Archive for July, 2022

Sunday, 31 July 2022

Making Quiltwork by Simon Joseph Ortiz

Like the coat of many colors, the letters, scraps,
all those odds and bits we live by, we have come
to know. Folks here live by the pretty quilts
they make, more than make actually, more than pretty.
They are histories, their lives and their quilts.
Indian people who have been scattered, sundered
into odds and bits, determined to remake whole cloth.
Nothing quits. It changes many times, sometimes
to something we don’t want, but we again gather
the pieces, study them, decide, make decisions again,
yes, and fit them to color, necessity, conditions,
taste and choice, and start again. Our lives are quilts,
letters, odds and bits, scraps, but always the thread
loving through them, compassionate knowledge
that what we make is worth it and will outlast
anything that was before and will be worthy
of any people’s art, endeavor, and final triumph.

Here, look at my clothes, quilts, coats of many colors!


Date: 2002

By: Simon Joseph Ortiz (1941- )

Saturday, 30 July 2022

Song for An Asian American Radical: Yuri Kochiyama by David Mura

I open the door
and there she stands hectoring me

about Malcolm X.
Says impatiently there’s no time

for sumiye or sake,
exigencies of meter, rhyme.

She’s so tiny, I’m so
unknowing, the fractions enormous,

all those years of fires
in Philly, Detroit, Oakland, Harlem, Watts.

Behind her the night
stalks its stars beyond history

and I know if I shut
this door each time she vanishes farther

till nothing remains
but silence and sleep.

Reader you may think
in the end I’ll let her in.  Don’t

count on it.  That’s
why she keeps knocking

night after night.


Date: 2014

By: David Mura (1952- )

Friday, 29 July 2022

On Silence by Jorie Pepper Graham

I think I am probably in love with silence,
that other world.

And that I write, in some way,
to negotiate seriously with it.

If poems are records of true risks
(attempts at change)
taken by the soul of the speaker,
then, as much as possible, my steps are towards silence.

Silence which drowns us out,
but also which ignores us, overrides us, silence,
which is doubt, madness, fear,
all that which makes the language bend and slip.

I need to feel the places where the language fails,
as much as one can.

Silence which is awe or astonishment,
the speech ripped out of you.

All forms of death and mystery, therefore, working in each poem
against the hurry of speech,
the bravery of speech.

And I think it is very important to feel the presence of that ocean in the poem,
in the act of writing the poem.
Its emissaries are the white space, of course,
the full stops.

But, also, all acts of grammar,
which are its inroads.
And the way the lines break,
or slow. I’d like to think you can feel, by its accurate failures,
the forces pressing against the sentence,
the time order. And certain kinds of words, too,
are messengers of silence.

Not just vagueness and inaccuracy, but prepositions
and conjunctions, for instance; and diction
deliberately flattened to deaden

And certain sounds that deepen and slow
the poem
into sounds
you can’t hear –all the long vowels
in the sharp teeth of consonants.

And echoes, and what is said by implication, by default …

Because there is, of course, always the desire, the hope,
that they are not two separate worlds,
sound and silence, but that they become each other,

that only our hearing fails.


Date: 1983

By: Jorie Pepper Graham (1952- )

Thursday, 28 July 2022

Dictator by Melissa Stein

The quail are back: the big quail,
and the smaller quail, scurrying
to keep up. They’re pecking in the garden,
rooting for seeds or grubs or whatever
quail root for. They’re absurd, these birds,
apostrophes bobbing from their heads,
burbling staccato in their collective fright.
Each time I see them, I feel lulled
lazy, enormous. Each time it’s like
watching puzzle pieces of myself
scattering for their lives,
and yet here I am, above it all,
leaning against the porch railing,
sipping a cool glass of lemonade, coolly
noting that for all the terror of their collective flight
it sounds like nothing so much as umbrellas opening.


Date: 2010

By: Melissa Stein (19??- )

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Gwydion’s Loss of Llew by Ellen Kushner

When I came to the house
You were gone from the hall.
Your cup and knife-handle were cold to touch.
The leaf-red fire warmed no one’s hands.
No harpstring trembled of your passing.
The bowstring was long lax.
No one sang in the house,
And when I set my ears into the wind of the hall,
All I could hear was,
I am cold . . . I am cold . . .
It is October.

In the hills it was the same.
I know you loved them,
The crisp, clear trees,
Each with its own color,
Its own pattern twisted in the branches.
You have not seen them this year;
Though they are each as tall and straight as you,
Their numbers as great as your soul,
Yet you are not among them.

