Posts for RIGHT NOW Category

Right Now: Kyle Dargan – On the anniversary of Prince’s passing.

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Write Now: Hillary Ferguson – The Ninth

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WRITE NOW : Hillary Ferguson ( NY BOMB ATTEMPT)

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RIGHT NOW: ANONYMOUS- “Sometimes Desert, Sometimes Water”

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Right Now: Josh Lefkowitz

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Right Now: Michèle-Jessica (M.J.) Fievre

#Philando #Alton 

I think of gunshots, of chokeholds, of knife marks
on black breasts & black stomachs,
on black hands & black calves.
Of deathbeds.
Of breathing, labored & inconsistent.
Of eyes, soft & blank.
Of bodies—black & limp.

#Eric #Laquan #Mike #Sandra #Rekia
Last week, your names were reduced
to whispers & imperfect remembrance. Shame on us.
#weforget the fear, anger, disgust, & violence.

#BlackLivesMatter
It’s an awful big sky out there:
big enough for all of us,
but I have to… I cannot not…
think of barrels, of loaded shells, of pellets,
of fingers feeling for triggers, of killshots.

#Philando #Alton
#2016America #knowtheirnames
I think of sweaty palms,
of wild rapids of thought rushing between shots.
Of the broken smell of gunpowder.

Today, America still drinks blood & shrugs
& grins & spits & turns away
as the shots echo & echo.

It’s an awful big sky out there:
big enough for all of us,
but I have to… I cannot not…
think that I am black…

#Philando Phil-and-do Feel-and-do
#Alton Alt-on All-for-one
#dontyouforget the fear, anger, disgust, & violence.

 

God Cop, Bad Cop
In a gated community in Miramar, FL,
the police cruisers arrive
in a bright burst of headlights,
surrounding a pickup truck,
and a crowd stands in amazement
on the sidewalk and unruly lawn
in front of Building 7,
and a mother holds her daughter
against her heart.
The little girl fusses, impatient,
wants to run
toward the men in uniform.
The little girl waves – and the police wave back.
One officer helps Santa Claus down the truck
as Jingle Bells continues playing, and Santa
hands a wrapped gift to the child.
She’s bewildered: the lights, the laughter,
the Christmas tunes.
Santa is here! Santa is here!
The neighbors are disappointed: a father didn’t know
about the “Give a Gift, Get a Gift” program,
when the @MiramarPD collects toys for the poor,
and, in exchange, visits the benefactor’s house
with Santa, to surprise the children.
The cops brought their daughters dressed as elves,
their sons in firefighter costumes, and the little ones
emerged from the backseats
to smile in a pictures with my niece.
I think about good cops, bad cops.
Maybe their polite exterior is like
a penny’s thin copper jacket. Maybe, underneath,
the officers are really coarse-grained, and wild.
No.
Those are not men we fear: they are fathers,
they are neighbors, they are Christmas buddies.
The air feels mild, and there aren’t too many
of those stealthy Florida mosquitoes,
with their uncanny ability
to zero in on the tender backs of our arms.
Everything is fine. Nothing is gone.
I do not think of bullet holes,
and my back is not unsure of its bent.
I do not think of the killings
of black fathers and black sons.
Somewhere, in Texas, a cop will not return home.
An eye for an eye…
Good cop? Bad cop?
I think of little girls dressed as elves,
of little boys turned into firefighters.
A father will not return home.

 

 

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Right Now: Luis Lopez-Maldonado

DEAR WHITE COPS

For colored-bodies swimming in red
You unfurl like the dead that don’t sleep their 8 hours,
bodies dried to bone & I am brown-bag w/ leftovers
inside mí hoping for someone to eat whatever’s left,

I’m 31 & brown soul cannot wrap itself w/ 2016,
cannot solve white-cop equation, colored bodies
on floor hitting pavement like bombs, faces smashed
into cracks broken limbs & legs,

I am 31 & bruises blossom under brown skin
under white teeth under heart-beats, hate spreading
like wildfire through intestines & veins,

I’m 31 & this is not a poem, today I cannot write poems
but only run-on sentences tiny thoughts fragile fragments,
& fat moon falls into glass of dark wine
white against black maroon like cop against black body:

I drink tonight. Wine inside brown. Outside,
black clouds foreign sky, another trigger pulled.

