What kind of times are these? Families aren’t even given dead bodies to grieve. Activists, journalists and NGOs are under the scanner, if not behind bars already. Somewhere, women don’t have abortion rights. Elsewhere, they don’t have a right to education. In most places, they don’t have the right to their own bodies, their studies, career, marriage, life. It increasingly feels like the worms have reached the core. Or maybe it’s just the facade that is crumbling, revealing us to be the barbarians we always were.
Tired – Langston Hughes
I am so tired of waiting.
for the world to become good
and beautiful and kind?
Let us take a knife
and cut the world in two—
and see what worms are eating
at the rind.
What Kind of Times Are These – Adrienne Rich
There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.
I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.
I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.
And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it’s necessary
to talk about trees.
Interpretations – Mourid Barghouti
A poet sits in a coffee shop, writing.
The old lady
thinks he is writing a letter to his mother,
the young woman
thinks he is writing a letter to his girlfriend,
thinks he is drawing,
thinks he is considering a deal,
thinks he is writing a postcard,
thinks he is calculating his debts.
The secret policeman
walks, slowly, towards him.
wishes for sons – Lucille Clifton
i wish them cramps.
i wish them a strange town
and the last tampon.
i wish them no 7-11.
i wish them one week early
and wearing a white skirt.
i wish them one week late.
later i wish them hot flashes
and clots like you
wouldn’t believe. let the
flashes come when they
meet someone special.
let the clots come
when they want to.
let them think they have accepted
arrogance in the universe,
then bring them to gynecologists
not unlike themselves
Still I Rise – Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Hope – Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
Hope has holes
in its pockets.
It leaves little
so that we,
can follow it.
it doesn’t know
it knows only
that all roads
begin with one
foot in front
of the other.