Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Letter Sent to Yale Univ. About Naming a Building After Calhoun

[Emailed 5.31.16] 
Dear all:  Thank you for open access to the museums. I've Metroed up from NYC for Yale's remarkable collections now and then, to thrill in the work. I am disappointed, however, that Yale is racist, promotes racism, aggressively stands by racist personages who shame the U.S. How else to interpret naming a building after Calhoun. This action is wrong; plain-out, straight-ahead wrong. Not especially because New Haven is a town with many Black people, although that fact doesn't strengthen Peter Salovey's immoral decision. I don't threaten but I do my part to objcct to this Trumpish celebratory sneering at this country's attempts to pursue the experiment of equality.  Two articles. (1) James Baldwin's NYT review of Roots; 1976. (2) James W. Loewen's "10 Questions for Yale's President." My reason for the latter needs no explanation. As for Baldwin - he informs Salovey that Salovey "need[s] the moral authority of ... former slaves, who are the only people in the world who know anything about ... [Salovey] and who may be, indeed, the only people in the world who really care anything about [him]." I suggest no person of merit or discernment gives a crap about Salovey. Me? I very much dislike shoddy thinkers. True, I'm no one of any importance and have minus-zero wealth. But I do not want anyone I love to have more struggle in their life for any reason and certainly not because a "leader" with lackluster thinking skills is willing to cause harm because he doesn't understand what harm is. I ask you to resist naming so much as a shed after a man who caused so much pain. We don't erase Calhouns from history but we don't celebrate them.

Most sincerely,
Sarah Sarai

emailed 5.31.16
to: (many are in charge of helping to organize "gifts" to Yale)
The above illustration is one of the less heart- and gut-wrenching visuals of slavery. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

"Flight" - E. Ethelbert Miller - the silver of her / wings - #poem


(for June)

she steps off the
plane with
the silver of her
wings still caught
in her hair

the space between us
is not distance

the flight of my hand
towards her
gives no shadow

E. Ethelbert Miller. First published in Gargoyle #5 (Richard Peabody, ed.).

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Karrie Waarala - The Sword Swallower's Mother Speaks - a poem

The Sword Swallower’s Mother Speaks

I don't recall now what stole my attention,
one of my other children tugging at my nerves,
or my husband barking at the gardener,
or maybe just the way the sheets billowed
on the clothesline like sails.

But when I looked back down to my breast
I saw milk flooding my son's tiny face.

It gurgled down into his lungs, his eyes
mirrored the shiny distance of my own.
My boy didn't know enough to gag,
just kept working that trusting mouth,
and I still wonder if it was all my fault.

If I was the first to smash the gates of his throat
into a wide open invitation to danger.

His childhood frayed me. The queasy rush
of finding him with butter knife pressed
against his small voice. The need to break
all his pencils to stubs too small to swallow.
The bullying jostle of his older brothers.

The hostile smolder of his father barely hidden
behind the dinner table evening newspaper.

Eventually I hummed loudly enough
to almost wash over the shouting as I
scrubbed crusted blood from the steak knives,
learned to turn away from his lacerated tongue,
the restless hands, the bruised knees.

My throat never let loose the words
that would teach him how to choke.

The night he left I listened to the cloth
of a young life being shoved into bags
and did nothing to reel my boy back to me.
I just whispered to his closed door and went
to bed, tried not to be relieved in the dark.
In the morning I pretended not to notice
that everything sharp was gone.

By Karrie Waarala. 
Copyright belongs to Karrie Waarala. Please click on her name for more information about her poetry. “The Sword Swallower’s Mother Speaks” was published in Issue Thirty-Two of The Collagist, March 2012.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

R Is for Restless - Christine Hamm - "Eventually, you stop shivering."

R Is for Restless

Palm Beach, a fake emerald bracelet scratching your wrist.

You crawl to the bed, the industrial carpet rubbing its cigarette stink all over you. You remember the man’s hands, the scars and words scrawled across them.

A wilted yellow carnation on the nightstand. Your ruffled dress with pink and black diamonds sprawled across a chair. A ceiling full of tiny stabbed-in holes.

The damp circle your body makes on the sheets dissipates. Eventually, you stop shivering.

BY: Christine Hamm. “R Is for Restless” was first published in Cleaver, 2013, and is included in Christine’s chapbook, A Is for Absence, published by the New Orleans Review in 2014. 

For more on Christine Hamm, visit her website.