It is a grand street, but I don’t live here.

Not one doorstep stands to shield

me from the harsh rain,

its drab grey tone is a solemn tune.

This is no song worth remembering.

 

Well-kept bikes clatter and topple

under ornate eaves and lush drenched boughs,

stacks of shiny metal frames; jewels

to the children who live in my borough.

I came here to walk and dream.

 

These streets, paved with peppered-stone,

glisten in a loose wild strip of light.

Old street lamps from a bygone time,

stand the tests of gusts and sky spills.

While walking the bare street before me,

never have I felt more alone than now.

 

Doors are rotten mouths,

they shout in wooden frames, “Get out,

you don’t fit here, what’s a sunny

old girl like you doing in these parts?”

 

I look at my sixty-year-old reflection,

windows darken by the ill-shaped

shadows of deformed tree limbs

that heave fists with hard stone knuckles.

Leaves snap and plummet,

leaving some to droop on green threads.

 

This summer’s rain spell is bitter,

time slows. But I will not run or rush

my step, even if there’s no sun that bears

no mind to furnish a glow above my head.  
              

 

Joining the Army

I want to be a stormtrooper, combat ready,

filled with purpose: reason, unfolding.

Pride of place my photo will stand at my parents’ home

where the smell of cornbread and okra drifts.

 

Filled with purpose: reason, unfolding.

I’m apt to fit into the realm of things

where the smell of cornbread and okra drifts.

Into the fray, I will go with my brothers behind me.

 

I’m apt to fit into the realm of things.

At the front, fear will beg me to retreat and hide.

Into the fray, I will go with my brothers behind me.

It wasn’t always so; white troops didn’t crave a black man with a gun.

 

At the front, fear will beg me to retreat and hide,

the honour of duty and service will nudge me through.

It wasn’t always so; white troops didn’t crave a black man with a gun.

With an upright gait, I’ll march and sing “Onward Christian Soldiers”.

 

The honour of duty and service will nudge me through,

commands must spur my stride, no time to tire.

With an upright gait, I’ll march and sing “Onward Christian Soldiers”.

No cosh, no baton, no bullet will touch my temple.

 

Commands must spur my stride, no time to tire.

Pride of place my photo will stand at my parents’ home.

No cosh, no baton, no bullet will touch my temple.

I want to be a stormtrooper, combat ready.

 

*This poem is written in the form of a pantoum. The stormtrooper term refers to the fictional soldier; a super soldier, not the Stormtroopers who were specialist soldiers of the German Army in World War I.

“Onward, Christian Soldiers” is a 19th-century English hymn. The words were written by Sabine Baring-Gould in 1865. The song has been associated with protest against the established order, particularly in the case of the Civil Rights Movement.

 

Breaking Free

A roof sinks while floors rise.

The trencherman’s power is

the confines of narrowness.

“Others” stand threadbare,

 slinging ophidians,

elbows nudge slipstreams of air.

 

They kneel on a jagged platform’s edge

where toes have freedom of movement.

A splenetic tone ignites to warn,

a reply of deep breaths

reshapes the realm spent of longing.

 

Arms move towards solemn hearts,

drenched by solemnity,

and then outwards, curved to embrace.

Harsh light blinds and binds,

no darkness for dreams,

time has etched it from the sphere,

but in the distance evergreens grow.

 

White clothed torsos hide shame,

guilt and a greedy

emptiness impossible to sate.

Asthenia bodies stir with wide-awake eyes,

renewed, they heave and fold lissome metal.

 

A callous-cold ceiling cracks; flakes like plaster.

Bruised skins smash the prison-cube.

Fate is no longer sealed within walls.

Existence lives in shared senses.

 

A new day begins on a rope-clad precipice.

Raw-red suffering is denied a lonesome death.

Doors burst open to a penetralia

to greet those who have struggled free.

