Each conversation begins with mourning, words of loss on your lips.
Grieving phrases hang suspended like an albatross on your lips.
Do you ever feel enslaved? Indentured to others in power?
I have seen you sleep, tears on your cheeks, name of your boss on
Victims are frightened, embarrassed, ask themselves if it’s their own
Outsiders echo that question. Silence is a cross on your lips.
They have made a suggestion to limit entry to non-Muslims.
But you cannot pick faith from your teeth, heretic floss on your lips.
Survival instructions are applied to our lives with a wide brush.
Layer after layer of silence, hard lacquer gloss on your lips.
Why should we wait for resurrection? One Love brings heaven here
A little light is enough. Smile creeps slowly like moss on your lips.
Bring your own kettle-drum, set it on fire, cooking up your…
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ENTHUSIASM, PART I: MOSES
There’s that other story
almost everybody knows, the one
where God tells Moses
he’s been picked to go
and deliver ultimatums
about slaves and freedom
to the Pharaoh.
Moses, less than enthusiastic:
not me, I’m not keen to be
a messenger, I can’t even
speak without a stutter.
God says: take your
brother with you, let him
do all the talking.
Summits with magicians,
all the ordinary threats
plagues and developments
that one expects
in conferences like this
Finally they manage
to get out of there, even
though they have to walk
across a Sea to do it.
Finally, it’s over. Moses
has fulfilled his mission,
is looking forward to vacation.
He steps out of the crowd
and climbs a mountain,
ready for reward, hoping
for an airlift back to Eden.
At the summit there’s
a bush, on fire but not
burning, and the Voice
tells Moses to remove his
shoes. Moses does not
hesitate, he’s had enough
of missions and of walking.
He says: They’re down
there, Lord, the lot of them.
I’ve done just as you asked,
I went and got them, led
your children out of Egypt.
(And, by the way, nice timing
on that parting of the Sea.)
All done. You’re welcome.
And the Lord says: Moses,
you’re still on assignment,
I’m not finished with you
ENTHUSIASM, PART II: GREEN MILE
In the dream, I’m tired, filthy, caked with sweat-
salt, sea-salt, sand. My robe sticks to me like a reeking
second skin. God, you know how long a road it’s been.
I am so ready for a bath, a nap, a hidden garden safe
behind some wall, a night that needs no sentries, carries
only singing, bullfrogs, owls and whippoorwills,
a sleep that settles on me gently like a breath
of honeysuckle, a sleep that wraps me soft within
its petals for the night, a sleep that lasts.
Yes, I see the mountain, God. I even smell the smoke
that’s curling up from those unburnable green
leaves. Since we both know you’re also down here
in this dusty, rocky gully I will not be climbing
up there for a chat (although if it pleases, note I am
already barefoot), ready to revere and transfer
power, hand over to anyone who’s willing: all my
responsibilities, walking-stick and tablets
of commandments. I’m so glad it’s finally over. I am
ready, ready, ready for a rest. And the Lord says:
you may not be thrilled to hear this, but you’re
still on assignment.
I’m not finished with you
ENTHUSIASM, PART III: INTO THE GAME
This is mine, my dream, my vision,
mine to change, so I move us from
the ancient Middle East back to
the living room, get down
the dictionary of etymology
God is with me, hanging out
at three AM. We’re far beyond formality
and ceremony now. I find the word
I’m looking for, I point,
He reads aloud:
Enthusiasm. It means “the God within.”
It means, I say, if You insist I must
keep going, then You’re coming with me.
Thanks but no this time on some other
companion, no home health care person
and no prophet Aaron.
If You want this done, You’ll have
to come with me, You’re going to have
to wear me. Get some skin into the game.
–Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba), with gratitude for another unexpected year
Welcome to the new home of the 2017 Poets for Peace Collaboration. The primary purpose of the blog is to host and administer this year’s collaborative effort to coincide with the United Nation’s International Day of Peace, Thursday, September 21, 2017. Note: (Their website has not been updated to reflect the coming year’s activity, but we assume it will be shortly).
In addition we plan to hold one or two smaller collaborations on subjects that fall under the umbrella of Peace such as, Empathy, and/or Compassion. These smaller collaborations will, we hope, help to create a sense of community and stimulate involvement in the wider collaboration that will begin in July.
We welcome all Creative Souls to share your work here., be it poetry, art, photography, or whatever your mode of communicating Peace may be. Video and audio files are limited by the nature of the plan…
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Greetings, friends and fam! I’m delighted to announce that my latest (and final) full-length poetry collection, edited by Wale Owoade (of EXPOUND, The Strong Letters, and Bard Studio), is now available on Amazon! If you are located in the US and would like to have a signed copy, I will be glad to sign one and ship it to you for the same price ($9.00 US) that it is selling for on Amazon — just use the Contact Me form on this blog and let me know you’re interested. I can accept PayPal, checks, and promises too, if you’d like me to hold a signed copy for you. Here’s the link to Anchorhold.
The lovely cover art is from Robert Rhodes, the book design by Bard Studio, with a Foreword by j.lewis and an Introduction by JK Anowe…and a rather embarrassingly generous set of comments from colleagues in the poetry community who received advance copies of the manuscript.