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Right Now: Courtney LeBlanc

NOTHING MORE TO SAY

my skin
is the color of oppression
my gender
gets raped by frat boys
who don’t go to prison
and every tweet I send
is filled with hashtags
of murdered black men

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RIGHT NOW: Jameka Williams

[my heroes lie in boxes]

 

my heroes lie in boxes

television sets and prison cells

grandma’s girlhood picture shows

enjoyed cowboys and confederates

white with drunken twang and limp

smiting indians, a nigger or two

jailed them in boxes no bigger

than a game of solitaire

with pissy mattresses stained ochre

so nostalgic, acrid, hot

those boys dreamed they’d slept

all this time on their mamas’ clay lawns

remembered reels of those cowboys

pinching their grandfathers for skin games

locked Peacemakers inside jaws, brown faces

swollen to the shape of an infant’s hunger

a testifier, his color subtle as a stone,

with hungry eyes, instead creeps out of frame

my heroes don’t know any better, so

they clipped the sheriff

and gave their sons a cool, sleek hate

whose whistle runs deep, is black

its shape thick as the cradle

of a gun’s chamber

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RIGHT NOW: Christine Brandel

STEW

I said poetry matters.

She said thank you, white girl in your brand new Chuck Taylors, for writing that poem about being ashamed of white America. I promise I’ll read it just as soon as I ensure that my little boy isn’t shot in a park for holding a stick cops thought looked like a gun. Your gesture is much appreciated.

I said you’re welcome. It’s the least I can do.

(Then I turned off the news because I could and thought about something else because I could and then made dinner because I could. I cooked a stew of anger and guilt, fear and impotence, with carrots and ate and ate until my stomach ached with privilege. It was the least I could do.)

Someone said poetry matters.

But it’s not true.

Because not everything matters unless everything matters.

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RIGHT NOW: Matthew Thompson

Untitled

 

So we tried the burn
utilized the mask to infiltrate,
kept the peace even when the smell of gunpowder hit our noses strident & acidic.
Always march to enjoin the people,
the movement yields howling and atrophied flesh
Maybe death is an assignment we should charge to the sky.

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RIGHT NOW: Steven Karl

OATH, IN TWO PARTS

1.

“On my

gun, I

will never

betray my

gun, my

bullets, my

racism or the

public trust.

*

I will

always

have

the courage

to hold myself

and others

accountable

for our actions.”

2.

“I, KILLER

DO SWEAR,,

THAT – I

KILLER

WILL WELL

AND TRULY

SERVE DEATH

OUR SOVEREIGN

COUNTRY AND STATE –

AS A POLICE OFFICER WITHOUT FAVOR

OR AFFECTION – MALICE

OR ILL-WILL –

MURDER UNTIL

I AM LEGALLY

DISCHARGED, ,

THAT I WILL SEE

AND CAUSE  OUR

COMMUNITY’S PEACE

TO BE

KEPT AND PRESERVED

AND THAT –

I WILL PREVENT TO

THE BEST OF MY POWER –

ALL OFFENSES AGAINST THAT PEACE

AND THAT – WHILE I

CONTINUE TO BE

A KILLER –

I WILL –

TO THE

BEST OF MY

SKILL AND KNOWLEDGE

GUN DISCHARGE ALL

THE DUTIES BULLETS THEREOF –

FAITHFULLY – ACCORDING TO LAW.

INSTITUTIONALIZED OPPRESSION

AND ____________,,
SO HELP ME GOD.

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RIGHT NOW: Kyle Dargan

LA PETITE MORT

goal for today / the rest of my life: weaponize happiness.
~Fatimah Asghar

 

Many of us are here today because it is hard
to maneuver when experiencing an orgasm.

My friend, responding to his girlfriend’s laments
about their second infant, shouted “well, I told you

to get off of me.” It was a futile warning.
The boy is god-knows how many years old now.

Life goes on. That is the point—after the little death,
life goes on. We live in a world of tasers,

of tranquilizer darts and anesthesia. By accident,
these kill us on occasion. That big death—

the one from which none have returned, wherein
your flesh seizes, clams, but never reanimates.

Then there are the guns which … well, I cannot explain
guns beyond the intent to call forth the big death.

But if all we need is a means to slow or subdue
people, why not give the police orgasm guns?

