The Main Event, by stacy-marie ishmael
in autumn I remember that we are cold-smitten
Wish you could be here / to talk about it like it was so important. / Wish you could. /
Thunder grumbles on the horizon / I buy time with another story
All the Earth has borne beguiles us / & battered bodies build our acres.
I repent better in the waning / season
We might find a humanity that is not asking to be seen, but demanding instead.
I mean, / what pearl forms around a grain of plastic in an oyster?
the dead are changeless. / They grow no older. / It is I who have changed,
i want to talk about respect. / how even the desperate deserve it.
did you know roots are easy / to snap?
The being of some is: to be. Of others: to be without.
Invisible until you won’t see them / won’t bend and lift their comfort
The After Party: "community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist"
Just take the imagists. Their heads explode.
Do not raise your small voice against it. And do not / take cover.
It feels better to move with time than it does to constantly race against it.
a different kind of life
hope bleeds slowly from my mouth / into the dirt that covers us all
The After Party: "Identity is a hallucination...and everything is a story"
You are trying to be precise but everything is a carbon-like surface that scrolls by with pinpricks emitting memory’s wavy threads.
The magic settles uneasy; it turns out fairy dust was always / fake.
I ask that they describe / an object right in front of them, to make / it come alive, and one writes about death,
Reporters & fathers call your generation “the worst.”
a deputizing of hundreds. a machine gun on standpipe hill. a dropping of bombs from chartered planes.
Everyone loves that familiar warbeat: I know all the words to this war.
Is it from a dimly lit stone that wars flare up?
It doesn’t matter that / there is nowhere to run to.
Metaphors about death are for poets who think ghosts care about sound.
running and running until she reaches / at last the one and only door
Time is a nice medium, but very little can be made from it. And perhaps one of its finer qualities is its tendency to go on.
I learned it’s okay to glance down / into the sea. So many lessons bubble up if you know / where to look.
we used our words we used what words we had to weld, / what words we had we wielded
There are politics to death / and here politics performs / its own autopsies
by cowardice or courage / the one who find our way / back to this scene
I would laugh if I was not being smothered by the violence of imagination
To live another person’s biography is not the same as to live his or her life.
I address you aftermath, you as vengeance.
I want to be the woman who sits
What if we joined our sorrows, I’m saying.
When it comes to Asian-American grief, do Americans want to know?
The After Party: Dispatch from Fantasy Island
I tire so of hearing people say,
Because you still listen, because in times like these
This tart sermon
I need to learn
There’s more to MLK than “I Have a Dream”
I always thought language was / Akin to the body
Everyone is crying out for peace
i am running into a new year
The perfect moment is now.
you cannot catch / my rhythm
what advice do the drowned have for the burned?
And still a world begins its furious erasure—
You cannot legislate music to lockstep nor can you legislate the spirit of the music to stop at political boundaries—
After that came a sadness so big it made everyone
Inhale. So many of us are breathless,
is not protecting
Many of them remain unaware of . . .
Guilt is not a response to anger;
I write about you all the time, I said aloud.
How am I to understand the fluidity with which we continue in our days?
I must write the same poem over and over,
i / haven't enough room to both rage and weep.
You do own to hear me faintly /
tired i count the ways in which it determines my life
Everything was not all right.
Between the idea / and the reality
For it is important that awake people be awake,
There is something that those who have been to hell and back possess.
The challenge is in the moment /
This email respects your privacy
Feel the water cannons start to press through the walls and soak your feet.
There comes a time when you have to say something. You have to make a little noise.
Perhaps we are always hurtling our body towards
but when we are silent
There are so many roots to the tree of anger
I will no longer lightly walk behind
I wondered how long 400 years is, / how many bodies, /
it’s hard to / relate to folk who don’t consider their own demise fifty ’leven times /
Each time it begins in the same way, it doesn't begin the same way, each time it begins it's the same.
and may you in your innocence
I would call my friends on other devices;
The woman in front of me had been reading
Even what was beyond us / was recast in our image;
I am glad / you are so small,
We are spendthrifts with words,
Sweet is it, sweet is it
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward, /
I’m waiting for my right mind.
Sometimes the moral arc of the universe
Someone is dancing us.
I have been woman / for a long time
All I want / is to be the river though I return
One way to erase an island is to invent the waters
Please remain calm,
Not the blue the orthodoxy of the day
The worst injury is feeling you don't belong so much
Our bodies spun / On swivels of bone & faith, / Through a lyric slipknot
Beyond dreams and the arc of justice
running and running until she reaches
awards medals to generals
Not everything that is faced can be changed;
to dare to have nothing so much to lose
Does it tell you that your heart is afire?
I do not believe as some / that the vote is an end
Some requests for hiring managers
Now each of us
No air. Breathe in.
Free people keep afever
let this be the healing
All of it has always seemed so arbitrary to me,
No one can stop her.
and i become relic
To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them:
I love your hair / You always wear such interesting things
“Put your hands up! Show me your hands!”
get up and try to do something
Fear is the paralyzing agent,
In the beginning before the beginning, there were drums, and hymns,
T.S. Eliot said that humankind cannot bear very much reality.
But this was a kind of joy, too, forged
because the low of my back believes what the sea told it
O whatever God or whatever ancestor that wins in the next life
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
No faith comes without cost /
How many iambs to be a real human girl?
Here, blackness isn’t a commodity; it isn’t inherently political;
There is no end / To what a living world / Will demand of you.
I give you / a legacy / of doers
What to do with this knowledge
“Where I came from” is the sky, the ground, the sea, the very air we breathe
It is time to ask very hard questions and to take very rude positions.
What are you demanding / That we feel?
Play it away. Be ceremony.
The first Pride was a riot
I can’t get over that, & wonder if it’s true,
I am scared / is not a good enough reason to not get out of bed
Eventually it comes to you:
i can’t stand your ground.
I say I, too, am a romantic,
The press is so powerful in its image-making role
To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.
“I did know, though, and I was silenced.”
May you be comforted
If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.
Your silence will not protect you
I didn’t know and nobody told me
Decide, or the world will decide for you
"Hey, what's keeping you busy these days?"
And you will ask: why doesn’t his poetry speak of dreams and leaves
Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart
The way to grow your power is to give it away
They call you black because
The dwarfs found out how to turn lead into gold by doing it the hard way.
Self-awareness is not the same thing as peace
Somehow, blackface wasn’t even the worst of it
Never again is now
Instructions for living a life
What is the work that moves you?
Imagine everything you ever wanted
Bask in your own heartbreak
"What if everyone disobeyed the law?"
we protested but not enough
To all the tweets I didn’t send before
i'm just doing my job
if you can’t make your own neurotransmitters
Good year to hate lettuce
these are the answers, you feel me?
what are you doing to make revolution irresistible
& who, this time, will serve the reminder
are you ok is code for we are not ok
The striking aphorism requires a stricken aphorist.
Go the way your blood beats
I am splintered by great waves
Instead of stressed I lie here charmed
Do inconvenient things
Let the horizon be what it is
Welcome to the Main Event