 

Maroula Blades (photo by Graham Hains) is an Afro-British multifaceted artist living in Berlin. She was nominated for the Amadeu Antonio Prize 2019 for her educational multimedia project “Fringe”. The Swiss Jan Michalski Foundation for Literature supported the project. She was the first runner-up in the 2018 Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award. Works were published in The Caribbean Writer, Thrice Fiction, The Freshwater Review, Midnight & Indigo, Abridged, The London Reader, So It Goes, Newfound Journal, Harpy Hybrid Review among others. Chapeltown Books (UK) released her story collection The World in an Eye, 2020. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Poetrykitchen/, https://twitter.com/m_blades, and http://www.poetrykitchen.com/.

I

When cries

Sprinkled on the feet of tyrants

They were swept away

When bones sailed the Atlantic

Dreams drowned

Into the womb of the sea

II

Ears are thirsting;

There are neither proverbs

Nor wisdom to sip from

Eyes now mother the ocean

Souls temples

Species of depression

Hope hung between two teeth;

Life and death

III

May our aborted dreams

Decay into dust

So fingers of tomorrow

Sculpt them into art.

Arise


Arise o spirits of the Niger rivers

Set free your waves

Let our scarce flee away

Arise o palate of the gods

Dye your tears into inks

And rewrite our story

Arise

It is time to water your seeds for a new sprout.


Mohammed Salihu is a young Nigerian writer. He holds a Certificate in Creative Writing from Wesleyan University and is presently pursuing his bachelor’s degree at the University of the West of Scotland.  One of Mohammed’s poem was selected by UNICEF to mark World Children’s Day 2020. His writing has appeared in: Fahmidan Journal, Poetic Duel, Praxis Magazine, and elsewhere. He can be found on twitter at https://twitter.com/Ameer_salihu and on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/mohammed_salihu_/

what is a necktie if not a symbol
of white male domination
and decades of cultural oppression?
 
amid diminishing colonial powers
the archaic rules remain
codified in the house of parliament
 
in the land of the young and the free
where the day of invasion
is still a celebrated national holiday
 
when the indigenous leader stands
to speak he is silenced
but refuses to submit to their yoke
 
the issue is bigger than dress codes
it’s about conformity
a whitewashing of past and present
 
what is business attire for one man
is the noose of another
 
‘take the noose
from around my neck
so that I can sing
my song’ – MP Rawiri Waititi
 
 
 

J. Archer Avary (he/him) is a chameleon, a product of his environment, a restless wanderer. In past lives he was a TV weatherman, punk rock drummer, champion lionfish hunter, ocean conservationist. At age 44, he still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. Maybe a poet? He is the editor of Sledgehammer Lit. His recent work can be found in Journal of Erato, The Daily Drunk, Skyway Journal, and HASH Journal. He lives on a tiny island in the English Channel. He can be found on twitter at https://twitter.com/j_archer_avary

Standing in front of the gold feline pendant,

I recalled one of my previous incarnations.

The jewelry had belonged to me

and now it was on display in the Museum of Fine Arts,

where I and others stared at it.

I remembered the prescient feeling I had

as a Nubian queen and the accompanying vision

of seeing my pendant in a glass box

and noticing strange-looking humans

wearing funny clothes, eyeing my jewelry with admiration.

I recalled even seeing myself as I currently am

with my tortoise shell glasses, pink-dyed hair,

nose-stud, and black leather jacket,

though of course I didn’t know it would be me.

I cried out and when my royal sister heard

what I was worried about,

she reassured me it was just a hallucination.

She said that my pendant would be buried with me,

along with other cherished possessions.

Suddenly, my present self sighed for my lost kingdom,

the smooth ebony skin I was once had,

and the pendant I now wouldn’t be able to touch

without the alarm piercing the silence.

I clicked a picture to carry with me for this lifetime,

but one of my stray hairs swam in front of the lens.

I fished it out and as I clicked a second time,

I remembered unfastening the cat pendant for the last time,

not knowing it wouldn’t accessorize my clothes again.



Cherishing Their Freedom


Her ancestors come to her in dreams,

in the ships that forced the waves apart to these shores,

in the chains that bound them before they their spirits were broken.

They speak in their African languages,

but strangely she understands them.

They cherish the same thing as she does,

something they slowly stopped taking for granted

and longed for their descendants and themselves to have.