Whose legs churn fluidly while the brain is taken
by a stampede of endorphins? Who is a threat

with spastic genitals? I am reimaging the past
four years. Instead of a queue of choppy footage

in which men and women are deaded
pointblank by the police, I see bodies

buckling and dropping to the pavement,
mouths gushing expletives though none in pain.

The cops could even shoot the Caucasian killers
who they rarely shoot. They would still live

to be later gassed or injected to death—
which we call a penalty, a process much slower

than what skips over judgment to execution,
busts premature through the thoraces of brown

people. I cannot afford to believe that someday
the State, these states, will stop shooting my cousins,

so let there be another weapon—one that induces
the small death only. Yes, my cousins would come

against their wills, but they would come back,
unlike this big leaving—this hurt immediate, unending.

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RIGHT NOW: Zachary Bos

JULY SEVENTH TWENTY SIXTEEN
 
// thinking about paterson, 1993
 
where is that black girl that I went to school with
the tough girl this skinny white boy knew not to fuck with
 
what was her name she wore shells in her hair
the one with that anklet with bells she would wear
 
the one with the necklace with her name in gold letters
so big in gold letters can’t believe i forget her
 
that girl who played like i said i was her master
so her girl would get pissed and call me a casper
 
the cowries in her braids would clatter together
when she turned to flip her hair over her shoulder
 
i hope she’s got a good family and they all together
and are able to live like black families never
 
get shot for no reason i’m thinking about her
hoping that being a black girl didn’t hurt her
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RIGHT NOW: J.B.

Black Athena of the New Shore
[based on birth of Athena from Zeus’ skull]

 

My mama clever
like a threat.
Father see in her
his own kin.
He see in her a continent–
field to seed,
a shore too much to manage.
 
He love her wealth.
He wary.
 
Mama sweet,
dark-blush plum, shadow-born.
 
He gorge on the fruit
fast.
Love the taste
well.
 
All that stretch of sky
and plummet of thunder.
He cowed by one crimson bulb,
wrapping its own seed in plump and wet.
 
He say if he eat, he eat all.
A danger to let her take root.
He love so much he swallow her away.
Fool mama into folding small, small, small
and then–one inhale and she gone.
 
He think she lose her seed.
He keeping safe.
 
First push I make against my mama,
she hush me.
Make me wait.
First I see of light is dimmed–
 
skin and sinew thick against
more skin and sinew.
I learn home is a sliver of belly
pressed tight against the wall.
 
She sing me shadow songs.
She say I am a stranger fruit
than ever she could bloom alone.
 
So much time to listen
and plan
pressed tight in the dark,
Father’s temples’ bloodrush my lullaby.
 
“Born” too soft a word.
When time come, I break free.
They say a man with an axe chop me forth,
but he just watch.
 
I cleave Father open like his thunder.
Loud and grown. Know what is mine.
Birthright of shadow fruit and the wide sky,
Of fear and waiting,
ache of brain and belly.
 
I charge forth on mama’s birth tide.
Wise. Just. Sword-sharp and ready.
 
When I greet Father, I know to bare my teeth.
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RIGHT NOW: Alexander Akande

BLACK ANGELS

Taken to the land of opportunity
enslaved and in chains to create opportunity
given what we thought was freedom reluctantly
we strive to create prosperity
but we all are reminded daily, constantly, repeatedly,
that this land of opportunity,
will kill us at every given opportunity
and as we bow our heads and pray for the dead,
these thoughts resonate inside of my head
that
I see only white angels painted on church walls,
They say heaven is a place for us all,
But I see no black angels painted on church walls
So where do we go when death comes
when the white reaper calls and we all fall?
yes I said when the white reaper calls and we all fall,
when a cop comes knocking on your front door
and your soul cowers in fear instead of standing tallbut enough, no more
free from these chains we demand more
and if heaven must burn we shall light the flames and bring hell to heavens door
until no mothers cry, no daughters die and no brothers fall
we shall stand tall
till these murderous white reapers to the depths of hell fall
yes i said till these murderous white reapers to the depths of hell fall
and God himself paints black angels on church walls
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RIGHT NOW: Nicole Lourette

Another

I broke today.

I broke like Alton Sterling’s son who just wanted his Daddy.

