from Poetry Foundation
“And here is the crux of the matter: Kyger resists “letting go” of experience with all her might at the same time that her Buddhist training and practice counsel detachment. What is at stake in the poems is more than the plums she’s eating, or a dream in which Gary Snyder appears: it’s a vigilant exploration of the nature of consciousness in which the particulars of experience — light filtering through the clouds, a neighbor’s note, surfers waiting for waves — bridge the gap between inner and other worlds. Across six decades of writing, these careful attentions to consecutive moments collectively constitute a massive humanist document, of which On Time is the latest installment. Reading Kyger is not like reading about a life so much as perceiving what it’s like to really live.”
“Resist Much signifies the strength of a literate and politically conscious America, which will not be duped by the mountebank tactics and the empty rhetoric of politicians. As Whitman would affirm, it is up to writers, governments, and households alike, to brace themselves against “the eminence of meanness, treachery, sarcasm, hate, greed, indecency, impotence, lust.” Buy this book today, read it, and spread the word. Resist.”
Zero at the Bone: Dante Di Stefano Reviews Resist Much / Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance
by Adam Malinowski
we are making so. much. noise. hearing only our own distraction and meaningless chit-chat to listen to the scream of a world on the edge of complete destruction. like how david says, just a few days ago, in a cramped backseat on the 405 in LA, the cars all stacked on top one another , that the only response we can muster to complete & total ecological destruction is the perfection of self. Every day i wish we could just stop, yet the myth of this i is destroyed only in finite moments, moments that are still indescribable to me, and so in these poems the i remains as an artifact of this self, an artifice for all that constitutes it—people, affect, memory, & place—all of which are political and fucked, all of which are not mine, all of which i know so beautifully intimately.
i want to sleep with you in 2008
at the beginning
of the first term
when we were
all full of blind optimism
concerning the scope
of the country’s history
well fuck this country
tho i love
we are near
yr parent’s place
where we have kissed & the icy sheets
—water, manufactured heat, exhaust—
how all the resources of the world
still can’t bring me closer to you.
eyes become eyes
yours & yours
a spell cast
to ward off
fucked up neo
because we are dying
& if you were at the lake
if there were trains full
of people at the park
in the middle
of the lake or if all
had spoken words
until we value
like the man who
walked his little dog
& how he came up to me
i was dreaming or something
in this little sketchbook
here in my hands &
he has his little dog &
me my long hair &
i’m all like leave me
alone old man i’m here
with my feelings
and i like it that way
but what a warm one
leather jacket & hat
what kinds of hats are those?
shining in salmon sun & i can
his figure in still-windsor light
the bridge he gets a call on
says he’s right down
the street on jefferson
& i’m envisioning him steer
his little cadillac away out of here
that dog in the front seat
we walk down the rocks, however,
to drink from frozen water
where it opens up
river to lake
near your parent’s house or
grosse point that apartheid city
where the water’s cleaner i’m sure
of it and how they’re sick
much as we are like governments
who gets what where and how
& the walkers
on the island
are having a ball
women in scarves
taking wedding photos
men grilling up cow meat
& the leaves rot
& the leaves rot dry
& winds blown north to mom’s
into the northern lake
past all my old selves
in their old clothes, old sneakers
out in the county next
drunk and here is
the impossibility of guilt
never not entering the poem
i’ll always write the poem
as a path to love
this instance on the island
were you there we would sing
under dying trees
frigid sky & industrial waterway
blessed to be eyes
become eyes. yours
and yours. mine
Our conversation at the kitchen table in Hamtramck, Katie, makes me want
of how to touch
the space between my body & the meaning i make out of personal histories and the material fabric of a history infinitely larger than this self alone
next to me is a silver can of coors light
this can is not mine
i have put forth no labor into its construction
but i have touched its aluminum with my calloused fingertips
& drank its fluid
and thru some abstract economic arrangement almost entirely occulted
from sight i have come to acquire its boozy contents
& yet there is only the present
the can beside me, idle
on a tapestry i use as a nightstand cloth bought for me by a past love
for my old ypsilanti studio
across from me davey and david sit on a black and gray plaid quilt
the walls all marigold yellow—a koi fish poster drapes itself atop their noses
outside soaked in frozen rain dripping brown the concrete world is chemically
salt mined underneath the city by those we do not know drips in chunks from
the carports north of here
the precipitation is melting leaving behind various car wastes: oil slick, green
antifreeze, gasoline near the entrance ramp by my dads
selves extinguish alarmingly fast here
on these shoulders trees wilt in winter when the sun shines only twice a year,
near the highway where we had your nose stitched up one july
near my grandparents grave
near neon fish in acid rain ponds
near apple cider and donuts and orange hoodies in fall
near green antifreeze love
davey and david sit across from me
in this room there is you
in orange hooded sweatshirt
& flannel union made underpants
we met here before the organic markets
somewhere under blue fluorescent lab lights
this is not important however.
these days were pre-political
although the buzz of the war
was all around and the news reports
echoed in on a 32” box
under an east facing suburban bedroom
window in early spring 2003
& my dad put up a sign
in the front lawn
this is not important.
the dead cows all lined up for easy disposal on school grounds
whatever it was was all around
whatever it was was all around.
this poetry wrapper
it speaks like someone loves you
leaves you a voicemail
the old fashioned way
she says you should
learn to swim out loud
like otters and trees
Spicer’s mammals we salute
somewhere in the valley
beneath the smog outline
of the poem. Sun panic.
