Thursday, April 12, 2007

Michelle Lanier: Ribald Farming

for Michelle Lanier

angels stain the air
when you reach for words
made rounder by
the soil you trace
for roots

and birds sound the calling
to splash light
to water what knows
you are home

so i'll curl a streamer
i'll smooth a mound
i'll balance a birthing gourd
meaning I will cultivate grace daily
so they'll know
i heard you

Afiya Carter: Experiment

for Afiya

if a lunge had bells
or if the universe was made
from the bright small buttons
of air popping off
everytime your hand explained

if a house had glass precision walls
saved just for the breeze
and the never-could-be-known
had a pet door to use

if museums
and publicly specialized community
had cheerleaders trained
in the backdrop of threedom

in other words
if this were all
a science project
(so to speak)
an experiment
meant to be lived
I would sit
in a corner of the classroom
where I could watch you
and change my mind

Wahneema Lubiano: All My Affect

for Wahneema

attention gains wings
from the way you listen

like a magnetic lift
a secret spring
that firms eye contact
into a place to be

what was glass ceiling
becomes sturdy
to rest books on
past our reach

or foam legos
get born out
your phrases
placing each into
soft frames for knowing

in other words
i was never going to stay
with one metaphor
so thanks
for building
the slide

Wahneema Lubiano is a Professor of African and African American Studies, Literature and Women's Studies at Duke University. She is also the author and in person speaker of words that will blow your mind everytime. Despite all of this, she is the most generous teacher I have met.

This Survivor: A Spelling Lesson

A Spelling Lesson

for this and every survivor

is a four-letter word
an instruction after catching fire
a movement behind stop
a command we must memorize
and tell ourselves
if we would be safe

is what we do to the kids
at school, at practice, at auntie's
training for a next that will keep them (running)
warning that they will not be at home anywhere
treason required by our other jobs

is what the dj plays
what the hypeman says
the entrance of the beat(ing)
stretching our skin like a place to call
drowning our knees like a new heartbeat

and today
is what my stomach does
is a frame for the rain
is the shape of the blood
that would seek to be the last word
as if we weren't students as well

but we know how to spell

so when i see D-R-O-P
dropped open in front of me
like it was new(s)
all i do is add you
all of bright breaking you
all of impossibly speaking
light leaking

and the next word is yours


love always,