Poems for These Days

Three Yaddo Poets Affirm the Agency of the Dispossessed

July 29, 2020

“They / can steady the coffin / of a constellation on their shoulders. / They can wreck / the air.” While the disenfranchised “enter and exit through mirrors of blood,” those who are witness to their dormant power “cannot forget them.”

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Three Yaddo Poets Extol the Strength of Unity

July 10, 2020

“Our fragile / dreams that rise / upon a muscle / of memory / and wind” depend on us to share in the vulnerability of others. We must find strength in each other in the service of amending a sorrow not only our own.

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Three Yaddo Poets Measure the Length of Empire

June 30, 2020

Lamenting the degradation of a country depleted of its rightful wealth by “Marines keep(ing) the pipeline safe” while “villages of imploring eyes . . . are mowed down,” Ojaide concludes “the new Stone Age . . . has begun . . . poaching inland as centuries ago.”

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Three Yaddo Poets Reclaim Power for the People

June 25, 2020

Strange clarifies that any gatekeepers assigned to any kingdom must, as a direct result of that position, live outside of it. There, they may see that in the celestial close of day, “the sun seeps burgundy, / gone-to-glory behind the altar,” regardless of human boundaries.

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Three Yaddo Poets Enlarge the Meaning of Love

June 19, 2020

Too often made to choose survival over life, she continues, “For everyone of us // I see die, I take you in . . . I let you go just to keep breathing.” The speaker here experiences intimacy as a spell cast against, and indivisible from, an oncoming brutality.

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Three Yaddo Poets Dispel False Prophesies

June 16, 2020

Her memory frames the immediate danger she faced as a child, the implacable vulnerability of which no guardian can protect against. “There were probably birds on the long walk home but I don’t / remember them because pastoral is not meant for someone / with a fist in each pocket waiting for a reason.”

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Three Yaddo Poets Forge Our Path to Freedom

June 10, 2020

“Somehow I survived / my loneliness and throwing up in a jail cell . . . I’ve picked up the hammer everyday / and forgiven myself.” We enter into the labors of others and are astonished by their immensity and duration. There, we chisel ourselves free.

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Three Yaddo Poets Defy the Violence of Injustice

June 4, 2020

“We learned / to cry without breathing, the way / some wounds bleed without / our understanding pain.” An inability to protect oneself and one’s community with peaceful protest is beyond comprehension. No chokehold or baton has ever stopped a person from weeping.

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Three Yaddo Poets Demand Honor for the Fallen

May 30, 2020

Hughes must look through a world crafted for his own downfall to envision the natural world that persecution obscures. After dawn lights “these walls oppression builds,” his newfound sight demands the destruction of cruelty’s facade, a prison from which fellowship is the only way back to what is real.

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Three Yaddo Poets Nurture a Lineage of Grace

May 28, 2020

Our heroes, porous to the melody of an earlier music, received these gifts as we have before passing them on. We too can sustain this legacy: “But Ray runs into the kitchen . . . He says, Feel my muscle, and I do.”

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