I broke like the record that keeps playing the same predictable, terrible song over

and over

and over

and over

and over

and over

again,

until the machine breaks with it.

I broke in a coworker’s arms,

a withered office plant that suffocates from lack of light,

lack of water, fed only with lukewarm metals and lullaby words

over and

over and

over and

over and

over

again.

I broke this morning,

when I found out

another black life was stolen,

taken in front of his child.

Philando Castile’s daughter said

“It’s okay, Mommy, I’m right here with you”

and she did not break—

how did she not break?

 

A sympathy card is going around the office for someone’s aging mother.

How nice.

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RIGHT NOW: Suzy de Jesus Huerta

what cannot be buried

This hole ain’t large

enough to hold the cries

of a fifteen-year-old son

folded over the memory

of a father gone –

just

like

that.

A bayou’s blood lets

open crimson fruit,

strange. Twins.

These cities.

There is no fire blue

enough to burn through

a lover’s heart. Her

revolutionary sings

a cocktail of bomb

and absent kiss- inside

this hole. Blood-soaked

white T, the flag

we now fly– a rose

whose petals spread

 vast Phoenix wings.

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RIGHT NOW: Ace Biggaveli

If we must die 
Claud McKay Wrote the original poem… .
If I must die… Let me die by my brother side… Let him know that I am down to ride with our backs against the wall… And Give them all of what we have left… . Can’t let you keep us from being the best… Even though that’s the test you so called instructors decide to take. . I know that this race isn’t meant for me and you… . But finishing strong is something We have to do… So all these threats to shoot… Going to make us not want to lose… Going to make us want to scratch say the rules and take this to the street… Cuz I no longer want to see any of my soldiers get killed by police… Everytime I turn on the News that’s all the speak… Proudly saying they killed another brother this week… We need someone to stand up and not just preach
I guess that’s going to have to be these REBEL KINGS AND QUEENS. . .
So if we must die… Let us die nobly. . .
With our heads high… . Fighting back since you didn’t notice we’ve been fighting for 100s of years since you stole the dream… .
I don’t want to promote violence only peace…
But when Mr. Sterling died that Slogan ceased… .
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RIGHT NOW: Steven Alvarez

eighty percent severed

& that accent—what

the terror & again open it the wagons me—

that’s okay—I missed red started only so what

support & segment

mister red I’m spots on up—

where sergeant what was missed a vote

for investigating two—

thank—pertaining to Mister Gray’s illegal arrest—

spot that missed a great when he did not—

did not think—do I act—began—

any in many made—no effort—to not

or stacked or determine in case despite

deteriorating medical condition—

no matter closed-end—I’m wasting

or something—or Mister Gray at that time—

I—any—are after completing—they’re not that—no

the arrest loading additional prisoner—

into the opposite—Mister Gray—

police station where contrary to the general order—

yes to restrain Mister Gray—& the wagon—

or at least it topped at eleventh district police station—better

bet it got Iraq at night—you know what I’m saying—did away

w. joy in fact at the police station—

prior to attending Mister Gray—a bad time

exactly—unknown started why—& I’m not an officer—

& know they attempted to remove Mister Gray—

was no longer—

finally called—whereupon dragnet

determined that Mister Gray—okay—was now in cardiac arrest

& was quickly & severely injured—Mister Gray must be—

now shock trauma—where he underwent surgery

on 19 April 2015 Mister Gray comes with injuries

& was pronounced dead—manner of death deemed a homicide—

cameras—medical examiner—I strained

by—& the trusty Baltimore PD was all—

flimsy in Baltimore city’s air—

well each opposites are still—

anything—considered proven guilty we—

a good thing—being charged with second-degree look—

great heart murder

involuntary manslaughter—

second-degree negligence starts manslaughter—

gross negligence my man—

that means criminal negligence misconduct—

offense or prisoner day surrender—

it being charts

when involuntary manslaughter assault

& integrate misconduct in office—

charged with involuntary manslaughter—

integrated stop in great misconduct in office—

false imprisonment & when Nero

is being charged—when assault in the second degree—

intentional assault in the second degree—

misconduct in office also present—

charged with intention—

in effect a great misconduct in office—

& balls in prison starting early so why—

charged smartly involuntary manslaughter—

second guess?—misconduct in office?—

wow—I am committed to transparency—

hammer a billion because today is now a matter of public record—

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RIGHT NOW: Tatiana Figueroa-Ramirez

Stay Woke

The night is black.

