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National Poetry Month 2020

It’s a worldwide pandemic. All events and physical social interactions have been canceled. The world, in a mighty collaborative sacrifice, has wandered into our collective tombs after bearing our cross of isolation to save the world, and despite what the President would have wished, we will not be emerging by Easter Sunday. All that is left is silence and stillness with no interruption to be found. For the first time in human history since the dawn of the printing press, the writer is now the most evolutionary fit human organism on the planet. This is our time.

Today is the first day of National Poetry Writing Month, also affectionately called #NaPoWriMo, and I am eager to make my yearly contribution. I, as always, invite you, dear reader, to join along. Share your poems and comment with submissions and links. In this time of distance, let’s build bridges. Nay, let us write bridges! Inscribing community through experiences syllabically captured and spread across the presently crumbling internet. As it was last year, all styles of poetry are valid and welcome, though I will once focus on narrative, lyric, and imagery.

30 Poems for 30 Days, Again

  • Avoid the Meadow (4/1/2020) - So, we have to be very careful Lest we like the land become conquered Colonized and gentrified and homogenized Our home has become the gun From which bricks fire like bullets To strike us down You must never rush out on the meadow, Bambi
  • Ever Dystopian (4/2/2020) - Life A privilege of prosperity In a model of supply and demand In which we all demand to live But we all can't stand to give There just isn't enough life to share
  • Aloft (4/3/2020) - Completely wrapped in your embrace A substance just as subtle as a bubble’s empty space Felt but never seen like an emotion In your ocean I am drowning As you take me on your journey aloft.
  • Pitiful Wight (4/4/2020) - O what a luxury it was to be awoken by the sound of silence Long ago when silence was anywhere Its hollow ring soothed my lids ajar Released the dew from my lashes
  • I Knew I Couldn’t Turn Back (4/5/2020) - I knew I couldn’t turn back when the people I harmed on the way weren’t healed yet I knew I couldn’t turn back when the secrets I held weren’t revealed yet I knew I couldn’t turn back when the visions I saw weren’t real yet I knew I couldn’t turn back when the obstacles didn’t make me yield yet
  • Atmosphere (4/6/2020) - The chatter, the gossip, the silent and deafening thoughts The din which became hush As I walked into rooms The change in mood in tone in pressure In atmosphere
  • And Then it Happened (4/7/2020) - And then it happened Like a thief in the night Responding to his early invitation Prophesied to non-believers and their talking-head idols
  • Flock (4/8/2020) - I am not you Nor you I No matter where you fly My flap is mine own
  • Dawn (4/9/2020) - Golden orb of Helios Fire burning furious Cross celestial ledge Horizon edge The Earth is slowly warmed
  • Wounded (4/10/2020) - “Sorry” Is the worst witch doctor remedy Snake oil dripped from forked tongues And venomous fangs It’s a token subtle serpents hiss to women they betray
It will be like this, expect typed and not nearly as elegant

Thank you for joining me on this journey. Oh, and if you want to read last year’s submissions, you can follow the link right over here. See you over the next 30 days!

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Millennia ago, agriculture and horticulture allowed humans to pull themselves out of abject scarcity and into the abundance that gave us modern societies. Today the same tools can provide abundance for communities experiencing inequality. Community gardens and food co-ops offer opportunities for production and service in the most fundamental ways. These as a result return ownership of a community to itself by strengthening the relationship between a neighborhood, its residents, and its surrounding areas.

“Perhaps the brightest light on BUGs’ horizon is developing a food cooperative for Homewood. Bey has teamed up with several economic development organizations in Pittsburgh to secure a building and parking lot for the facility, which could radically improve residents’ access to food as well as keep money within the community.”

Food and wealth are tied to one another at the core, and even share a prefix in the words ecology and economy. Besides what services are provided to communities, however, there are massive takeaways for individuals involved in regards to the skills take home.

“perhaps the real value comes from the case studies they provide, which teach important business skills.”

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Abagail on Absolute Authority

Abigail knew very well what she had done. It lied somewhere in the thin line between intention and reaction. She knew he deserves to be hurt but didn’t realize until it had been done but she was going to be the agent of that pain. Regardless, it had happened. That meant, at least to Abigail, that it was meant to happen.

Abigail was an extremely interesting woman. For one, she had never met another Abigail. Secondly, she was a practitioner of a nameless faith. she didn’t believe that her faith needed a name or needed any named deities. She prayed and when she did she spoke to “the Universe” and it was certain that it listened. It was her absolute authority.

Authority was immensely important. Without a standing authority, phrases like “everything happens for a reason” didn’t stand stiffly enough. Authority needed to be in place to assign these good reasons. A decider. She wasn’t a woman without trauma, and this design helped her to be at peace with the life she received. It wasn’t arbitrary, neither was it cruel. She also wasn’t cruel for what she had just done. It was an act of cosmic necessity.

His nose was still bleeding even while Abigail walked away. Incredulous profanity poured from his face far faster than the blood. She paid no mind to it. Actually, in her heart, she even said a blessing to him. Wishing him peace. Wishing that he’d come to know better. Abigail abhors violence and harm of any sort. As a practitioner of yoga, she follows a concept called ahimsa, which means not to harm. That’s why she absolutely had to do what she did.

She was walking past the City Market, just a few minutes away from the college. She wore a Bohemian skirt and carried a book against her chest with her arms across it. It was an international studies textbook. She was a student at the college at the time. It was both her favorite and least favorite series of courses. She loved the idea of being a global citizen but hated the politics of war and killing that surrounded global awareness.

“What the fuck is this ugly bug?”

