Four Poems in Angels Flight • literary west

I am thrilled to announce some good news in my little life. Thank you to Michele Raphael, David Lott and Sherilyn Lee for entrusting me with the associate poetry editor position at AFLW. I hope to learn a lot from these brilliant humans. Here are some of my poems for you to check out on the last day of Black History Month.

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A Girl Stands on Debris in Homs, Syria reprinted in The Rise Up Review

Rise Up Review is a landing site for the poetry of opposition. We feature a new poem each day dedicated to making the political personal and vice versa. The poems on Rise Up are meant to be disseminated like manifestos. In that regard, the daily poem is featured as a JPEG on the home page, which makes for easy sharing. William Carlos Williams says that "it is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men [and women] die miserably everyday for lack of what is found there." Poetry has the ability to address injustices and oppression in a manner that is both lyrical and intimate. The best such instances of this power avoid the didactic, because we learn about human evils and frailties, human love and strength, from the stories we tell. Poetry is a hammer is a flame is a rebel flag is an olive branch. We proffer it to you.
Rise Up Review is a landing site for the poetry of opposition. We feature a new poem each day dedicated to making the political personal and vice versa. The poems on Rise Up are meant to be disseminated like manifestos. In that regard, the daily poem is featured as a JPEG on the home page, which makes for easy sharing. William Carlos Williams says that “it is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men [and women] die miserably everyday for lack of what is found there.” Poetry has the ability to address injustices and oppression in a manner that is both lyrical and intimate. The best such instances of this power avoid the didactic, because we learn about human evils and frailties, human love and strength, from the stories we tell. Poetry is a hammer is a flame is a rebel flag is an olive branch. We proffer it to you.

Today, I Vote

I blow into empty eye sockets
and hear the whistle of the slave mind;
the hive mind.
 
When the earth shivers, her spine loosens,
contracts, releases, contracts.
We all stumble around like flees
in her jungles and forests.
We hold on to both sides of the lifeboat
as we flow into her angry breast
 
Today, the appeals go unanswered,
the rummage sale for Syrian villages and young women.
 
And everyone will join hands and cheer,
“We defeated fascism! Yay for us! We did good!”
while rubber bullets bruise the Natives,
while slave labor continues in prisons,
while refugees wash up on the shores.
 
Surely you don’t want _______ to win!
Surely you don’t want _______ to win!
Surely you don’t want _______ to win!
That’s not an election; that’s extortion.
 
And hey white women,
Sojourner Truth was a suffragette too!
Sojourner Truth was a suffragette too!
Sojourner Truth was a suffragette too!
How many I VOTED stickers will be placed on her tombstone?
 
Today a girl in Gaza makes buildings out of ash
(this is not a metaphor).
Her name is Majd Al-Masharawy,
and she calls the bricks Green Cake.
Green like grass and money.
Cake like rich, sweet desserts.
I would like to vote for Majd.
How much sugar can I send her?
I would like to send her all the sugar in the world.
 
 

