complicit walls

your safety is a torment.

you say you are patriotic, generous, you respect the flag and country and the rule of law.  swamps are not your thing. you’ve worked hard and deserve every gold coin. 

america is the greatest country that has ever existed, you say –
an inspirational experiment in justice and liberty for all.  don’t like the way we do things here? get out. 

you are blind.
you are limited.
you are angry.

you are scared.

you can’t keep out OTHER. your sand bags against change are sagging and weak. the seams in your walls are full of holes that time will increase.

patriotism
nationalism

humanism.

your children are starving, your father is on a hit list, your mother was raped, your family never gets a good night’s sleep because you fear violence in the night, your daughter needs heart surgery, your son is a gifted mathematician and needs access to education… will you stay were you are or will you do everything you can to escape and find a glimmer of hope, a chance, safe harbor.

you are a patriot.
you defend your country that stands for liberty and justice
for all.

you labor.
you learn.
you speak.
you break the wall down.

you change your mind.

About kids

Circling around each other,
Testing the attraction and repulsion
Of their orbits

The tiny details that mean so much
That cut deeply,
Or elate.

Who is first,
Better,
Faster,
Prettier,
Meaner,
Cooler,
Smarter

How to teach them to fly above,
to see the birds eye view,
the long-range sweetness of good ideas, hope, love.

Empathy and justice
Sacrifice and labor
Joy and loss and recovery.

Big ears,
Buck teeth,
Anxiety that pops pimples and vomits,
Club uniforms of long straight hair and leggings,
The last one to get it.

Dark skin,
Light skin,
Asian eyes,
and Indian Jhumka earrings,
The flash of braces and curves.

“No, you can’t sit here” social order and submission,
Their minds so full of potential,
So vulnerable.

Left alone too long and the thoughts become razor sharp –
To feel, escape, jump off the edge.

Don’t go.
We need you. You need you.

Hope is built –
Friend by friend
Moment by moment
Chance by chance
Hold by hold
Year by year

I see you working. I see you.

(written in a middle school cafeteria during 3 lunch periods full of kids)

 

 

 

This is a Poem about Veteran’s Day

Freddie Mercury
Lucinda Williams
AC/DC
Prince
Jimi Hendrix
Arianna Grande

You pick your own faves.

A direct line to my soul.
That energy that pulls me out of despair.

20 million dead in WW1
50 million or more in WW2
60,000 US soldiers in the Vietnam War
307 mass shootings in the US so far in 2018

Voter suppression,
Sins of slavery still dragging us through the mud,
Self-death of friends,
And the whales are dying.

Yet,
what makes your smile curl up unconsciously?
Where in your body is the joy that shatters anger and hatred?

Talent, imagination, beauty, love, the force of survival –
Rails against the machine and drive us to highs that make us quiver with pleasure.

Sweat and ecstasy – better then memes, better than likes.

We are the champions. Damn it. The power junkies continue to suffocate, poison, arrest, and demoralize us. But they are wrong. The universe knows this.

They, them, theirs –
The fragility of invention and discovery alongside the consequences of support.
An incredible opportunity and a dangerous precipice.
Doing our best is not good enough.

Yet, we fight for your becoming.

Freedom is not free. Evolution is a constant state of war.

Dance with me.

The bastards won’t win.
We have honor. And weapons. And tolerance, love and crescendo are on the right side of history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiber and Force

Living fibrous matter in all shapes and sizes, perpetually reaching.

Squirrel, hanging on our tree by two hind legs, tiny bites its way through an unripe pear until its belly is momentarily full, drops the half-eaten pear to compost, ensuring the circle of life and death.

Birthed to hang on.
Driven to survive.

Girl, an intermix of woman and child, hangs on by finger tips to her future self, simultaneously limited and emboldened by genetic recipe,
while experience breaks the skin, growing scar tissue that just won’t heal,

her body betrays her, pulls her down from the rocky heights, tries to block the view,

Her bravery overcomes and she reaches for one more hold,
pulling herself to the next branch,

she sees and swings.

Muscles tear, stretch, build stronger.
Cells knit together to shape
dancer, astronaut, underwater welder, entreprenuer, wife, mom, dog walker, poet.

