Tag Archives: Poem

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.

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman aka Khadijah Moon: Multifaceted and Deliciously Creative

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman aka Khadijah Moon: Deliciously Creative

Poet/playwright/producer/creative mid-wife/ budding film-maker, Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is also known as Khadijah Moon, singer.  Multifaceted and seemingly in perpetual motion, Khadijah inspires by example and dazzles in performance.

I’m pleased to feature two of her poems today.  Through language that is often both sensual and harrowing, Ms. Ali-Coleman’s poetry reflects the beautiful struggle of being a Black woman poet/artist in our increasingly fraught time,  while simultaneously fashioning a lifeline.  Her words are indeed often “like a lasso of unbreakable strength” as she describes her indispensable consciousness in “Out of the Barrel” .

Next week, we’ll catch up with the prolific DC-born artistic renaissance woman for an interview and a chance to hear her new smash single, “hunger”.

khadijah
Khadijah Moon Press Photo

What they will say on Twitter when the police shoot me in the back

She was known to be militant

Organized people in parks to sing

And dance

Possibly riot

Although no violence was reported

There might have been.

Who is to really say?

The officer felt threatened

By her almost ten year-old car

With missing hubcaps and door handles

And her big hair

And bigger feet

And crooked eye

That looked at him the wrong way

That spoke profanity in every language to him

In that one look

#AllLivesMatter

Maybe it was the degrees he didn’t know she had

Or the gun she didn’t own

That made him suspicious of her

Maybe she ran too slow when he told her she was under arrest

For nothing

Cause something had to be the reason

He shot her

#PoliceArePeopleToo

The police just don’t shoot you for no reason

And even

if there was no reason

Other than he said she was resisting arrest

We must do our best

To maintain

That in some way, she was insane

#She was fired from more than one job

And she had amassed tickets by the dozens

#She was poor and unmarried with one child

Known to have many lovers

She was raised by a single mother who had children with three different men

#SheWasAHoe

#HereWeGoAgain

She was on unemployment less than a year before her arrest

And this was not the first time before being on it again

#lowlife #shedeservesdit #wegot2dobetterifwewantbetter

I’m sure

She had bad credit score and a whole lot of debt

Particularly from graduate school and education

Better yet,

it seems like she had the potential to cause a lot of trouble

Riling up others and causing a sensation

She was killed after a traffic stop

Causing the officer irritation,

No violation, but—he had a first of the month quota to reach

So what, she was supposedly on her way

to pick up her child and later teach

#slowdown #itsyourfault #shekilledherself

See, We  are not sure,

because

As we said before,

She has a history

Of potential criminality

You heard her history

Imagine her mentality

 

Fortunately, she did not survive

Or she would have been arrested

And who knows what other crimes she would have been charged with

If the officers hadn’t been tested

#End of the report

#Press conference

#Public statement

#The end.

Demonizing the dead is the current new trend

There is no honor in being a paycheck to paycheck living

Black woman wordsmith

You are not of value

You are not worth protecting

There is no virtue in your gifts

 

And, What would the news media say about me

when the police shoot me in the back

most likely

#notonething

Because I am a woman and I am black

–Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Out the Barrel

Through all of the hate

Rotten and sour as clotted milk curd

I crawled upright, steadying myself

and clung there, at the top

Holding tight as King Kong in New York

My fists clinched fast around that peak

Un-pried

as piercing words & angry actions

wrap round my legs

like steel tentacles, heavy and void of feeling

Trying to drag me down yet

I don’t fall

My consciousness, like a lasso of unbreakable strength

Lifts me higher until my feet are no longer

bound by ground and my mind, unblemished and new

no longer

aware that confines once existed

by Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman

 

khadijah
Khadijah Moon, hunger–the new smash single!

