Two Poems Recently Loved

Both can be found @ The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database. The .org, Split This Rock, encourages sharing poems from The Quarry everywhere — just please credit the author, Split This Rock, and link to the poem. You know, be cool.

I love that Jones’s poem spares us nothing, takes us into this vulnerability directly. (Note that WordPress corrupts the format of this poem. Please view the original at the link to see how goo this really is.)

Ode to the Chronically Ill Body
by Camisha Jones

This body        is one long moan

My feet                a landscape of mines
My legs                two full pails of water I spill
at the weight of
My back              where the sharpest knives are kept
My hands            a scatter of matches     ready to spark into flame

This body       is lightning
Strikes the same place      more than twice

This body       is a fist                         pounding its own hand
This body       crumples like paper
I crumple     like paper           because of this body
This body       just wants        and wants         and wants
This body
Says stop
Says go
Says stop
Says run
Says stop
This body is        a stubborn traffic light           stuck on red
This body will
have what it wants       Or it is
blasphemous        tantrum down every grocery store aisle
This body            makes an embarrassment      of me
This body is
an embarrassment
Then pleasure               Then hunger
Then defender             Then defendant
Then carriage
Then coffin
This body is      Tupperware with its secrets        sealed tight
This body             scrapes              and falls
Then gets back up        again      and again
It’s all I got      to get back up with         again
This body         is an ocean        of oil spill        all over me.


What I love in Chin’s poem is how it participates in a contemporary form of metta, the Buddhist practice of extending loving compassion into the world.

The Last New Year’s Resolution
by Kazumi Chin

The very last mammoth was just like the others,
except more lonely. The very last tortilla chip
makes me feel guilty. The very last line
of the poem changes everything about
what came before. On the very last day
of any semester, if I liked my class, I buy them
cookies. Every year, someone hears the very last
words of any given language, and then
it sinks into the mud of colonialism. White
soldiers gave every last Indian at Fort Pitt
a blanket, to keep them warm. The very last
samurai was white. The very last thing
I wanted this poem to be about was white
people. But that didn’t last too long. Last
year, I wavered between whispering
and screaming. The very latest from
the western front: a lasting quiet. The radio
was never much of a conversationalist.
The very last tape I ever listened to
scrambled like an egg at brunch
in Pittsburgh on a Sunday, with
the very last people I’d ever expected
to be at brunch with. Who knew I’ve love
so many white people. The very last story
my grandmother told me was about a boy
named Tsutomo. He was born from a peach
called America. The very last place his father
thought he’d ever be. The very last ornament
we hang from our tree each year is a face.
The very last year I spent Christmas with
my whole family was in 6th grade. I hated
my whole family that year. To the very last
drop of blood in my body, I wanted them
out. Now I want to bring all these Pittsburgh
people home with me. Take them to meet
my family. With every pixel of every word
I bleed. I never wanted to hate my family.
Or anything at all. I want last year to be
the very last time that I ever hate anything.
Even when white people are killing black
people and sealing off the street. I will hold
so many hands. To the very last finger
resting on every last trigger of every
last gun. Listen to me, I am loving, I am loving,
I am giving so much fucking love to you.


What say you, then, Traveller?

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