She hears their prayers whispered and chanted through the centuries,

in their quarters, in the fields, in the forests and mountains,

where they escaped with packs of dogs on their bleeding heels.

Her nose smells the drops of sweat from toil

that soaked their clothes or dripped from their backs.

She sees their dances of matrimony,

the brooms they jumped over,

and their children born free

until the young ones learned they really weren’t.

Her ancestors visit her again without the clanking chains

and the scars that mapped their miseries.

Their bodies glisten with perfection,

the downward droop of their necks and spines

replaced with a posture that speaks of blissful afterlife living.

They gaze at her house, the books lining the shelves,

the silk that swishes against her calves,

the ruby against her dark throat, the beads on her braids,

the chilled glass clinking with ice

and they tell her to sometimes sing their songs of slavery

and celebrate their deeds and then they laugh with her,

happy they’re all free now, the dead and the living,

though she knows liberation doesn’t yet mean equal justice.



Tara Menon is an Indian-American writer based in Lexington, Massachusetts.  Her most recent poems have appeared in: Emrys Journal Online, Indolent Books, Wards Literary Magazine, Art in the Time of Covid-19 (ebook published by San Fedele Press), Rigorous, Infection House, The Inquisitive Eater, and The Tiger Moth Review. Menon’s latest fiction has been published in Evening Street Review, The Bookends Review, and Rio Grande Review.  She is also a book reviewer and essayist whose pieces have appeared in many journals, including Adanna Literary Journal, The Courtship of Winds, The Petigru Review, Boston Globe, Green Mountains Review, and The Kenyon Review.

The trees threw away their clothes waiting for harmattan.
He never came.  Who locked the gates of wind?  The sun
 
boiled the oranges into rust & the birds grew gills to swim
the heat.  How many twirling fans died that year when we
 
gathered swollen leaves from sun baked drains?  Even the
air conditioning breathed like a bloated river.  The price
 
of water went up; even kisses were hard to come by.  The
houses grew lean with thirst no matter how greedily they
 
sucked on our skins.  The rivers all looked askance; they
were wet with the sun’s tears yet they could not run.
 
Sometimes the clouds peeped through the keyhole & threw
their laundry water through the window.  Sometimes they
 
gathered as if ready to conquer a city then they fled.  Who
pursued them from the battlefield, does anyone know?
 
Some old wives said if you open your door at noon, the
devil was there cooking.  Who dragged hell closer to
 
here?  Who knew what wounded the wings of dust; they
never did rise with the sun.  Nobody heard the siren of the
 
Sahara.  It was said someone tied her lips with the footprints
of immigrants & terrorists.  Some said she choked on the
 
bones of old sand dunes tired of waiting for the sea.  It was
green into January & he had no teeth to eat December’s
 
children.  Now they are raising the portcullis in the kingdom
of rain.  There must be a war in the heavens because
 
harmattan never came.
 
 
 

Osahon Oka is a Nigerian poet who sees writing as an opportunity to experiment with language, a way to show the world what he thinks, and a means to offer a reflection of his lived reality. His writing has appeared in several literary spaces including, but not limited to, Jalada Africa, Lit Quarterly, Lucky Jefferson, Down River Road Review, Dust Poetry Magazine, Lit Break Magazine, Afreecan Read, and elsewhere. He serves as Lead Correspondent at Praxis Magazine. He can be reached on twitter at https://twitter.com/OsahonOka

I remember in high school, explaining to friends

the racism of the cartoon, Speedy Gonzales. His

“arriba arriba” grito just a Chicano shuck and jive.

His campesino hat too big for even the sombrero dance.

And don’t even get me spit balling about Slowpoke

Rodriguez, Speedy’s boozed out cousin from el campo.


It can be hard telling your friends, in the warmup

layup line before basketball practice, that

imagining being different than the people who came

before them is scary, but may signal a reckoning

a Clyde Frazier crossover of potential.


Then the coach, plastic whistle in the corner

of his mouth like a chewed stub three day old

cigar, asking, “What are you guys talking about?”


And George, the fearless one with a strong baseline move

to the rim, says, “the perpetuation of stereotypes

in our culture.” Which made me smile all the way down

to my Pumas. This was like watching the firemen

arriving at the fire with their gear ready for business.