Passionately human and deliciously creative, DC-born Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is The Creative Midwife, a creativity coach and modern renaissance woman.  She helps creatives give birth to their creative dreams. A playwright, poet, singer & emerging filmmaker, Moon is founder of Liberated Muse Arts Group, the brand she brought to life in 2008 as an online digital community for artists.  Since then, she has produced book anthologies, music & theatrical shows through Liberated Muse, including her production In Her Words which, since 2012,  has been commissioned for performances at the Smithsonian, United States Peace Corps, DC Public Library System and other venues. She is a recipient of a 2015 Individual Artist Award for Non-Classical Music Solo Performance by the Maryland State Arts Council. She lives in Maryland with her partner and their daughter.

Learn more at http://www.thecreativemidwife.com

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman

Passionately human and deliciously creative, Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is The Creative Midwife™. Let The Creative Midwife™ Help You Birth Your Creative Dreams Today!

 

Impresiones/Impressions, a poema/poem de/by Rafael Ayala Paz

Impresiones/Impressions, a poema/poem de/by Rafael Ayala Paz

impressions

Impresiones

La memoria está en la yema de los dedos
Los colores están en los ojos
La infancia está contenida en la columna vertebral
Los mundos nacen en cascarones rotos
Siempre habrá un signo en todo objeto
Una señal desdibujada en el horizonte
Un presagio de infinito en la noche
Un destello suspendido en la frente
Un viejo olor bajo los guijarros
Un sol rojo detrás de las colinas
Amaneceres en los parpados
Globos flotando en el cielo
Aldeas insospechadas en la planta de los pies
Anémonas gigantes en las nubes
Seres que caminan de cabeza
Soles como pupilas
Buzos ahogados en un vaso de agua
Náufragos de la desesperación
Locomotoras exhalando un enjambre de moscas
Árboles que entienden lo que decimos
Un reloj con brazos y piernas
Una torre sumergida en un charco
Ojos llorando aves
Sueños que conducen sus autos en la noche
Balsas que atraviesan las arterias dejando una estela de estrellas
Canciones buscando la luz
Cielos tensos como codos y brazos
Ciudades edificadas en mi mano izquierda
Soles entre los dedos
Mareas de oídos sordos
Pedazos de playas en la retina
Insectos acuáticos
Mapas de lugares remotos como las galaxias
Discusiones sobre asuntos que pronto olvidaremos
Islas que son sonidos nidos
Impresiones de todo lo soñado
visto
olido
escuchado
presentido
sentido
de gustado
olvidado…

Impressions

Memory is in the fingertips
Colors are in the eyes
Infancy is contained in the backbone
Worlds are born in broken shells
There will always be a sign in every object
made vague in the horizon
An infinite omen in the night
A sparkle suspended on the forehead
An old smell beneath the pebbles
A red sun behind the hills
Sunrises on the eyelids
Balloons floating in the sky
Villages unsuspected in the soles of feet
Giant anemones in the clouds
Beings that walk on their heads
Suns like pupils
Divers drowned in a glass of water
Shipwrecks of desperation
Locomotives exhaling a swarm of flies
Trees that understand what we say
A clock with arms and legs
A tower submerged in a puddle

Eyes crying birds
Dreams that drive their cars in the night
Rafts that navigate the arteries leaving a trail of stars
Songs searching for the light
Skies tense like elbows and arms
Cities built in my left hand
Suns between fingers
Tides of deaf ears
Pieces of beaches in the retina
Aquatic insects
Maps of remote places like galaxies
Discussions over matters that we will soon forget
Islands that are nests of sounds
Impressions of everything dreamed
seen
smelled
heard
sensed
felt
liked
forgotten…

— Rafael Ayala Páez, Zaraza, Guárico, Venezuela

Through the vague, yet intricately woven mysteries of the Internet, I virtually met Rafael Ayala Paez in September of 2012 when he wrote to me via Facebook. He found me through my author listing on the Poets & Writers website, read some of my work, as well as reviews I had written, and invited me to write a brief preface for his forthcoming collection, “La levedad de la materia/ The lightness of matter”.

He also asked if he could translate and publish a few of my poems in Venezuela through the online journal “Negro Sobre Blanco”. I was a little taken aback, because while I’ve had my work published over the years I’m not exactly well-known in the US, let alone Latin America. Yet, he sincerely enjoyed my poems and made it clear that the offer was not one of quid pro quo for writing the preface.