With each careful, anxious step squirrel descends and zig zags across the grass – another day, another miracle, another try.

Girl, The roar of the universe resides inside,
a force as light as hummingbirds and as powerful as the impossible.

 

#nitaswords

August 2, 2018

Envision Instead of Fear

It’s difficult for me to think about anything else these days other than the cries of parents and their children separated at the border, piles of dead bees, melting icebergs, duped coal miners, and bleeding black fathers prostrate on ground. The access to global news 24/7 has increased my anxiety to the extreme and rendered me immobile at times.  Beginning as a rebellious teen and evolving into an artist and a teacher, and now a mother, I have spent most of my life pushing against power and working towards equity and environmental sustainability in my own ways. Many of the issues keeping me up at night have always been there, but some of us have enjoyed the privilege of being protected from witnessing them on a daily basis.  Thanks to FOXNews, CNN and Facebook, we have entered a new era of media overload, alongside an American crisis, as we watch so many democratic progressive successes evaporate at the hands of corrupt puppets under the guise of religious prophecy.

Meanwhile, I am raising two daughters that need hope, confidence, and freedom of thought in order to be able mature into individuals that find their place in the world.  I am feeling quite hopeless these days so it is difficult to show a strong front while responsibly parenting.  Of course, my kids cannot be forever protected or raised to be naive Pollyannas – they do need to see behind the curtain – but premature stress and anxiety has real consequences.  If they spend their lives having to fix themselves from too much pain, it will take that much longer before they can contribute to the gargantuan task of nudging humanity towards enlightenment.  So…we hide some stuff and we discuss some stuff and we attend marches and volunteer and we call our representatives and write some checks and we act locally while thinking globally.  We do what we can even while feeling it is not enough.

Yet, THINKING is still an open, limitless frontier.  Our dystopian future isn’t yet here and our minds are our own. We can envision.

I’m often asked how I met my husband and we have a fun story. I thought him to me.  After a string of unsuccessful relationships and at a point where I decided I would no longer seek any new ones, I made a proclamation for myself.  At a long-gone bar next to the Dali Restaurant in Somerville Massachusetts, I said to Margot over a Guinness, “I promise myself not go get involved with another person unless I meet an Italian engineer interested in art and science.”  Those were the witnessed words. That was in March of 1999. Soon after, Margot and I went on our camping trip with two other amazing women and drank whiskey in the hot dessert air of Death Valley.  We toasted to our independence, strength and sisterhood.

In April, upon my return, I was standing in the back of the room at the volunteer orientation of the first Boston CyberArts Festival at the Computer Museum in Fort Point (now the Children’s Museum).  I had arrived late and found myself standing next to Giuseppe, a charismatic Italian artificial intelligence PhD student. He was there to meet some interesting artists while in town.  We chatted (rudely, during the meeting) and he flirted and I realized I was sunk.  My visualization had materialized. Not only was he Italian, but he was Sicilian-born, a donkey ride from where my great-grandparents were from. Not only was he an engineer, but he was profoundly interested in music and culture and using technology to enhance human experience.  And not only was he available, but he was attracted to my strength, edge and artistic “dark side”.  An unbelievable match.  We spent almost every day together from that point on. He pretended to know how to rollerblade and submitted to the Massachusetts Avenue test from Boston to Cambridge without injury.  I read Il Gattopardo, a novel about the foundations of the Sicilian mind, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.  We married a year later in 2000 with two transformative ceremonies in both Cambridge and Sicily.

We have since grown together and apart and back again. We have traveled to and from Sicily more than twenty times. We have created many businesses and cultural projects together. We have supported each other’s interests and challenges and our love has endured.  Our most important collaborations are our two daughters.  We continue to be pushed, pulled, and inspired by them every day.  I envisioned a life partner and it came to be.  The fear of another failed relationship and the heart-ache that goes along with it was replaced by knowing what I wanted and recognizing him when he was standing next to me.

