The humdrum of humble chores
hunted by us both
because the syllables,
stressed and unstressed, of gardening,
dusting, washing, doing the dishes
or fluffing those instruments of sleep
lullabies our nervous system.
“Which song did your great grandparents
sing during the old pestilence?”
You shake your head. The scattered music
migrated to the concentration camp of Lethe.
During shoveling snow that swirls
the ground beneath for the first time since
the glacial maximum I discover
my grandmother’s canticle – half ember,
half skeletal, some canary’s bones
asleep in its circle.
Crickets mark the absence of silence
or noise, and the wailing sirens.
We count them pass
as if they carry silence
in body bags.
“One.”, I say in a singsong way;
“And two.” You croon. The lullaby
or the urgency of sirens
burkes the insects; something
gnaws the roof, makes one itch
to touch the ceiling
with his tongue and to lick
If you think we’ve lost our minds
welcome to the house of quarantine;
the border of the lands all indoor,
we play with our chores to stay sane.
One flipped and crossed the border.
We are yet to hear the rests.
Something gnaws the roof. I hope it has life.
Edited the online magazine ‘Words Surfacing’. Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’ (Spare Change Press, Ohio), A Place For Your Ghost Animals (Ripple Effect Publishing, Colorado Springs), Understanding The Neighborhood (BRP, Australia), Scratches Within (Barbara Maat, Florida), Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems (BRP, Australia) and Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems (Hawakal Publishers, India) and now Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel (Alien Buddha Press)
Author Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/KushalTheWriter/
Author Page amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet
Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times ; his publications include
All the Babble of the Souk , Cartoon Molecules and Next Arrivals, collected poems, as well as translation of Guadalupe Grande´s La llave de niebla, as Key of Mist and the recently published Tesserae , a translation of Carmen Crespo´s Teselas.
You may visit Aquillrelle.com/Author Robin Ouzman Hislop about author. See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)
BlackMan Sitting on the Rock of American History
(1992 edition of the African American Review featuring Harlem Renaissance artist William H. Johnson’s 1944 oil painting “Moon Over Harlem.”)
Some people like to say history is repeating itself when we experience extreme events similar, or almost identical, to incidents which have occurred before. I prefer to think of history as a teacher who gives us repeated opportunities to correct ourselves.
Take, for example, the protests and riots which have followed the death of African-American George Floyd after white American police officer Derek Chauvin took an unpatriotic knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck. It was something much of America’s diverse population found almost impossible to comprehend following recent killings of two other African Americans: Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
The riots themselves bring to mind the Red Summer of 1919, when tensions created by years of lynchings, chronic unemployment, population migrations, and Jim Crow apartheid exploded in the form of riots all over America. What happened in the 1960s and 1970s (not to mention the 1992 Los Angeles riots) is also well-known.
We like to believe the dominant theme of American History is the quest for a practice of freedom framed within refined concepts of democracy. And that may very well be so. But such a noble theme becomes meaningless without mindfully recognizing the need to always strive for equal rights and opportunities for all of the country’s culturally unique communities We are aware of the errors of racism, sexism, and other regressive isms of the past. Over the centuries, our good teacher history has sat us down, or sometimes made us stand up, and pay closer attention to how and why we can and must: do better to get democracy right.
The image shared with this post was previously included in a visual bibliography shared on Facebook. It is the cover of a well-preserved 1992 copy of The African American Review featuring Harlem Renaissance artist William H. Johnson’s 1944 oil painting “Moon Over Harlem.” Johnson’s painting is eerily similar to too many real-life scenes experienced this year alone.
My poem “Blackman Sitting on a Rock” was published in the review and reads like this:
BLACKMAN SITTING ON A ROCK
(from I Made My Boy Out of Poetry)
madness like a sugarcoated bruise
paints your face the same
color as frozen lava.
affection is a dead angel
adding up history’s betrayals
in the center of your soul’s ponderings.
your smile a poem
sung in languages
you have never understood.
I thought about this poem partly because of the almost overwhelming sense of grief and despair many are experiencing right now and while the late musical genius Prince’s beloved Minneapolis, Minnesota, burned like Rome. Partly because of the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and any number of others whose lost lives were not recorded on video. Partly: because of the disproportionate number of black and brown lives claimed by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Although the tone of the poem reflects some of that, it has never been intended as a definitive statement on the African-American or general American story. It was and is a response to something we are still trying to get right.
Bigotry, xenophobia, and chaos cannot be allowed pull off a coup and label it patriotism. As I said in my response to noted author and humanitarian Frederick Joseph‘s Twitter video commentary on George Floyd’s murder, African Americans are not just one more minority demographic in America. Regardless of whose names do or do not appear on the United States Constitution and The Declaration of Independence, African American men and women are co-founders of this great country admired by so many across the globe.
Often accompanied by allies of European, Hispanic, Asian, or Native descent, we have put in far too many centuries infusing the concept of democracy with flesh and blood struggles and sacrifices to help make that abstract dream for billions of people: something closer to a measurable concrete reality. History has been a very patient teacher and now is the time to become more committed students and graduates.
author of Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah
co-author of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
Creds etc: This is the cover of a well-preserved copy of the 1992 edition of the African American Review featuring Harlem Renaissance artist William H. Johnson’s 1944 oil painting “Moon Over Harlem.” Inside in the review’s first poetry section is “Black Man Sitting on a Rock” by Aberjhani.