There are surprises and amazements left in life.


But the coach licked his thin train rail lips,

The whistle dangling covered in spit, “let’s

focus on our practice, our game.” The world is such

an imperfect place consider the ant-eater, the mole.


I am sure the coach was who he told us he was. And

when he spoke sometimes all the team heard

were the bubbles coming out of his head. His

smile looked like it pained his face.


Mota


My favorite word to say in Español

es mota. It is the final word of a wild song

on a long road through

Aztlán tequila lime kisses.

It’s the pan dulce and café

on a cold morning.

 

In college I’d sing the word

with emphasis and my gringo friends

asked, “what’s that?”

I could not suppress my giggles

and belted out the word

blues style slower, louder, dragging

the two syllables over sleeping

dogs, “you sabe, moh….tah.”

 

I often helped others with their

Español tarea. Them thanking me, asking,

“where did you learn to speak Spanish

so good? Really? You don’t look

Mexican…..aren’t you Jewish?”

 

My Spanish was not perfect, but it must

have sounded like a Chavela Vargas ballad

ripped full of damage and desire

to their gringo and gringa ears.

 

Once in high school a teacher yelled

that I spoke Spanish on purpose. His words

confusing and silencing me. And each day

in class I reckoned the smoldering power

of his border raged words.

 

My mother asked why I did not recognize

the historical patterns of oppression. She smiled

when she asked. But it was a counterfeit grin.

 

Español was the idioma

in my grandparents’ casa in Douglas.

 

Espanol was the gritos of my grandfather

and tíos as they watched the 8 millimeter

boxing films my grandfather kept in alpha

order in an old shoe box (Canto, Cuevas, Duran).

Español was the weekly phone conversations

between my mother and grandmother on Sunday

afternoons when church ended.

 

Mota is a one word narrative

of mystery and rebellion. The word

that begins the discovery that no

one is who they want to be.

 

Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith was born in Mérida, Yucatán, and raised in Tucson, Arizona. Growing up in a biracial, bilingual home near the frontera, and then teaching high school English for 28 years in a large urban school with a diverse student body created many experiences rich in voice and imagination. His poetry has appeared in Fissured Tongue, Amuse-Bouche (Lunch Ticket), the anthology America We Call Your Name, and in other publications as well. Kelly, his wife of almost 30 years, carefully edits his work. He can be found at https://www.facebook.com/chris.goldsmith.16

I stand in an American Foursquare

two and a half stories tall

in a space a thousand miles from where lines of my blood have shed.

Currently, I am the last step.

I look up to my ascendants,

though now they are all down in the ground,

wondering if I’ve descended or ascended.

Strayed far from their grace,

in attempts to reach levels that they could not.

With each step,

each lifeline,

my bloodline has shortened.

My greatest ascendant,

great grandmother Neva Nell

nearly six feet tall,

baked the sweetest of sweet potato pies

from her two bedroom, one story Henderson kitchen

where bitter tea in a round red pot sat on her gas stove.

Red was the dirt along East Texas

all the way up north to Texas’ hat.

She cleaned white men’s estates and

cooked their dinner for her dimes,

making their spots shine,

while her daughter was raised by her mother.

Weekend burger dates,

then back to work.

Her daughter’s cries had to be denied

to earn what bits she could give.

Back to work,

back to back.

The same work ethic was not lacked

by her daughter

who left middle-of-nowhere Rusk county and ventured to the big city of Houston –

Texas Southern University

Black excellence sought and obtained by those whose names remained

ignored and exchanged for ‘girl’ and ‘boy.’

Itty bitty, five foot tall Ressie Mae worked

but could not make the grades.

She married a soldier

made a 3-bedroom one-story house a home

with her husband and child.

Not too shabby, not too fancy –

a happy middle class.

As white flight took off

Ressie Mae wasn’t too far behind

after Prince Charming revealed himself to be a Beast.

Laws left her with the home

upkept by work

work, work, work

Waitressing in a diner,

janitor at banks and businesses

night school in nursing

grades never made

stuck scrimping, saving, and fighting

to hold onto the next step.

