April 22, 2018

Ojo Taiye


after the four Congo refugees who died when their overloaded canoe capsized in Lake Albert, with lines borrowed from Kristin Chang’s “Poem for an Immigrant’s Daughter

i kneel in the hairline light                 of exile & home. no one leaves                 home
if the ocean will swallow         them         up. strange         how sitting                 in a truck at the Sebagoro landing site on Lake
                Albert shoreline means peace.                                 yesterday
        my                         mother ate her own appendix in a Ugandan bound pirogue. not
because hunger makes you                                                         whole but because there
is a name for grief         to grow into. i come from a small world—a lifted paragraph from one                 of the worst conflict displacement affected shit holes.                         i understand the need to
define as a need for hope. In Uturi, my relatives are dying;
               not because they are                                                 Hema or Bagagere, but because
        they share the same land                 with minerals. once this
               highland was our birthplace.                         once we were birds carrying the sky
        into night. now i wake to red sand & follow                 a trail of enmity & blood.

* * *

on the side of a road in                 Kasia province,         a woman’s abandoned                         luggage
                        & a suitcase spilling out music CDs.                         what happened
to the                 woman?                           why is the case open? did she manage
                                                        to run away?

from Poets Respond

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Ojo Taiye: “A recent wave of targeted attacks has left a trail of death, destruction, and mass displacement in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northeastern province of Ituri. The above poem is a sort of requiem for the symposium of endangered stars evicted to the water.”

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April 15, 2018

Jill Talbot


The pope is sorry, Mark
Zuckerberg is sorry, Starbucks
Is sorry. Hell, even Obama
Is sorry. The ocean’s sorry,
The sun is sorry, the polar
Bears are sorry, the otter
Living under your house is
Sorry. The hairdresser is
Sorry, the window cleaner
Is sorry. The spider who bit
You is sorry. Skeletons in
The desert are sorry. The NRA
Is sorry, the Titanic is sorry.
Justin Trudeau is sorry. The
Plastic surgeon is sorry,
Barbie is sorry. Killer
Robots are sorry.
The spider you
While you were
Is sorry.

from Poets Respond

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Jill Talbot: “This is a response to the testimony of Mark Zuckerberg.” (web)

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April 8, 2018

Jhoanna Belfer


Can I still say me too if I went willing
into the car, the darkest corner,

crawled eager into the back seat,
laid myself bare on the mattress,

the sheets already twisted
and smelling? Even with my eyes

flung up and wide into the eaves
of the house, the crevices

of the borrowed car,
disembodied even into stars

and sun, indiscriminate moon,
I saw, saw the unswept floor, the dirty

wrappers, the days-old litter
of empty food containers

and drunk-from cups, crusted
with other women’s lips.

But I was taught to offer up
the choicest parts, pass the plate

glistening with meat, say
here, here.

from Poets Respond

[download audio]


Jhoanna Belfer: “I’d just read Rebecca Solnit’s book of essays, Men Explain Things to Me, the week before, and then heard about the Stormy Daniels interview with Anderson Cooper, and then saw this piece on the question of what “entirely consensual” might mean, all the while thinking of my own experiences as a Filipino-American woman whose culture and family values always taught me to put the other person, especially men, before myself and my needs/wants. So I got to thinking about all those questionable, if not outright abusive, moments that happen in a woman’s or young girl’s life that occur in part because of societal or familial conditioning that tells us to be nice, strive to gain others’ good opinion, be pretty/sexy/appealing, on and on, which I just don’t think most men ever think about. Or at least not to the point that they would allow themselves to get into situations where they may be abused or harassed or assaulted.”

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April 5, 2018

Gardner Dorton


for the fall of Tiangong-1

I am coming home, The Line-Walker,
who walks between up and down, heaven

and ground. Because, here “ethereal”
means lonely and “star-lit” means

dark. I am no closer to God the way
a bridge is no closer to either side.

I am falling unburdened, Babel returning
to origin and singularity- at peace

to be back in place. I will find
a resting spot, one plop into the ocean

when my wings have burned off.

from Poets Respond
April 5, 2018

[download audio]


Gardner Dorton: “On Monday, the Tiangong-1 space station fell into the southern Pacific Ocean. Tiangong is literally translated as ‘heavenly palace,’ and MEARCSTAPA is an acronym for ‘Monsters: The Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology Through Scholarly Theory and Practical Application.'” (web)

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April 1, 2018

Margaret Ray


We spend our lives looking
for habitable places. No, not this. No,
not here. And again.

And then grace coming on, if it dare, like
(spread the word) a sunrise made bright
by the smoggy air.

(have you heard?) Making room.
And when they are desirous to be blessed,
we’ll blessing beg of them.

from Poets Respond


Margaret Ray: “Of course, I assume there will be hundreds of poems about the March For Our Lives last Saturday. But of course that’s what I had to write about. The italicized lines come from Yolanda Renee King’s speech at the D.C. march. The poem’s last two lines are amended from Hamlet. And of course, the title come from The Who’s album My Generation.”

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