The wind tangles the net of branches
That holds it and cannot hold it;
The wind tangles the web
Of color stroked with black,
Lashing it across the sky.
My feet catch on ground-fruit,
Roots, dropped branches, brittle leaves.
If you are up there among the leaves
I cannot tell
If you have become the many
If you are the one —

Then the wind blows the net open
And all I see is sky.
Oh, Llew, be not gone from me!
I would renounce them,
Wind, leaf, and tree
If I could find you
In a place where nothing grows.


Date: 1982

By: Ellen Kushner (1955- )

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Contraindication by Pamilerin Jacob

Unfortunately, I enjoy blasphemy.
My nightmares will kill me before God does.

What is a nightmare but what God does
to the trees, hiding paper in their pith?

Were I a tree with paper in my pith
I would not miss my chance to be useful.

Elegant as a plume, my chance to be useful
is no bigger than my need to be dead.

Though God is bigger than my need to be dead
I am, in all, the scratch he cannot reach.

I am, in all, the scratch I cannot reach
Because the ache is wider than my life.

Lord, your grace is wider than my life—
Unfortunately, I enjoy blasphemy.


Date: 2022

By: Pamilerin Jacob (19??- )

Monday, 25 July 2022

A Love Reckless by Cate Lycurgus

There may be virtue in restraint—: in distance, drinking,
or—like the child left to cry—in letting your savings
be. How, if you hold still enough to sense the veins’
valves click shut up & down both arms, the colt might
cool off. His pace slows to staccato steps, to deep heaves
beside the fence. Advocate for control—
but try telling this to daddy’s girl as she fords the border
piggy-back; maintain the merit of reserves despite a shattered
piggy-bank, an overdraft for diapers. SNAP. One might
at another frisk, another cellmate yet to return;
& if the brush were not on fire, I’d rather have two birds
in it. Today needs a little hum on hand, so I lift
my alto. Closed fist. Raise all my sugar crimson
to hang on the closest eave. Restraint is faith
in abundance—just another way to say tomorrow, more
where that came from. But iron filings leap & thistle—
who doesn’t magnet to earth? I love you so much, I run
through the house licking the rim of every cup your lips might have
touched. I’m calling & hanging up, calling again—mouth
open, lip snagged like a largemouth bass. Have no angle
in this gape or way to temper my flail when—we’re drawn down
every day. You are the uproar at the end of my cherry slushie
& this is practically holy. I am not afraid.


Date: 2021

By: Cate Lycurgus (19??- )

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Orb Weaver by Jennifer K. Sweeney

I’m particular as an eye,
unwritten as a lament,
teeth in my net,
I sing in circles a rare
Labyrinth, sheath,
water laces me
into being.
I am the cold
morning light halved
like relief.
Sculpture and silence.
Isinglass, air—
all matter
comes from me, the wind
unspools milk
from the pods,
it strips the palms bare,
but cage, cage,
I hold a little
pocket of gravity, I hold
rainbow-quick, the rope
and swallow.


Date: 2022

By: Jennifer K. Sweeney (19??- )

Saturday, 23 July 2022

Anonymity by Anne Atik

These strollers here under the arcades,
these anonymous passersby,
how would you greet them if met at parties
except in banter?
“Are you vegetarian? Virgo?
Rhesus? An alto?
Mesomorphic? Melancholic? Here’s
someone sanguine. Phlegmatic?
Rheumatic? Optimist? You must be my-
opic. Blotto? Sit down. A zero? Now, now.”
But no, they walk past each other,
step out each in his rectangle
that isolates one from another.
These strangers whose blood types may be incompatible
walk down together, unmindful of any danger;
in fact some of them stroll hand in hand.
They navigate, swarm,
free to not give their name,
through what only cities make possible,
flow and reflux as home.
Throngs of the meanwhile, the now, the soon,
of a lovely day in decline.

From: Atik, Anne, “Anonymity” in Ploughshares, Vol. 32, No. 4, Winter 2006/2007, p. 9.

Date: 2006

By: Anne Atik (1932-2021)

Friday, 22 July 2022

Believing in Dreams by Thomas Brush

For everything that has lost
Everything, for the derelict’s mad smile and the broken shoes
In the continual rain
Of the alley, for the broken
Hips of all my fathers lying alone
In the forgotten hotels, for the fresh initials
On the wandering walls, for the shot and dying
Wolves and their last splintered vision
O f the one cold moon, for the first
Blue fog entering my daughter’ s
Still lungs, for the burnt and blackened
Sides of the sun, for this place
And now, I stay
Where I am, believing
In dreams.

From: Brush, Thomas, “Believing in Dreams” in Poetry Northwest, Vol. 16, No. 4, Winter 1975-1976, pp. 3-4.

Date: 1975

By: Thomas Brush (19??- )