Tag Archives: poetry

They by Kumar Hassan


Translated from ‘The Odia’ by Pitambar Naik

They’re wandering outside with the guns and urging us
to be in peace
they’re torching house after house and village after village
and claiming to have driven away the darkness
they’re killing people with no conflict and talking to remain
consoled after the enemy is slayed.

Letting us hold the chit of the suffrage of our voting right
they’re pulling us to be enslaved
stamping over the people under various parties by
disfiguring, splitting, slashing, kneading and decimating
only to say you’re complete.

They’re raping women and giving the sermon on
women empowerment
having opened the factory of unemployment, they’re
promising a thousand employments in thousand days
picking up the neighbor’s skullcap in trident they’re
talking of secularism.

Shooting the democracy, they’re hailing the victory
of Ram in the country
having opened the breweries, they’re talking of
liquor prevention.

Depriving the citizens of their rights and dismantling
the constitution and the judiciary
they’re talking about civil rights
selling the country out to the hands of the foreign land
they’re talking about patriotism.


In Punjabi [reprinted with permission]:


ସେମାନେ ବାହାରେ ବଂଧୁକ ଧରି ବୁଲୁଛନ୍ତି ଓ ଆମକୁ
ଶାନ୍ତିରେ ରହିବାକୁ କହୁଛନ୍ତି, ସେମାନେ ଘରକୁ ଘର, ଗାଁ କୁ ଗାଁ ଜାଳି ଦେଉଛନ୍ତି
ଓ ଅଂଧାର ଦୂର କରିଥିବାର କଥା କହୁଛନ୍ତି, ସେମାନେ ନିର୍ବିବାଦରେ ମଣିଷକୁ ମାରୁଛନ୍ତି
ଓ ଶତ୍ରୁକୁ ନିଧନ ପରେ ଆଶ୍ବସ୍ତ ରହିବା କଥା କହୁଛନ୍ତି
ଗଣତନ୍ତ୍ରର ମତାଧିକାର’ର ଚିଟ୍ ଖଣ୍ଡେ ଧରାଇ,
ସେମାନେ ପୁଣି ଥରେ ଦାସତ୍ବର ଅର୍ଗଳି ଭିତରକୁ ଟାଣି ନେଉଛନ୍ତି
ସେମାନେ ମଣିଷକୁ ବିଭିନ୍ନ ଦଳର ଦଳାଦଳିରେ ବାଂଟି , କାଟି, ଚକଟି
ଖଣ୍ଡିତ କରୁଛନ୍ତି ଓ ପୂର୍ଣ୍ଣାଙ୍ଗ ହେଲେ ବୋଲି କହୁଛନ୍ତି

ସେମାନେ ନାରୀ ମାନଙ୍କୁ ବଳତ୍କାର କରି ସେମାନେ ନାରୀସଶକ୍ତିକରଣ
କଥା କହୁଛନ୍ତି, ସେମାନେ ବେକାରି’ର ମହାର୍ଘ କାରଖାନା ଖୋଲି
ହଜାରେ ଦିନରେ ହଜାରେ କାମର ପ୍ରତିଶ୍ରୁତି ଦେଉଛନ୍ତି
ସେମାନେ ପଡିଶାର ଟୋପି ତ୍ରିଶୂଳ ରେ
ଟେକି ଧର୍ମନିରପେକ୍ଷତା’ର ଦୁଆ ଉଠଉଛନ୍ତି ସେମାନେ ଗଣତନ୍ତ୍ରକୁ ଗୁଳି କରି
ଦେଶରେ ରାମ ରାଜ୍ୟର ଜୟଘୋଷ କରୁଛନ୍ତି
ସେମାନେ ମଦ ଦୋକାନ ଖୋଲି ନିଶା ନିବାରଣ କରିବାକୁ କହୁଛନ୍ତି
ସେମାନେ ନାଗରିକମାନଙ୍କ ଅଧିକାର ଲୁଟି ସଂବିଧାନ, ନ୍ୟାୟପାଳିକାକୁ
ଖିନଭିନ୍ କରି ନାଗରିକ ଅଧିକାର ‘କଥା ଉଠାଉଛନ୍ତି
ସେମାନେ ଦେଶକୁ ବିଦେଶ ହାତରେ ଟେକି, ଦେଶ ଭକ୍ତିର ସ୍ଲୋଗାନ୍ ଦେଉଛନ୍ତି ।


Editor’s Note/Image Credit: Symbolic image—stop the violence [Elena kamphuis/Unsplash].

