Just a short post this week, with a thank you to Dave Bonta of Via Negativa for hosting a prayer-poem:
Just a short post this week, with a thank you to Dave Bonta of Via Negativa for hosting a prayer-poem:
A VALENTINE FOR MY SISTERS
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
In 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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This has been another busy week, with some progress on editorial work and some progress on housework, and some quality time with the large puppy.
There are two more laundry poems this week, and they’ve become a community conversation of sorts: poets j.lewis and Kristin Berkey-Abbott both wrote poems in response to parts of the laundry series. “our name is mike” by j.lewis was a response to the first laundry poem, and served as a prompt for “Washing Instructions” (the 8th and most recent one). And the 7th one began with an epigram from one of my favorite poems by Kristin Berkey-Abbott, and I borrowed lines from poet James Brush for the close. And we have danced without planning to do so, in a circle. While I was returning to “Exercising Freedom” a poem Kristin Berkey-Abbott had written in 2016, a poem I love, she was within the same 24 hours writing a response poem to one of mine. These interactions bring me much joy, and I feel humbled to be a part of them, part of a community, part of the conversation.
I’d wanted to write some process notes, and thoughts overall about the series of laundry poems, but I am less comfortable writing prose than poetry, and have a tendency to delete every page of it I write as soon as it is written. However, friend and fellow poet Oka Benard Osahon has said he will encourage me and walk me through the process of getting some thoughts about these poems into words…so hopefully I’ll be able to share some notes here in the not too distant future as a result.
As always, to Dave Bonta of Via Negativa for hosting this (and many other!) conversations. Here are the two most recent pieces in the laundry poems series:
#7: Laundry poem ending with lines from James Brush
#8: Washing Instructions
I’ve also been reading some intriguing social media posts from poet Umar Abubakar Sidi, of KSR Collective / Konya Shamsrumi, and those inspired this Recent Scribbling:
AL-TAWWAB: I SAY THIS TO MYSELF ALONE
for Umar Abubakar Sidi, #sanctifying
Note by clay note, pipe me down.
Play the holes in my heart
that swallow love
and slowly heal. — Rumi
He was not created, made to be born
on this earth to give you
a sense of superiority. His
existence is an expression
of the fluidity and possibilities
within humanity. This
crossroads of your path and his
is not an invitation for you
to judge him or try to shove
him in the direction of salvation.
At best, the crossing of your
paths is a gift the Ever-
Merciful has sent to test
how far you have progressed
in polishing your mirror,
how much of the width
of Unity’s compassion
and mercy are you able
to reflect, to see inside your
self, ask how far has your love
traveled on the journey
toward becoming unconditional?
At best, this crossroads
is a gift of grace, a test
of your recognition that
brothers are all One. But
most likely, when your own
humility beseeches you
to kneel again, refrain
from anointing your nafs
with such importance,
then the mirror will become
more empty, and in it
you might glimpse this: his
existence, fluidity, and possibilities
are not about you. Not at all.
You are not being invited
to express your own small
opinion about this act
of G-d’s creation. Return
to rhythm, focus on your
own assignment: take
the next step
your Love is not defaced,
debased by all these petty
limitations and conditions.
–Halima Ayuba (Laura M Kaminski) 28-January-2018
Thank you for stopping by and reading. Have a good week!
Just a quick post to say thank you again to Via Negativa for hosting the series of laundry poems I’ve been playing with lately. I’d also like to thank my poet-friends at Verse-Virtual who have offered encouragement and suggestions when I got stuck along the way. Here are the new additions to the series from this week:
Second week of the journey, and I’ve been feeding a lot of wood into the wood-stove, and focusing on editorial work (the next digital chapbook for Praxis Magazine Online, by poet and photographer j.lewis, author of a clear day in october).
Beyond that, I’ve been doing laundry…and it seems strange to me, the way this language works: when I say “I’ve been doing laundry (literally)” it means I’ve been washing and folding. But I’ve also been doing literary laundry, for a bit of a smile:
and, the latest, Laundry Poem #3: “Where the West Begins”
Recently I saw a post from Dave Bonta of Via Negativa, sharing a challenge from poet Donna Vorreyer for poets who blog: TRY to post once a week during 2018. During 2017, most of my attention and energy was turned to editorial work and mentoring, and I did very little in the way of submitting my own poems to journals for consideration, and likewise little in the way of posting here. I am hereby committing to making a more concerted effort to share the journey during this new year.