The American-born author Aberjhani is a widely-published historian, poet, essayist, fiction writer, journalist, and editor. He is a member of PEN International’s PEN American Center and the Academy of American Poets as well as the founder of Creative Thinkers International. He launched the 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance Initiative in 2011 and during the same period introduced netizens to concept of guerrilla decontextualization via a series of essays and website of the same name.
He has authored a dozen books in diverse genres and edited (or sometimes co-edited) the same number. His published works include the Choice Academic Title Award-winning Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance, the social media-inspired Journey through the Power of the Rainbow: Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry, the modern classic ELEMENTAL The Power of Illuminated Love (a collection of ekphrastic verse featuring art by Luther E. Vann), and the frequently-quoted poetry collection, The River of Winged Dreams.
Among his works as an editor are the Savannah Literary Journal (1994-2001), plus the Civil War Savannah Book Series titles: “Savannah: Immortal City” (2011), and “Savannah: Brokers, Bankers, and Bay Lane-Inside the Slave Trade” (2012). In 2014, Aberjhani was among a limited number of authors invited to publish blogs on LinkedIn. You can learn more about the author at Creative Thinkers International, on Facebook, Twitter, or his personal author website at author-poet-aberjhani.info
Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times ; his publications include
All the Babble of the Souk , Cartoon Molecules and Next Arrivals, collected poems, and the recently published Moon Selected Audio Textual Poems, as well as translation of Guadalupe Grande´s La llave de niebla, as Key of Mist and the recently published Tesserae , a translation of Carmen Crespo´s Teselas.
This moment is a metaphor, the metaphor is a war, the war for the survival of mankind. Its victims are those who sold weapon its victims are those who bought the weapons, its victims are those on whom incendiary explosives were and are being fired. Its victims are those who armtwisted national regimes, its victims are the benighted nations, its victims are rich, its victims are poor. Its victims are those who stockpile nuclear arsenal, but have scant PPEs and Ventilators, its victims are the stereotyped minorities. Its victims are the old who have lived their lives, its victims are millennials in callow youth having starry dreams, its victims are infants and even new borns. Its victims are those who are living lives in house arrest fending an invisible nano scale enemy threatening to reduce the world in a nuclear winter without any bombs being dropped. This moment is an allegory, which nobody knows, no one understands, it stammers and rattles, and speaks everything at once!
Debashish is a machine learning scientist, who has been published in literary magazines several
times across the globe, including Poetry Life & Times, where he was interviewed twice.
He is currently contending with a severe writer’s block spanning a decade, when he has hardly
produced any publishable content. He is also losing emotional connection with his own work
gradually, and spends more time to edit/tighten his old poems than creating any new content.
Editor’s Note: Debashish Haar was interviewed twice in the old Poetry Life and Times, once by
Sarah Russell then Editor & later by myself as a new Editor before it folded in 2008.
The New Poetry Life & Times restarted in 2013 at Artvilla.com site, Admin David Jackson.
O O I am not one Virus but as many as Bodies and cells I inhabit O O O You assume I cannot think nor feel for Me and You O O My sorrow is constant like the song of the Sailor who lost the compass and relies on fate to reach another Island hopping through breaking in O OO OOO I do not want to kill You honestly but some times things go wrong OO OOO OOOO We are damaged goods looking at each other in the eye like in a duel just separated by your protective glasses and mask OOOO OOOOO OOOOOOO Nature against Nature It will always be a draw OOOOOOOO ÓÓÓÓÓÓÓÓÓÓÓ
Antonio Martínez Arboleda:
Antonio (Tony Martin-Woods) started to write poetry for the public in 2012, at the age of 43, driven by his political indignation. That same year he also set in motion Poesía Indignada, an online publication of political poetry. He runs the poetry evening Transforming with Poetry at Inkwell, in Leeds, and collaborates with 100 Thousands Poets for Change 100tpc.org/. Tony is also known in the UK for his work as an academic and educator under his real-life name, Antonio Martínez Arboleda at the University of Leeds. His project of digitisation of poetry, Ártemis, compiles more than 100 high quality videos of Spanish poets and other Open Educational Resources. http://www.artemispoesia.com/ .
He is the delegate in the UK of Crátera Revista de Crítica y Poesía Contemporánea , where he also publishes his work as translator from English into Spanish. He published his first volume of poetry in Spanish, Los viajes de Diosa (The Travels of Goddess), in 2015, as a response to the Great Recession, particularly in Spain. His second book, Goddess Summons the Nation Paperback , Goddess Summons the Nation Kindle Edition , is a critique of the ideas of nation and capitalism, mainly in the British Brexit context. It incorporates voices of culprits, victims and heroes with mordacity and rhythm. It consists of 21 poems, 18 of which are originally written in English, available in print and kindle in Amazon and other platforms. Editor’s note: further information bio & academic activities can be found at this link: https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/languages/staff/91/antonio-martinez-arboleda