A second story of her one story.

A life far from the red dirt roots

to sustain the livelihood

where little Alicia flourished

like the landscaping Ressie Mae planted

of banana plants, roses, and ivy.

Her new roots were to stay, at least for one more generation.

The third story is that of little Alicia.

She never made five feet tall,

but lived larger than life itself.

Neva Nell’s girls appeared to slope down from her tall frame

their drastic drop in height jarring to see.

Resemblances lying in moles, smiles, and cheeks.

Deadbeat daddies’ phenotype dominates

but the mighty matriarch mentality moves the line forward

with relentless dedication to thrift and laborious night and days.

The house’s interior unchanged from 1960.

Outdated, but pristine,

the lawn meticulous, but never gaudy.

Little Alicia in uniforms, praying hands, and parochial school

paid for by a relentless mama

who would not allow the line to backslide.

Stepping forward to attain that which her mama could not grasp

as her mother before her,

and her mother before her.

A graduate of Texas Southern University

with an English degree

And membership in Delta Sigma Theta,

a historically Black Greek sorority.

A banker, a teacher, a janitor

because nothing in the big city comes cheap.

Neither do law school dreams 

that she’d sadly never achieve.

Application declined.

I was the second generation born and raised at 11214 Jutland Rd

two hundred miles and three generations away from 1000 Wilson St.

I was the second to put on a uniform and pray my way into educational opportunities.

Another step forward

With each generation there would be an ascension of a descendant,

though not in physical inches.

Another step forward

to the dreams deferred for the one before.

A top Texas scholar, I left home to pursue

that which I could not see, but what I hoped was out there for me.

Graduate school

Another step up

But did I step up,

Or step away?

Praying ended once I left parochial school

Five schools,

Four majors,

Three states

Two graduate programs

One failed marriage

One baby boy

I broke the line of ladies

Bought a two-story house one thousand miles away from home base

My tethers had their lifelines snapped at

78, 72, and 31

I was 11, 23, and 6

Did I run to the future they wanted for me?

Or away from the future I feared would be?

I’m living a repeat of working night and day,

As a single mother

To not only provide,

but to elevate

They held such strength

I felt that I could fly

so I leapt

knowing the ripcord safety net belay were in place

Until they weren’t

Freedom in Their Bindings

Stacks

lines on shelves

organized by the predilections of the ladies of the house

grandmother, mother, daughter

Mrs. Sirles, Ms. Sirles, and Ms. Lyons

in their living room stood a large homemade bookcase

boards cut and sanded

taking up an entire wall

nearly eight feet tall

plain

without paint

housing the paper and heavy boards

printed letters to elevate

escape

educate

the bookcase was the handiwork of matriarch Mrs. Sirles

she had more books than she could ever read

more books than she’d ever need

in possessing them I believe she felt freed

or possibly attaining a key

to a world denied her,

but access granted to descendants

doors unlocked

barriers unblocked

by words both living and dead

A’Ja Lyons was born and raised in Sunnyside, the oldest African-American community in southern Houston, Texas. Her writing centers on self-reflection and analysis. A’Ja was a book reviewer and column contributor for Pennsylvania Diversity Network’s Valley Gay Press, as well as an article contributor for Gallaudet University’s The Buff and Blue. A’Ja’s work has been published in Sinister Wisdom 85’s Youth/Humor issue, and the Lucky Jefferson digital zine, Awake. She is the proud mother of an athletically gifted and animal-loving child. She can be found at https://twitter.com/ajalyonsroars and https://www.facebook.com/ajalyonsroars

Mofongo is the epitome of
Puerto Rican cooking.
It is smashed plantains immersed
in loads of garlic and
Puerto Rican soul.
It is salsa and ritmo. It is plena and
bomba… it is blackness
that lives in our food.
No matter the efforts of the
Spanish to erase the Boricuas,
to whiten them via colonialism,
mofongo, pasteles, and the
countless dishes are additions
to our culture and proof otherwise.
That subverts the notion and
attempts of blanquimiento.
Because this food tells a different
story from the dominant narrative.
 