After immersing myself in the deceptively unadorned language of his manuscript I agreed to both requests. His book was published shortly afterwards; two of my poems appeared in the Oct/Nov 2012 edition of “Negro Sobre Blanco” in as translated by Rafael and Brooklyn-based poet/writer/activist Emanuel Xavier.(http://issuu.com/negrosobreblanco/docs/periodico_oct_nov on page 8)

In my preface to “La levedad de la materia/ The lightness of matter”, I wrote:
“Rafael Ayala Paez has the enviable ability to write about the heaviest and deepest of matters —love, sex, death, longing —with the lightest of touches. His is a voice that informs without hectoring, seduces without cloying, convinces without shouting. In La levedad de la materia/ The lightness of matter, his images alight on the page; we can’t help but turn to see where they will lead us next. “

Rafael Ayala Paez’s work is a natural choice for me to include in my week of Virtual Dream Residency here at Ione’s Festival of Dreams; his poetry often seems imbued with the imagery of dreams. Unexpected metaphors and discursive word play accrete only to give way to a suddenly crystallized image imbued with pure though unsentimental emotion.

The Venezuelan poet Gregory Zambrano says of “Impressions”:
“In the poem there are worlds in movements that go from sleep to wakefulness and back, appealing to the confusion of the senses, finding sound and word play, revealing from apparent diversion, a great unease.”

With Rafael’s permission, I’m happy to direct you to a link where you may download a free e-book edition of his 2012 collection; I hope you will read, enjoy, and perhaps reach out to the poet who continues to live fully as a poet and writer despite a less than hospitable national climate of political upheaval, violence (25,000 murders in 2014 alone) and economic pressures.

Once you reach the site, click on the book cover for “The lightness of matter” for the free download.

http://www.poetscoop.org/free.htm

~Maura Alia Badji

The poet: Rafael Ayala Páez was born in Zaraza, Guárico, Venezuela in 1988. He studied at the Universidad Nacional Experimental Simón Rodríguez (UNESR), and was a founding member of the Municipal Writers Network of Zaraza.
His collections include Bocados de silencio and The lightness of matter (both 2012), and his work was featured in The Blue Hour Anthology – A collection of poetry, prose and art (2013).
His poems have been translated into English, German, French, and Hebrew.

The translator: Roger Hickin (b. 1951) is a New Zealand poet, visual artist, book designer, and publisher.
Roger is the director of Cold Hub Press which publishes poetry in several languages, including bilingual chapbooks of poems by two Chilean poets: Juan Cameron (with translations by the celebrated US translator Cola Franzen) and Sergio Badilla Castillo (with translations by Roger Hickin and the author).

Painting: The Reality of Dreams by Carlos A. Soli, Venezuela, 2012

Raven Bland, Norfolk, VA Youth Poet Laureate

laureate
Raven Bland, outside library at ODU. Photo by Bruce Ebert, (Picasa)

Somehow I did not realize until last week that Norfolk, VA has a Youth Poet Laureate.  I found this happy news where I find quite a bit of my media updates–on a friend’s Facebook page.

The Poetry Society of America‘s website states:

The National Youth Poet Laureate initiative (YPL) is a program of Urban Word, an award-winning youth literary arts and youth development organization, that strives to elevate the voices of teens while promoting civic engagement and social justice.

Raven Bland an alumnus of Teens With a Purpose–The Youth Movement, is the inaugural youth poet laureate for Norfolk and the first in Virginia.  Other cities with laureates include New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Houston and Nashville.

A graduate of Granby High School, she’s currently a history major at Old Dominion University with a political science minor,

Ms. Bland was the subject of a Virginian-Pilot article, by Bruce Ebert, this past May,  in which she spoke about her literary  journey from unsure pre-teen to her state’s first Youth Poet Laureate, an honor she won in April, 2015.

In the Pilot article, Deirdre Love, the Executive Director of Teens With a Purpose, said of Raven Bland,

She inspires me. She embodies the best of what youth is about. She understands that words matter. Any city would be proud to have her as a representative.”