Recently I asked my teenage daughter to envision her future as a strategy for enduring the pain and complexity of her 14 year old existence. She wrote, “I will have good and true friends, I will be happy and healthy. My ideal friend will be nice and understanding, will be ok with being weird, is not super judgey or afraid of everything, and does not care too much about what others think of her/him.”  These are simple desires – very personal and not about the fear of fascism – but they are authentic.  In order for her to develop into the heroine the world needs she must discover her authentic core and bravely climb her mountains.  She will take on Voldemort when she is prepared.

What are our authentic visions for the future of our communities, our America, our world?  If we were to envision a future devoid of racism and white supremacy, environmental collapse, greed, and religious extremism, what would that look like?  I remember two Star Trek episodes of my youth, This Side of Paradise and The Mark of Gideon – in both stories, one about chemically induced happiness and the other about immortality, the problems of society and environmental limitation are not solved, but they are both visions of the future.  Remember Logan’s Run? That sci-fi dystopia where everyone who reaches the age of 30 has to die in order to maintain order? Having a vision gives us something to work towards and push against, to deviate from or steer towards. There are no simple answers to complex problems.

While we are banging our drums and swearing at our neighbors, we need to offer an alternative to hate and fear.  Here is mine:

I envision our future when compassion and generosity replace greed, mistrust, and narcissism; individuals are measured by the content of their character and not the color of their skin; all women, men, children, the marginalized, the weak, the old, the infirm, the abused, and humans of every skin color, origin, belief system, gender expression or sexual orientation will have an equal shot at safety and opportunity; solar panels, wind farms, and systems that use recycled plastics and discarded oil power all of our energy needs; a government made up of enlightened public servants, with long views, who support scientists, artists, designers and engineers alongside their research, accrued knowledge and inventions; education is respected, supported and appreciated as the foundation of civil society; expression, humor, sarcasm and free speech are understood and debated peacefully; the bees flourish, climate change is stabilized, and clean water is available to all; coal miners get free training for environmentally responsible jobs, and migrant farm workers have access to education, health care, and a path to citizenship; the inevitability of death is embraced thoughtfully and sensibly and seen as part of the circle of life; women have complete control of their bodies and have safe, legal and free access to birth control of all kinds; men’s masculinity is measured by their tenderness and respectfulness; individuals have the freedom to express the gender that allows them to fly; mcmansions are no longer a thing and golf courses are only allowed where there is no negative environmental impact.

It’s too many words for a protest march sign. But not too many for my dreams.  I look forward to the day when this vision stands next to my children’s children and they recognize their good fortune.

Love is not only the answer, it is the only option.

In the safety of my white privileged backyard, in my town mired by white privileged real estate development, the stress of high achieving schools, and the complicity that results from being able to take a break from the toxic news, I have a few moments to reflect on the last few months of my sabbatical activities. There are three threads that have been braiding together toward one messy cord that I’m holding onto for dear life.

1.) I have facilitated a series of “Beloved Conversations” with a small group of Unitarian Universalists in my community on the topic of racial justice and how to achieve it. 2.) My husband and I are homeschooling my 14 year old daughter in preparation for her upcoming life as a high school student. 3.) I am filled with rage and hopelessness around the state of the world and, in particular, the United States.

Something crystallized when I listened to the sermon of Reverend Michael Curry during the Harry + Megan Royal Wedding (everyone needs fairytale entertainment once in a while).  He spoke about the power of love as a healing and powerful universal force. Now, I am not naturally the most loving, affectionate, or patient person. I am as strong as an ox. I am resilient. I have a temper.  I have an edge – a “dark side” as my husband points out here and there.  At the same time, I am extremely sensitive to the emotional pain of others, a “feeler” some call us.  It is the quintessential and mercurial artists’ personality stew.  My DNA, my experience, my surroundings, my pain and joy have been cooking up all who I am. But as I have spent these last few months discussing and reflecting on my own white privilege alongside the community I have found myself in, I’ve been forced to see that both my strong reserve as well as my fragilities need some shaking up.

Dr. Martin Luther King said “…the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this kind of love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.”  And we need some miracles.

