To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can't see, can't hear,
Can't know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren't always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
We pray that it will be done
From In Mad Love and War © 1990 by Joy Harjo. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
That a silly old fellow, much noted of yore,
And known by the name of John, earl of Dunmore,
Has again ventured over to visit your shore.
The reason of this he begs leave to explain—
In England they said you were conquered and slain,
(But the devil take him who believes them again)—
So, hearing that most of you rebels were dead,
That some had submitted, and others had fled,
I mustered my Tories, myself at their head,
And over we scudded, our hearts full of glee,
As merry as ever poor devils could be,
Our ancient dominion, Virginia, to see;
Our shoe-boys, and tars, and the very cook’s mate
Already conceived he possessed an estate,
And the Tories no longer were cursing their fate.
Myself, (the don Quixote) and each of the crew,
Like Sancho, had islands and empires in view—
They were captains, and kings, and the devil knows who:
But now, to our sorrow, disgrace, and surprise,
No longer deceived by the Father of Lies,
We hear with our ears, and we see with our eyes:—
I have therefore to make you a modest request,
(And I’m sure, in my mind, it will be for the best)
Admit me again to your mansions of rest.
There are Eden, and Martin, and Franklin, and Tryon,
All waiting to see you submit to the Lion,
And may wait till the devil is king of Mount Sion:—
Though a brute and a dunce, like the rest of the clan,
I can govern as well as most Englishmen can;
And if I’m a drunkard, I still am a man:
I missed it some how in comparing my notes,
Or six years ago I had joined with your votes;
Not aided the negroes in cutting your throats.
Although with so many hard names I was branded,
I hope you’ll believe, (as you will if you’re candid)
That I only performed what my master commanded.
Give me lands, whores and dice, and you still may be free;
Let who will be master, we sha’nt disagree;
If king or if Congress—no matter to me;—
I hope you will send me an answer straitway,
For ’tis plain that at Charleston we cannot long stay—
And your humble petitioner ever shall pray.
Charleston, Jan. 6, 1782.
This is not a small voice
you hear this is a large
voice coming out of these cities.
This is the voice of LaTanya.
Kadesha. Shaniqua. This
is the voice of Antoine.
Running over waters
navigating the hallways
of our schools spilling out
on the corners of our cities and
no epitaphs spill out of their river mouths.
This is not a small love
you hear this is a large
love, a passion for kissing learning
on its face.
This is a love that crowns the feet with hands
that nourishes, conceives, feels the water sails
mends the children,
folds them inside our history where they
toast more than the flesh
where they suck the bones of the alphabet
and spit out closed vowels.
This is a love colored with iron and lace.
This is a love initialed Black Genius.
This is not a small voice
From Wounded in the House of a Friend. Copyright © 1995 by Sonia Sanchez. Used with the permission of Beacon Press.
“The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement. We must never erode this historic office.”
-Jeff Sessions, former U.S. Attorney General, February 12, 2018 to the National Sheriffs’ Association
1. The inheritance of the heir is never a dandelion disbursal. Scattershot. Floating beyond fences. Growing elsewhere.
2. The inheritance of the elsewhere is a cave of collapse.
3. The cave of collapse is work.
4. The work is never inheritance of the heir’s or of the heir’s heir, as well as the heir’s heir’s heir.
5. The inheritance of repetition is a soundless gavel buried in a shallow grave.
6. The shallow grave is the redness of the bouquet a florist selects.
7. The bouquet is a leaning into the quiet of a funeral.
8. The quiet of a funeral is the Americas.
9. The Americas is a platform, built by the settlers, sheriffs, and miners, for the lynching of the other.
10. The lynching is in a vigilance committee of NAFTA, Operation Wetback, Maquiladoras, ICE, silences, the
agricultural prison industrial complex, congressmen, and US presidents.
11. The silences is a gerrymandering of census data.
12. The census data is learning about the word incarceration through the storytelling project playing on public radio.
13. The incarceration is an ombligo of shirts in a forest of screams.
14. The ombligo is feeding again and never hungry.
15. The feeding is a church of excommunications inside a cage of teeth.
16. The cage of teeth is elected into office.
17. The elected are voting to eliminate whatever and everything.
18. The voting are no longer asking permission.
19. The permission is trafficking.
20. The trafficking is now asked to self-report.
21. The self-report is now asked to fill out a binary form in ink, online.
22. The binary is seeking a fourth option during the election.
23. The election is a wall.
24. The wall is a type of silence.
25. The silence is a type of America.
26. The type of America is in the arrest.
27. The arrest is defined as the cessation or stoppage of motion.
28. The cessation or stoppage of motion is the fabric veiling the artifice.
29. The fabric veiling the artifice is a factory of harps.
30. The factory of harps is a maker of a stringless harp.
31. The stringless harp is the mute progeny.
32. The mute progeny is now the inheritance of the heir.
From Borderland Apocrypha (Omnidawn Publishing, 2020) by Anthony Cody. Copyright © 2020 by Anthony Cody. Used with permission of the Permissions Company on behalf of Omnidawn Publishing.
I hear the sound of the sprinkler outside, not the soft kind we used to run through
but the hard kind that whips in one direction then cranks back and starts again.
Last night we planned to find the white argument of the Milky Way
but we are twenty years too late. Last night I cut the last stargazer
lily to wear in my hair.
This morning, the hardest geography quiz I’ve ever taken: how does one carry
oneself from mountain to lake to desert without leaving anything behind?
Perhaps I ought to have worked harder.
Perhaps I could have paid more attention.
A mountain I didn’t climb. Music I yearned for but could not achieve.
I travel without maps, free-style my scripture, pretend the sky is an adequate
representation of my spiritual beliefs.
The sprinkler switches off. The grass will be wet.
I haven’t even gotten to page 2 of my life and I’m probably more than halfway through,
who knows what kind of creature I will become.
Copyright © 2019 by Kazim Ali. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 8, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.