In addition to her title,  Raven Bland will have a  book of her poems published by Penmanship Books; the publisher will also arrange book signing a Barnes and Noble Booksellers.

Poet
Raven Bland, Norfolk, VA, Youth Poet Laureate.

Here are two of her poems. The first, Lady in the Curtains: Hallucination in the Jewish Square of Poland,  was originally published on the Poetry Society of America’s page.

Lady in the Curtains:
Hallucination in the Jewish Square of Poland

I glanced at a curtained window
Thin blue sheets
I imagined an aging analogy
With flowers and butterflies
Attached to thread
I seen a small grey haired head.

Ages were gray
Hair was gray
Skin was pale
Bones as thin as a nail.

I seen her bones grow
Seen her skin fatten
I seen her grin towards me
But nothing happened
I stood still,
Frozen, paralyzed
In wonder,
Curious even.
She glanced right, glanced left.
As she was looking for something.

After a single grin, her lips faded thin,
What was she looking for,
Why was she still here?
Doesn’t she know the attitudes
The hate, the disbelief
They consciously think: God choose you not me.
See, they’re jealous, get out of here, flee.
Go to the place God created you to be.

I stare into her eyes, she’s speaking to me:
This is my home, I created it to be.
They have robbed me of enough,
They won’t take all of me.

She glanced left, glanced right
With her head out her curtained window.
I seen her head then fade in between.

–Raven Bland

 

“Lame”

Your scent swallowed me

As I slide into my blanket. 

I’m laying here lame

I won’t move because

I’m afraid to blow your scent away.

 

It’s only been a couple of days 

Since your body laid underneath.

And yet your scent refuses to leave.

Figures, though

Your strong personality

Dominates and leads.

It doesn’t back down for nobody

And I mean nobody

But me.

 

I remember when you were underneath .

I was there too.

I remember how soft your eyes grew.

Like a turtle,

Hiding under that huge shell

And slowly peeping from beneath.

You didn’t think I saw you,

Because you quickly tried to push yourself back inside

Without the consequences.

 

Your secret is out though baby,

I saw it.

Your shell is just a cover,

You’re all soft underneath.

And I love it.

Don’t hide it from me,

Let me be soft with you,

Out here we can’t survive that way,

But let me come under your shell too

And we can discuss the ways

The stars make our eyes twinkle

And the moon molds our hearts together

How the silence sweeps our thoughts in loops and intertwines.

We can discuss our pasts’ hurts

And maybe even cry.

We can be soft together,

I don’t mind.

 

I remember when you held my hand here,

Them rough hands of man hood

Grabbed my delicate ones.

A piece of me died inside your palms

A layer of me unraveled.

You watched it,

I saw you,

And your eyes were baffled.

 

See if it’s only been about 3 months,

But our friendship has endured much longer.

You didn’t know this side of me,

Didn’t know how strong my gravitational pull was,

How I make your mind wonder.

Didn’t know I could see so deep into you,

In ways no girl before has.

And you grew scared,

I laugh, never in person though,

At how much you were amazed.

At how a woman could treat you in such good ways.

 

It all happened here,

And I can’t help but reminisce.

Your scent swallowed me 

As I slid into my blanket.

I’m laying here lame

I won’t move because

I’m afraid to blow your scent away.

–Raven Bland

 

***Look for an upcoming interview with Raven Bland later this month. 

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In Sleep You Search Out a Door by Karen Craigo

In Sleep You Search Out a Door

 

A breath or claw disturbs your
clothes.
In dreams it always lumbers
near.
You run or freeze, you hold
your pose.
Some breath or claw disturbs
your clothes
and it’s the animal you chose.

its hundred eyes and funk of
fear.
A breath or claw disturbs your
clothes.
In dreams it always lumbers
near.

-Karen Craigo

Karen Craigo’s first full-length poetry collection, No More Milk, is forthcoming from Sundress Publications in 2016. She teaches writing in Springfield, Missouri

Find Karen on
Twitter: @karenkawrites
Blog: http://betterviewofthemoon.blogspot.com/
Website: http://http://www.papercranewritingservices.com

Art: The Dream Door by QueenBee47, DeviantArt.com.