The challenge of juggling the roles of mother and teacher as my husband and I homeschool our daughter has held up a mirror to my influence on her developing outlook and sense of self. I am learning that the world will do a great job of criticizing her, nagging her, pointing our her mistakes, punishing her, and challenging her. My job has to be to love her. Love her unconditionally. Love her enough to disagree and talk and argue and complement and protect and do everything I can to maintain my relationship with her. Love her enough to not let go. Love her enough to remember to tell her how awesome she is. Love her enough to protect her even when she make a mistake, says something hurtful, or doesn’t tell the truth. Love her towards her independent future self even when it hurts me.

I’m feeling less clear about the love I must find for those that are complicit in, as well as explicit in, their support of the current administration and the ideology that is holding it up.  I am not seeing the path towards the reconciliation that MLK proposed.

If I hold up a mirror to my role in this sorry state of US politics, what do I see?  I see outrage, sadness, anger, fear, impatience, and even hatred. I’m pissed. Essential environmental protections are being rolled back. Safe and affordable family planning policies are being replaced by the draconian, criminalization of abortion. Racist mentalities are at the core of police brutality, economic disparity and anti-immigration policies. Innocent children are being taken from their parents and warehoused in vacant big box stores in the south.  The people in the top jobs of this country lie as a rule and too many Americans don’t care.  My activism – letter writing, fundraising, volunteering, marching, and, yes, even Facebook venting – is not enough. Or at least, my actions are built on top of a shaky structure. I am losing hope that it will do any good in making real, lasting change.

How can I love those in support of all that I believe to be wrong with the world of humans. This is both a political and spiritual question. And it is at the heart of the pursuit of happiness Americans have come to see as their individual right.

MLK wrote about three different types of love in his 1967 Christmas sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia:

“There are three words for “love” in the Greek New Testament; one is the word eros. Eros is a sort of esthetic, romantic love. Plato used to talk about it a great deal in his dialogues, the yearning of the soul for the realm of the divine. And there is and can always be something beautiful about eros, even in its expressions of romance. Some of the most beautiful love in all of the world has been expressed this way.

Then the Greek language talks about philos, which is another word for love, and philos is a kind of intimate love between personal friends. This is the kind of love you have for those people that you get along with well, and those whom you like on this level you love because you are loved.

Then the Greek language has another word for love, and that is the word agape. Agape is more than romantic love, it is more than friendship. Agape is understanding, creative, redemptive good will toward all men. Agape is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. Theologians would say that it is the love of God operating in the human heart. When you rise to love on this level, you love all men not because you like them, not because their ways appeal to you, but you love them because God loves them. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Love your enemies.” And I’m happy that he didn’t say, “Like your enemies,” because there are some people that I find it pretty difficult to like. Liking is an affectionate emotion, and I can’t like anybody who would bomb my home. I can’t like anybody who would exploit me. I can’t like anybody who would trample over me with injustices. I can’t like them. I can’t like anybody who threatens to kill me day in and day out. But Jesus reminds us that love is greater than liking. Love is understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill toward all men. And I think this is where we are, as a people, in our struggle for racial justice. We can’t ever give up. We must work passionately and unrelentingly for first-class citizenship. We must never let up in our determination to remove every vestige of segregation and discrimination from our nation, but we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege to love.”

First-class citizenship – we can not achieve this ideal unless we love. And it starts at home – when we are late for school, when the teeth aren’t really brushed, when illness keeps us away from our jobs and obligations, when the dog bites, when the dinner is burnt.  When someone you don’t know beats up an innocent person because of the color of their skin. And when someone you love votes for Trump.

I have to come to love my enemies, my neighbors, my students, my mothers and fathers, my sisters and brothers, as I do my daughter. I am not yet there.  I am still trying to collect all the tangled fibers and smooth them into that braided cord of survival and hope.  And I am not giving up. 

Love is not only the answer, it is the only option.

And the blasting begins again…

To my Lexington community –

Today, I spoke with Jim Kelly, building commissioner of Lexington, about the property next door to us. It will be the third property that abuts ours in so many years to be torn down and rebuilt into a house twice as big as the original.

We are about to once again experience the deafening thuds of foundation blasting, the dangerous refuse of a construction site, the chopping down of trees, and the blocking out of the sun on our property.