This is the last collection of poetry I expect to publish, so to all of those who have followed me here on the Ark of Identity during this four-year poetry adventure: THANK YOU! Grateful for all the encouragement, inspiration, and support you’ve given me along the way. I’ll still keep the blog up, but the “Poetry Practice and Links” part of its title will be changing to reflect the next stage of the journey.
AN-NUR: POEM WITH LINES FROM Sheikha A.
** lines in all caps are from her poem “Cure” **
The job description of a human being
is to attend, show up ready every day
willing to study any lessons we receive.
So often I’ve been hurried, stressed, all
focused on whatever I am planning
to do next that I forget to complete
both sides of a transaction. Have you
too been to the market, filled your basket
with fresh oranges and asked the price,
nodded your head in agreement, then
(because your consciousness is already
leaping ahead to the next item on
your shopping list) almost left without
taking the time to pay? Or having given
more than the necessary money, somehow
forgotten to wait, receive your change?
Daily I shortchange myself this way,
fling a hurried question in the general
direction of the Is, gather up whatever
I think it is I need, nod vaguely
without ever really listening for an
answer to the question I have asked:
how TO REACH / DOWN INTO A WELL…
AND COME UP WITH A LIGHT EMITTING
FROM THE TIP OF THE INDEX FINGER.
If the Is were to give me the answer
to this question, SHOWING THE WAY
through signs and inner whispers, would
I even be listening? Or do I treat the Is
as just a theory, my prayers not really
two-way conversation? You and I, we’ve
joked that G-D spelled backward is a DOG,
but then we’ve gone that backward way,
we speak to Is as if we really don’t
expect any answers to be forthcoming,
as if the Is is only capable of barking,
so we say our piece, often thoughtless,
in a hurry, then leave the table before
the other part of the transaction can
take place. We ask rhetorical questions
and do not wait for the answers, don’t
make time to listen, real conversation.
I have left the table with my oranges,
flung my money, failed to wait for change.
I’ve asked to be shown THE WAY TO WHERE
CAMELS REST / ON THEIR FRONT KNEES
and then rushed off before the answer,
I’ve fallen off the map-edge, missed it:
A PATH UNCOMPLICATED: SO SIMPLE
IN FOLLOWING, LEADING STRAIGHT TO WATER.
– Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba), 06-December-2016
Thank you, Sheikha, for your words.
Thank you, Neha.
We don’t need a special day to be kind, but kindness is always special. Be kind to your heart, be kind to your mind, and be kind to the world around you…Happy World Kindness Day!
The world forgot to be kind,
and you forgot to be patient,
and in between figuring out who you were,
and where you came from,
and why you were here,
the clouds of life,
poured on you,
and your heart cried with the rain…
when it was over,
and though the world did not change,
you felt lighter and soul felt cleansed,
and you noticed the smiles among the frowns,
and drenched in what was your pain,
you found that little piece of joy again,
you followed the rainbow of life.
poetry copyright neha 2016
Because these words need to be shared…thank you, Jose Angel Araguz and JM Miller.
Paper Sparrows (At the Museum) – JM Miller
a slip of paper no larger than a dollar
records the scale of value for a slave.
Rows of age and rows of worth, the black
body’s gains & losses over time.
You see the paper is degrading, yellowing
tree fibers from an oily thumb nearly enough
to erase the pencil’s mark.
At the next exhibit white poets
read paper sparrows to sleep —
a stiff wind in their feathers — still
love in their curated bodies of paper.
They lean in until a black fly in the bird’s eye
tires, eating away the carrion into sight,
& they see suddenly a boy,
his invisible hands raised, opening his heart
to a country refusing to remember him.
Some keep the dead alongside them,
feathers in the cap, the bittersweet blues
of fairy tales, while others open & close
the birds’ beaks to…
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Poem in Response to Crossing the Lines: Stories by Tony Press (from my fourth and final poetry collection, ANCHORHOLD, forthcoming later this year)
quotations in the final stanza are lines and titles from stories in Crossing the Lines (Big Table Publishing, 2016); the epigraph from Rumi appears in “Two Days from the Sea”
This human being is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
There is a narrows where the stories merge,
a confluence of parables where the lessons
all converge. It doesn’t matter, once they’re
gathered, where each of them began, upon
which of faith’s many mountains they had
their origins. The gorge’s walls are birth and death.
Between them: all our days.
Upon the cliffs there hangs a mist, a cloud of
swaddling, a shroud, suspended droplets.
Fragments of the lessons permeate our days,
our every moment. Aware or unaware, we
take them in: we breathe.
There is a narrows in our windpipes where
the stories merge, the nitrogen and consonants,
the vowels and the verbs. In the alveoli, all
the words we’ve heard are filtered, membranes
customs where each passport’s checked,
each visa is reviewed:
only preauthorized molecules get through.
In theory. But the confidence we have in our
security, methods, systems, preconceptions often
fails to consider that, we too, are made
of water, all of our cells are immigrants, all
of them were something, someone, somewhere
else before. And no system of filtration
can expect complete success when it is
striving to keep kin from kin.
It is Not Fifth Avenue. We are never more
than Two Days From the Sea. “Tomorrow,
if it be granted to me, I will see my
friends again at our café,” and Jake will tell me,
“Just sip it slow, mi amigo.”
–Laura M Kaminski
If you haven’t read CROSSING THE LINES, you can check it out here.