Mofongo is made in a mortar
and pestle, en un pilón, with the strength
of pulsating hands and strong arms
of the matriarch, who grinds ingredients
together. In this friction, I listen to
the stories available.
This culinary process reveals the
whispers of our ancestors from the
coastal towns and mountainous
campos of the island, across the
Wide Caribbean Sea.
 
Mofongo is the taste of
smashed plantains immersed
in loads of garlic and salt
con chicharrones
epitomizing the
Puerto Rican soul.
It is the archipelago,
the smell of banana leaves
swaying under the sun.
It is diaspora. It is power.
It is an archive of taste and memory.
 
 

Keishla Rivera-Lopez is a poet, writer and scholar. She received a PhD in American Studies at the Graduate School-Newark at Rutgers University where she was a 2019-2020 Dean’s Dissertation Fellow. She was born and raised in Newark, NJ to Puerto Rican migrants and reflects on what it means to be a child of diaspora in her scholarship and writing. Currently, Dr. Rivera-Lopez is an Assistant Professor of English and Latinx Literatures and Cultures at Millersville University. Keishla enjoys writing poetry, short-stories, and essays from her travel and everyday experiences as a Puerto Rican woman. She also enjoys experimenting with different sazons and sofritos, hiking, dancing and traveling. Find her at https://twitter.com/Ohh_Kei

(On May 31, 1959—as she lay dying at the Metropolitan Hospital in New York, aged 44—Billie Holiday was arrested, handcuffed, and put under police guard for possession of narcotics.)


This busy bee, at the end of a life like clockwork,

a symphony of service to everything but herself—

wings snatched in a world blinded by the way it is—

slowly expiring in the sweet nectar of stillness, stung

with bittersweet poison, an alchemy of blinded faith.


And even this they could not abide.

Their white-hot burden, unappeasable,

like anti-gravity drawing light inside

its sense of self: righteous, obdurate,

enfeebled from all their inherited fears.


Who are these men that know nothing

about the blues? Inspiring jinxed history

with officious ink—corrections bled red

outside the margins, ignored or overcome—

their shared voice, warning: Be more like me.


Or worse still, stay separate, apart, unheard;

entitled or at least allowed to live: strange fruit

that rots inside dark spaces, or gets torn down

from trees, weeping their weary psalms of silence,

caustic smoke signals blown from burning crosses.


What do they know about beauty, their hatred the only thing

honest about them? What do they know about the helpless

ones: helpless for song, helpless for love, helpless for a fix,

helpless for joy, helpless for hope? God bless the child that

backward men would scorn, ignore, or erase—if they could.


Sean Murphy has appeared on NPR‘s “All Things Considered” and has been quoted in USA Today, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and AdAge. A long-time columnist for Pop Matters his work has also appeared in Salon, The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, The Good Men Project, Memoir Magazine, and others. His chapbook, The Blackened Blues, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and served as writer-in-residence of the Noepe Center at Martha’s Vineyard. He’s Founding Director of 1455 (www.1455litarts.org). To learn more, and read his published short fiction, poetry, and criticism, please visit seanmurphy.net/ and https://twitter.com/bullmurph

Wearing a black dress she

bobs in and out of rolling waves

and swells. Daily sea bath.

Sea foam sprays and hugs

her frock. Still fully dressed,

she rinses off at the outdoor

shower. Fresh water cascades,

rivulets spiral down to bare

feet.



Now dry and on her way down

Avenida Tacna she stops at the

plaza. Her black shoes, laced up

neatly, show signs of wear and

tear. A street canillita deftly

buffs her shoes, almost new

using rags and bits of

cardboard.


Most women in town wear

mantillas, go to misa often.

Her veil is solid black. No lace

frames her ivory face. She

is well known, but never

seen at church. Doña Maria is

the despenadora, the one who

takes care of the suffering.

La que quita penas.


We all run to the window,

peering above the cornice

and spot her porcelain profile

as she stops in front of the

ornate iron gate of our casona.

Our doorman lets her in. The

entire family is waiting in the

sala de estar. My uncle, dressed

impeccably in a black suit, stands

stiffly. His starched white collar

frames his long stern face.


