Category Archives: Poetry

Jealousy – by Jazmine LeBlanc

As I hold you in my arms
Your gentle tiny undulating body
Wrapped in comfort
Soothed
I pray that you recognize
That your melanin I gave you is a gift and not a curse
So young yet society has already lied to you
Because they are jealous
Oh so jealous of your many shades of brown
ever changing hues that match the seasons
Jealous of the versatility of your curls and texture
That on a hot summer day your rows of corn keep you cool
Jealous of your curves that make any designer grab their sketch book
your full figure the inspiration for fall fashion
Jealous of your cooking, the deep ingrained recipes that let loose from your soul
Spices and seasonings that keep you warm in winter
Jealous of your ageless skin, those genes that you will thank me for later
When you look like you are still in the spring of life
I pray that you learn young to love yourself
So that you may live a full life embracing the gifts from your mother

Image credit:  Girl of color by Alexandr Ivanov (Pixabay)

Watching the Game – by Devan Burton

America for me
is having black conversations
with white friends.
When asked
why million dollar football players
kneel
I thought of
Tamir,
Michael,
and the Minnesota gentleman
who had as much right to carry a gun
as he did to drive.

I cannot see
the soldiers my friend
—the medic in Iraq—tried
to save.
I do not know the sound the flag
made when it fell upon each coffin.
We’ve had dialogue before,
leaving us wiser,
possessing more insight
into each other’s race.

The following week,
we studied defensive schemes
towns apart.

Image credit: Children hugging (The Healing Universe); scripture verse added— ‘The Bible is more than information, it is intervention’ (a quote from Pastor Erwin Lutzer heard on a radio broadcast June 14, 2020)

Editor’s Note:

On November 22, 2014, Tamir Rice, a 12-year old African-American boy, was killed in Cleveland, Ohio by Timothy Loehmann, a 26-year-old police officer. Rice was carrying a replica toy Airsoft gun; Loehmann shot him almost immediately after arriving on the scene. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Tamir_Rice#:~:text=On%20November%2022%2C%202014%2C%20Tamir,after%20arriving%20on%20the%20scene

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown Jr., an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by 28-year-old white Ferguson police officer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Michael_Brown

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down in the street, begging for his life and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_of_George_Floyd

GOTTA BE GRATEFUL – by Cynthia Young

I thank God my son was in California
In 1992
when the police looked down at him sitting
on the ground and said to the suburban shopper,
who called security and reported him.
“Is he the one?”

I thank God my son has white friends.
The fact that his friends were all doing the same thing—
making an action-packed testosterone video for school,
might have helped him some.
They let his friends do the explaining,
showed the po-lice
their guns weren’t real,
while my son held his head down on concrete,
his wrists handcuffed together
like the shackles of his ancestors.

They let him go with
a restraining order:

never enter our mall again

and I thank God it wasn’t
a restraining rope
in a community square
in Alabama
in 1892

or a bullet
in 2002,
from a real gun.

Image credit: Abstract art (Cyclone Zone Amoled Backgrounds)

Word Up King – by Jody Harris

Words should never be used as weapons,
The mass destruction it causes can wear us down.
In those tense moments,
Leadership should step up.
KING stands for Kindly Invoking Natural Generosity,
It should be shown equally to the majority and the minority.
Definitions state what a word means,
Reshaping how it is used.
Seems like the laws regarding race, uplift the abuser
Further punishing the abused.
I’m not the enemy
Treat me with respect.
Stepping on each other’s toes is useless,
We’ll never learn this new dance.
The aim of conquering innovative new ground is a sign of progress,
Moving backwards doesn’t help us at all.
Kitchen Interiors Need Groundwork
From the ingredients to the utensils,
America needs a different recipe for Harmony.
Knee In the Neck of George was too much,
A Knee In the Neck of George touched off a rebellion
That is what KING stands for.
The K stands for the Knee
The letter I stands for In
The letter N stands for Neck
The letter G is for George.
Souls of those we miss often visit.
If you’re out of the office and tune in with the universe,
You’ve often missed it,
Titled crowns still have meaningful substance.
Swag and style vary from person to person,
There is no need to impose on the life of others,
Feel free to open your own museum of you,
Especially if the Holy Spirit advises you.
Dr. King marched peacefully,
He protested in a non-violent manner
In the midst of personal attacks.
Police brutality and racist policies embrace hate-fueled violence.
Words of affirmation try to countermeasure those acts.
We hold these truths to be self-evident.
Our goal should be making the world a better place,
Free hugs for everyone while supplies last.
Put words as weapons down and take our love off safety.

