Sharing the Journey, 07-July-2018

Today I’ve returned to a poem from friend and colleague Saddiq Dzukogi, one that was published at Glass: A Journal of Poetry in May 2017: “What The Poem Said”

 
A Poem to the Poem
 

inspired by, and with lines from,
Saddiq Dzukogi’s “What The Poem Said”

 
when the poem shows up again
perhaps (by then) I’ll have the courage
to ask it a question

courage is the heart
perhaps (by then) I’ll have the heart
to ask it a question

fre courage is free will
perhaps (when the poem shows up again)
I’ll have the will to ask it a question

poem! my nemesis… poem!
my playmate… poem! my shadow dance
behind the curtain

poem! you said:
If I stay long enough on a spot,
my feet will become roots

poem, this morning
I stood beside a young magnolia tree
one that’s yet too young to blossom

one I planted some few years ago
from a slip of twig no larger
than my smallest finger

one that has grown
twice as tall as me
poem! dearest poem, pay attention

while I ask this: how may I too
become so patient? how may I make
time to take the time

to put down roots at least as deep
as I’ve grown tall? how may I
make time to take

the time to sip the cups
of last year’s wine, the winter
rains that came and have been

cellared in the darkness
waiting for someone to put down roots
deep enough to drink them?

poem! dearest poem, tell me:
how may I sit here in the evening
beneath this tree and listen

to the smallest of musicians,
the voices / the crickets make at night,
the poem, a prayer / same as a song?

–07-July-2018, Halima Ayuba (Laura M Kaminski)

 

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lyrical alignment: Richard Rodriguez

Perfect! Thank you for this light today, José Angel Araguz!

The Friday Influence

This week’s lyrical alignment is drawn from an interview with writer Richard Rodriguez conducted by Hector A. Torres for the book Conversations with Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Writers (University of New Mexico Press).

louiskahnI came across the passage below from a journal entry during my third year doing the PhD. I remember being struck by Rodriguez’s apt and rich metaphor in response to being asked about style. Not only is the narrative he develops through anecdote compelling, but the way he pivots its meaning towards his own writing process at the end really hits home with me. It’s the kind of statement that acknowledges the form and method side of writing but also allows for the fluidity and surprise that lie at the heart of the best writing.

In setting the prose into verse, I settled on working with five words per line; while the poem ends unevenly outside this…

View original post 288 more words

Sharing the Journey, 05-July-2018

#BREATHE

for Romeo, grateful to be sharing the journey today
https://www.facebook.com/oriogun/posts/10155795450053719

A seed beneath the soil sleeps
The garden knows it’s there

A seed beneath the soil sleeps
The garden leaves it be

A seed beneath the soil sleeps
And the garden knows when the planet tilts
And the soil warms
And the rains come

The seed beneath the soil
Will awake
Unfold itself
Shed the husk
That it no longer needs

The seed that slept emerges
Into light
Takes its place
In life’s larger garden

That which was hidden
Emerges into light

That which was hidden
Continues growing
Prepares itself
To blossom

And the garden exhales
Inhales again
Amin

Sharing the Journey, 02-July-2018

One of the joys of the journey has been collaborative writing…duet poems. Today I have been re-reading and thinking about a poem written about two years ago with my friend Blessing Ojo, and thought I’d share it here.

DAYS LIKE THIS

My eyes witnessed death’s coronation,
the marching of his battalions
a thunderclap that startles peaceful
minds, makes them spread their wings
and take to the sky in panic.

And I rashly took the snapshot of peace
running off. I posted it, that photo.
But the reactions to it! I could never
have imagined there were so many
on the side of war

who were so proud to see death crowned
and marching in the shade
cast by the wings of his vulture wazirs.
Then, the light of hope eloped too
to escape holocaust.

That, I couldn’t snapshot
for it passed fleetingly.

— Blessing Ojo & Halima Ayuba (Laura M Kaminski), 2016

 

Keep staring in the direction of hope…try to capture every glimpse of light, no matter how small or fleeting.