He hands her a tiny wrapped

bundle, she quickly hides it

within her bosom, discreetly

looking away. He gestures towards

the bedroom.


Doña Maria’s heels click softly

over the ornate azulejo tiles.

She slowly backs her way into

the bedroom using both hands,

carefully drawing the french

doors closed.


We wait and wait.


The adults go in, I catch a

glimpse of my grandfather

laying there. No more moans

and heavy gusts of breath.

Bedding is neatly tucked, ivory

sheets tightly folded under his arms.

A giant gift wrap. Long bony

fingers splay out like branches

of the algarrobo tree. His face

is drawn, eyes now closed.

Bundles of palo santo burn

in a bowl next to his bedside

table. The aroma floats out,

thick white plumes of smoke slowly

make their way up, towards the

tall colonial ceilings.


Veronica Scharf Garcia was born in Concepcion, Chile and lived in several countries of South America, as well as Africa and the Middle East. She continues her itinerant life now in Europe. Her last home base was California, three years ago. Scharf Garcia has read her poetry at the Miami Book Fair, the Rosemary Duffy Larson Gallery in Florida, the OHI Center in San Diego, and at The Table in Hollywood. Her poems and artwork are published in various books and literary journals. She can be found at https://www.facebook.com/veronica.s.garcia.79 and https://www.instagram.com/verogoart/

“Control, prosecute, sanction” –  

These are the words of the French President on October 2, 2020.

Peculiar echo,

unintended I presume,

to Discipline and Punish by Foucault.

It seems that the image of war is the favorite of our Republic en marche,

at the heart of all speeches.

The first time,

in celebration of those who were closest to the hospital reality during the health crisis.

These were gone

at the “front”,

we were told.

I did not know that the choice of the white blouse meant that of the military dress.

If the nurses,

agents of hospital services are in a fight,

for years now,

it’s that of a cry,

yet neglected

and violently repressed,

when,

marching,

in the French streets,

worn voices,

despair,

denounce the lack of resources,

call for the need for humane and decent treatment.

But no,

we don’t want this struggle,

a tackle,

a face to the ground under police violence,

and a ticket for

“the front”.

Congratulations and applause by way of gifts and then of coats of arms,

for service to the nation.

The war resumes today,

“It’s time!”

they said.

In schools,

public spaces,

associations.

Aux armes citoyens

sounds like we are sinking.

Strange smell,

like that of a detergent,

a sort of purification,

but warning,

“republican” only.

So in the name of right and freedom,

they’ll go,

“control,

prosecute,

and sanction”.

War against Islamist separatism,

neologism in a French style,

for a Franco-French delirium.

An Islamist separatism,

which we must fight against,

Who is we here anyway?

This is how the stage play,

of a republic called “en actes”,

goes.

More controls,

neutrality,

and education,

against the evils of religion.

A new government,

and a vocabulary now in use in cottages:

separatism,

barbarism,

ensauvagement,

literally ‘the getting wild’

of a fragment of the French population.

Sounds like Hidden Forces.

France is contaminated

and apparently it’s not a pretty sight,

it is swarming on all sides.

So school at home is over,

unless for exceptions.

Pay attention to associations,

which are a nest,

we are told,

of Islamist separatism.

But the law will become an alchemist,

they opt for a right of dissolution.

Based on what criteria?

I will be asked.

“Republican principles,

come on!”

Political strategy in the run-up to elections?

Xenophobia is naturalized,

rational,

no need for Le Pen,

Macron is in charge,

Darmanin is on the clock.

The media saturate the public space,

new wording and wordling appear,

stronger than ever,

rickety,

the Republic struts around,

takes up arms.

Occupied territory,

a people to preserve,

new barbarians to educate,

civilize,

awaken,

to the soft and sweet light of our know-how.

More costs,

shots,

more discrimination,

vulnerability.

In the face of the law,

in the face of these in charge of its enforcement,

in the face of police forces,

in the face of its fellow citizens,

in his own country,

a french muslim,

cannot but feel the untold role,

that will come for him or her,

in the Republic theatre piece.