Our skin is black.

The world flashes

With red and blue lights.

The world wakes up

To an orchestra of sirens

After the introductory

Boom boom boom.

My son, my daughter,

My brother, my sister,

My nephew, my niece

Come to me and say,

“I heard the fireworks.

They woke me up.”

They look in my puffy,

Bloodshot eyes

Outlined

By dark circles

Too tired

To hide

The truth of our lives,

Waiting

For the rest of the family

To wake up, too.

On this night,

I choose to get a quesadilla

And nachos with guacamole on the side

I see five patrol cars pass by

I tell my brother,

“Junior, be careful.

Something doesn’t feel right.”

Brothers and sisters,

We need to wake up.

Stop lying in your beds.

Our children are dying.

There is a new case each day.

At least that’s how it seems

With the most recent of things.

There’s always a new one.

Hashtag rest in peace my angel.

Hashtag you got your wings.

Hashtag never forget.

Rest in peace

We haven’t found it here.

Rest in peace

We’re still restless.

Rest in peace

Dying is the only way to get it.

We live

Where they

Fear the youth

And dark skin.

Hashtag rest in peace.

Where the new slaves

Are still shackled in chains.

Hashtag rest in peace.

Where our leaders

Pray we stay sleeping.

Hashtag rest in peace.

Land of the free.

Home of the brave.

One nation under God.

Hashtag rest in peace.

One nation together

As long as we stay divided

From bottom to top.

Hashtag rest in peace.

One nation united

As long as you stick to a curfew,

Walk on sidewalks,

Stay away from skittles,

And find a way to hide

The melanin you inherited.

Hashtag rest in peace.

Now call me selfish,

But with a father who looks Arab

A brother who knows he’s black.

Both named Martin

I’m grateful

To not hashtag

“Rest in peace my Martins.”

I know all too well

No one is safe

Unless I have the right friends,

Know the right places,

And disown the ancestors

Who make up my faces.

I’m not safe.

No one is safe.

Hashtag rest in peace.

A walkie talkie

Snitches,

“Black hoodie,

Blue jeans.

Black hoodie,

Blue jeans,”

As I playfully buck

At my six foot cousin.

He grabs me close.

His hands cup my curls.

His black hoodie

Now keeps me warm, too.

A black and blue Impala

Creeps into the parking lot,

“Is everything alright?”

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RIGHT NOW: Armando Jaramillo Garcia

Cut Its Body In Half

 

 

My ancestors were Europeans fishermen in the Mediterranean

As well as indigenous people of the Andes they mixed

You know the story there’s been slaughter of beast

And man in my blood we can all say that

But this is not a history class or dissertation

In a fluorescent lit room in the bowels of an institution

Where the complexity and connections are made to persuade

Or collect praise and a ticket to academia and its parlor games

This is something else and if you can’t feel it

Then leave the room stop reading go your way

Undoubtedly it’s your right and honestly that’s fine

I’ve been there and I would take that right as well

And nothing can rip that from me NOTHING

But I think something needs to break

Something needs to be thrown at something else

With full force until you dislocate a shoulder

A fire needs to be set something needs to blow up

Deaf systems need to be toppled old guards dismantled

In the only way that will work by being drawn and quartered

You know what I’m talking about and all I have are these words

Puny things compared to a just cause wearing its shroud

Of blood and pain against uniformed gangs of morally deficient animals

We made these things we can break them and it doesn’t need to be

ORGANIZED no rules of war whatever that is

A Sherman’s march is what needs to happen

Cut its body in half by reaching that cooling water

Whether in one piece or tattered or half dead

While leaving nothing for them to use to rebuild

Or to even THINK this was ever right or a way

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RIGHT NOW: Jonathan Moore

after hortense spillers

 

“this enforced state of breach”

is

this turnpike spine

there is no exit when you are

the exit. there is no balm for a bleeding wound.

when my body is a bleeding wound,

why be Band-Aid sane?

why be

this feigned surprise

at funeral songs screaming out of the ice cream truck speaker/no, be red river rowdy.

make wonderland of this thaw-less winter

bathe in the flood-faced news reporter’s eyes,

this news of floods, at least i know

i am

this found ship, this familiar cargo. at least i am not the water yet, at least

the only thing scarier than crying out of one eye only is for the other to be shut

at the same time.

the only thing scarier than wondering where they go is to be sure that

they are gone.

