah

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.

***

Saraswati nods to the white man who, after hearing her liberation poems, embroiders “dowry”
By Purvi Shah

Even now, goddesses
                                                                       outlast colonialism.




Listen as Purvi Shah reads "Saraswati nods to the white man who, after hearing her liberation poems, embroiders "dowry"."

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Aimee Suzara

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.

***

We come swimming
By Aimee Suzara

A trilingual poem born in Havana, Cuba

“From a port of this island, about seventy canoes came out, each containing three men, or thereabout, while some came swimming and others on logs…They had fine teeth, eyes, mouth, hands and feet, and beautiful long flowing hair, while many of them were very fair.  Very handsome youths were to be seen among them; all were naked and covered no part…indeed, for a barbarous people, naked and of so little reason, one could not restrain himself, at the sight of them, from thanking God for having created them.” (17th century from Antonio de Morga’s History of the Philippine Islands)

We come in boats
Or we come swimming
We come in boats
Or we come swimming
We come in boats
Or we come swimming                                bangka, take me home

We were born with fins                               we come swimming
We were born with gills                              we come swimming
Ipinanganak namin                                    sa ilalalim ng dagat
                                                                 bangka, take me home

Nacimos con aletas                                   nadando
Nacimos con branquias                               nadando
Ipinanganak namin                                   sa ilalim ng dagat
                                                                  bangka, take me home

Venimos en los botes
O nadando
Venimos en los barcos
O nadando
Venimos en los cuerpos
O nadando                                                  bangka, take me home

Venimos en los botes
Y viviendo
Venimos en los barcos
Y viviendo
Venimos en los cuerpos
Y viviendo
                                                                bangka, balikan tayo
                                                                balikan tayo al mar profundo
                                                                regresemos al mar
                               Sa ilalim ng dagat

bangka, take me home

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Jen Karetnick

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.

***

23andMe Says My Body Is a Sanctuary City
By Jen Karetnick

for the Basque and the Romani
for Ötzi the Iceman, chipped out of the Alps
for 1,600,000 Ashkenazi Jews, one finger on the founding hand, 
descendants from the 6,000,000, strained out like tea leaves

for the 19 percent of Ashkenazi with trace elements from Poland
for those who tunneled from Poland to Austria, rabbits barely ahead
of dachshunds
for my great-grandmother who drove her children to the coast in 
a covered wagon
for her husband’s mother, who gave her offspring in the Ukraine 
to a woman with another name

for those more likely to birth babies with hair as fine as sand, 
covering the fontanel’s potential sinkhole
for those more likely to sneeze come the spike of light—but 
HaWaYaH (yehi ‘or)
for those more able to detect the presence of asparagus, processed in
urine or semen after steaming under kosher salt on a Friday night when the sun covers its head

for those whose tastes divide along the roots of the bitter
whose preferences for salty and sweet are as even as 
the temperament of dust sifting down from the most 
ancient bricks in the wall

whose earwax is mud
whose ring fingers are longer than subversive curses
whose dimples are flattened bullets shot into ghetto walls

who have little opportunity for the slug of a single eyebrow 
and only the third of a chance at widows’ peaks
who have better prospects at being made into widows on refugee 
boats that have been returned to the wholesale of war, from
the cyclic pitch of death flights, in the in-flux policies in 
detention rooms at airports, where green cards change to red

who have the option of variant after variant after variant
16234 of them located on mtDNA k1a1b1a, a haplogroup
no longer featured in the skin tone of the face or differentiated in a city of dry-footed, sun-shaded exilios
who are detected more and more often in these rebel, migrant genes

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Janlori Goldman

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.

***

Where Should the Birds Fly After the Last Sky?
By Janlori Goldman

                        Mahmoud Darwish, 1941-2008

On the road to Nablus I think of you,
             your wrecked heart blooming

on rocky hills, a horse’s shadow alone
             in a field. Anemones spread

in resolute red— in warning or welcome
             it’s too early to say.

A candy store pocked with bullet holes
             churns with cement mixers,

makeshift machines coating almonds
             in sweet liquid. The shopkeeper says,

Taste this after all you see. In a season
             of unripe things, I bite into green almonds,

taxi to the mountain top to watch the village
             long in the valley. Gusts of pigeons

blow against stone— all I have been taught
             smacks against the rockface.

As a child in synagogue I fit a quarter
             into a cardboard slot to plant a tree

in Israel, millions of coins
             now tangled roots reaching

for each other in the underworld
             that knows nothing of walls.

Listen as Janlori Goldman reads "Where Should the Birds Fly After the Last Sky?"