Outside the Lines, Grouse Valley, Sequoia National Forest

IMG_1557This valley feels like it was made for us. I know that is how everyone enchanted with a piece of land feels. Nevertheless, the magic of this land, its seemingly symbiotic ecosystem creates dandelions the size of a newborn’s head. There are no telephone poles as far as the eye can see – only grass, redwoods and pines, oak, wild flowers, a body of water nestled between granite hills covered in plant life.
You hear the cows lowing, see them grazing along the lake. Not a human being in sight. No car horns, ambulances or leaf blowers, just a mind-blowing perimeter of pine trees, granite and wildflowers. California poppies appear with their tiny entourages, some yellow, some so bright orange they project coral in the sun, velvety purple lupine, stout morning glories, dwarf daisies, apple trees and tall grass as far as the eye can take it.
The cows here graze during the day, gallop across the field below, drink at the lake, move on. Their voices wake us. On the third day, we don’t hear them anymore. The frogs continue into the evening, and the cicadas follow. Sparrows nest around the two-story log cabin and bring worms to their babies at first light. There are corners of the porch where hornets have made nests. The bees buzz all day, and all the creatures great and small contribute to the music of the valley. Pink water lilies rise out of one corner of the lake, and sparrows skim the top looking for insects and tadpoles. We step gingerly around cow dung and find ourselves in a nursery; baby frogs by the thousands leap towards the sun, jump out of our palms, try to find their way in their new confusion, in their new mucky world of mud and grass. I wonder what they are instinctually aiming for, what is driving them to continue leaping forward. Larger frogs appear at night after the sun has gone, popping out of their burrows. They sing in unison while the cows low, and we sit around the fire and laugh at the what Cheryl calls the bovine symphony.
This weekend is about sisterhood and creative flow, about healing, about being beguiled and understood and ushered into our own power. We try this as women who come from different backgrounds and experiences. Tess, Cheryl, Avonel, Michele, Arminé. The five of us made it here after much trouble on the other side of the lake, off-roading at times, almost busting my Honda open from roots and detritus. Luckily, we edited the poorly-written directions and made our way towards the higher road. Always take the high road!          After using the secret codes to unlock the gate, we continue through juvenile apple orchards and find ourselves at last in front of the Lake Cabin, a large maple tree shading the front. We park and enter like whirling dervishes setting up the kitchen and beds, pouring drinks, laughing, running around the wrap-around porch, gazing gazing gazing out into the wild green before us, the wild blue lake. The mountain ranges continue behind the lake in many shades of grey and ash, like sleeping ghosts.
From the deck, Michelle sketches the valley on a large piece of butcher paper while Avonel and Tess hike down into it for a closer look with their lenses. We play in the sun and shadow of the grandmother tree rooted behind the house. We pose like trees in the breeze. We give ourselves wings and tiaras. At night, with the stars watching, we try to mimic their dead beauty. We allow ourselves to be amazed at our own capabilities.
We eat, rest, light a fire, tell our stories, bare our truths and burn sage. We fold pain into paper and let it burn in the fire. We drink. We laugh. Then, we manifest. We release the rage into the fire. We make room for possibilities. We make room for ourselves.

June 25, 2016

THE EVE MANDATE Series by Tess.Lotta

Notes on Fetish Eve: Keeping Up With the Exoticisms (Panel 5 of 12), the 3rd set of portraits in Virgin/Whore: The Eve Mandate Series by Tess.Lotta

written by Armine Iknadossian

EveMandateRHOLA

On forehead:

Hnazant (obedient/submissive) as in “We named our daughter Hnazant to make sure she does not turn out a slut.”

Lrel (to shut up) when men threaten you.

Fetish as in Kim Kardashian’s ass, breasts and lips

Exotic as in Cher’s nose

Noorp (petite) as in surgical rib removal for smaller waist-line

On right breast:

Chaste – as in hymen reconstruction surgery

Evil as in Eve(l).

Arkant (uterus) as in hysterectomy at 40

Gov (cow) as in “Get off the couch, you fat cow.”

Bitch – as in bitch rescues kitten by adopting it into her own litter of puppies.

On left breast:

Pari (good) as in “Good girls your age shouldn’t ask what the word virgin means.”

Good as in “Good girls your age shouldn’t ask what the word virgin means.”

Girl as in “Good girls your age shouldn’t ask what the word virgin means.”

Hay akhchig (Armenian girl) is hiding behind the fold in the fabric.

Keghetzig (beautiful) – “Will you still love me when I am no longer young and […]”

Slut as in a woman deflowered by someone other than her husband.

View the rest of Tess.Lotta’s series here: Fetish Eve: Keeping Up with the Exoticisms

Life has loveliness to sell the poet said and I wonder if the applicable tenderness of existence is not in fact the wishful thinking of a sad and lonely optimist, if time and essence and excess and torrid love affairs with strange men is not enough to quench our finessed anger, our salivating repugnance. the birds call to each other and that is lovely but I also know my neighbor beats the tree with a large stick to scare the Conures away.
 
Life has loveliness to sell the poet said under the moonbeams where your lips and my shoulder meet and I look at you like a mermaid come to life and you look at me as if my skin was made of gold and honey.
 
Life has loveliness to sell the poet said it has loud and quiet spaces small enough for us to fit into to suffer together with outstretched arms and enough tears to fill 10 oceans, a sea of human tears what a lovely image that is but then the steamboat, the jet-ski, the oil tankers the ever widening gryre of profit margins outweigh saffron by the pound saffron more expensive than gold saffron and all her blood pink countries.
 
Life has loveliness to sell despite the hacksaws and lawnmowers, despite the telephone lines and utility boxes, despite drills and dump trucks and landfills and skyscrapers. Despite all that impressive industry, life. LIFE. Has an infinite inventory of lovely.
 
Life has loveliness to sell my mother told me to smell the roses in front of my house to spread their petals around my house to talk to them each one separate in its lovely color, my blushing brides, my yellow wallpapers, my red sonias and lavender lips, all my flowers sell themselves to me while hiding tiny switchblades up and down their green sleeves.