“we” have explored only 5 percent of the ocean but

i know

what the 95 is filled with

“this enforced state of breach” is a

room full of broken-levy lovers and the water is pouring and our bodies are more buoyant than

they ever been,

the thrill is in

the rise. in knowing that you are worthy of

atlantis.

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RIGHT NOW: Chris Hart

“Silently Speaking”

 
They are saying I executed a man today
I’m not sure what I was thinking
If he would have just listened to what I insisted
He may still exist
But he resisted
And I had to act quickly
No time to think
So 6 shots was enough
To take him away from his 5 children
 
They ask if I could have handled it any different
Was there another way
other than to kill him
And I can not seem to think of it
MY COUNTLESS HOURS OF TRAINING
Slipped my conscienceness
And The only thoughts that remained
Were animalistic
My survival instincts kicked in
I was in danger
 
So what was I in?!
The father that you murdered
The one life you were not concerned of
I was Restrained
As if I lacked a name
All Because I expressed my displeasure
 in becoming caged
The camera didn’t say it all
but it said enough
You took me from the ones I loved
And your immediate consequence wasn’t much
 
Vacation instead of incarceration
So unjust and filthy
Innocent until proven guilty
When they have my brutal execution featured on a 30 second movie
Then they try to paint a picture as if they  knew me
Justifying the shots with my prior crimes
 as if I had it coming to me
 
You are a murderer
And should be dealt with
As if
You were selling CDs
Or loose cigarettes
Or wearing a hoodie
 
Don’t ask us to hold off on the vengeful  violence
If you were the first that fired
Don’t ask for an end to the riots
If that officer is not immediately fired
Indicted and sent to prison
We demand equality in our justice system
And if it’s not given
it will be taken
And brought to a place
of near consummation
 
I’m not sure how long we can remain patient
But I know we will try
It’s just that we’ve been trying for so long
Since we have learned how to sing
We have been singing this song
our voices pushed past exhaust
I know you can hear our pain
They have similar melodies
As the ones From back in the day
We don’t just want change
We NEED change
 
Because Even as I write this
In front of his partner and little girl
There was another black life unjustly taken from this lopsided world
It hasn’t even been 24 hours
Since we lost another one of ours
To a weak trigger happy coward
So, we will sing louder
And We shall overcome
Until there is no more oxygen in either
ours or their lungs
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RIGHT NOW: Clara Medina

One Day 
 
Look both ways,
hide your face.
Try your best to assimilate.
The violence you see,
all in one place.
“Land of the free”,
but where are the brave?
 
Protest in peace?
They shoot, they shoot.
Reach for your keys?
They shoot, they shoot.
Take a moment to breathe?
Suddenly, you’re a brute.
 
Beautiful faces turn to stone.
Previously warm hearts are dead, and cold.
We’re practically the same,
yet you choose to discriminate against me based on race.
 
Tell me this, tell me now.
How would you feel if your brother was shot down?
Your mother? Your sister? Your uncle? Your dad?
Apparently now you feel horrid, and bad.
 
Lay low your weapon,
take off your badge.
Look at this nation.
Still feel dandy, and glad?
 
I would hope, I would hope
that just one blissful day,
I would not have to worry about no longer seeing my beautiful black friend’s face.
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RIGHT NOW: Gregory Crosby

Deathshuffle (After Celan)

 

Black lives, matter, dark matter at high noon,

the gunbarrel swallowed each morning, at dusk,

Alton Sterling, the shattered discs flashing,

Philando Castile, reaching for nothing,

their license canceling you, all of us

canceled by their license to fear, killing

& killed, Alton Sterling, down & still dying,

Philando Castile, your girlfriend’s crying,

& the cameras cancel themselves, pictures

worth a thousand riots & still we sit

inside the gunbarrel & the blood in

our eyes & no riots, Alton Sterling,

your heart emptied, a sky, Philando

Castile, your girlfriend screaming, no good-byes,

no time, time is swallowed, this dark matter,

black lives, black lives, black lives,

what is the matter, what is the matter,

with our life with our times with our eyes,

Alton Sterling, Philando Castile,

Alton Sterling, Philando Castile.