I need to vent a bit – we moved to Lexington because we thought this town exemplified values of diversity, education, community engagement, environmental stewardship and sustainability. Over the last few years I have become increasingly frustrated by the number of banks in the center, the increasingly standardized educational experience of my kids (though for the most part delivered by incredible teachers), and this epidemic of tearing down small and medium sized homes for gigantic ones.

Mr. Kelly can’t help me much with the upcoming construction zone next door that is about to fill my days because the zoning laws of Lexington allow it.

There are three main zoning factors that need to be changed in the Lexington zoning laws:
1. Tear downs need no special permission or neighborhood notification to happen
2. The Required Minimum Yard Setbacks are very short which creates tiny yards-
Front Yard Setback—30 Feet
Rear Yard Setback—15 Feet
Side Yard Setback—15 Feet
3. House height allowances are particularly high – 40 feet.

These zoning factors are changing the very essence of this town. It is increasing property value and driving out middle income residents and creating an unwelcoming place for newcomers that may represent a more diverse community. It is further limiting kids’ access to the outdoors (mountains of proof say kids need less screens and more nature). It is incredibly irritating to be living in a construction zone year after year. I could go on.

Unlimited growth isn’t good for anyone accept profiteers. I didn’t move year to make money.

I am a full time working mother – I don’t have time to track down board members, attend meetings, write letters, etc. on my own. It took me several months to call Jim Kelly once I knew the house next to me would be sold (and torn down). I would be willing to join an effort to work on this issue with others. I would love to hear from anyone in Lexington that is currently actively involved.

In today’s Lexington paper there is an article about the “Comprehensive Plan” process that is underway.

There is an upcoming Planning Board meeting on Thursday, May 10, 2018 – 7:00pm.
http://lexington.wickedlocal.com/…/new-lexington-comprehens…

Who reading this is involved? How can we change these laws? How can Lexington be a model town for sustainable growth and also welcome a diversity of residents in terms of economics, age, and race?

PS – I love a beautiful house as much as the next person. And many of my dear friends live in huge houses. What’s done is done. And I know many families that are benefiting greatly from selling their properties for top dollar. It is an irresistible opportunity. But we have to make hard choices that are not about the almighty dollar. If we can do it here in our town, perhaps others will follow. Think globally but act locally? Moving forward, we need a more sustainable approach.

And finally, here is the link to the comprehensive plan page on the Lexington Town website – https://www.lexingtonma.gov/planning-o…/…/comprehensive-plan

Thanks for reading. You’ll find me dusting off my ear plugs for the upcoming foundation blasting.

dated work samples in springtime

It’s spring – 

As I write this near a window at my local library, I can see tiny red buds pushing outward from their branches. Even while Syrian children gasp for air, parents are torn from their children at the Mexican border, and Nestle steals drinking water in Michigan, Spring is still coming. As I’ve been on sabbatical this semester and working closely with my homeschooled daughter, I’ve been thinking about how we all, individually, measure up in a increasingly standardized and automated world.  I don’t know about you but I need some hope.

Today I launch dated work samples

To kick-start the project, my daughters and I will go to Naco, Mexico, next week and visit Studio Mariposa – a wonderful explosion of love and color launched by painter Gretchen Baer. Gretchen and I collaborated on a gift for the kids that visit the studio each week. She asked the kids what they loved about their town of Naco and I turned their thoughts into questions. For example, “How many birds fly in the sky of Naco?”. We made t-shirts and my daughters and I will have the opportunity to meet the kids in person and give out the shirts. We want to celebrate these kids and their town. 

I also want to celebrate you.  You are invited to participate in the next phase of redefining how we each measure up. I am collecting questions about your worth. 

What are alternative ways we can define our value and worth to each other in a capitalist, and increasingly automated and impersonal, society mediated by artificial intelligence? 

The concept of the value of a human life has been continuously debated, abused, analyzed, leveraged, and distorted. Most of the earth’s inhabitants are not able to determine their own value to those in power over them. While I learn the history and current practice of slavery, read headlines of senseless war and gun violence, observe the double standards and racism in every day life, feel powerless against a massive refugee crisis, and angry toward the current administration in the United States, I consider the luck of my own privilege. I invite you to wonder with me –  what if your value was determined by the efforts you labor, the love you feel, the observations you make, or how much you are worth to your family, friends, or community?

