Monthly Archive for April, 2017

how black people play monopoly

Today, I challenge you to write a poem that incorporates the vocabulary and imagery of a specific sport or game.

our ancestors built almost everything on the board
but mostly, we never got to buy anything
or build on properties for ourselves
basically, we were sent directly to jail
and we did not pass go
and we never got $200
and we’re trying now
to not be pieces
anymore

how that baby came

write a poem that recounts a creation myth.

of course this is the prompt
on the day i remember
what i forgot
which i would never forget
but my life is so full

a child unwanted and unplanned
and not viable
not a child
not a myth
a bundle of cells
a body-gathering-into-concept of cells

a queer woman’s question of men
a barren woman’s only chance, perhaps
a young woman feeling her age
as the end of a dysfunctional fertility

this was never magic
i did not glow
the only thing i noticed on my own
was the smell of garbage everywhere
as this little one was lost inside me
destroying the tunnel of life with greed

my baby was so american
my baby never was
in a house i never owned
with a man i never married
and i had no degree, no savings
nothing at all really
nothing

and i still have such a full life
and i still refuse to pay the cost
the bills will have to wait for my grief
just like me

the big thank you

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds was the work of many many people and i wanted to properly thank them all. i wrote this book in several places so if i left you out of this list you just tell me and i will get you in here.

Rachel Plattus made my work come to life in the Emergent Strategy Handbook, so I commissioned five pieces from her for this book, they grace the cover pages of each section. she was also an early reader of the book.

Margaret Killjoy thank you for the beautiful layout which allowed all the kinds of things I wanted in the book to have their own place! and Herb Thornby for the cover of my dreams.

the entire team at Allied Media Projects, especially Nandi Comer and Toni Moceri for helping me adult, Monica Kish for keeping me out of jail, Mike Meadow and Jenny Lee for this political home, and Muna Danish for helping me create an online home for this work.

there were several people who took on the early work of reading and responding to the book drafts. some of them ended up sending editing notes that i just put verbatim into the book. others just made corrections in the clay as it spun. here is a list of those readers:

Autumn Brown
Clare Bayard
Celeste Faison
Dani McClain
Deborah Frieze
Hiram Rivera
Jodie Tonita
Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan
Omisade Burney-Scott
Rachel Plattus
Sage Crump
Shira Hassan
Staci Haines and Spenta Kandhawalla
Tunde Olaniran

and thank you Lorna at AK for the copy editss! there are the circle of readers who blurbed this book:

Alta Starr
Ayana Jamieson
Denise Perry
Elissa Perry
Makani Themba
Margaret Wheatley

and then there are the contributors, people i asked to gift me their poetry and reflections.

Adaku Utah
Adela Nieves
Aisha Shillingford
Aja Taylor
Alexis Pauline Gumbs
Allen Frimpong
Anna Martine Whitehead
Andrea Quijada
Ashinda Maxton
Autumn Brown
Ayana Jamieson
Beatriz Beckford
Bilen Birhanu
Brenda Salgado
Celeste Faison
chelsea cleveland
Chris Zizzamia
Chrislene DeJean
Cindy Weisner
Denise Perry
Dani McClain
Dara Cooper
Desiree Evans
Elizabeth Yeampierre
Hannah Sassaman
Harsha Walia
Holiday Simmons
Invincible ill Weaver
Jasmine Burnett
Jayeesha Dutta
Jay-Marie Hill
Jeanette Lee
Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey
Jidan Koon
Joan Morgan
Jodie Tonita
Jozi Zwerdling
Junauda Alma
Karen Joy Fowler
Karissa Lewis
Kasha Ho
Kat Aaron
Kiese Laymon
Laura Luna P
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Luzviminda Carpenter
Lynnée Denise
Malkia Cyril
Manish Vidaya
Marie Varghese
Megan Swoboda
Mervyn Marcano
Morgan Bassichis
Naima Penniman
Nia Robinson
Nicole Newman
Omisade Burney-Scott
Patrisse Khan-Cullors
Peter Hardie
Prentis Hemphill
Richard Strozzi-Heckler
Sendolo Diaminah
Sham-e-ali Nayeem
Shane Bernardo
Sharon Lungo
Sierra Pickett
Sofia Samatar
Supriya Pillai
Taj James
Tananarive Due
Tawana Petty
Terry Marshall
Toshi Reagon
Tunde Olaniran
Vassi Johri

blackeration

Today, I challenge you to write a poem that incorporates neologisms. What’s that? Well, it’s a made-up word!