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RIGHT NOW: Teresa De La Cruz

bullets

as a young poet

I used the word bullet

for the sonic boom 

today it is no longer

a word.

it is in them.

from barrels to backs

and fronts

and necks

and arms

and children

and children

in tasered flesh

cotton hoods

sunday best

bullets are in them

and when we take the bullet out

their hearts are the only things

to have hit the floor

              

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RIGHT NOW: Savon Bartley

Crossroads (After Bone Thugs N Harmony)

Dressed

in the dark blue sky he fell from.

Wings

clipped

                shoved into the ribs of a pistol.

Halo

Shaped like a badge where his right hand used to be.

The angel of death spills into the street.

Silent as a plague sweeping through Egypt

Or

Queens

Or

Ferguson

Or

Baltimore.

Or Chicago

Or

Baton Rouge

Or Minnesota

Chariot

adorned with the glow of republicans

            white privilege

                    & blue blood.

& on the 28th hour

his pistols back

slides like a heathen.

& a shot

Or

3

Or

5

Or

6

Or 16

ring throughout the neighborhood

like bells over barber shop doors

& a black boy drops like a heart.

Lies still as prayer across an altar of pavement.

Blood running from his wounds hoping to come back with help.

Street light hanging over his body like temptation.

Mary don’t you weep when Pharaoh’s army turns a father’s son into a holy ghost

like trinity

like Jesus

like we’re still waiting for our promised land

but tomorrow ain’t promised & we die

like we haven’t sacrificed enough.

Baptized in pools of street corners

like we’re the ones who need saving.

Arms raised like braille against glory.

We lift our hands so they know we are here.

We lift our hands because we question

why what we raise always get shot down.

We lift our hands

drenched in a black boy’s blood

hung over the heads of tears

& candles

& high school photos

    & fists

& we pray

                                                        & we pray

                    & we pray

                                everyday

that God’s got ’em

& I’ll see you at the crossroads (crossroads)

see you at the crossroads (crossroads)

so you won’t be lonely

see you at the crossroads (crossroads)

see you at the crossroads (crossroads)

so you won’t be lonely

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Right Now: Taylor Steele

when i die my black death

 

when i die — however that comes to be —
they will say i was
that good black.
that, she wrote black poems
but you never saw her
at a protest,
and it don’t matter why
black.
when i die — at whoever’s hands or gun or hate —
they will say
my black was the kind
of black
that reached so far
outside of blackness
it became
an ultraviolet type,
unperceivable
to the human eye
type black,
so black my blackness was white,
and white blackness
is for everyone,
especially if you’re not
black.
they will say i fucked
so many white boys
i must be
hip to the trouble
that is black men.
because you know
how black men
just be trippin’
all over themselves.
and who gotta clean them up?
white hands. always
dirtying themselves
for blackness’ sake.
and thank God, too.
because blackness ain’t
ever had enough hands
to do much cleaning
to begin with.
or, all of blackness’ hands
went missing after or before
(no one’s really sure)
it used its hands
against itself.
not that it matters now.
so, what a smart black i was,
to lay so often beneath
whiteness that i became
invisible, made hostel
of my pussy, was tithe
to a burning church.
when i die — or when they kill me —
they will quote
all of my love poems.
they will say to blackness,
see, she wouldn’t want you
to be so angry,
i can tell,
it says so
right
here.

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WRITE NOW: Roy G. Guzmán- RESTORED MURAL FOR ORLANDO

Roy G. Guzmán was born in Honduras and raised in Miami, FL. He is an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of Minnesota, and his work has appeared or will appear in Assaracus, Juked, The Adroit Journal, Breakwater Review, Word Riot, Reservoir, Connotation Press, and Notre Dame Review. Roy is the poetry editor for Sundog Lit and the recipient of a Pushcart prize nomination and a Gesell Award honorable mention in fiction. This summer he is serving as the Scribe for Human Rights at the University of Minnesota, focusing on issues affecting migrant farm workers. Reach out to him: roygguzman.com; Twitter: @dreamingauze.

