Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

robWritten in protest of police brutality and in remembrance of the
brothers and sisters murdered through excessive police force.

It’s gotten cold again.
That familiar frigid feeling where lifelessness grows thick in the air.
Spare us the talk of seasons, this seems year round.
The sound of rapid heartbeats slowing meets with earth
shattering silence to make the soundtrack of our sorrow.
The last waves of heat waft upward.
The light, salvation appearing unreachable.

We raise our hands.

Maybe we can catch just a bit of it in our palms.
Maybe we just have questions that need answering and
our conditioning tells us our hands must go up first.
Maybe with lies no longer supporting our world we are trying to catch falling sky
in a moment of survival inspired instinct thinking we can bear the weight.

Wait!
Don’t shoot!
Why are you shooting?!
I’m just taking the shape of shooting star aimed downward.
Earthbound.

Trying to infuse something human into this unrecognizable mess we call…
Yes, I called the police. I was scared, but I didn’t think they would kill him.
Yes, I discharged my weapon.  I feared no longer being feared.

Why did he run?
Was he running?

It looked like he was doing an unusual dance to a strange beat.
Like he was using his feet to clear a path to something different.
But any possibility of change must be dispatched without regard and
a hardened soul starts to pull triggers they lose count of how many shots were fired.

How many bullets needed to penetrate flesh like seed in ground?
What urges inanimate forms to animation?
The rhythm of truth is constant.
Still there are masses frozen in fear.
It’s cold out here.

Move.
Love is an action.
A step,
a leap,
a shift,
a motion.

Rising like the elevated notion of creation.
Our bodies are celebration personified!
Our raised hands are not a submission.
They are a sign of divine ambition, of indestructible will.
To keep reaching for something appearing to beautiful to be real.

Warmth is descending again.

Feel,
breathe,
live.

~ Rob Love

Poet Rob Love is a Kansas City, Missouri native and has been writing poetry since 2007. He has self-published one collection, Ready to Rise.  His pieces have been featured through Black Art in America and Cowbird.com and in collaborations with the Center for Digital Storytelling and UMKC Conservatory of Dance for Salon~360 and a performance at The Folly Theater.  As a mentor, public speaker and poet he aims to reach youth and adults alike in order to cure the voicelessness that grips our communities. For him, poetry isn’t just a passion, but a purpose to be fulfilled.  The goal will always be to elevate, enlighten and inspire the whole of the human family.

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She is currently a writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. As an art writer and scholar, her peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

diane-wahtoWhere do you find hope or solace
under a cold sky that is not your sky,
far from the land that means loss
to a land where the earth provides
only hard ground to ease your nights,
where no roof deflects winter winds,
no warm kitchen aromas brighten
the end of a day spent in mundane
pursuits. This lonely refuge will
keep you safe for now, your child
clutching a teddy bear, kept warm
in a puffy jacket. Free from alarm,
his eyes roam the unfamiliar
landscape, explore a new world
before he barely knows the old.

~ Diane Wahto

Poety Diane Wahto graduated with an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University in 1985. Recent publications include work in 365 Days, a volume for which she was a co-editor. She, her husband Patrick Roche, and their dogs, Annie and Mulan, live in Midtown, Wichita, Kansas.

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She is currently a writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. As an art writer and scholar, her peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

iyabaamerikkka
where tomorrow always feels like yesterday
in the blink of an era
can’t get the taste a de rope
offa me tongue
hung; hanging from the letter of the law
again; men in white cloth and blue heart
blue cloth and white heart
spilln blood red
red blood spilln
killn by proxy…
by unspoken words
and obligatory hellos and elevator cringes
and pocketbook tucks
and suspicious skin…
guilty at birth skin…
2016 divided by america=1865
can’t get de taste a de rope
offa me tongue…
yesterday another Black man was hung!

~ Iyaba Ibo Mandingo

Poet Iyaba Ibo Mandingo is a painter, writer, poet, actor, and musician. He migrated to America with his mother and sister at 11-years-old and credits his grandparents, a seamstress and a tailor, with being his greatest artistic influences. He has three chap-books of poetry “41 Times” (2001), “American Exile” (2005), “40 days, 40 nites of write” (2011), and “Sins of My Fathers” (2012). His first full-length novel and a new collection of poetry, “Fu You Tongue Heavy lakka 56,” is available spring 2017. Mandingo’s award winning one-man play, ‘unframed,’ about the 55 days he spent in homeland security for his poem 9-11, had a successful run off Broadway in 2011-2012. His new play, ‘Oh No Not Another Play about Angry Black Men,’ is being developed by New York Theater Workshop, where he is a resident playwright.

