Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Split This Rock Poem-of-the-Week: Natalie Illum

IV. Wheel Spinning

for LAVA

The first time I saw these activists turned
acrobats, I was immobilized as they arched
through hoops, twisting like DNA.
These bodies in strength formations
invoking geology. They carry

something sacred and fragile, bypassing
fear. I hitchhiked, feverish as we journey
without a roadmap to the core.

I could feel motion as though
it were my own, a brief symbiosis.

And even though I shouldn’t, I go back
to rubber necking the crash site
of my own body, mesmerized
by how it flew.

You said that accomplishment is just that,
a simple stretch that grows in your own mind
to mean more. It’s a two minute airplane ride,
three bodies regrouping, prone
on a leather bar floor because we believe
in each other, because

we are all crippled by the world we walk in.
The way experience aligns us into living poems:

land masses of tears, beaches made beautiful
in our mind’s eye. Tonight, it’s just
one fear conquered,
one wound buried,
the ligaments of us
extended and holding. And that is everything.

- Natalie Illum

Excerpt from “After Brand New Highway” from On Writer’s Block and Acrobats (2006), used by permission.


Natalie Illum is an activist, writer and federal employee. Natalie is a founding board member of mothertongue and promotes queer and marginalized writers, musicians, and artists through 3Word Productions. She also facilitates poetry and activism workshops in a variety of community venues. Natalie is in the process of adapting her unpublished memoir, Spastic, to the stage with the help of renowned performance poet and director Regie Cabico. She is currently ranked 25th at the Women of the Worlds Poetry Slam.


Illum will be featured at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness, March 10-13, 2010, in Washington, DC. The festival will present readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programming, film, activism - four days of creative transformation as we imagine a way forward, hone our community and activist skills, and celebrate the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for social change. For more information:

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem-of-the-Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

Split This Rock

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