 

 

RESTORED MURAL FOR ORLANDO

Seconds before the shooter sprays bullets on my brothers & sisters’
bodies / the DJ stops the record from spinning / & I am interested

in that brief dazzle of pink light / how it spreads on iron-pressed
shirts until they turn purple / how a gun is a heart that has forgotten

to sing. The rapture in a stranger’s eyes / a candid take on resurrection.
You visit Orlando to fantasize about the childhood you didn’t have /

even though I grew up in Florida the trip was a luxury because I grew
up poor & when I finally could afford it I took my parents to Universal

Studios / this is the first time I ever saw my mother get on a rollercoaster
because she’s always been ashamed of her weight & we ended up

buying a timeshare by mistake / not really by mistake / but by my illusion
that my parents worked themselves sick in the U.S. so they needed

vacations / & the debt collectors still call us after all these years to remind
us of the Great Recession where my mother lost her job & my father

had to go into early retirement. Our mothers gave us names
so we would know what goes at the head of a tombstone / bare précis /

& our duty is to feel the isolation that any alignment of letters can trigger
when they’re carved out of grief / since most of us were born or bloomed

out of sorrow like swans always bent on pond water or unpaid bills /
as though we are fishing for clues about our graves / or where we’ll stop

to mislay our moisture on others’ necks. & just the night before I went
out for Drag Night at Lush with four other poets / one reason to escape

my schedule & relive my adolescence / I am afraid of attending places
that celebrate our bodies because that’s also where our bodies

have been cancelled / when you’re brown & gay you’re always dying
twice / I got to see thirteen performances by amateurs / a few special guests /

one queen who happened to make a stop in Minneapolis / she’s a national
sensation / & the MC sang a raspy but virtuosic version of “When You’re

Good to Mama” & the boys & girls & fems lined up with their dollar bills /
which the queens scarfed down with their perfect bosoms & their teeth

& I turned to Danez & said the whole performance reminded me
of receiving communion as a child / how for me a church is a roof

that’s always collapsing / though I might have been talking about
lovers paying their condolences / so often we forget that what kills us now

once believed in our survival / that a pistol & a rifle pulled apart
can be the shape of your arms as you pull a lover closer / that when his

teeth are black it means you picked the right bottle of Sauvignon /
that in our video games one can ride a bullet toward eternity.

***

My partner is asked to sing at the vigil in Loring Park. His choir
has commissioned an hour-long piece inspired by David Levithan’s

Two Boys Kissing / in which a pair of teenagers participate in a kissing
marathon to set a new Guinness World Record. A Greek chorus of souls /

who won’t be vanquished by the epidemic / find comfort narrating the tragic
but true events. How can I sing for an entire hour about that much grief

without breaking down during the performance? my partner asks me
as I scroll through the news. On the phone / my mother says the shooter’s

hatred sprung from watching two men kiss in Bayside Marketplace in
the heart of Miami / & I am imagining how my mother might never approve

of me pressing my lips against another man’s without that man being
my father or a mistranslation of him / because even our fathers have prayed

at least once for us to be gone / No eres mi hijo maricón. In Bayside
I held an old lover’s hand before I moved away to college / the moon upon

the water like a wound that wouldn’t heal / & he dumped me soon after /
said he couldn’t bear the pain of me parting / which when you’re older

you rank as necessary pain that trained you when to open up & shut
like a house with only hurricanes moving through it / or hasty promises.

Orlando like an orange / now green with mold / but still edible for some.
The evening of the shootings / after dinner with friends who grieve

by not dying / I come home to touch my partner’s sweltering body /
a humid June evening without AC in Minnesota / far from the carnage

but still close to feel it / & we produce baby noises / an uhn for witness /
an uhn for hope / as we give shape to the carefree child of vulnerability

that runs between us every evening / safe but somehow lost / until my lover
falls asleep & I stay awake out of need & continue to whisper their names

as they are added to the list / like faces from a river of baptism. I forgive
the earth for not turning its neck further / for not allowing those pink lights

to keep flashing / for the cackles to remain intact no matter how boisterous.
In those seconds when their skin has never beamed so bright / so self-

assured / the bartender is shaking a piña colada / goose bumps flower
on someone’s arms / the streets are humming from delight / a pair of lovers

walks in / another eagerly awaits the last call of the evening. It would seem
the record wants to keep spinning while we wipe their blood from the floor.

For them we learn to touch again. For them we walk home / & we are safe.

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