Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

A View From Mississippi — By Emory Jones

They say we are a crude

Land of redneck bigots,

Good old boys in sheets

Burning crosses

After Saturday night

Coon hunts

 

Well, maybe so—

 

While Detroit rumbled

And Watts exploded,

Our white citizens councilled,

Killed and burned.

 

But then there are

The silver-tongued

Among us—

William Alexander Percy,

Stark Young, William Faulkner,

Eudora Welty,

Tennessee Williams, Shelby Foote,

Richard Wright, James Street,

Margaret Walker Alexander,

Ma Rainy, Muddy Waters,

Son Thomas, B. B. King,

Elvis Presley, Tammy Wynette,

Leontine Price, Walter Anderson—

A wealth of art produced in no other state.

 

Yes, we are bad,

We are sinners,

But sometimes

We are sublime.

~ Emory Jones

Won honorable mention in MPS 2014 Award of the Mississippi Poetry Society 2014 Spring Festival Poetry Competition

Dr. Emory D. Jones is a retired English teacher who has taught in Cherokee Vocational High School in Cherokee, Alabama, for one year, Northeast Alabama State Junior College for four years, Snead State Junior College in Alabama for three years, and Northeast Mississippi Community College for thirty-five years. He joined the Mississippi Poetry Society, Inc. in 1981 and has served as President of this society. He has over two hundred and thirty-five publishing credits including publication in such journals as Voices International, The White Rock Review, Free Xpressions Magazine, The Storyteller, Modern Poetry Quarterly Review, Gravel, Pasques Petals, The Pink Chameleon, and Encore: Journal of the NFSPS.  He is retired and lives in Iuka, Mississippi, with his wife, Glenda.  He has two daughters and four grandchildren.

Guest editor Annette Hope Billings is an award-winning poet known for the impact of her audible presentations of work. In 2016 she brought her registered nursing career to an early end to fully pursue her passion for writing. She is happily working on her fourth collection of poetry. Billings’ work can also be found in a variety of anthologies as well as in print and online journals. Please visit her website and/or Facebook page for further information.

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Time to Cry — By Ravell Rogers II

When was the last time that you cried?”

I asked my father through the phone.

 

He was silent at first.

 

Never before had I questioned his sensitivity

nor was there a sign of weakness in my childhood

when I watched him closely.

 

His face was always grim

or his head down with his 9 to 5

nonstop.

 

No,

My father only smiles at progress:

when our dark green lawn gets mowed,

the creme tiles of our kitchen floor installed,

those living room walls painted a thick coat of maroon,

and the smell of rubber excites him so

when he replaces tire after tire,

 

after tire.

 

His duties within the family were clear to him:

be a handyman around the house and

 

Do.

 

Not.

 

Cry.

 

Though I have witnessed my mother cry,

and on many different occasions,

I have never seen my father weep.

 

The year you were born,

my best friend died,”

his voice was like that of a child.

This cell phone conveniently acting as a safeguard

sheltering his facial expressions from me.

Yeah,

I shed a few tears for Moka,

after he was shot.

 

We used to run the streets together

when we had no guidance as kids.

We would get into trouble and out

together.

Moka was like a brother to me.”

 

He rushed off of the phone

I have to get back to work,” he said.

 

My father was the rock of our family

working his 9 to 5 tirelessly.

 

He was Young Vell in the streets

where drug dealers and gangbangers took him in

when his father was in the military

and his mother was being beaten down

by words and hands of a stepfather

who despised the presence of a child not his own.

 

My father became a rock

when he sold rocks

on the corner of Prospect

in the city of Kansas City

where he fought niggas

because of his light skin

and it didn’t matter

since they all went to jail

or got shot like Moka.

 

My father ran from police

he served his time in jail

and then created two kids

or maybe even three

paying his child support

on time

marrying my mother

and keeping his 9 to 5

 

His duties within the family were clear to him.

 

He hadn’t had the pleasures of weeping since 1996

the year that his best friend died,

the year that I was born.

 

and in his mind,

he didn’t have time to cry.

~ Ralvell Rogers II

 

*”Time to Cry” was previously published by literary magazine Tittynope Zine in 2016*

Ralvell Rogers II is an ambitious storyteller from Kansas City, Missouri, who focuses on realistic fiction and reflective poetry. Before graduating with his BA in English at Emporia State University, Rogers was the first student-recipient of the Presidential Award for Distinguished Service to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in 2018. Currently, Ralvell lives in Arlington, Virginia with his fiance.

Guest editor Annette Hope Billings is an award-winning poet known for the impact of her audible presentations of work. In 2016 she brought her registered nursing career to an early end to fully pursue her passion for writing. She is happily working on her fourth collection of poetry. Billings’ work can also be found in a variety of anthologies as well as in print and online journals. Please visit her website and/or Facebook page for further information.

You Will Find It — By James Benger

in the dark warmth

and unsung beauty

of small town back alleys,

 

behind the grocery stores

as the overnight crew

burns one by the door,

 

in the midnight breeze

rustling the high branches

of the downtown park,

 

on the lips of the lovers

lying momentarily silent

in the aftermath,

 

under the bleachers

where forgotten promises

percolate for eternity,

 

underneath the overturned car

forever remaining

in the overgrown ditch,

 

in the middle pages

of yesterday’s news

fermenting for future poignancy,

 

in the man’s eyes

as he ladles out more soup

at the shelter,

 

in the decaying final note

of her thrift store guitar

on Saturday night,

 

on the often silent tongues

of anyone seeking

anything more.

