Archive for June, 2020

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

We Are Not Responsible by Harryette Mullen

We are not responsible for your lost or stolen relatives.
We cannot guarantee your safety if you disobey our instructions.
We do not endorse the causes or claims of people begging for handouts.
We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.

Your ticket does not guarantee that we will honor your reservations.
In order to facilitate our procedures, please limit your carrying on.
Before taking off, please extinguish all smoldering resentments.

If you cannot understand English, you will be moved out of the way.
In the event of a loss, you’d better look out for yourself.
Your insurance was cancelled because we can no longer handle
your frightful claims. Our handlers lost your luggage and we
are unable to find the key to your legal case.

You were detained for interrogation because you fit the profile.
You are not presumed to be innocent if the police
have reason to suspect you are carrying a concealed wallet.
It’s not our fault you were born wearing a gang color.
It is not our obligation to inform you of your rights.

Step aside, please, while our officer inspects your bad attitude.
You have no rights we are bound to respect.
Please remain calm, or we can’t be held responsible
for what happens to you.

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/145281/we-are-not-responsible

Date: 2002

By: Harryette Mullen (1953- )

Monday, 29 June 2020

Man in the Street or Hand Over Mouth by Heather McHugh

He claps a hand
Across the gaping hole—

Or else the sight might
Well inside to

Melt the mind—if any
Thinking spoke

Were in the wheel,
Or any real

Fright-fragments broke
Out of the gorge to

Soak the breast, the meaning
Might incite a stroke—best

Press against it, close
The clawhole, stand

In stupor, petrified. The dream
Be damned, the deeps defied.

The hand’s to keep
The scream inside.

From: https://poetryarchive.org/poem/man-street/

Date: 2006

By: Heather McHugh (1948- )

Sunday, 28 June 2020

On the Flogging of Women by Charlotte Elizabeth Browne Phelan Tonna

No. 21 of the Anti-slavery Reporter contains some particulars of the Jamaica Debate on Lord Bathurst’s proposition for “the abolishing of the driving whip, the regulation and record of punishments, and the abolition of female flogging.”

It was not even proposed, that driving in the field, or the flogging of females should be abolished; but merely that the cat should be substituted for the cart-whip both to coerce labour, and to inflict punishment; and that in the whipping of women there should be no indecent exposure.

The clause for substituting the cat for the cart-whip was negatived by a majority of 28 to 12 as was that for prohibiting the indecent exposure of women. However painful to the feelings the knowledge of these proceedings may be, it is better they should be known and reprobated, whithRegularized:with a view to their suppression, than
perpetuated to future generations by a weak concealment of truth.

How much is it to be wished that the planters who thus voted for the flogging of women could be induced to peruse the following lines:

Bear’st thou a man’s, a Christian’s name;
If not for pity, yet for shame.
O fling the scourge aside!
Her tender form may writhe and bleed,
But deeper cuts thy barbarous deed
The female’s modest pride.

Sin first by woman came;- for this
The Lord hath marr’d her earthly bliss,
With many a bitter throe;
But mercy tempers wrath, and scorn
Persues the wretch who adds a thorn
To heaven-inflicted woe.

Thine infancy was lull’d to rest
On woman’s nurturing bosom prest,
Enfolded by her arm;
Her hand upheld thy tott’ring pace;-
And Oh! how deep the foul disgrace,
If thine can work her harm!

Hush not they nature’s conscious plea
Weak, helpless, succourless, to thee
Her looks for mercy pray;
He who records each lash, will roll
Torrents of vengeance on thy soul!-
Oh! fling that scourge away.

From: https://scholarship.rice.edu/jsp/xml/1911/26578/1/aa00397.tei.html

Date: 1827

By: Charlotte Elizabeth Browne Phelan Tonna (1790-1846)

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Boundaries by McKayla Robbin

no
is a necessary magic

no
draws a circle around you
with chalk
and says
i have given enough.

From: Robbin, McKayla, We Carry the Sky, 2016, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform: South Carolina, pp. [unnumbered].
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=bdYAMQAACAAJ)

Date: 2016

By: McKayla Robbin (19??- )

Friday, 26 June 2020

Give Me the Red On the Black of the Bullet by Jayne Cortez (Sallie Jayne Richardson)

(For Claude Reece Jr.*)

Bring back the life
of Claude Reece Jr.

I want the bullet from his chest
to make a Benin bronze
to make an explosion of thunder
to make a cyclone

I want the 14 years of Claude Reece Jr.
shot on the 15th day of september
shot in the back of his head
shot by a police officer
shot for being black

Give me the black on the red of the bullet
i want to make a tornado
to make an earthquake
to make a fleet of stilts
for the blackness of Claude Reece Jr.
the blackness called dangerous weapon
called resisting arrest
called nigger threat

I want the life of the blackness of Claude Reece Jr.
i want the bullet from his chest
yo make a protective staff for startled children
to make hooks and studs
for warrior masks

Give me the bullet with the odor
and the smoke and the skin and
the hair of Claude Reece Jr.
i want to make power
to make power
for the blackness of Claude Reece Jr.
the blackness called pent-up frustration
called unidentified negro
called nigger revolutionary

I want the life of the blackness of Claude Reece Jr.
i want the bullet from his chest
to make a protective staff for startled children
to make a Benin bronze
to make an explosion of thunder
to make a cyclone
i want the bullet to bring back the blood
of Claude Reece Jr.
i want to make justice

I want to make justice for
the blackness of Claude Reece Jr.
bring back the bullet with the blood of the blackness
of Claude Reece Jr.
i want to make justice
i want to make justice for the blackness of Claude Reece Jr.

