June 5, 2016

Akua Lezli Hope


for Harambe

if it were my thing
my stupid lump of boy flesh
rushing heedless, endangered
to thrill             to explore
what was not his
never his       always his for the taking
my someday scion
my heir apparent
my never reproached
rarely admonished
my beamish boy unattended
my twinkling toddler
my future maker of grandchildren
poison apple of my sty eye
my pride and joy
my fine young man
my gutter cleaner, yard mower, dog walker
my consumer of mass quantities
my someday quarterback, my bedwetter
rug rat, crumbsnatcher, piglet,
my big diaper guy, my little monkey

if                 if if
I would’ve shot that gorilla, too
while I wailed and boohooed
and didn’t look, couldn’t look, wouldn’t watch
his possible demise
but it wasn’t my idiot
tumbling where he didn’t belong
trespassing on another ‘s territory
not mine lacking the sense he should have been born with
not mine slung like a sack through the green moat
not mine baptized to the possibilities of fate
ensnaring the innocent silverback,
born protector of his dwindling few
in the continuing death dance
of human caprice

Poets Respond
June 5, 2016


Akua Lezli Hope: “A three-and-a-half-year-old boy entered a Cincinnati Zoo gorilla’s enclosure last Saturday—spurring zoo officials to shoot and kill the gorilla. The boy was dragged across a moat by the 450-pound gorilla. After ten minutes, Cincinnati Zoo officials shot and killed the beloved and endangered silverback, named Harambe. The boy was not seriously injured. We could end up without gorillas in this world. We should work to have wild life in wild lands. But people put the gorilla in the zoo, people have decimated gorilla populations and people killed this gorilla.” (web)

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November 8, 2015

Akua Lezli Hope


I cannot justify making students cry,
the disorder is in the system.
Too small to span the keyboard, hands shake trying
behaviors far beyond them in the curriculum.

The disorder is in the system.
They cry with frustration. They must attempt
behaviors far beyond them in the curriculum,
scored on wildly inappropriate assessments.

They cry with frustration. They must attempt
poorly written tests. Their shoulders slump. Some misbehave.
Scored on wildly inappropriate assessments,
teachers are regimented, punished if they deviate.

Children hunt for letters they must attempt
but cannot read. Disorder is in the system.

Poets Respond
November 8, 2015

[download audio]


Akua Lezli Hope: “This is a found poem, a pantoum-sonnet hybrid, compelled by Wendy Bradshaw’s resignation letter. She recalls the soul-crushing requirements made of students in schools and how the birth of her own child—with its attendant joy, also underscores dread for its future in school. I feel sorrowful that my New York City public school education, in an era before all these civil and civic advancements, before computers, included nine years of French, four years of music theory, nine years of music and art instruction, physics, chemistry, biology, algebra, calculus, geometry, four years of swimming in an Olympic size pool, reasonably sized classes, never mind performances, clubs, and some friendships which have lasted a lifetime. And I considered it all so deeply flawed and wanting as I lived it. Yet much of this is not available to public school students in the 21st century.” (website)

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