How is your worth quantified? 

The questions should begin with the following phrases –  How much… How many… How high… How low… How old… How fast… How long… How far… How big…or similar.

The answers should be measurable in numerical quantities – something that could be put into a graph or data set. You don’t have to provide the answers. I just want the questions. Please write your initials and a date that has meaning for you in relation to the question.

Your final submissions might look like*:

  • How many children do I have? BD 3.12.2004
  • How fast can I recall math facts? LP 6.1.1983
  • How many miles have I driven? HG 1.1.1986
  • How many days since I smoked my last cigarette? NS 1.1.2000
  • How old are my shoes? NS 2.7.2018
  • How many lines of code have I written? GT 1.30.1999
  • How many times have I been nice to someone I don’t like? GT 8.1.2017

There are several ways to participate:

Some of the submissions will be selected and used in future visual representations. The creative process in this project is inspired by the individuality of cursive hand-writing, the beauty of lists, the comfort and protection of clothing, the vastness of counting, and the power of the people to overcome oppression.

Check http://www.datedworksamples.life for updates on this project as it evolves.

@datedworksamples   #datedworksamples

* While I look forward to your questions that demonstrate diverse views and experience, those that demonstrate hate speech, racism, violence or intolerance will not be accepted. 

Young Adults reading options by POC

We are homeschooling my 14 year old daughter this semester and have been looking for a book to read and analyze as an option to To Kill a Mockingbird which is the assigned book in her 8th grade class (Why are we still teaching To Kill a Mockingbird in schools?). We just finished Animal Farm. I wanted an alternative to the general list of classics that continue to represent a white supremacist view of the world, whether intentionally or complicity. I asked an author friend on Facebook and she asked her friends and here is the list. It’s awesome. I wanted to keep and share.

Book Titles and Authors

(descriptions are quoted from amazon.com)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Singby Maya Angelou
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston 
One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.

Brown Girl Brownstones by Paule Marshall
Hailed by the Saturday Review as “passionate” and “compelling” and by The New Yorker as “remarkable for its courage,” this 1959 coming-of-age story centers on the daughter of Barbadian immigrants living in Brooklyn during the Depression and World War II. A precursor to feminist literature, this novel was written by and about an African-American woman.

the House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become.

Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid
Lucy, a teenage girl from the West Indies, comes to North America to work as an au pair for Lewis and Mariah and their four children. Lewis and Mariah are a thrice-blessed couple–handsome, rich, and seemingly happy. Yet, almost at once, Lucy begins to notice cracks in their beautiful facade. With mingled anger and compassion, Lucy scrutinizes the assumptions and verities of her employers’ world and compares them with the vivid realities of her native place. Lucy has no illusions about her own past, but neither is she prepared to be deceived about where she presently is. 

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe 

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf  by Ntozake Shange

Kindred by Octavia Butler

The Leavers  by Lisa Ko

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Other authors:

  • Salman Rushdie
  • James Baldwin
  • Langston Hughes
  • Audre Lorde
  • Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Gloria Naylor
  • Edwidge Danticat
  • Nikki Giovanni (poet)

 

Beauty and Pain Too Much to Bear

Beauty and pain too much to bear

Scavenging dogs,
Mistrust and fear in the old lady passing
Trauma in the immigrants eyes and labor in his muscles
Skeletal cats lick stone
Broken chair, discarded mattress, pizza boxes, and everywhere the plastic, plastic, plastic

Bite of hard cheese
Warm apricot sweetness
Cherry tomatoes melt on chewy semolina
The perfect wine and, oh, the bread

Evening crickets twiddle the air
and noon day black birds scree in and out of the piazza
Crumbling medieval flourish
Vista of old stones and aqua marine

Anger that prods and picks fights between young men with no future
The poet jokes about his wife of 50 years

Bells chime the time and remind me to weave it all together

Fixing things is a privilege I do not have.