Category Archives: My poetry

Short Takes: Escape Artist by Maura Alia Badji

Escape Artist

Escape
Unknown Black Escape Artist, 1924.

 

Escape Artist

 

Each act escapes,

stripped of ribboned rubber masks,

husks our circus smiles, greases our trickster strides.

Protective coating melted, ringed

around blue tables, we sip the milk of she-wolves.

Wisely, we count ourselves

lucky, survivors forever

tickled by Fortune’s

fickle gaze.

 

~Maura Alia Badji

 

The Poet:

Maura Alia Badji’s poems and essays have appeared in Barely South Review, Cobalt, ArtVoice Buffalo, Switched-on Gutenberg, Exhibition, convolvulus, Spillway, teenytiny, Signals, The Buffalo Times, and The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. Her themes include multiracial identity and families, female ancestors, social justice, female sexuality, and the discovery and creation of mythos. Maura has been a contributing writer for The Buffalo Times, Soul Music of The World, and LivingSocial.com.

She is a member of The Watering Hole collective, an online community for poets of color and is grateful for the excellent online classes, and mutual support of‪ #‎tribe‬ she has found there.

Looking for Clues, a poem by Maura Alia Badji, with Art by Leonardo Benzant

BENZANT
Mayombe Magik In The Urban Jungle.

 

Looking for Clues

I am a mother anxiously waiting for her son past curfew.  I am his wary lope beneath floodlights.

I am the hoodie draped over the deejay’s freshly shaved head.  I am the brassy highlights in the bartender’s curls, I am the obituary of the old love shoved in her back pocket.

I am the neighbor making excuses to talk to you at dusk, lingering at the mailboxes.  I am the midnight whistle of the cross town train.

I am the dented trombone played by the scholarship student in New Orleans. I sing the music of the Spheres trailed behind the second line.

I am the love you make with the lights on. I am the dance you chance when you forget your cares.

I am the breath you exhale after paying your rent.

I am the last time you rode the bus, the seat you gave up, the elderly woman, the steel gray of her braids, tenderness in her stare.

I am the Ancestor murmuring in your blood.

I am the curve of the crescent moon Iman and Yasmeen spied last Ramadan. I am the prayer that broke your heart at dawn, just before it was answered.

I am the undrawn gun in the church, the moment before it was too late. I am the mother quieting her child hidden beneath a desk.

I am the unending grief unraveled.  I am the unimaginable, audacious forgiveness we somehow can’t forgive.

I am the broken teeth of the veteran sprawled across the median at rush hour.  I am the wave of wayward stardust thrown from a mermaid’s tail.

I am the tension released from your bones as day succumbs to twilight. I am the moan that escapes your lips, that spirals into the night.

–Maura Alia Badji

 

The Artist:  Leonardo Benzant, Brooklyn, NY

BENZANT
LEONARDO BENZANT, NYC

 

Artist’s Statement 

I create art connected in terms of a single vision emerging in various forms including: sculpture, painting and performance. Growing up in the 80’s, as Hip-Hop was flourishing, I felt an inner void prompted by the lack of an African-perspective in mainstream America. I began to investigate identity and spirituality. Being aware of the divide/conquer strategy of colonization, I initiated in my formative years during Catholic school, an investigation into African retentions, continuities and points of connection among the people of African descent throughout the African Diaspora for the purposes of healing, transformation and empowerment, both individual and communal.

Explore More of Leonardo Benzant’s work at his web site: http://www.leonardobenzant.com/

Recent Exhibition:

BENZANT

POWER, PROTEST, AND RESISTANCE | THE ART OF REVOLUTION

Sept 24th – Oct 31, 2015
Curated by Oshun Layne and Daniel Simmons

Rush Arts Gallery
526 W 26th St # 311
New York, NY 10001

The show took place at three venues at the same time and Leonardo Benzant’s work  was exhibited at the Skylight Gallery in Brooklyn.
Current Exhibition:
BENZANT
Rose Gallery
“The Cosmology of Resistance and Transformation”     Leonardo Benzant
Opening Reception: November 6, 2015

 

The Poet: Maura Alia Badji

benzant
Maura Alia Badji

Maura Alia Badji’s poems and essays have appeared in Barely South Review, Cobalt, ArtVoice Buffalo, Switched-on Gutenberg, Exhibition, convolvulus, Spillway, teenytiny, Signals, The Buffalo Times, and The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. Her themes include multiracial identity and families, female ancestors, social justice, female sexuality, and the discovery and creation of mythos. Maura has been a contributing writer for The Buffalo Times, Soul Music of The World, and LivingSocial.com.

She is a member of The Watering Hole collective, an online community for poets of color and is grateful for the excellent online classes, and mutual support of‪ #‎tribe‬ she has found there.

Sweet Revenant, for Norma, a poem by Maura Alia Badji

Sweet Revenant,  for Norma

In French heels, you were film
noir to the neighborhood’s two-reel
matinee. Sloe-eyed and languorous
your gaze said I’m not here to stay.
Years-gone, yours was the voice, husky
and moist, I tried on in night clubs,

poet haunts. Confident your muse could lend
siren-sleek accents, glimmers of poise
to quirky choices, I stutter-stepped my way
home. Hopefully chic in black dresses,
I side-swiped heart quakes, courted

disaster, certain my map of your insolent
laughter would save the day. More than once,
I swore I caught your slim, crepe de chined
form leaning languid at my door. Face half-turned
from porch-light, I breathed your dreamy whisper–
Buona seda, faccia bedda. Sleep, sleep tight.

~Maura Alia Badji

 

Poet: Maura Alia Badji’s poems and essays have appeared in Barely South Review, Cobalt, ArtVoice Buffalo, Switched-on Gutenberg, Exhibition, convolvulus, Spillway, teenytiny, Signals, The Buffalo Times, and The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. Her themes include multiracial identity and families, female ancestors, social justice, female sexuality, and the discovery and creation of mythos. Maura has been a contributing writer for The Buffalo Times, Soul Music of The World, and LivingSocial.com; she has guest-blogged for NOLAFemmes, Eat.Drink.Memory, and piquant. Her blog is The Moxie Bee http://www.themoxiebee.com

She is a member of The Watering Hole collective, an online community for poets of color ( https://twhpoetry.wordpress.com/) and is grateful for the excellent online classes, and mutual support of ‪#‎tribe‬ she has found there.

Maura earned her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of WA, Seattle, where she was an Editorial Assistant to Coleen J. McElroy at The Seattle Review. Maura was a Tutor/Advocate for migrant children from the Caribbean and Mexico, and taught ESL night classes to migrant workers in Ulster/Dutchess Counties. She taught Early Childhood Special Education for a decade in the Mid-Hudson Valley of NY, Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia. She is a certified massage therapist and a Reiki practitioner.

A NY State native, she lives and dreams in the Seven Cities region of Virginia with her son, Ibrahim. She is working on returning to the Mid-Hudson Valley.

Photos: Wanderlust, Front
Wanderlust, Back

Photographer: Kristin Fouquet, New Orleans, LAhttp://www.fouquet.cc/kristin/LeSalon.html

Model: Ingrid Lucia, New Orleans, LA
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/ingrid-lucia-mn0000090010

Wanderlust
Wanderlust, front by Kristen Fouquet
Maura Alia Badji
Wanderlust, Back; by Kristin Fouquet