*Claude Reese Junior, aged 14 years, was shot in the head by police officer Frank Bosco in Brooklyn, New York, on 15 September 1974.

From: Cortez, Jayne, “Give Me the Red on the Black of the Bullet” in To Our Comrads Inside New Year’s Book 1987 from the Real Dragon Project, 1987, p. [unnumbered].
(http://freedomarchives.org/Documents/Finder/DOC28_scans/28.real.dragon.project.1987.pdf)

Date: 1977

By: Jayne Cortez (Sallie Jayne Richardson) (1934-2012)

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Poem About Police Violence by June Millicent Jordan

Tell me something
what you think would happen if
everytime they kill a black boy
then we kill a cop
everytime they kill a black man
then we kill a cop
you think the accident rate would lower subsequently?

. . . I lose consciousness of ugly bestial rapid
and repetitive affront as when they tell me
18 cops in order to subdue one man
18 strangled him to death in the ensuing scuffle
(don’t you idolize the diction of the powerful: subdue
and scuffle my oh my) and that the murder
that the killing of Arthur Miller on a Brooklyn
street was just a “justifiable accident” again
(Again)

People been having accidents all over the globe
so long like that I reckon that the only
suitable insurance is a gun
I’m saying war is not to understand or rerun
war is to be fought and won

sometimes the feeling like amaze me baby
blots it out/the bestial but
not too often

tell me something
what you think would happen if
everytime they kill a black boy
then we kill a cop
everytime they kill a black man
then we kill a cop
you think the accident rate would lower subsequently.

From: https://thelivingainteasy.blog/2014/08/

Date: 1974

By: June Millicent Jordan (1936-2002)

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

The Slave’s Address to British Ladies by Susanna(h) Watts

Natives of a land of glory,
Daughters of the good and brave,
Hear the injured Negro’s story,
Hear, and help the kneeling Slave.
Think, how nought but death can sever
Your lov’d children from your hold ;
Still alive—but lost for ever—
Ours are parted, bought and sold!
Seize the ev’ry favouring season—
Scorning censure or applause ;
Justice, Truth, Religion, Reason,
Are your Leaders in the cause!
Follow!—faithful, firm, confiding,—
Spread our wrongs from shore to shore;
Mercy’s God your efforts guiding,
Slavery shall be known no more.

From: Watts, Susannah, “The Slave’s Address to British Ladies” in The Kaleidoscope: or, Literary and scientific mirror, Liverpool, Vol. 9, Iss. 422, 29 July 1828, p. 28.
(https://search.proquest.com/openview/dd65e26bb3247cad/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=3042)

Date: 1828

By: Susanna(h) Watts (1768-1842)

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

People Are Like Stained-Glass Windows by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

People are like stained-glass windows.
They sparkle and shine when the sun is out,
but when the darkness sets in,
their true beauty is revealed only
if there is a light from within.

From: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Elisabeth_K%C3%BCbler-Ross

Date: 2003

By: Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1926-2004)

Monday, 22 June 2020

The Displaced of Capital by Anne Winters

“A shift in the structure of experience…”
As I pass down Broadway this misty late-winter morning, the city is ever alluring, but thousands of miles to the south
the subsistence farms of chickens, yams and guava
are bought by transnationals, burst into miles
of export tobacco and coffee; and now it seems the farmer
has left behind his plowed-under village for an illegal
partitioned attic in the outer boroughs. Perhaps
he’s the hand that emerged with your change
from behind the glossies at the corner kiosk;
the displaced of capital have come to the capital.

The displaced of capital have come to the capital,
but sunlight steams the lingerie-shop windows, ?the coffee bar
has its door wedged open, and all I ask of the world this morning is to pass down my avenue, find
a fresh-printed Times and an outside table;
and because I’m here in New York the paper tells me of here:
of the Nicaraguans, the shortage of journeyman-jobs, ?the ethnic
streetcorner job-markets where men wait all day but more ?likely the women
find work, in the new hotels or in the needle trades,
a shift in the structure of experience.

A shift in the structure of experience
told the farmer on his Andean plateau
“Your way of life is obsolescent.”–But hasn’t it always ?been so?
I inquire as my column spills from page one
to MONEY&BUSINESS. But no, it says here the displaced
stream now to tarpaper favelas, planetary barracks
with steep rents for paperless migrants, so that they
remit less to those obsolescent, starving
relatives on the altiplano, pushed up to ever thinner air and soil;
unnoticed, the narrative has altered.

Unnoticed, the narrative has altered,
but though the city’s thus indecipherably orchestrated
by the evil empire, down to the very molecules in my brain
as I think I’m thinking, can I escape morning happiness,
or not savor our fabled “texture” of foreign
and native poverties? (A boy tied into greengrocer’s apron,
unplaceable accent, brings out my coffee.) But, no, it says here
the old country’s “de-developing” due to its mountainous
debt to the First World–that’s Broadway, my cafe
and my table, so how can I today
warm myself at the sad heartening narrative of immigration?
Unnoticed, the narrative has altered,
the displaced of capital have come to the capital.

From: https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/displaced-capital/

Date: 2000

By: Anne Winters (1939- )

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Midsummer – Sweden by Bruce Louis Dodson

This sans sunset day
twilight till dawn
another summer solstice
endless clock of seasons.

Magic hours when animals can talk
and humans dream of lovers
dress the maypole
join in celebration
gatherings of thousands

celebrate until the early morning mist.

Life on earth reborn.

From: https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/midsummer-sweden-by-bruce-louis-dodson-where-i-live-poetry-photography-series/

Date: 2015

By: Bruce Louis Dodson (19??- )