Yen by Susan O’Dell Underwood


In a mid-life dream I was trying to kill a blacksnake,
hacking at it with a hoe,
as wrong a thing as I would never really do.
It slithered its sleek retreat like grace itself,
winding onyx through the undergrowth,
thick as my wrist, nearly long as I am tall, and beautiful,
more beautiful than anything it might have harmed.

I woke up wanting to touch its silk skin,
follow warmth from where I’d found it in the sun.

Continue reading Yen by Susan O’Dell Underwood

Black-Jewish Podcast: Poets Speak


Marilyn Kallet

Marilyn Kallet recently served two terms as Knoxville Poet Laureate, 2018-2020. She has published 18 books, including How Our Bodies Learned, The Love That Moves Me and Packing Light: New and Selected Poems, Black Widow Press. She translated Paul Eluard’s Last Love Poems and Benjamin Péret’s The Big Game.

Dr. Kallet is Professor Emerita at the University of Tennessee. From 2009-2020, she mentored poetry groups for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, in Auvillar, France. Her poetry has appeared recently in Plume and American Diversity Report.


Maria James-Thiaw is a poet, performer and an educator from Central PA. She has written three poetry collections and her poetry has been published by Cutthroat Journal of the Arts, Love Your Rebellion and other journals. Her choreopoem, Reclaiming My Time: An American Griot Project debuted in Summerdale, PA in 2018 to 6 sold out audiences. She won the Art of Protest Poetry Prize from Penn State for works from that production. In 2020 she created a Zoom version entitled RMT 2.0. This performance poet attended Marilyn Kallet’s workshops in France in 2011 and 2015. Maria is a graduate of Goddard College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program and she is the Program Coordinator of Creative Writing for CASA, Capital Area School for the Arts in Harrisburg, PA.

Dialogue Partners:
American Diversity Report,  Chattanooga News Chronicle, Mizpah Congregation, Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga, C.U.R.B. – Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda.

See October 2020 Black-Jewish Dialogue


The Pond in Winter – Poem by Ann Thornfield-Long

The Pond in Winter

            After Henry David Thoreau


The winter of ’19, it rained nearly every day,

water gushed from sky, no windshield wiper

equal to it. A slough swelled in the low spot

of the yard, lapped the steps, like a wolf


at the door. It was the wolf supermoon that

reflected off the surface one rare, naked night—

quicksilver eerie and lovely as icy solitude,

consoling, clear. A sorrow-voiced owl cried


in the pre-dawn, foreshadowing death,

as owls can. Loss spilled over the wall

of my soul and into the crevices where I hid

my treasures, floated them out of their deep


secret places onto the banks from underearth

where bluets and bloodroots drank to the dregs

as I would after I saw the land open its mouth

and swallow my love whole, leaving me to choke


on the hemlock of grief. I’ll carry the disfigurement

of this flood, a high-water scar the rest of my days.

Not everything, nor everyone survives. Winter

cannot last forever.

SiberiaCyberHaiku – Poem by George Simons


Silently passing through Fargo…
the indiscriminate Fargo of my mind,
I am cruising up the Lena.
I leave the city limits of my head
for what is…now…here…
flowing once before the windows of my eyes.

Morning, she appears,
changeling today, soft and cloudy
where the river flows.

As the clouds thicken
I become confused and ask,
“Will sunlight return?”

Endless flow of green,
sandy shore, then white birch trees,
life without landmarks.

Then houses, a church,
its onion dome an anchor,
faith in solitude.

I peek at a map,
explore the territory,
mind at home again.

Tell me what I am,
where I am, I have forgot
Tell me how, how, how…

National Day of Prayer – Poem by John C. Mannone

A very serious thing, this matter of prayer,
asking him for help to cope in such a miserable place—
I wish for one much better.

I could ask him to take me out, out of this rat race
to a better place, but I’m not ready to come to my end
just yet. But surely this home could be one of peace

where I can celebrate with family and friends,
but also with my enemies, who, for a moment
would not see me as their foe, not one whom I’d offend.

Let us pray for ceasefire from self-destructing bombardment;
including the hurtful words we hurl at each other. Let us pray more
to quell the road rage epithets when tailgated; for a patient

tongue when being cut-off in long cashier lines; or even before
entering that grocery’s parking lot, looking for “your” own
spot that’s snatched from you after circling the store.