blackeration:

to put black all over it

to imbue with black love
or dark magic

to uplift with hands to the heavens
sing the praises of
line dance in the direction of

in the face of pressure, to deny or hide,
to double down on blackness

to never apologize for being born

to slip south and east on a journey

to fill up with the vastness of the known universe

to move beyond construct and into
the familial realm
a territory marked by drum
and shared destiny

to move beyond bondage
deep within

to break the iron around the heart
and love children that may be taken
by violence that is later justified with half truths

and love neighbors who do not love themselves
because they were taught not to

and love strangers because you see in each other
survival rooted in patience and miracle

and love even the gnarled trail behind you
the whip and promise and theft and desire
that gave us blackness

nocturne for survivors

Today, I challenge you to write a nocturne.

it is the same
rivers moving through me at the speed of light
carrying the weight of oxygen
telling me live
even now i must be told
the pale whisper is old
but still present

what nearly took me waits for me
that great unending sadness
the well inside me that holds no water
echoes down and down
with memories of every time i said no
and was overcome
every time i claimed the miracle
and was discarded, mundane
every moment i gather a snapped noose,
tuck a hushed slight in my back pocket
accumulating my pain
our suffering
having to prove
all the time
the burden

and when night falls
sometimes we’re alone with the echoes
waiting for chariots
waiting, quiet,
with suitcases bulging all around us
all the detritus of now
all that we can’t leave behind
because no one believes us yet

dear dear dear

Your poem can be in the form of a letter to a person, place, or thing, or in the form of a back-and-forth correspondence.

dear expert
no one can be well here
no well person can break the skin
suck out the life into cloud
leave the house unoccupied and wasted
in the road

but it lives in all of us
this idea of death
of taking life because [reason]
you’ve either found your reason
or successfully avoided it

this is our black burden
every day we are given the sole
of the boot, of the white concept of self
we either learn to love the weight at our neck
or we fight
fair or unfair,
we are not immune to the war in the soil here

bottom of the circle

Because we’re halfway through NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that reflects on the nature of being in the middle of something.

the cycle moves top to bottom to top
east to west, back east again
now it feels we are lost in white space
invisible to modernity
it is impossible to imagine
a structure that could hold us all
that could be tender shelter for black life

maybe in the long gone
we rode the top of the cycle without awareness in small villages where the care was mutual, miracle
but we were at the bottom of the cycle
for generations

and then cycle turned also sideways
moving from left to right as we prayed
let there be
room to survive this
let there be
more life in this direction
even if I don’t know the way

nbecky dolezal

Because it’s Friday, let’s keep it light and silly today, with a clerihew. This is a four line poem biographical poem that satirizes a famous person.

an invitation to poetic shade?
mkay.

:

nbecky nbasic dolezal
makes of herself a new-rich fool
each day of her subtweeted life
longing for a sweet beyond buds, she falls

bonus:

45, who lost his name
and his dignity on the path to fame
was a fool with bloody hands
flowerless, more beast than man

there is no comfort

Today’s prompt is an oldie-but-a-goody: the ghazal. The form was originally developed in Arabic and Persian poetry, but has become increasingly used in English, after being popularized by poets including Agha Shahid Ali. A ghazal is formed of couplets, each of which is its own complete statement. Both lines of the first couplet end with the same phrase or end-word, and that end-word is also repeated at the end of each couplet.

There is no comfort inside a broken heart
no place to safely step in a shattered heart

There is no comfort where there is no power
stripped down to the bright red wounded heart

There were children walking that street, that field
now there’s only the bitter dust of mother’s heart

Every single day, all over this singular earth
we weaponize our minds against the heart

All the uniforms say ‘I will kill if I am told to’
Fingers taut, targeting anyone with freedom of the heart

Tell me, will you ever lose your acquired taste
for the raw flesh of a young and supple heart

And how long will we scream and beat our chests in anguish
Before we divest from all structures not rooted in the heart?

particular sounds of freedom

I’d like you to write a poem that explicitly incorporates alliteration (the use of repeated consonant sounds) and assonance (the use of repeated vowel sounds).

blurred blinding bliss! to
acknowledge the false accolades and
liberate the list of little lies
that shape your life

berate the behemoth blob
who can’t, or won’t, use the internet

blow away the blight of desire
accept the access you’ve been denying
you are kin, kindred, you came here already
and kept offering me kisses

lineage implies boldness in the meek
i must roar, though i am tiny
i just be nomad, lion, wandering so
i must not be as afraid as i thought
i am still here,
breathing