The man had yelled at the sight of a wheel bug crawling from some brush on the sidewalk. A few steps ahead of him. She turned with her brow raised at the sound of the exclamation to see him step on the bug with a stomp. She asked herself what drove him to kill. “Oh my God, what the hell is wrong with you? Why did you do that?!” Abagail screamed, her stance stern, almost maternal. Disciplinary. That should have been his first warning.

“Because it was an ugly ass bug,” the man started. He didn’t get to finish. The answer was enough for Abigail. He didn’t have a reason. He saw something he didn’t like and so he killed it. He’s just like a war monger. The kind she couldn’t forgive. That’s when she threw the book at him. It hit him squarely in the nose with the force 75 years of geo-political strife.

She never minded the disciplinary follow-through. She knew she was validated and that what that man did was wrong. That was 16 years ago. She’d nearly forgotten it, honestly. There was a dead bug on the ground in front of the City Market again. The sight filled her with a sense of sorrow. Mid-stride, she reflected. It is sad, but it will be okay. Because karma is justice. And everything happens for a reason.

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I never seem to catch you at the right time
You’re the cup of coffee that I only sip when hot enough to burn my tongue
Or cold enough to put me off to the habit all together
Yet still I am an addict for the alertness you bring me each dawn
And despite that you are my morning ritual
You are also the cause of my headaches
My jitters
My bitter attraction

So what if your touch burns my lips
Or if I find you sour when cool
Let me have my drug by any means
Or dare abstain altogether

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Elegance comes at a price. It is the training of the being from a trauma that has been. The smoothest surfaces are friction conquests of sandpaper onslaughts. The much less graceful yet equally admirable effort of the sander.

It comes at a steep price. Steep as the majestic slopes of country mountains, risen from earth by fire and worn by water from air. All of the ancient elements are expended of centuries to produce the solemn silence of the hiker in its view.

The clinking of delicate porcelain cups sound like civilization to me. Beyond the whirring of machines and buzzing of electricity, tea sets offer a sense that we have dominion over the world and that society can work. Industrial engines command the planet’s surface. Computers eliminate the span of miles between cultures. Yet to slowly brew water and leaves, to look another in the eye as you sip staring over delicate porcelain edges, taking time for soft words all while aware that the universe is designed to destroy is. This is civilization. This is Elegance.

You brought the tray my way and invited me to sip and speak as your poured my share. Your motions were calculated years in advance. Eyes followed fingers, which moved as if they stroked a harp. Arms kept near as your waist turned to extend reach. Slowly, of course. I watched found the same mountain edges. From a distance I could traverse with a fore-finger you cast a shadow on the horizon. And I was a weary hiker in my most solemn moment.

What trade did you make to move as you did? And with whom did the transaction take place? How were you ever so wealthy as to afford being as elegant as you were the moments I fell in love?

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I spoke my soul into being

I spoke my soul into being with sealed lips
With words as loud as the hush of cool earth
commanded my name to be pronounced by the sunset
And it screamed shimmering syllables across a countryside where I lay

Sovereignty over all things was granted to me by the blades of grass
The true kings of the world
And the wildfire curtsied before me and asked to be my bride

Before a court of stars we wed and consecrated our love
And they twinkled

I have never said a word that wasn’t also at least two
Nor a sentence that was any more than silence
My secrets are vaulted in my heart’s womb
So that when I lay myself down upon the sky
I shall not betray our relations

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Guardian of the Threshold

The beast stood a giantess
With obsidian skin
Her eyes looked over the threshold
Paying no respect to my dignity
As still as stone I became
Moved to motionlessness by the violation
She perched to rise higher
And I still startled yet unstirred
Felt my form shrink
I was not ready
I’m not ready to cross this threshold
To feel the granule of my purity
Stripped of all the recognizable me
I will leave and I will return
On the day that I am the beast

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Bright Like the Day

Life is bright
Bright like the day
And the day is sometimes hot
Sometimes it burns to be alive
I carry non-existence as my parasol
Enough meaninglessness to stand in the shadow of-
To remind me that the pressure
The resistance
The gravity
A reality
Which are all both bright and hot
Do not penetrate the objective bigness of the planet
Let alone our galaxy whose edges we shall never breach
Life is bright
Bright like the day

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Act of God

The official document called it an Act of God
Which says a lot to our relationship with the divine

My white walls becoming black
My black sofa growing a shade of grey
I’m reminded that yin yang means balance

Nature mingling with where I once nurtured myself
Drafting and dripping in through a gaping, draping ceiling
I come close to understanding how Job must have felt

And balanced is the farthest from how I feel
I feel the scales tipping over against my favor

Wind, rain, and mold have won this battle
Leaving the victims
Myself and the oak that sits at 28 degrees
Her canopy a makeshift thatched-roof that keeps out the sun and nothing else

I no longer understand the phrase “to storm out”
All that was sudden has been my adrenaline
Six days of warning
Four days of road closure
Nine days of waiting
I wish money would storm out on me with such sluggish notice
But the storm is still here
The only one out is me

And the oak, still struggling to nestle it’s way more fully into my home
But both have a signed death warrant
And I have nothing, save my health
But you can’t live in your health
Nor store your books atop it
Nor hang your coat upon it

This is not the act of God I prayed for

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Leadership begs for leaders
On bended knees with clasped hands
Leadership prays for companions
Because leadership itself does not lead
Leadership supports
Leadership empowers the empowerer
Leadership abhors arrogance
And spits at the feet of the prideful
Leadership stands behind the commander
Leadership stands beside the hero
Leadership stands miles ahead of the conqueror
And yet still it is a warrior
Because leadership must battle itself
And will never concede defeat, merely retreat
Leadership will not die a martyr
But leadership is a prince who lives as a pauper
Leadership is humble
And prostrate, leadership pleads
For leaders
For those who would find a lost cause and bring it home