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She is currently a writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. As an art writer and scholar, her peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

rondashe doesn’t dream.
Each afternoon I ask, hopeful,
she as despondent as I by her response.
“Not of ponies, a unicorn, white kittens?” I ply.
She shakes her head side to side.
Full lips whisper, “No,” so quietly that I’m lip reading.

During the day, she shares her tears,
tells me how badly she misses her mom
who lives behind bars.
Her older brother, who has
somehow transformed into her
baby brother, she cries for him too.
They have different fathers.
His came for him, hers has not.

Today I decide to change things.
I don’t ask her if she had a dream, I know she did.
I know she does every afternoon and night.
They are nightmares, filled with a loss so dark
they can’t be shared in light of day,
can’t be spoken, can not be remembered.
They are felt so far inside there are no words to share.

I sit beside her, rub her back.
her dark eyes open, flutter shut, reopen.
“Let me tell you about your dream,” I say.
“You were riding a rainbow unicorn
with a fuzzy white kitten in your pocket.
She kept peeking her big bright blue eyes
out to tell you where to go.
You went all the way to the moon and back.
I saw you there myself.”
Her face relaxes, and she smiles.

~ Ronda Miller

Poet Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and thunderstorms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and daughter. She is a district president and state vice president for Kansas Authors Club. She is a life coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets. She has poetry in numerous online and hard copy publications that include the Smithsonian Institute. Two books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life and MoonStain (Meadowlark Books, May 2015).

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She is currently a writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. As an art writer and scholar, her peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

curves soft & sweet
to the taste
feel
sight

form
in possession of mind,
plans, goals
for her life
today
every tomorrow
uncaptured by
the shutter

form
with ideals
independent thoughts
ambitious goals
legitimate as her sculptor’s

form
pulsating creativity
from mammary glands
to generations
generations
generations, &
generations
of artistic forces
of nature
in their own
right
yet
none drips from
the painter’s brush

touching the warm,
velvet canvas
swells the envy of
those
similarly loving
nude
or is she naked
undulating motion
displayed
made available for gazing,
imagining

because her
form is female

~ Z Hall

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2017 and a more gender equal world for all.

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She is currently a writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. As an art writer and scholar, her peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

simone-savannah-head-shotMy dear baby black boy I see the sirens in your eyes
your heart is pounding attempting to escape
through your back or the center of your chest
before gun shots settle it—

oh God. My womb shakes
as you fall
you see the blue sky in your eyes a final time, the gray
of your breath fading at the face of his steel toes
when he inhales the smoke chimneying from his pistol.

There is blood rising in your throat for the first time—
When you taste it you know what it means
you want the spill of your mother’s milk to warm you.
Your sister wants to bring you some but her wrists are cuffed
and she has to watch you—
mostly she thinks she will make it up to you
make you laugh real good when you’re able to move or play again

I tell you dear boy, sweet skin, sweet black boy
they didn’t think any of us would smell your sweet baby breath disappearing—
our legs rumbled the city’s ground when he emptied you

~ Simone Savannah

Poet Simone Savannah is from Columbus, Ohio, and is a PhD candidate in creative writing at The University of Kansas. Her poems have appeared in Big Lucks, Powder Keg, Apogee, GlitterMOB, The Fem, Voicemail Poems, Puerto del Sol, Vending Machine Press, The Pierian, and Blackberry: A Magazine.

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She is currently a writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. As an art writer and scholar, her peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

we can look through the holiday photos to remember

how exaggerated we made our smiles how the words

in carols about peace and love are easy to remember

sing on cue by the teacher or there’s another detention

stay silent through the night or you’ll get something

to cry about yes we have faced Trumps in our lives

faced the shouting as we shut down like tree lights

we know the pine needles know the break of ornaments

so if you think it isn’t in the holiday spirit to decorate

our facebook walls boughs of links against Trump

against pipelines and hate please understand

we’re hopeful for a better new year than imagined

for peace on Earth which means joining choirs

to sing with those who got pushed to the side

~ Dennis Etzel Jr.

Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016). His work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, Tarpaulin Sky, DIAGRAM, and others. Please feel free to connect with him at dennisetzeljr.com.

Guest editor bio: Annette Hope Billings is an author/actor whose published works include a collection of poetry, A Net Full of Hope, and a collection of affirmations, Descants for a Daughter. Her poetry, prose, and short stories have appeared in a number of publications. She resides within the delights of being mother to one, grandmother to two and friend to many in her village of Topeka.

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