Stay blessed, my friends.

Amin.

 

Sharing the Journey, 24-June-2018

FINALLY back to the blog after what feels like far too long away.

Lots of good reading recently…I’m grateful to have been immersed in submissions queues at Right Hand Pointing and Praxis Magazine Online lately. Here’s the latest offering from Right Hand Pointing: RHP 123: The Flower Syllabus.

…and here’s the latest chapbook at Praxis Magazine Online (edited by JK Anowe), and one of the finest gatherings of poems about the ongoing impact of conquest and colonization on identity today, Kanyinsola Olorunnisola’s IN MY COUNTRY, WE’RE ALL CROSSDRESSERS.  (I was truly honored to be able to write the foreword for this powerful collection.)

The Around This Fire series of response chapbooks at Praxis has resumed, and there are two special calls for response poems, which you can review here: http://www.praxismagonline.com/special-call-submissions-around-fire-7-responses-j-lewis/ and here: http://www.praxismagonline.com/special-call-submissions-around-fire-6/

There have also been several thought-provoking literary conversations going on that are available to be read online:

I haven’t been submitting my own work lately, because I’ve been focused on reading submissions rather than studying journals, reading reading reading before I submit. It made me smile to see the final bullet point in this announcement from poet, educator, and friend José Angel Araguz on his blog, The Friday Influence — I’m apparently not the only one who feels it necessary to study before submitting. 🙂  And while you’re visiting José’s blog, DO NOT MISS the link to this amazing poem he has in the current issue of Hunger Mountain, also available to read at their “online companion” site: “Conditioning (Run Study)”.

 

It’s good to be back…back on my feet, back at my desk, actively immersed in submissions queues. I’m grateful to be reading and writing and editing this year, at this time, with all these intriguing, insightful conversations taking place.

Stay blessed!

 

Sharing the Journey, Week 20

Just a quick post to share some gratitude: I’m well and truly able to be back at my desk now, and am enjoying making progress on submissions queues and backlogged editorial work, and getting back in touch with friends online.

I’m also deeply grateful to James Brush, editor of Gnarled Oak, for including one of my poems in the last position in the final issue of Gnarled Oak. Gnarled Oak has been a favorite journal during its duration, and I’m glad to have been able to be part of it, right through to closing. Here’s “Everything Ends with Amen”:
http://gnarledoak.org/issue-15/everything-ends-with-amen/

Stay blessed!

Sharing the Journey, Week Nineteen

Amazing how much difference three weeks can make! I’m back to more than 80% of my physical therapy routine, able to cook and bake and leash-walk Mose again, able to sit longer and focus a little more at my desk. And all these are gifts…being without these things, completely or in part, brings the focus onto how very grateful I am to be able to do these things at all.

I’m even gradually catching up on editorial and communications commitments. And am grateful to editor James Brush of Gnarled Oak for including a poem in the final issue of Gnarled Oak, issue 15, which is unfolding right now:
http://gnarledoak.org/issue-15/job-3029b/

In other news, Right Hand Pointing issue 122 has been released and is available here:
https://www.issues.righthandpointing.net/122

And there’s just been a cover preview and release date announcement for a book I am much looking forward to reading, Yahia Labadidi’s Where Epics Fail. And, just for a smile, here’s a poem called “Compound Eye” from Todd Mercer that I bumped into in the May issue of The Lake: http://www.thelakepoetry.co.uk/poetry/todd-mercer/

Perspective is everything, yes?

Stay blessed!

