Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Posts tagged ‘Annette Hope Billings’

Spill — by Annette Hope Billings

A near-perfect carry technique

results in safe transport

of coffee from barista to table.

No slosh as hot liquid sways

in tandem with a measured gait.

 

Don’t look at it and it won’t spill.

 

Saucer-cup ensemble is slid slowly

onto a table’s solid surface

with careful consideration

to not waste such vital fluid,

to keep each drop its rightful side of wall.

 

Don’t look at it and it won’t spill.

 

Black ink on morning newspaper,

printed proof of latest violence

this time on foreign ground,

to soak up life spilled

from arteries to exsanguination.

 

Don’t look at it and it won’t spill.

 

Vision clouds at lists of victims

until eyes avert to waiting coffee—

lifeless now, cooled to tepid.

It and headlines are pushed aside

neither valid when left to grow cold.

 

Don’t look at it and it won’t spill.

~ Annette Hope Billings

Annette Hope Billings is an author and actress known for her spoken delivery. She has received a Renna Hunter Award for theater and an ARTSConnect ARTY Award in Literature (2015) Billings’ published works include A Net Full of Hope (2015), a collection of poems and Descants for a Daughter (2016), a collection of inspirations. Her poetry and short stories are included in a number of publications and anthologies. For additional information and performance videos, visit website: http://anetfullofhope.com/

Guest editor 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).

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Blueberries — By Annette Hope Billings

Awash in deep color,

settled in ceramic bowl,

they lay full ripe and succulent,

skins pressed against glazed sides of dish.

Ready to burst open, spill,

with slightest provocation,

to imbrue fingers, color mouths

of those who adore dark berries.

 

Content to wear midnight blue,

they consider themselves radiant,

and insist they are a hue

to which even blatant red must bow.

 

Not inclined to sweetness,

they revel in approaching tart,

and only when they fancy,

give consent to be plucked,

juiced, blended, crushed—

to allow their contents to be spread.

 

Opulent indigo orbs,

gathered to sate desire.

While anxious hordes

in crisp business whites,

give generous berth,

I scoop great handfuls,

eat, eager to be entirely stained.

~ Annette Hope Billings

Annette Hope Billings is an poet/actress/playwright, who has written two poetry collections. In 2015, she stepped away from four decades of nursing to writing full-time. Her most recent collection of poetry, A Net Full of Hope, was published last year, garnering her a readers’-proposed title of “Maya of the Midwest.”

Izzy Wasserstein is a Lecturer in English at Washburn University. Izzy is the author of the poetry collection This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, and has published in Crab Orchard Review, Flint Hills Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Izzy shares a home with Nora E. Derrington, a cat, and three dogs, and believes in the power of resistance.

That December in 2016 — by Dennis Etzel Jr.

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.

You Will Come Up Short — by Izzy Wasserstein

wasserstein_selfieAlmost every time.

You will run for 24 hours, run until your calves burn

and your feet are a ruin of blisters,

and reach your destination fifteen seconds late.

The sandbags you stack through the night

will not hold back the floods.

You will look at the rubble of your life.

You will come up short.

The future you work for will always be the future.

The war you rallied against, prayed against,

shouted against, screamed against–

the war you beat your bloody knuckles against

until your arms gave out–

the war will come. The men who started it will grin

over the ashpits of your despair.

You will come up short.

The walls you build around yourself will crack.

The poem you write will fail.

This poem will fail.

Your song of protest will not sway the President,

nor the mayor, nor the mayor’s dog.

You will pull apart your pockets seeking change,

and finding none, you will give up the milk, or the eggs, or the flour.

You will leave the tying run stranded at third base,

and they will laugh and celebrate their triumph

and hope you do not notice they were born there,

on third base, while you fought to take your first swing.

They want you to come up short

because of the color of your skin, or the dirt

caked to your palms, or the shape of your genitals

or the self you need yourself to be,

or whom you love or lust after,

because you do not sound like them,

because you were born elsewhere

because you were born at all,

because you see their lies,

or because they hate everyone

but themselves, and maybe especially themselves,

and so they cannot stand to see you succeed.

They will leave landmines in your path,

and when they do not know your path,

they will leave landmines everywhere.

They will threaten what you love.

They will promise you a runner-up trophy

if only you stop now. They will take away the trophy

you earned, and if they cannot take it away

they will tell you it was never yours, or never existed,

or that they let you have it.

They will have you thinking since you first crawled

that your legs were theirs,

that your arms were useless to you.

They will cut your tendons.

They will tell you that you are safest if you are silent,

tell you to keep your head low

and your eyes on your folded hands.

They will offer you baubles

and tell you that you can only win

by joining them

and then they will place you in the stands,

far, far up, so you may cheer their triumph with your bloody mouth,

they will tell you that you can be one of them

if only you put the hammer down,

if only you take up their flag

and their knives

and put them to use.

You will come up short.

They are counting on it.

They have built the world to ensure it.

Almost every time, you will look back and see the long line

of failures and their way will seem appealing, so much easier.

Just put the hammer down,

they will say.

And then you will see the fear lodged back far behind their eyes,

the pulsing fear, the fear that is a mechanical fist, always constricting,

and the only way they can loosen it

is to make it grasp you.

And you will know you do not need their fist.

You will come up short.

The blow you strike with all your strength

will not split open the bars.

The alarms will shriek contempt, the hammer will drop

from your hands.

Look at it closely. See the way the grip

was molded for your dirty palm. The edge is chipped

but it is strong. The callouses you have earned

serve you now. Reach down.

