“Dark August” by Derek Walcott

So much rain, so much life like the swollen sky
of this black August. My sister, the sun,
broods in her yellow room and won’t come out.

Everything goes to hell; the mountains fume
like a kettle, rivers overrun; still,
she will not rise and turn off the rain.

She is in her room, fondling old things,
my poems, turning her album. Even if thunder falls
like a crash of plates from the sky,

she does not come out.
Don’t you know I love you but am hopeless
at fixing the rain ? But I am learning slowly

to love the dark days, the steaming hills,
the air with gossiping mosquitoes,
and to sip the medicine of bitterness,

so that when you emerge, my sister,
parting the beads of the rain,
with your forehead of flowers and eyes of forgiveness,

all with not be as it was, but it will be true
(you see they will not let me love
as I want), because, my sister, then

I would have learnt to love black days like bright ones,
The black rain, the white hills, when once
I loved only my happiness and you.

Derek WalcottJanuary 23, 1930 – March 17, 2017


First Harvey, Now Irma. Sigh. Be safe out there, friends.

And because I love to see young talent recite poetry:

Youth poets Kyland Turner and Walter Finnie perform “Dark August” by classic poet Derek Walcott at the 2014 Get Lit Classic Slam Quarter Finals

 

 

“Problems with Hurricanes” by Victor Hernández Cruz (repost)

A campesino looked at the air
And told me:
With hurricanes it’s not the wind
or the noise or the water.
I’ll tell you he said:
it’s the mangoes, avocados
Green plantains and bananas
flying into town like projectiles.

How would your family
feel if they had to tell
The generations that you
got killed by a flying
Banana.

Death by drowning has honor
If the wind picked you up
and slammed you
Against a mountain boulder
This would not carry shame
But
to suffer a mango smashing
Your skull
or a plantain hitting your
Temple at 70 miles per hour
is the ultimate disgrace.

The campesino takes off his hat—
As a sign of respect
toward the fury of the wind
And says:
Don’t worry about the noise
Don’t worry about the water
Don’t worry about the wind—
If you are going out
beware of mangoes
And all such beautiful
sweet things.

From Maraca: New and Selected Poems 1965-2000 by Victor Hernández Cruz. Copyright © 2001 by Victor Hernández Cruz. Published by Coffee House Press

Cruz reads his poem in the above embedded video. Click HERE to view on YouTube.

 

* Originally shared Jan. 17, 2015. A double post today for those of you affected by Harvey. Be well. Beware of mangoes. My thoughts and prayers follow you. -christy

“Enough” by Andrea Gibson (repost)

Last night I painted a purple tree on my bedroom wall
I woke up this morning in a pile of leaves
The colour of a million different faces
Thinking of that hand that planted the seed
Of the family tree that grew us all
And how each one of us
Will one day fall back to the ground

This morning
I was listening to my heart pound
Knowing with every single beat
That a thousand other hearts were falling asleep forever
On a day they never thought they would
And I know there are tribes of aborigines
That decide how and when they’ll die
After a hundred years or so
They walk into the desert alone
Offer up their breath
And within two minutes soar into a death
As beautiful as their life
And I was thinking I
Will probably never be enlightened enough to decide how I want to die

So this morning
I decided how I want to live
What I want to give
What kind of song I want to sing
Now I’m no longer
Looking at my days like they’re a cup
Calling them half empty or half full
When they’ve always been enough
They’ll always be enough
To fill me up
If I stop thinking so much
And start drinking them up
Until I get so drunk and high on my days
I’ll be walking up to strangers and saying things like
“Hey, I know Jesus was born in a manger
But I woke at dawn today
To watch the earth’s horizon
Give birth to true rising sun of God
And I can’t stop singing hallelujah”

Can you believe we’re here?
Can you believe there are gods somewhere praying to us?
I want to be that nut on a bus
Who’s really a prophet
Telling everybody
“Smoking is bad
Stop it
You might be an opera singer some day
And how are you gonna hit the high notes?”
I wanna live like those high notes
That rise from the throats of old ladies
When they see little babies
Riding in shopping carts
I wanna start somebody’s heart like that
Taking ninety years back
So you’ll have sworn
You weren’t born
Until you saw me
Planting roses
In all the sidewalk cracks
So when you trip
You’ll fall in love
With someone you thought you hated
And now look at what that love has created

Look
There’s a sky
On her faded blue jeans
With a flock of birds
About to fly to my words
And my next line’s
Gonna rhyme with her eyes
And she’ll wink
And I’ll think I’m as beautiful as him

I wanna live my life
Like it’s a little league game
I don’t care if I win
Just wanna watch some little girl
Get her very first hit
Watch her father cheer so hard
He spills his beer
And decides to quit
I wanna split some woman’s
Tired eyes open
Wake her with her own sunrise
So she knows
There’s reason to be hoping
She’ll say
“There are stingers in my heart
But I’m sure that I’m a queen”
And that night
She’ll vow to swarm
Until every angry car horn
Is reborn a song
Of let there be light
Every angry war cry reborn
A song of let there be life