 

 

Sharing the Journey, Week 15

My focus this past week has been intensive physical therapy, relearning how to walk safely with both feet on the floor and no walker after the fall and foot injury from two weeks ago. Observations related to this process:

  1. no matter how many times you relearn to walk, it’s always a big deal every time you have to do it again
  2. if you use daily physical therapy as a primary pain management technique and aren’t able to do it daily, pain becomes a challenge
  3. if your foot is deformed with toes sticking up instead of down on the floor where they belong, not only is relearning to walk a little different, but your feet may not be able to fit into your shoes (which would probably have been obvious to anyone outside looking in, but in the pain-haze resulting from #2, took me a dreadfully long time to comprehend when I was trying to put shoes on and couldn’t make it happen)
  4. when you are going through all this, and you have a dear friend in Nsukka who, despite the ocean between you, walks “with” you and for you, and even prays with you and for you,  it is truly a steadying thing…never underestimate the power and possibilities and reach of a loving heart

All that said, during this first week back on both feet, I really actually am back on both feet, and incredibly grateful for it. I’ve gone from being able to do none of my physical therapy exercises at all to about 20% of what was my daily routine before falling two weeks ago. 20% means there’s still a long way to go…but from zero to 20% is an amazing amount of progress. Am grateful, am grateful, am grateful. One step at a time. Literally.

I’d like to thank all those whose reached out during these past couple of weeks with messages who are still waiting for me to respond. I haven’t been able to sit at my desk much, so I’m also working through those one small step at a time, and am only  at about 20% in that realm also. Thank you for your patience so far…and for however much longer it takes for me to get to where I can send you a response.

As a closing note, there IS other good news this week…the second part of the Right Hand Pointing very short poems April issue is now available. Bite-sized brilliance…here’s the link: https://www.issues.righthandpointing.net/121part2

And the email feed from One Sentence Poems brought THIS piece of good news my way this morning: Tony Press has joined the staff of One Sentence Poems. Congratulations all the way around on that!

Thanks for reading. Stay blessed!

Sharing the Journey, Week 13

Slow with EVERYTHING this week, including late with this post…but continuing in the right direction. I’ve been able to start taking a few small steps with the injured foot this week, for which I’m deeply grateful. It’s still much too shape-distorted and twisted to put into a proper shoe, but even to be able to put it on the floor and have it hold a little weight is something to be deeply grateful for at the moment after a week off of it completely.

I’d mentioned an upcoming two-part issue of very short poems (less than 30 words) at Right Hand Pointing. Here’s the link to the first part of RHP 121 — part II will be available mid-April. Don’t miss these amazing short poems! https://www.issues.righthandpointing.net/121

At the end of last year, film-maker Marie Craven used my poem “Peace Prayer” as the basis for an exquisite poetry-film. It’s always an honor and a treat to collaborate with Marie, and to see my poems from a different perspective through her lens…she brings them to life in ways that surprise and delight. This week she posted some process notes for three recent films, as well as other recent activities. The post includes “Peace Prayer” along with two other films. Enjoy! http://pixie-guts.blogspot.com.au/2018/03/videos-light-ghazal-retreat-peace-prayer.html

This week, I also received a copy of Until We Are Level Again, the latest collection from poet, editor, educator, and friend José Angel Araguz. For years I’ve read and re-read his poem “Gloves” which appears as the first poem in this collection. And I’ve wanted for years to somehow respond to this poem with a poem. When the book arrived, which was during my rather unscheduled holiday sitting on the sofa this week, I spent a long time staring at the cover (painting by artist Ani Schreiber), then turned to the first poem in the collection, and read “Gloves” again. Then I fell asleep, and dreamed I finally entered the poem in a new way, and from there traveled through many other poems of José’s that I have read, and when I woke up, I tried to chronicle that journey. You can read “Gloves” online here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/51968/gloves And here is what I put to paper after dreaming through the poem. The first word in each line of the following piece, and the lines that are capitalized at the end, come from the first four lines of “Gloves”…

Variation on the Theme of “Gloves”

for, and with lines from, “Gloves” by Jose Angel Araguz
.
.
I wanted to leave my body temporarily, so I
MADE a prayer for my skin to unzip, let me climb
UP out of it, as if following a rope up out of
A cave, then walked slowly backward through the
STORY you have told me in your poems. I went to see
FOR myself the statue of Selena, to a back room to inhale, for
MYSELF, the fragrance in a coat, to stand at a window
ONCE myself on Clifton Avenue in Cincinnati,