Poem & Image originally featured in Maura Alia Badji’s Dream Residency at IONE’s 21st Annual Dream Festival. 

Craigo
Dream Door by QueenBee47

Alyesha Wise: Dreaming Life, Living Her Dream

 

Alyesha Wise

Alyesha Wise: Dreaming Life, Living Her Dream

“I had a dream last night that the government started questioning the income of independent artists & requiring a license for us to do what we do.

I woke up from that dream knowing that such a thing could happen in real life (Don’t doubt these fools these days). And that my inner God will always be my “license.”

And, of this world, I will always be unafraid.”

–Alyesha Wise

When I asked Alyesha Wise if I could have some of her work to share here during my Dream Residency for Ione’s Annual Dream Festival, she sent me a selection that included her TEDxPasadenaWomen talk and a Button Poetry spoken word performance.

At first I didn’t see that what she sent me :fit” into the theme of dreams/dreaming, but I kept listening. Soon the hazy clouds of unknowing parted; I saw that all she had sent me had to do with dreams, were indeed the stuff of dreams brought into reality.

Alyesha Wise, poet, writer, spoken word artist, is the living embodiment of the dreams she had as a young girl, a young Black girl who dreamed of being a writer. Listen to her TEDx talk and you will hear her speak of the little girl who dreamed of a women who was all about creating poems, and never taking any shit. A woman whose words created her world.

Hear her poem “To This Black Woman Body, Part I”, and you will learn how a skinny Black girl, who once doubted her right to claim womanliness, who once feared the repercussions that came running after a girl “walking like a woman”, who then came to create and live the dream of a Black woman loving and accepting herself, including her particular Black woman’s body as it is, as she lives in it.

I see the acts of imagining, creating, and inhabiting a reality you and others did not at first see as some of the most rewarding, important, and radical acts of dreaming. Dreaming into your life, living into your dreams.

I invite you to listen, learn, savor and share the words of Alyesha Wise’s dreams.

Alyesha Wise is a published Poet, Teaching Artist and TEDx Speaker who launched her artistic career in Philadelphia, Pa.  Currently residing in Los Angeles, Alyesha was the 2014 DPL Grand Slam Champion and a member of the 2014 and 2015 DPL Slam Teams. She is also a 2-time Women of the World Poetry Slam finalist, a 2-time Philadelphia Grand Slam Champion and Assistant-coach of the Get Lit Youth Slam Team in L.A., who placed 3rd in the world in 2014.

Some of her additional highlights include, but aren’t limited to, a 2012 interview with American Film Director, Ron Howard – An artist feature in the Google Interstellar Project, specifically a “Time Capsule” documentary presented by Google Play and Christopher Nolan, in conjunction with the hit movie, Interstellar – and being told by co-founder of Essence Magazine, Russell Goings, “In All, You Are Awesome.”

More info about Ms. Wise can be found at: http://www.MsWiseDecision.com

TEDX Talk: Raising Her By Raising Myself

Button Poetry: Alyesha Wise – “To This Black Woman Body, Part I

 

~Maura Alia Badji

invocation : a poem by jo reyes-boitel

invocation

 

invocation

distant voice heard at the corner         blame it on the wind
front door blown open                            can’t keep accusing the weather

giggles behind you
the spirit in you knows
Eshu must be fed first

hungry as a child bring some candy

mischievous man pour rum greedily at any crossroads

old now light his cigars

omi tutu, axé tutu, onã tutu, ilê tutu, tutu Laroyê 1

quick now, keep up
Eshu works all corners, all doors, all paths
pour palm oil greedily
wherever two streets come together

and if you are lucky
days later
your dream will have you in the kitchen making café
walking out with small white cups of espresso
while Eshu runs between your steps

there is a party happening tonight
and Eshu is happy about it, has come early

look down
grab a hold of him
marvel at his wild face near yours
love the wilderness living within him
let him wrap his legs around your waist
let him hug you hard
his hand possessively at your neck, fingers in your hair

if Eshu is with you none are against

welcome Elegua welcome

  1. * fresh water, the spirit is fresh, the way is fresh, the home is fresh, Eshu is fresh.

