Sharing the Journey, Week 08

It has been a long, and very full week…and it’s already two days past Monday, when I usually make these posts. When I’m feeling overfull, I go back to Roden Noel’s poem “The Old” — a poem I first encountered as a child in primary six, and have gone back to from time to time ever since. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s old enough that it’s in the public domain, and you can read it at Gnarled Oak, where editor James Brush included it in Gnarled Oak Issue 07: Dear Friends “The Oldies Issue” — along with my response to it, “Ferry-Luggage” about my gratitude basket overflowing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Gnarled Oak these past nine days; the fifteenth and final issue of Gnarled Oak will begin posting soon, and it has me reminiscing and appreciating all over again having been able to be part of this amazing journal. It was this poem from JK Anowe, first encountered at Gnarled Oak, that prompted me to seek out its author — and was the beginning of a friendship that means the world to me.

And here is one of my favorite poems from Ehi’zogie Iyeomoan, another dear friend:

Gnarled Oak published Marie Craven’s amazing films based on my poems “Joining the Lotus-Eaters” and “Lilies of the Field” — and also Eduardo Yagüe’s films of “Considering Luminescence” (with his translation of the poem):

It was at Gnarled Oak where Saddiq Dzukogi and I first collaborated in poetry… one my translation of his poem “Sanyi” and a poem we wrote together (“Reserving Judgment”) which I go back to often when I’m having trouble with feeling like the words aren’t coming out right on the page:

And, among the many things I have to be grateful for this week, I received an email from James Brush this morning accepting two small poems to be included in the closing issue of Gnarled Oak. I’ll share those here when they post.

And, in the overflowing gratitude basket, five poems from the Heretic’s Hymnal manuscript were published this week, two in the 2018 print issue of Conclave: A Journal of Character, which went on sale yesterday, two at Verse-Virtual, and one at The Lake.
I’m deeply grateful to editors Lara & William Bernhardt, Firestone Feinberg, and John Murphy for making it possible for these poems to find their way to readers. For those who are interested, you can read the three poems published online here:

In closing, let me share just one more poem from a back issue of Gnarled Oak, one of my favorite-ever poems from poet and friend John L. Stanizzi. Here’s his poem “Train”:

Stay blessed!



Sharing the Journey, Week 06

Before the light beyond
the curtain begins to change
each day, I slip from beneath

the covers, place my feet onto
the floor, and strip out of whatever
clothing I had worn to sleep

it is too early for anyone to see
me, even the dog is still
comfortably tangled up in dreams

so I am left, invisible
and alone, to select my clothing
for the day, address whatever

parts of me need dressing.
Before I concern myself with
panties, socks, brassiere

I do, as lepers must, a VSE:
visual self-examination. Lepers
do this in the light, check

each part of their skin
for injuries they may not have
felt at the moment when those

happened, accidents, abrasions
to skin with nerves damaged by
the disease. My own visual

exploration is done daily in
the dark. The injuries I may not
have felt at the moment when

those happened are not abrasions
to the skin, but to the spirit,
and those kinds of injuries

are most visible in the privacy
of solitude and darkness. Is
there something I encountered

yesterday without attention
that has damaged me, wounded
and cut me, made some part

of my internal self vulnerable
to infection, a quiet festering?
Each day before considering

fabric clothing, I must first
clean such invisible damage
to my surfaces most thoroughly,

insight as antiseptic, prayer
as bandaging, first and most
necessary dressing every morning.

After this first layer, I am
really more naked than before, but
also more ready to proceed.

Next are my imperial underthings,
my emperor’s-new-clothes invisible
to anyone but me. I pick up

this transparency and slip it
on over my skin. I really do, begin
with first the right foot, then

the left, step into a secret
burkini of integrity and courage
that covers the whole of my body.

And after this, it doesn’t matter
what else I choose to wear, what
size or color or style of dress

or shirt and jeans. Those outer
clothes are just the packaging.
I’m already wearing my womanity.

–Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba), 12-February-2018


Sharing the Journey, Week 05

Just a quick note this week to share the final two poems in the laundry poems series…

Gratitude to Dave Bonta of Via Negativa for hosting these, and to all those who have followed along through the series offering encouragement, inspiration, and response poems. Here are the links:

Laundry Poem #09: Give Me Your Ravaged, Your Ruined
and Laundry Poem #10: Tailored to Fit.


P.S. I am still planning to get some notes on these posted (Oka Benard Osahon has already sent me comments / prompts to write about the first one), but I haven’t quite gotten there yet.


poetry feature: Trust Tonji

This week’s feature at the Friday Influence brought tears to my eyes. Well said, the both of you. Thank you Trust Tonji and José Angel Araguz.

The Friday Influence

This week’s poem, “The thing about colors,” is a fine example of how poets often have to be unsettled in language. For instance, there is the performance of language in the public realm, where we do our best to honor one another in regards to pronoun preference, ability, and sexuality as well as cultural and racial backgrounds. Then there is the way language is rooted in the private realm, the personal effort and experiences that shape the way we come to understand such language and how we embody and live what it means.

Nebula Space Sky Abstract Colorful ColorIn my own life, I welcome a phrase like “person of color” for what it offers in the public realm, how it offers me, as a Latinx, a place in a larger, societal conversation. As a tool for unpacking and coping with insults and imbalances, such terminology provides a way to speak up with and make big…

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