Image credit: Artwork by Jody Harris

i want to say something – by Johann van der Walt

i want to say something but then i think of food again

chewing the thick pieces of a privileged life is easier when its buttered by the comfort and bliss of the suburbs // dishes are served deboned and all crusts already cut off sweetly sinned and sprinkled slippery with deceit // on some occasions a stranger reflects back at me from the cutlery especially late at night when i feel the need to lie to myself // i tell myself that their uncooked problems do not outweigh my people’s thawed out mistakes // i greedily swallow the marrow of a smooth history // what is politics nowadays but an aftertaste anyway?

i say let’s move on and forget about what happened in the past // we need the bad taste of this meal to dissipate for my white-skin sake // i should try to understand that it is not as easy if the leftovers bite back and break the hand that holds the plate // empathy is what i lack and i can’t seem to understand their hate // desperately they chew on sinews while covered by reluctant skin // they try to disguise whatever freedom they could salvage under candlelight

i say let’s put our disadvantages behind us even if i disown to this day // please forget about your shortcomings and my free-flow // i say I know the reasons for a black man crying in the rain // his incessant hunger for a mother and the will to simply co-exist but never have i invited him to dine at my dinner table never have i envisioned this // do i understand what martin luther meant when in me he searched for a brother and not just a friend?

tomorrow i see black lives matter protests on the news and all empathy dissipate // why i want to justify it to read only all lives matter is a representation of my blind faith // to survive i have to make myself believe that the world’s greatest never die in vain

Image credit: Artwork by Johann van der Walt

The Morels – by Marilyn Kallet

They were a neighborhood
family of mushrooms

living right down by
the side of the house.

I would have trampled
them, but my ecologist

spouse tenderly
brought them in,

cleaned, then
fried them in butter

and Sauvignon Fumé.
A heady smell arose,

woodsy flavors
emerged from the pan.

Those knobby ones
urged me to taste

more. Sure, we’re
cloistered, closed in,

but the morels
made me see that Freud

wasn’t wrong. I mean,
look at them, poking up

out of the ground
like that.

Image credit: Painting by Christopher William Pell inspired by the Marilyn Kallet poem, “The Morels”

DO NOT RESUSCITATE – by Howard Gerald Comen

The Hippocratic Oath
Has an expiration date
My Mom and John both
Suffered the same fate

Do Not Resuscitate
They will just let you die
At 95 she’s expendable
They won’t even try

She birthed two kids
She broke two ribs
Had a cancer scare
But Nobody Cares

My friend’s brother died
He was only 59
The hospital refused to operate
Saying he didn’t cooperate

They accused him of stopping chemo
In reality he just ran out of dough
Another hospital agreed
To take him after 3 weeks
But he died on the two-hour ride

Image credit: The Scientific Student

Corporal Hitler’s Show Dog – by Michael Gaspeny

During the Great War, Hitler rescued a terrier
sniffing oil in a crater. The dog lapped water
from Adolf’s palm, slid under his coat, snout
poking through the holes. Adolf named the boy
Fuchsl (The Fox) and taught him to entertain.

Climbing ladders and springing backwards,
Fuchsl brought the Big Top to the trenches.
A smitten lieutenant asked to buy him;
Adolf declined. But when Fuchsl was barred
from a troop train, the officer grabbed the dog.

Why couldn’t machine-gun fire
have aerated the future Fuehrer
as it soon riddled the lieutenant?
Why couldn’t Adolf, instead of Fuchsl,
have inspected a stick grenade?

I have faith the answers await me
at the Will Call window,
when I’m dragged away.

Image credit: Hitler Portrait 4 (a Nazi Third Reich Wallpaper Image from the Historical collection of ayay.co.uk) has been colorized and sumperimposed with silhouettes of a terrier pursuing a rat.

Editor’s Note: The story about Hitler’s first dog as depicted in the poem:

Hitler’s first dog came to him when he was in the trenches during World War I. A small white Jack Russell terrier, apparently the property of an English soldier, was chasing a rat and inadvertently jumped in the trenches where Hitler was stationed. Hitler caught the terrier and made the dog his own. He called him Fuchsl, meaning Little Fox. Over twenty years later, Hitler would remember, “How many times at Fromelles, during the First World War, I studied my dog Fuchsl… I used to watch him as if he’d been a man. It was crazy how fond I was of the beast.”

In August of 1917, while Hitler’s regiment was on the way to Alsace for rest, a railroad official offered Hitler 200 marks for Fuchsl. Hitler refused, saying, “You could give me two hundred thousand and you wouldn’t get him!” But after Hitler had left the station with the troops, Hitler couldn’t find Fuchsl and realized that his cherished dog had been taken. “I was desperate,” he said, “the swine who stole my dog doesn’t know what he did to me.” [Ref. https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/heel-hitler]

The Sweet Harvest – by Chris Wood

A hawk shadows the lawn,
shades my view
where honeybees hover clover
scattered in the grass, gathering.

Laden with yellow pods of pollen
clinging to their back legs,
I watch them disappear into the hive.

The rusty beehive smoker puffs
as my dad, clad in his sting-proof suit,
walks slowly to the three-tiered honey keeper.

He lifts the metal telescoping roof
to 10 wood frames filled with wax covered goodness,
pulls them out one by one,
and slings the soul of the hive into mason jars.

As I spread the fruits of their labor
on a piece of wheat toast
cradled in my hand,
for a brief moment, I am
surrounded by buzzing, wings fanning
until all that is left
is the pure golden nectar of the gods.

Image credit: Honey photography by Bea Abascal