–jo reyes boitel

jo reyes-boitel
writer, motivator/supporter, mother, daughter to oya and obatala, rabid music listener, percussionist and lover. texas transplant, by way of minnesota | florida | mexico | cuba. jo works to actively connect everyday earth activities to the heaven that surrounds.

In The House of the Riddle Mother, poem

mother

In The House of the Riddle Mother

I.

My mother kisses me
goodbye through friendly
plastic. She is melting
halfway down broken stairs
when I remember to shout
“Show me your real skin!”

II.

At the labor clinic I wait
in line to birth my baby,
My mother befriends a homeless
woman in the waiting room.
I am strong, she tells me,
while this woman has nothing.
I’ll be fine, she says.

Shrieks of my birth pains
bring Ayezan, the Haitian midwife.
She tells me her real name is Ayinde;
I remember to breathe.
Two rooms down, my mother
comforts a stranger.

III.

Two weeks overdue, my daughter
enters the world wrapped
in a pearly membrane stretched
across her face like a veil,
her Great-Grandmother’s

gift: a caul, a calling
to second sight, sailors’ charm
against drowning. Sicilian charm
against the malocchio,

a key to dreams.
I name her Sophia Marina,
wise woman of the sea.

–Maura Alia Badji

This poem was based on a dream I had following a miscarriage when I was six months pregnant in 1995. It was the fourth time I’d lost a baby. The numbered sections in the poem correspond to different scenes from the dream. The title is from the book of the same name by Clarissa Pinkola Estes; a copy of the book appeared in the dream.

My life seemed a particularly puzzling landscape at that time. My mother was living across the country from me. Her reaction to the news seemed bizarre at the time; she confessed she was relieved because I had been ill and she was worried I might die My husband at the time was not supportive during my pregnancy and was less so after the miscarriage; he responded to that event by getting a vasectomy.

The dream, while odd, gave me a quiet hope that perhaps one day I would indeed become a mother. At the time I thought that might come about through adoption. The day after I returned from the hospital I won a poetry prize from a writer’s conference I’d just attended. That news, along with the dream, seemed like a sign of my creative life going on and I took hold of my writing with both hands, publishing, doing readings, and getting into a graduate writing program.

Four years later I took part in a non-denominational ritual performed by a female priest and rabbi together with a Buddhist nun and a Muslim holy woman. Gathered together with over fifty other women, I named the baby I lost at six months Sophia Marina.

Eight years later, divorced and remarried, much to my surprise I gave birth to a son, Ibrahim Sean, named for two of his uncles. He was born with a partial caul. His father, a West African marabout, dancer/drummer and I are not together any longer. As I tell Ibrahim, some things in life have their own schedule and reason. I wouldn’t change anything that happened before his birth because each step brought me to him and made me his mother.

Have you ever received support and information in your dreams that helped you move on from a difficult period in your life or gave you comfort in some way? Have scenes from your dreams directly appeared in your writing or art work?

hd Butterfly: A dream inspired poem

firerainbow

hd Butterfly

I dream an open window,
where colors spill in,
swimming in rainbows.

Wading in a colorstream,
a sea of vivid prisms,
absorbing in my pores.

Floating in R.E.M. state,
cocooned in ultra hd walls,
suspended in imagination.

My awakening eyes,
explosions; visual intensity,
5th primary color sight.

Your blues aren’t mine,
grey skies don’t exist,
our palettes differ.

My wings of fire rainbows,
Sonic boom open windows,
Emerging my butterfly.

–Donald Atkinson, Norfolk, VA

 

Donald Atkinson is a poet, writer, spoken word artist, husband, father, soldier, clerk.   He lives in Norfolk, VA with his family .

Connect with Donald:

https://www.facebook.com/donald.atkinson.547/

**This is also my third post for my dream residency at Ione’s 21st Annual Dream Festival