Be thankful while you’re pulling hair and screaming. Don’t
lose your head, Christian, and take his name in vain,
while others literally lose theirs because they won’t.

We are much too smug, even as we speak, the ISIS blame
us. They, who are many, have desire to exterminating
us as if we are cockroaches—the infidel-insane.

Their insecticide so toxic it even burns the devil’s skin.
We don’t want the hatred that they carry, only love for one another.
Let us be guilty of that one infectious thing.

Cry out “Help us, O Lord” to look past the color
of a person’s skin, especially those among our pews.
A sad truth still: Sunday has the most segregated hour.

And no matter what denomination, there are way too few
churches not sitting mostly empty during the rest of the week.
I pray that they will all be filled to overflowing and renewed

with unity one day. Paul spoke of it: we should seek
to build one church, one faith, one baptism, worship one God above all.
What the devil are we doing? Why don’t we speak

out against it? Instead, we rush to preach good news to all
in distant worlds. Shouldn’t we ourselves revel in that news first,
here in this now-depraved country about to fall?

A country founded on the principles of God that once had thirst
for him. Perhaps this National Day of Prayer should be relabeled
as the Day for National Prayer. We, as a nation, for better or worse,

should be calling out his name for forgiveness. I am willing. And able
to thank him for my family of God, for his adopting me (a child only lost
in his love), for the way his love moves, for his stable

arms lifting me up. Even as I write these words, he fills, without cost
to me, my prevailing emptiness with his spirit and I see
how he lightens my lingering darkness, before it must flee, the most.

When I raise my eyes, I see the sky spill its bloody
ink of morning. I marvel at the glittering smiles of stars,
and hear the whole host of heaven in sacred melody

intone, Holy, holy, holy is the Lamb of God, the attar
of prayers incensing the throne. I say, How can my soul not praise You?
I am a nightingale and I will sound my sugar-throated song afar!

Even when the clouds bring tears, they wash me anew.
Rainbows splay their colors after the rains stopped pouring.
Every blade of grass catches the hope of sunlight with drops of dew.

Rumi once said that we, the seekers of truth, are searching
for the sun with a candle. All around us, His truth spills
yet we are blinded by our own light, our own discouraging.

All we have to do is look up, open our eyes, even as we swirl
in His dazzle. Let the wax melt from our eyes to see delight
—the light of stars, the light of heaven—to see the world

in a new refreshing. Look up to Him! See the bright
and morning star, with a prayer on your lips. Look, and feel the Light.

My stories are hungry – Poem by John C. Mannone


Man shall not live on bread alone
—Matthew 4:4


I took the little book out of the angel’s hand
and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey;
and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter
—Revelation 10:10


An earthquake
                    ripped off
the thick mantle covering
of my heart, I opened the book
and fell into its pages of history.
I was devoured by the stories
when I saw Adam and his lovely
Eve in the Garden; no snakes
just a couple of trees.
                    One, a tall
spruce with the scent of pure
pine—the fragrance of prayer.
The other with golden quince,
quaked and rattled in the wind,
whispered promises. They heard
the naked truth and that story
swallowed them, too.
                    My soul
convulsed at the devil’s laughter
when he saw the Evergreen shed
its fascicles to cover them.
Before the storm, heaven cracked
and the sky spilled, now emptied
of His voice.
                    And the wind blew
the pages of the book in my hands
before I could read them, but
they sprayed rain on my face
and each word coated my lips.
I drank them in—the savor
of a better promise
seeping through: a wet rainbow
pressing on my tongue.
                    I could not utter a word,
but listened to the priests & prophets.
Every time they spoke, a scent of cedar,
of crushed pine, sifted through
along with their voices. Even John’s
locust & honey weren’t as sweet,
and bitterness settled in
at the same time. My heart
started to melt as wax
and my blood ached, burned,
oozing like lava.
                    Yet, I was still
hungry, and I ate more
of the stories until I ingested
the flesh of my own thoughts
from a cup put to my lips,
                    for a moment,
for only the briefest moment,
before that scent of pine purged
the vile dregs from my mouth.
I did not want to eat that
story. But a holy wind blew
me deeper into the pages to a place
on a hill. The smell of pine
now heavier on my nose. There,
the parchment stained & torn.
                    I wept as I tried to read.
I could not see the words,
for my eyes were blurred
in the rain—a scarlet rain
washing me and all
the bitterness I had tasted.
And when it was finished…
the sky wasn’t broken anymore.