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Self-care is a radical act in a world that values production over people. Reading, reciting, and writing are ways to reconnect authentically with oneself and to challenge the status quo.
Reading: Find poems in our anthology that speak to your experience, that widen your world, or that create connections across time and place.
Reciting: Voice the beauty and the truth that needs to be heard. Find a poem that can be a daily affirmation.
The river is famous to the fish.
The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.
The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
That feeling of my soul getting yanked
I wonder where my soul hides when I’m sick
My heart feels as if it’s getting beat up
Is it because the restless ocean is clumping up?
commencing to the place of beginning;
in 1959 the South Saskatchewan river was dammed;
forever altering the boundary of Treaty no. 6;
such that it technically no longer exists;
It takes eight matches, a burnt thumb, and a quick Google search
to light the sweetgrass braid Mom scored for me from an elder
at work. Always use matches, she said. Spirit likes matches.
my mother found herself one late summer
afternoon lying in grass under the wild
yellow plum tree jewelled with sunlight
she was forgotten there in spring picking
rhubarb for pie & the children home from
The fish are drifting calmly in their tank
between the green reeds, lit by a white glow
that passes for the sun. Blindly, the blank
glass that holds them in displays their slow
a girl between two dialects
still a screen and still a searching, learns
the season of breakup
another word for spring
can come before or after
depending on where you grew up
online, back and forth
My niece calls me from my brother-in-law’s phone
While I’m getting ready to wash dishes. I pick up.
She says she needs to talk to her grandfather.
I tell her that her grandfather just went to sleep,
Weekends too my father roofed poor neighborhoods,
at prices only his back could carry
into profit. In the name of labor’s
virtue—or was it another bill collector’s callous
we are asking you to trust your hands. put them on your heart. trust
your heart. hear what we are saying. trust what you hear. we are
asking you to build a circle. always a circle. not almost a circle. face
There is no land of perfect, child.
There is no sea of ease.
There is no candy apple trail.
There’s broccoli and peas.
There is no suit of armour, child.
There’s arrows and there’s pain.
To Windrim or sycamore
rustle cicada or bark and to Wayne
to rustle and psoas and psoas to Belmont and Germantown hills
hills as to nearer Plateau as to Central and whisper wall Indian
I’ve put the oats in a jar,
with yogourt and seeds,
left it in the fridge
overnight. The fruit on top
will thaw, dripping
into the rest.
I want to remember
I’ve done this
at least in our waking life
doubles as force
the most benign
are tinged eurocentric
when brown women die
i once shoved my foot through glass
getting to know my own anger
its patches of stupid
stress is just a socially acceptable
word for fear
Our national bird – for years – was – as A M Klein said –
the rocking chair
I don’t know what our national bird is now – but my totem bird is
Stranger, who can measure the distance between us?
Distance is the rumor of a never-before-seen sea.
Distance the width of a layer of dust.
Maybe we need only strike a match
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
Not the music.
It is this other thing
I keep from all of them
that matters, inviolable.
I scratch in my journals,
a mouse rummaging through cupboards,
My sister is crying and crying
her tears grow to salt stormy showers
to rain and to rapids and rivers
they run to the sea to the sea.
My sister sobs softly she knows
Winter has landed; my boot bucks on a stone
surrounded by snow; I swear, I murmur
Oracabessa. “The rock” is what I call home,
all islanders do, and I’m in blessed Ann Arbour,
Weeds are flattened beneath last year’s tire tracks
others lay burden by the winter’s heavy snow.
The crocuses labor through this thick blanket.
I am sun drained from the bleakness
I remember my birth
like it was tomorrow, the unholy sensation
It is like an exquisite spider web, this world, but I
don't get trapped.
I have ceased to tie the strings of one shoe to
another in the morning,
so now I don't trip over my wants. This leaves me
Love, you ask too many questions.
Let’s agree: we are whole
—John Thompson, “Ghazal II”
I take apart the watch
it's okay if you only learned about your culture from Google
it's okay if you only read your language at the public library
We had no paper
then, or we had
no pen, or no words. How
to say it. We had
no voice. No listeners.
Just deaf night
How to describe sea
To someone who’s never seen it?
He lives to ninety-nine, he wants it, to see it
To walk on its glass surface, to blow the seven trumpets.
Take the thickest socks.
Wherever you're going
you'll have to walk.
There may be water.
There may be stones.
There may be high places
you cannot go without
I used to liken a poem to praying. Is that right?
Not the woo and gratitude praying served by queer witches.
Childhood praying. As a girl I genuflected to the tabernacle
— “mu” twenty-eighth part —
On Antiphon Island they lowered
the bar and we bent back. It
wasn't limbo we were in albeit
The sun gave our shoulder blades ulu-shaped burns, and the sun gives nothing to our sort
I sleep now, and furiously
Clouds excreted shadows on the shoreline, and there were no clouds
Stepping off the plane in Whitehorse
the last thing I expect to feel
not quite alone
but close enough
here in this great black north.
As we drive away from the airport
Out of their torments men carved a flower
which they perched on the high plateaus of their faces
hunger makes a canopy for them
an image dissolves in their last tear
In Jerusalem, and I mean within the ancient walls,
I walk from one epoch to another without a memory
to guide me. The prophets over there are sharing
the history of the holy ... ascending to heaven
The 31st day of August 1914
I left Deauville a little before midnight
In Rouveyre’s little car
You wanted to be so hungry, you would break into branches,
and have to choose between the starving month’s
nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-third evenings.
I come from the land of
Where You From?
My people dispossessed of their stories
and who have died again and again
in a minstrelsy of afterlives, wakes,
the dead who walk, waiting and
We are losing the intensive care unit waiting room war
We were doing so well
So well we got sleepy
So sleepy the institution returned
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.
the law mandates that a hate crime only be classified as such if there
is ample evidence to show that one’s actions were motivated by
prejudice toward an individual’s nationality, ethnicity, sexuality,
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
In my dream my mother comes with me.
We are in the meadows we call
The Flats, walking the dogs.
Walk straight past the water trough,
she says, do not engage the moss.
i twist and gasp
open and close my mouth
searching for air
whenever a sturgeon is caught in the rainy river
the feel of strange hands touching my body
Praise the rain, the seagull dive
The curl of plant, the raven talk-
Praise the hurt, the house slack
Down a long, long corridor
I keep walking…
—A window straight ahead so bright it hurts the eyes,
I’ve heard the phrase between you
and me too many times to believe
it to be true, but between me and you