I wanna build the timid teenage boy
A microphone that will
Echo his rhymes
The same way
They echo in his shower
When he’s home alone

I wanna write poems
In the tone
Of your mother’s eyes
When she whispered your name
For the very first time
Poems that will make you go home
Pick up the phone
And call her
While I call mine to say
“You know those lines
On the kitchen wall
Where I grew
Taller and taller and taller
Put a couple more there won’t you?
Cause I’m growing up here”
No longer looking at my days
Like they’re a cup
Calling them enough
From now on
They’ll be overflowing
Since now I’m knowing
It’s up to me
To fill them up

~ Andrea Gibson

 

Originally posted: 9/6/2014

 

 

“34 Excuses For Why We Failed at Love” by Warsan Shire (repost)

1. I’m lonely so I do lonely things
2. Loving you was like going to war; I never came back the same.
3. You hate women, just like your father and his father, so it runs in your blood.
4. I was wandering the derelict car park of your heart looking for a ride home.
5. You’re a ghost town I’m too patriotic to leave.
6. I stay because you’re the beginning of the dream I want to remember.
7. I didn’t call him back because he likes his girls voiceless.
8. It’s not that he wants to be a liar; it’s just that he doesn’t know the truth.
9. I couldn’t love you, you were a small war.
10. We covered the smell of loss with jokes.
11. I didn’t want to fail at love like our parents.
12. You made the nomad in me build a house and stay.
13. I’m not a dog.
14. We were trying to prove our blood wrong.
15. I was still lonely so I did even lonelier things.
16. Yes, I’m insecure, but so was my mother and her mother.
17. No, he loves me he just makes me cry a lot.
18. He knows all of my secrets and still wants to kiss me.
19. You were too cruel to love for a long time.
20. It just didn’t work out.
21. My dad walked out one afternoon and never came back.
22. I can’t sleep because I can still taste him in my mouth.
23. I cut him out at the root, he was my favorite tree, rotting, threatening the foundations of my home.
24. The women in my family die waiting.
25. Because I didn’t want to die waiting for you.
26. I had to leave, I felt lonely when he held me.
27. You’re the song I rewind until I know all the words and I feel sick.
28. He sent me a text that said “I love you so bad.”
29. His heart wasn’t as beautiful as his smile
30. We emotionally manipulated one another until we thought it was love. 
31. Forgive me, I was lonely so I chose you. 
32. I’m a lover without a lover. 
33. I’m lovely and lonely. 
34. I belong deeply to myself .

 

by Warsan Shire, On Twitter @warsan_shire

originally posted: 10/5/14

(I will be on a digital hiatus/detox during October. I’ll be running a collection of previously posted material from 2014, the first year of Words. Hopefully it will be new or nearly new to most of you. I may be slow to reply to comments or emails that need response. Thanks for understanding, xo, Christy)

“A Good Day” by Kait Rokowski (repost)

Yesterday, I spent 60 dollars on groceries,
took the bus home,
carried both bags with two good arms back to my studio apartment
and cooked myself dinner.
You and I may have different definitions of a good day.
This week, I paid my rent and my credit card bill,
worked 60 hours between my two jobs,
only saw the sun on my cigarette breaks
and slept like a rock.
Flossed in the morning,
locked my door,
and remembered to buy eggs.
My mother is proud of me.
It is not the kind of pride she brags about at the golf course.
She doesn’t combat topics like, ”My daughter got into Yale”
with, ”Oh yeah, my daughter remembered to buy eggs”
But she is proud.
See, she remembers what came before this.
The weeks where I forgot how to use my muscles,
how I would stay as silent as a thick fog for weeks.
She thought each phone call from an unknown number was the notice of my suicide.
These were the bad days.
My life was a gift that I wanted to return.
My head was a house of leaking faucets and burnt-out lightbulbs.
Depression, is a good lover.
So attentive; has this innate way of making everything about you.
And it is easy to forget that your bedroom is not the world,
That the dark shadows your pain casts is not mood-lighting.
It is easier to stay in this abusive relationship than fix the problems it has created.
Today, I slept in until 10,
cleaned every dish I own,
fought with the bank,
took care of paperwork.
You and I might have different definitions of adulthood.
I don’t work for salary, I didn’t graduate from college,
but I don’t speak for others anymore,
and I don’t regret anything I can’t genuinely apologize for.
And my mother is proud of me.
I burned down a house of depression,
I painted over murals of greyscale,
and it was hard to rewrite my life into one I wanted to live
But today, I want to live.
I didn’t salivate over sharp knives,
or envy the boy who tossed himself off the Brooklyn bridge.
I just cleaned my bathroom,
did the laundry,
called my brother.
Told him, “it was a good day.”- Kait Rokowski, “A Good Day”

 

 

 

(I will be on a digital hiatus/detox during October. I’ll be running a collection of previously posted material from 2014, the first year of Words. Hopefully it will be new or nearly new to most of you. I may be slow to reply to comments or emails that need response. Thanks for understanding, xo, Christy)