THAT I might continue the wordless letters sent,
EACH place from your poems, I gathered textures, sought a
GLOVE you wore and left behind you there.
I gathered each of these, carefully, in the order they were
LOST or were outgrown and left behind. I

WAS long in doing this. When I’d gathered all I could, I was
SENT back to my body, climbed back down inside, in-
TO a room within me, cleared it completely, emptied the cave in
MY rib cage, made space to assemble packages for your
FATHER. Each of these offerings once protected your hands
IN whatever place you were in. Each place was its own kind of
PRISON. I ache for him to see how you’ve been working free.

THAT’S ALL IT WOULD TAKE FOR HIM
THAT’S ALL IT WOULD TAKE
.
.
.
– Halima Ayuba (Laura M Kaminski), 29-March-2018

One other poem drafted this week, a gift for a friend who is an aspiring poet who asked for a poem for his birthday, and mentioned poetry is an area of struggle for him. This is what came as a response and offering:

Gift for a younger brother, Mahmoud Abubakar, on his birthday.
.
.
Difficulties. What do they
mean? When you say:
I have difficulties
with poetry. When I say:
I have difficulties
with walking. What do
we mean? Is difficulty
not another way
.
of naming, another
way of saying we
are experiencing
longing? Younger
brother, as you enter
this new year of life,
take a moment, sit
here with me, let us hear
a story, kasa kunne.
.
When our mothers
carried us in their
bellies, think you their
feet did not swell
with bearing our weight?
Think you their backs
did not ache? And most
surely, when they bore
us into breathing air,
.
did not our bodies
fight them, even when
we were too small to
know it, did not we
tear them open,
pain them in the many
hours of their labour,
leave them weak
.
and bleeding? And
from then, our own
stories begin. Do you
remember the first
moment ever when
you were an infant,
helpless, hungry,
crying out without
words about the aching
gnawing in your
belly? Me, I don’t
remember my own
first such difficulties,
.
but am sure the both
of us were screaming
when we were hungry.
And what about
the first time ever
trying walking? Do
you remember how
far away the ground
seemed when you
first tried to stand?
.
Or how hard it was
when you fell back
down and bit your
lip and skinned
your knee to bleeding?
Me neither, but I
assure you, younger
brother…you and also
me, we experienced
such difficulties.
.
We are human.
By definition, these
things happen. But
when you see an
infant taking steps,
struggling and falling,
do you ever think:
Look at that one!
She’s so clumsy! He
will sure be crawling
in the dirt well into
his twenties! She will
never learn to walk
properly or gracefully!
.
He will never manage
to keep from falling
to his knees! No?
But why not? Why
do we not so judge
the babies when
we see them in such
distress, so clumsy,
screaming, frustrated
by their difficulties?
.
Is it not because
we trust the living
process? Do we not
automatically expect,
in their case, grace?
That they will, in time,
be growing, will learn
to stand, will learn
to balance, even
the miracle of walking,
running, dancing?
.
And do we not trust
also that their screams
of longing will grow
less frequent as they
learn to speak? That
they will find the ways
with words they need
to express their
difficulties? So you,
your difficulties you
have with poetry,
at your age, and on
today, your birthday.
.
And me, the difficulties
I am having again
with walking and falling
as I am approaching
fifty years of living…
you and me, have we
not each lived long
enough, and seen
enough of grace
to at least begin
to trust the process,
.
trust the One who
“knows what is hidden
in time past and time
future”…does that One
not say “you will
climb from stage
to stage”? Difficulty,
my friend, is merely
this: our longing
for things to happen
on our own schedules,
.
in time with our own
impatience. We have
had a glimpse
of something greater.
But remember: already
the One has promised
to assist us. Already
the One is running
towards us.
.
Amin thuma amin.
.
.
-Halima Ayuba (Laura M Kaminski), 29-March-2018

Stay blessed!

P.S. Thank all of you who’ve reached out this past week and a half with warm thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement. I am grateful for your kindness.