Thursday, October 15, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Hari Alluri

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.


Ingat: As I Come Back
By Hari Alluri

Taking off my outside clothes 
in the doorway is a kind of prayer. I strip 

and I am asking for the safety of those 
I live with. I had to go out. Yes, 

when it was groceries and soap. Yes, too, 
for addiction. I still smoke. I got the message 

when my boy in England enumerated for us 

how and why we need to get ready. Also to stop sharing 


the memes giving us levity with our solitude. Sorry, brother. I share 

what’s funny anyway. Our desperation belongs 

everywhere right now. Doors or no, someone is entering 
a space they share with people they love 

or tolerate. Or like or just help out or want to touch or wish they could get 

away from. The door, barely closed and I’m praying 

in my socks. May I not have brought 
what we’re all afraid of catching 

the way I bring how thin 
my threads already are. Shouting 

before I left the house carries 
an older poison. I act like I can leave it 

on the shut side of a door. I roll 
my outside clothes into a plastic bag.

Listen as Hari Alluri reads "Ingat: As I Come Back."

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