 

Sarra Riahi is a third year student at Maastricht University (Netherlands). She is a French citizen of North African descent who is highly interested in postcolonial departures and critical studies. She plans to become a reporter, correspondent abroad, or opinion journalist. She views writing as a means to provide a critical analysis of current events that relate to colonial legacies. She can be found on https://www.linkedin.com/home

commonwealth

common    wealth

common    weal                                                          

commonstealth

common    steal

empire

imperial empress

impress lands where

sun never sets 

flagrant em   pyre

colonial protectorates

breached

smoke    sugar    cloth

bodies broken

stolen                                      

departing

de    parting

outward    bound

de    ported

de    parted

 

possession

dis    possession

over    seers

overseas

dominium

Latinate (no accident that)

dominant language

outcast

cast    out

outer    caste

out    lying

lying

em    pyre

far    flung

flung     far

farewell

fare    well

welfare

cast    away

outer    cast

holocaust

commonwealth

common    wealth

commonstealth

common    steal

commonhealth

common    heal         

                          

Lynnda Wardle was born in Johannesburg and has lived in Glasgow since 1998. Her own experiences of family, adoption, and immigration are the material she draws on when telling stories about identity and belonging. Her work has appeared in various publications including Glasgow Review of Books, Gutter, New Writing Scotland, thi wurd, New Orleans Review, PENning Magazine, and the Tales From a Cancelled Country Anthology. She is currently completing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow and working on a novel about Scottish emigration to Africa in the 1800’s. She can be found at https://twitter.com/lynndawardle5https://www.lynndawardle.com/

Nothing could be,

more off key,

than the lack of sympathy

we receive in this symphony.

But, you mustn’t miss a beat

because, although you may be

on the horns of a dilemma,

you have been instrumental

in this rhapsody.

I don’t mean to string you along,

but please note: Compose yourself.

Conduct yourself with vigilance;

play your own instrument;

and toot your own horn,

before the coda’s come

and gone.


Jack Conway’s poems have appeared in Poetry, The Antioch Review, The Hiram Poetry Review, The Columbia Review, “The Norton Book of Light Verse,” and other poetry journals and anthologies. His book, “Outside Providence: Selected Poems,” was published in 2016. He is also the author of seventeen nonfiction books and teaches English at a community college in Massachusetts.

Jazz was discovered by Black musicians,

but it was invented by light passing through outer space.


Look up at the sky, notice the moon during daytime,

like a scoop of vanilla lopped onto an invisible cone;


know that you are seeing not the moon of now,

but of 1.3 seconds ago. See through the night sky


and see the past, different pasts,

all shooting through the Universe’s cold blackness


like racing hands reaching to the human iris.

A billion light years here and there, a solo from Sirius.


Most people don’t know that when John Coltrane

wrote “A Love Supreme,” all he had to do was stargaze.


Matt Moment (he/they) is a writer and performer based in New York. He will be graduating from SUNY New Paltz this spring. Find him at https://www.instagram.com/matt_moment/

A Biko manifesto for the ages:

Black man you are on your own

In your own unmarked unknown grave

In your own land you do not own

With your own hands you own but lend to owners

With a job only to own bread

With the yield of your hand being owned

Forbid them to own your Black mind too


Black Token


Black man you died on your own

Only the Black skeleton is left

Your skin:

Baton-beaten,

Rope-ringfenced,

Gun-gashed,

Dog bite-dug,

Torture-torn,

Whip-whittled,

By slavery, coloniality, Apartheid, and continued oppression

Your skin skinned by old and new cacophonies of violence

Your skeleton — a witness to timeless tragedies befalling your skin


Sunny Africa


Rising in the Eastern Cape,

to awaken Biko’s consciousness

Setting in West Africa’s Ghana,

where Nkrumah settles for African unity

It heats the ripe red soil,

That warmly blankets sleeping souls,

Of Lumumba, Mandela and Nyerere

The Sun is African


Diliza L. Madikiza lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has published his work in various literary journals in South Africa and the UK. He has worked in the media and communications professions and, more recently, has been a lecturer at the University of South Africa in Communication Studies.