When I was blogging before, most of my posts were to thank editors and share links to journals where I’d recently published work. This year, I hope to not only do that, but also begin to share calls for submissions, some personal notes / thoughts on the practice and craft of poetry…and perhaps other things as well. So, to make at least a small beginning:
I had a poem appear at Via Negativa this week, and would like to thank Luisa A. Igloria for the inspiration, and Dave Bonta for giving the poem a wider audience. (Whenever I feel I cannot make time to write, I go to Via Negativa for inspiration, because Luisa A. Igloria and Dave Bonta make time to write and share poems EVERY DAY…and I am reminded such a thing is indeed possible.
Here is the poem from Luisa that inspired mine: https://www.vianegativa.us/2018/01/how-i-lived-through-that-time/ and here is my response-poem: https://www.vianegativa.us/2018/01/to-meet-myself-coming-and-going/
Call for Submissions:
Praxis Magazine Online, submissions of poetry / art / photography considered through 28-February for a series of posts to begin 08-March in observance of International Women’s Day. Details can be found here: http://www.praxismagonline.com/special-call-submissions-poetry-photography/
Most Recent Scribbling (Ekphrasis):
I am often inspired by the paintings of artist and poet Robert Rhodes, and yesterday I saw one of his paintings he had shared on Facebook, and had to try a response to it. You can see his painting here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10215023573163299&set=a.10214748054275499.1073741898.1248992751&type=3&theater
And here’s the magic carpet ride I took while contemplating it:
another look at “Dusk. Cold horizon.” Oil on board by Robert Rhodes
Spine flat against the thin
foam of the mattress, perspective
shifts — suddenly perpendicular
and the dusk horizon winter
offers mid-afternoon in early
January becomes a narrow
rocky beach beneath —
beneath where my feet would
be if I were vertical instead
of horizontal, suspended and
inverted. What might have been
snow drifts piled like flokati
rugs thrown upon the hills
has become the front line
of the ocean, waves in froth
layers being beaten forward
by the wind, inching ever closer
to that instant when they’ll
freeze into stiff peaks. And on
the other side, instead of sky
gently disturbed by thin dark
swirls of smoke that rise
from stovepipes of farmsteads
and railroad warehouses hidden
on the hills, this is the jutting
cliff, rock end of a peninsula
where eons of waves have carved
long crevices, narrow ledges.
Return to self: where am I
in this landscape? Where exactly
is it I am floating, gazing
steady down upon the coastline?
If I have a body here it must
be no more than a particle:
hidden in the warning,
in the welcoming.
— Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba)
It’s a particularly sweet Friday morning when you find your words, your own raw words about your fear, featured and considered thoughtfully on a poetry blog you’ve been reading, enjoying, and learning from yourself weekly for years. Thank you, José Angel Araguz…I’m deeply honored to be a part of the Influence.
This week’s poem is drawn from the poetry feature submissions! For guidelines on how to submit work, see the “submissions” tab above.
One thing I admire about poetry is the space it creates where meditation can balance into consideration and reckoning. This week’s poem, “Bonding” by Laura M Kaminski, is a good example of what I mean.
The first stanza not only sets the scene, but also presents the range of meditation. The act of walking a new dog is meditated upon via the consideration of particulars. From the moment the speaker picks up the leash, she feels fear as “a grasshopper leaping / eating everything i’ve planted.” Making a grasshopper stand as a metaphor for fear in this direct manner allows for a surrealistic immediacy; the juxtaposition is “leaped” into suddenly, which evokes not only the image but the sensation of both image and concept.
The poem continues…
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Good news in the new year…there’s going to be a new collection from José Angel Araguz this year! Day two, and 2018 is raining joy!
Just a quick post to share two things:
ONE: I am honored to be the January featured poet over at A Dozen Nothing. I’m especially excited to have these particular poems out in the world as they deal with some of the personal and political aftermath of last year’s election.
Thank you to editors Jeff & Pete for allowing the space for this work!
Check out the new work here.TWO: I want to officially announce the forthcoming release of Until We Are Level Again, my third full length poetry collection, to be published by Mongrel Empire Press later this Spring.
Thank you to editor Jeanetta Calhoun Mish for giving a home to this manuscript!
I’ll be sharing more news closer to publication. For now, here’s a peek at the cover art, a digital art piece by Ani Schreiber.
Happy new year to all of you!
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