The hammer is as heavy as it needs to be.

It was made for you.

Strike again.

~ Izzy Wasserstein

Izzy Wasserstein is a Lecturer in English at Washburn University. Izzy is the author of the poetry collection This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, and has published in Crab Orchard Review, Flint Hills Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Izzy shares a home with Nora E. Derrington, a cat, and three dogs, and believes in the power of resistance.

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.

The Farm is Foreclosing — by Tara Bartley

IMG_0638Implicit seeds are cultivated

From fear so profitable for its ease to make,

Of the well-meaning to self-serving,

Off power milked from icons of deviance,

To be mutilated and manufactured

As the feed needed to breed fury

In the cattle to normalize that they will cannibalize

Their sisters, their brothers, they’re others.

Because it was superficially better for cost

Than the nurture lost of proper nutrition.

Feed sacks on face,

In the bondage of blue collar choke chains,

The creatures cannot see

As they are being led gently to slaughter,

To become an export of hate-mongered followers to Oblivion,

An army perfected for any cause,

Even pre-packaged for consumer convenience.

Off further from the yard

Can be heard the milk maid and her grievances,

That guilt leaves her defeated,

But not that the guilt would not be

For not the absence of action.

Her cries become silence

As she continues her job as always before.

Silence is her death

In a farm of noise so chaotic

You can no longer find sleep at night.

You of the stable hands few

Who sees what has been

And can be empath oracle to see what could be,

Be that ugly roots digging deeper to spoil our soil

Or the change Romantic hearts hopelessly pined for.

You who cannot be lulled to peace

Via non-confronting “peace” with regimen as is

And continue to champion for peace as truly is,

Where pain is no longer a tool to convert and oppress

Nor a reason never to try

Against the suffering of communication,

You will continue to breathe

In spite of the farm foreclosing.

~ Tara Barley

Tara Bartley is currently a Senior at Washburn University, majoring in History and flirting with Sociology. Her works can be found in the Konza Journal and Microburst Kansas.A lifelong resident of Topeka, Kansas, she is active in its ever-expanding poetry scene as a member and hocker of the Speak Easy Poets.

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.

Holy Water by Annette Hope Billings

I, Water, having fully drenched12552978_10153398709925678_2056471190933144579_n

each part you present,

find you faultless,

I find you totally acceptable,

utterly free of error,

and entirely worthy

to enter deep into me.
I, Water, part for your descent,

yield for your departure.

I covet the sum of you,

caress the all of you,

welcome the whole of you

which you so generously bring.
I, Water, feel no excess

in wake of your body’s passing.

I swirl around you,

ripple against you,

flow beside you,

lap between you.
I, Water, find you exuberantly sufficient,

clothed or naked,

to step, wade, float, tread, splash, spin, stroke,

as you will,

while you want,

until, saturated with me,

you fancy to exit.
I, Water, having shamelessly sodden

your every surface ,

deem you perfect,

and I bless you for your presence

which renders me holy.

~ Annette Hope Billings

Annette Hope Billings is an poet/actress/playwright, who has written two poetry collections. In 2015, she stepped away from four decades of nursing to writing full-time. Her most recent collection of poetry, A Net Full of Hope, was published last year, garnering her a readers’-proposed title of “Maya of the Midwest.” anetfullofhope@gmail.com

Jose Faus is a multidisciplinary artist, writer and independent teacher. He is a founding member of the Latino Writers Collective and sits on the boards of the Latino Writers Collective, UMKC Friends of the Library, Charlotte Street Foundation and is president of the board of The Writers Place. His first book of poetry This Town Like That was published in 2015. The full-length poetry collection The Life and Times of Jose Calderon is forthcoming from 39 Street Press.

Per Aspera Ad Astra by Huascar Medina

IMG_0640We were lost in the plains,

beautiful and ordinary,

Sunflowers in the fields;

seeds of fallen stars,

standing tall; deeply rooted

in this land.

 

I’ve admired how our flowers shine,

grasping towards the sky

beyond the prairie grass; anchored

down to earth; mimicking

the sun.

 

When a gardener plants

the seeds of Helianthus, he is

performing magic; raising

stars out of the dust where

buzzing planets circle,

half red moons set; and swarming

comets float in orange comas.

 

I’ve always felt that

late at night, in the bed of a truck,

in a Kansas field; we were

at the center of this universe.

 

…and I was exactly where I should be,

amongst the flowers; not below.

Huascar Medina

Huascar Medina has lived artfully in Topeka, Kansas since 2001. He is the father of the four-year-old demigod, Sebastian Rook. Currently he is a member of Topeka’s Speak Easy poetry group and the Red Tail Collective in Lawrence. His first published poem appeared in HomeWords: A Project of the Kansas Poet Laureate. In February 2016, his poetry will be featured in Reverberated Echoes: A Kansas City Reader (Asinimali Publications). He is also a magnificent crow.

Guest editor: Annette Hope Billings is an poet/actress/playwright from Topeka, KS, who has written two collections of poetry. In 2015, she stepped away from four decades of nursing to writing full-time and explore where her creative path was leading her. Her most recent collection of poetry, A Net Full of Hope, was published last year and has been well-received, garnering her a readers’ proposed title of “Maya of the Midwest.” For more info about her book:tinyurl.com/anfohbook To view videos of her work: tinyurl.com/anfohvideos To follow her on FaceBook: Facebook.com/anetfullofhope.

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