Thursday, September 17, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Liza Sparks

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.


There is a Mountain Stream at my Door
By Liza Sparks

the babble and meandering here to remind me
to keep on moving they enter my apartment
they tell me the most important things 
are the living things they water all of my plants
the spider plant I have been neglecting 
mountain stream hugs my cat
apologizes remembering cats
do not like being in water
invites the dogs to take a drink
giggles and laughs in that mountain stream way
all sparkle I want to tell you
says mountain stream about seasons
about cycles about winter about rest
about the cold and the freeze
about life about death
about continuing about my friends
about salmon and stone 
I want to tell you about even the smallest
creatures I want to tell you about clouds
tell you about mirrors and reflections
tell you…remind you to drink water
and also that it is okay to cry
make room
make room
I want to tell you about the leaves that fall 
from the trees dance in the water 
I want to tell you about the roots that feed 
that drink what feeds you what nourishes you 
can you send your roots to those places 
I am here to remind you 
that these are places you have already been 
already known 
mountain stream smiles 
and flows through the house 
strums the guitar 
plucks the strings on the viola 
remember they sing 
that song in your heart 
it is still there 
even in the rain 
mountain stream 
leaves as quickly as they arrived 
babbling all the way down 
the stairs of the apartment 

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