 

You will find it

if you open your eyes,

and if you’re lucky,

it will find you.

~ James Benger

James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

Snow Day — By D. R. James

—1-21-17

A half-foot of fresh snow shows fresh tracks

crisscrossing our little clearing in the woods.

The three does we’ve been getting to know,

already half-way through their freshman year,

have plowed a white furrow looking for

the feed we’re guilty of sowing for them.

 

We’ve heard all the arguments. But with the

Congress of clueless children back in from recess,

fretting and fussing within their little uniforms,

a-Twitter about the new bully on the playground,

we’re elated to awaken to our own snow day

and to see the neighbors have paid a visit.

 

It’s only a break from that other nagging reality,

for we know it won’t last, that the road crews

have been out all night and that this stint likely

won’t go beyond a mid-morning delay. But

as their trails fade, I’m imagining roaming with

those rural kids, lucky to stay home all afternoon.

~ D. R. James

first published in The 3288 Review, 3:1

D.R. James—born in Ohio, raised in Illinois, grad-schooled in Iowa, and now in his 34th year teaching writing, literature, and peacemaking at the Midwestern college he attended in the 70’s—lives in the woods outside Saugatuck, Michigan. His latest of seven collections is If god were gentle (Dos Madres).

James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

Us — By Will Hagman

they flow through themselves

never being entirely of oneself

even while appearing to be

as their whole ebbs and

flows into other states of being

they always return to be as one

in whatever form they choose

or their surroundings choose for them

they cannot escape their entirety

and no matter how adulterated

they might become while away

they return to be as pure as

they were when they left

they are storms of wrath

and pools of serenity

they are mists of despondence

they are fountains of laughter

they are tickling drops

and steams of comfort

they are quenching and flooding

and drowning

they are us

~ Will Hagman

Will Hagman works as a customer service representative in Sioux Falls, SD where he lives with his husband Bob.  He has found writing to be therapeutic throughout his life and continues to write poetry as a venue to connect with others and himself.  Additionally, Will enjoys gardening and dabbling in various mediums of art.

James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.

To the Woman I Loved Too Soon — By Diane Silver

Now that it’s legal for us to marry

I wonder if you and I have become glass:

We’re there—but maybe not—

transparent unless held up to the light

turned so the glow from some lamp glances off

to show us all those years ago

in bed falling asleep holding hands

in our kitchen leaning together as you stir a pot

in our living room dancing in bare feet

sitting on the floor outside our toddler’s room

because it’s 2 a.m., he won’t stop crying,

all the books say let him cry until he falls asleep.

We last a whole five minutes before barging in.

I pick him up, you curl around us both

and together we sing him to sleep.

 

If some stranger should come close enough

to brush a hand against the thin sheet of our lives

he might catch on the moment

we arrived home from the doctor to see

every ceramic pot you ever brought to life (except one)

on the floor in pieces, probably knocked off the table

by our cat who inspected them after you left them there

because we were late for the appointment

where the doctor said your cancer had come back.

 

You picked up that last pot, held it so long I thought:

it’s ok. she’s handling this

then threw it down to smash

shards skittering across the tile.

You leaned on the tabletop, inhaled.

I was thankful to be there to hold tight

as you shook in my arms

on that day 22 years before

we could marry

three months before

you were dead.

 

We all die.

 

Every love that doesn’t end

in argument ends in death.

Yet I can’t help but worry:

What will happen to we

who were forbidden

to sign the book of marriage?

Generations of our families

have already been wiped clean

from time. Will you and I become

another glass shattered?

 

Will all our pieces be left behind?

 

~ Diane Silver

Diane Silver is an activist and journalist. Her work has appeared in Ms, The Progressive, and other venues. Her latest books are Your Daily Shot of Hope vol. 1 (Meditations for an Age of Despair) and vol. 2 (Meditations on Awakening). You can find her at www.DianeSilver.net and @DianeSilver

Monthly Editor Maril Crabtree’s poems have been published in I-70 Review, Coal City Review, Main Street Rag, and others. Her book Fireflies in the Gathering Dark (Aldrich Press, 2017) is a Kansas Notable Book and Thorpe Menn Award finalist.

Up Against the Wall — By Julie Sellers

My words are up against the wall,

monochrome whispers

that slither along the outer rim

of the greater prismatic signified.

No alcanzan

estas alas luminosas 

de tantos pensamientos,

su vuelo refrenado

por este vidrio opaco.

 

My words

mis palabras

up against the wall

contra el muro

two lonely tongues

dos lenguas solitarias.

 

But

juntas

I weave them

ensartando sílabas

like so many pearls,

una escalera de luz

that overcomes the limits,

que derrumba los muros,

words that fly on shimmery wings

en todos los colores de

my voice.

~ Julie Sellers

An Associate Professor of Spanish at Benedictine College, Julie Sellers has twice been the overall prose winner of the Kansas Voices Contest. She has published in Kansas Time + Place, The Write Launch, Kanhistique, and New Works Review. Her third academic book, The Modern Bachateros, was published in 2017 (McFarland).

Monthly Editor Maril Crabtree’s poems have been published in I-70 Review, Coal City Review, Main Street Rag, and others. Her book Fireflies in the Gathering Dark (Aldrich Press, 2017) is a Kansas Notable Book and Thorpe Menn Award finalist.

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