I don’t know the answer to the title of this post. Writing a poem in the face of injustice feels both pointless and like the strongest thing I can do. The story of Chikesia Clemons, who was assaulted at a Waffle House, by police, after requesting plasticware with a takeout order and having the audacity to protest an upcharge, enraged me. I know I’ve gone all kinds of sassy, snarky, uppity and uncalled for in the bank when things didn’t go my way. I’ve vented my ire at more than one undeserving customer services representative. But I’m white. I can behave badly and suffer the hangover of shame and move on. What of the black women who are my neighbors and coworkers and community? Where is the justice? How do we stand with them and for them?
This poem ripped through my guts, born of fire and fury.
For Chikesia Clemons
What goes unsaid
is that you were given a double-serving
of injustice. Twin lashes
for your duplicitous sins of being born
female and black. You,
the Queen of Heaven, sent into a life
of fun house mirrors that distorted
your every truth, reflected your image
back wrenched and marred
and nightmarish. Sorry Continue reading
If you live in Asheville and missed the debut of Sleeping on Rooftops at The ReHappening in March, here’s one more chance to see the show! We’ll be at REVOLVE on Wednesday, May 9, 7 p.m. The show also includes a solo set by musician Sally Ann Morgan.
Sleeping on Rooftops + Sally Ann Morgan (solo set)
Wednesday, May 9, doors at 6:30 p.m. / show at 7 p.m.
Sleeping on Rooftops, a collaborative work of spoken word, dance and experimental cello music, follows the model of the hero’s journey, as explained by mythologist Joseph Campbell. The story is of a young woman who ventures into the world for the first time. The piece was inspired by the collaborations of Black Mountain College artists M.C. Richards, Merce Cunningham and John Cage, and their collective foray into the source of creativity, and it debuted at the 2018 ReHappening.
Performed by: Alli Marshall (spoken word), Sharon Cooper and Coco Palmer Dolce (dance), and Melissa Hyman (cello).
Tickets are available here.
COLLAR OF WASPS
I could have been a droning “caller of wasps” perhaps?
I just invented that job, I like the sound of it. — Neko Case
The frantic rush of the morning and all
its tasks got to be too much. I had
to send myself out to the rain. And because
the mud portends the spring I went in deep Continue reading
Join us at the Asheville Fringe Arts Festival. The Literary Circus will stage two performances of Flying Clothes & Prose — two sets of spoken word pieces inspired by clothing, complete with costume changes and musical accompaniment by Nights Bright Colors.
Photo by Vickie Burick
“October black birds and cornfields” by Linda Storm
Because I am so happy for you and the life you made
beautiful from the scraps of what we were given. What
we thought were scraps but maybe was our precious
inheritance. I can see it, the guy on Antiques Roadshow —
the blond twin — saying, “This is a national
treasure,” and opening a forged metal box of red maple
leaves, tart apples, snow sky, the calls of Canada geese
winging in formation. Getting the hell out of there. That place Continue reading
There’s a candy wrapper and an unused match
on the bathroom floor. A covert picnic,
abandoned. I’ve come here to press my face
against the cool white tile. Summer is ruthless
today in its death throes. Where hurricanes can’t
touch land, the earth quakes. Where the flood water
doesn’t rush in, the earth burns. How
should I reinvent myself in this exodus
from one season into the next? This liminal space
where even the mirror is a blank uncertainty.
I travel with less baggage these days, casting
ballast off like sin. Even my bones
grow lighter. I should be densely built
for the long winter; I am the dry ligaments
of a skeletal wing. A thing of parchment,
exhalation, the cellular memory of flight.
The best beer I ever drank was a Sol tallboy
from a styrofoam cooler in a neighborhood park
in Merida. It was Carnival in Mexico
but that particular block party could have been simply
someone’s birthday. Still, a teenage boy
sold me the can, ice cold, almost
frozen. There was a parade that day — floats
for hours blasting pop music. Drag queens
in tall wigs and short skirts threw kisses
like candy. You wouldn’t think there’d be
so many queens in Mexico, or maybe it’s no
surprise. And ordinary, too, how the police Continue reading