Thursday, July 9, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Jennifer Lentfer

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.

***

This body is made
By Jennifer Lentfer
This body is made of resistance.
Its defiance muscle, its beating heart
--as long as it's beating--
is strong.
But not without its softness,
not without its brokenness,
which twinges,
it seems,
rather constantly
during a pandemic,
when this body is at once
utterly safe and contained and under threat and free.

This body is made of resistance.
The virus is not what can ravage it.
This body has tricked oblivion, and
erasure, and again and again
and it will again.
This body is made for its
place, this place,
until it is not.
Covenants with it, with the breath of us, have been
repeatedly broken.
Yet still it stands.

This body breathes and moves
and writes and cooks and
dances and weeps and shouts
and releases
with pleasure and shaking and prayer.

This body is here.
It is mine, ours.
And it will not recede in fear.
This body was forged by resistance.
This body was finally cherished
through resistance.
Let me not forget, this body
was born of love.


Listen as Jennifer Lentfer reads "This body is made."

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Shooooz

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.

***

Oh, Angry America
By Shooooz

I took a walk round the block           today
feeling you

                                                    step for step
behind me –        it surprised me because
I was also seeing you
                                                       in parallel
behind my brother                a block away.

like Satan
you manage to be everywhere

when I quicken my pace I feel you match it
                                                               I imagine
it must be weird for you,                 who wants
so badly to pull ahead                             to find
yourself always a few steps behind
                                                          giving chase
                                                               by choice.

but like Satan
you manage to be everywhere

everywhere, except
                                                            in the lead
where you want to be
                                                                  instead
you paint maps in hot lead             charting a
path to your supremacy
                                                         uncontested
an empty playing field is the only one     you
consider fair.

so like Satan
you manage to be everywhere

and when I beg you to lift those hands off of
me                                                 or my brother
you raise them
                                in a mockery of surrender
                                                               or terror
you beg me
                              with laughter in your voice
not to hurt you         as you curl three fingers
to make a gun of your fist
                      lead ready to scream from flesh
and when I                      look down the barrel
                                        of your pointed finger
and when I            gather my nerve to charge
at you                          you are no longer there
and when I               look up from the ground
I find your steel-eyed stare.

‘cause like Satan
you manage to be everywhere


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
Unfounded
Exaggerated
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
too
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?

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Marlena Chertock

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.

***

Insomnia in a pandemic
by Marlena Chertock

You’re not sleeping well,
when do you ever. As a kid
at sleepovers, you were the last

to pass out. At one friend’s
birthday party, you laid awake
for hours in the living room

among the sleeping bags,
the snoring impossible
to sleep through.

So you climbed the stairs
quietly to your friend’s bedroom,
took the clock off the wall,

hid it in the bathroom.
The quiet, then, so soothing
you slept through breakfast.

You try not to think
about people dying
alone in their ICU beds,

that doctors wear the same mask
for days, forced to choose
who gets a ventilator,

try not to think about your disabled peers,
older folks, the immunocompromised,
who may be denied treatment.

Then you’re wondering
will you ever see your parents
again? How long will this last?

You just got groceries,
but consider buying more.
Make a list in your head

instead of sleep.
You try to picture the stores
in your neighborhood.

You don’t know if they’ll
all be there when this is over.
In 12-18 months

will they really find a vaccine?
There’s still no vaccine for HIV.
Why should this virus be different?

The speed all our lives changed
keeps you awake, reading the news.
Is a city still a city

with people stuck inside?
No cars honking outside your window,
no smiling at people you pass on the street,

it invites closeness. Stay six feet
apart, maybe further
just to be safe.

If this is ever over,
should the world be the same?



Listen as Marlena Chertock reads "Insomnia in a pandemic."


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Tamiko Beyer

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.

***

Anchor in the Mud
By Tamiko Beyer

1.
They’ve gone with remediation.
Little bits of change
to refuse real forward. We need strategies

beyond bamboo strips: the enemy
is us, strange warriors
fighting our own bodies’ survival.

The sky breaks. I put on a coat
that burns like sun reflecting off steel.
After months of barely cold, I am comforted

we have come to winter, puff and wool,
burning dust, paint layers. Seasons’
pace now unpredictable, the blue something

electric. We hold our collective
breath long enough to become transparent
on this city built on landfill. We quiver

above a sea happy to take
us back into its arms.
Animal into element.


2.
We shut off the lights, fill the refrigerator
with jars of water. The shoreline that hosted
the eagle this year finally iced over.

The most brittle bushes crushed
under the snow’s weight: twigs encased
in gleaming ice like museum pieces.

If spring comes, we will take bets on what
sprouts again. Green becomes unimaginable
except in the deepest sleep.


3.
Boots and heels both
mine, all sorts of ways to go down.
Come up sweating. Blood and bones poised

to fight, queer defiance. These systems—
our relentless bodies processing
language, food, gesture. Come up

spitting. Defend, attack.
Do not leave money on the table,
solutions to those who hold power, your gender

to others. I keep my ugly
on, my girl close,
I keep the charge full.


Listen as Tamiko Beyer reads "Anchor in the Mud."

Previously published in Other Rooms Press (2017). 

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Lois Roma-Deeley

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.

***

Litany for American People
By Lois Roma-Deeley

Everyone everywhere
and nowhere all at once.
Inside the tv, there we are.
Or standing at the window.
Or through walks through the park
There we are, neighbor to neighbor,
gloved hand to gloved hand,
the untouching high five. We are
the virtual laugh from a computer.
The masked sighs.
Lonely dances in the darkened rooms.
We are the song of singing balconies.
The eyes behind plastic shields.
That parade of honking cars.
We are packages on the porch.
Or the single blessing at a funeral.
A hand chalking the sidewalk—
stay strong.


Listen as Lois Roma-Deeley reads "Litany for American People."

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Aaron R

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.

***

Silver Lining
By Aaron R

President initially thought it was a joke
Corporations struggling and going broke
Churches starting to lose hope
Conspiracy theorists saying “stay woke”

Call corona an epidemic
Call COVID19 a pandemic
Everyone can relate because the whole world is dealing with it

Just because we are supposed to distance ourselves socially
That doesn’t mean that we can’t speak
Schools are closed but that doesn’t mean we can’t teach
Churches are closed but that doesn’t mean we can’t preach
Nobody said it would be easy, but this is the feat
And if we somehow come together, we will never, see defeat

I know, it’s easier said than done but if we alter our minds
The best lessons in life are learned after some of the toughest and roughest times
And after the darkest times is when the sun starts shining
Keep on grinding, keep on trying
I know it’s hard when people are dining
But eventually, we’ll find the silver lining




Listen as Aaron R reads "Silver Lining."