highways cry softly in night
cars stretched out each direction
Interrupted, I take a walk
my heart weighs heavy
on the impossibility
by LAURA WETHERINGTON
In the days and weeks following the latest U.S. election, poetry listicles began to mushroom. It’s clear that we look to poetry in times of crisis. It’s also clear why: The poems that have been emerging offer inspiration, hope, resolve, a sense of history, and the spirit of resistance. Poetry reminds us that we are a strong community. “There is always a way through the ‘Wall,’” Juan Felipe Herrera states in the introduction to Boston Review’s chapbook Poems for Political Disaster. Literature celebrates our individual and collective lives. Edwidge Danticat, in “Poetry in a Time of Protest,” says of the inaugural speech that it “was dark, rancorous, unnuanced” and that “afterward, I wanted to fall into a poet’s carefully crafted, insightful, and at times elegiac words.” In addition to acting as a mirror, poetry can function as a window into experiences we haven’t had. As Don Share reminds us: “It’s a way of listening. When you’re reading a poem, you’re listening to what someone else is thinking and feeling and saying.” Poetry puts us in someone else’s shoes in order to find out that we’re not that different after all.
READ MORE HERE at 1508 Blog
by Naomi Shihab Nye
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,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
by David Boeving
I first heard of “acoustic shadows” while watching Ken Burns’ Civil War. During the American Civil War, acoustic shadows were zones where observers could see a battle—the soldiers, the smoke, the blood—but could not hear the fighting. Environmental elements—the trees, the water, the wind—absorbed or refracted the sound.
A field of gravel or dust. A small-leaf tree. Scattered bushes. In the distance, dark mountain cuts into grey sky. This all, frozen in 240p, and then 720 when I find another upload. Five men. Music stalled, they stand, staring at what was a camera, staring at me, sort of, their hair displaced by wind, hands in pockets, eyes pierce the window the camera films through. The window partitions are black silhouette. Imposed in the frame, left aligned, near the bottom of the screen, are these words in white serif, “Maquiladoras, meaning ‘twin plants,’ are American-owned factories based in Mexico. These factories use cheap Mexican labor and avoid tariffs.” I’m elsewhere, imagining train tracks where remains have been, sandaled feet, hardly buried. I read that one girl was thirteen. I imagine a video from middle school, quinceañeras. I imagine bus rides, punch cards, a magazine from elementary school that detailed the struggles of migrant farmers and their families. I hear the music that brought me here, some product of this snapshot of youth, sometime during high school, lyrics I only now dig into. Callous heels / numbed in travel / endless maps made / by their scalpels. Lyrics tug me toward images I’ll never see.
The search leads me here. Black chairs. Blue button-ups cover red undershirts. Plastic goggles cover eyes focused down on hands. White gloves. Dark hair wrapped tight with elastic, pressed to hunched spine. A breast-packed coop. All this through backlit liquid crystal. The glass—vertical and horizontal polarizer, color filter, thin-film transistor—the dust—pollen, hair, fiber, soil, skin—I see. But I hear nothing. How could I? I imagine debeaking—a heated blade device—a shanty hearth, smokestacks like smoke signals, as if to say, the abduction is nearby. The white serif fades. “Women who work the night shift must take busses to the outskirts of the Shantytowns where they live. Some never reach home.” I imagine federales uprooting bodies, weed smoke burials, cocaine epitaphs. Intravenously polite / It was the walkie-talkies that knocked the pins down. I imagine families planting crosses, murder pink, a mass grave crop that can’t bloom, a crucifix machine, this tourist trap. I imagine that near the flower bed, those still alive, those still at work, sew shoes, jeans, couches, goods that—I imagine—I might have bought. These threads are so intricately designed.
And then, another photo. Tan skin. Dark hair elastic-wrap fallen on uniform back. Dark eyes focused down. Mouths covered by surgical mask. Aligned beside conveyer belt, each body lit by a low-hanging light. Their hands planted behind piles of what look like pants. Blue jeans. Cardboard in-between. I imagine these dahlias like gang weed that’s buried too late, too deep. The crops too close to one another to bloom in this season or any climate, elevation, precipitation. And they made sure the obituaries / showed pictures of smoke stacks. But the business profits anyway. And in the dim grid I can’t see much suffering. Whatever that might mean. Maybe fluorescence whitewashes the bodies disappeared yearly. Maybe they’re more present as the seams wear. “Countless bodies have been found in this area.”
by Sharon-Rose Piwang
Heartbreak—a compound term made of a noun and a verb. The first, ‘heart’, symbolizes the lump of muscle in our chests keeping our blood flooding through our bodies. The second ‘break’, is used for actions like cracking a bone, smashing a glass, or taming a horse. Put together, these two words describe the feeling of a stomach ache in your upper chest regions, the physiological reaction to the hurt caused by being a fragile human in an equally fragile world. Heartbreak is what happens when glass people crack against one another in our mission to just get close.
Millions of people around the world are using the word “heartbreak” at this moment. Some of these people are using it correctly, as in, “I didn’t think I would survive the heartbreak when Dan left me a few weeks after our fiftieth anniversary.”
Or, “After my mother died of cancer, I had insomnia for months. I would lie down at night and the heartbreak would not let me breathe.”
Or, “I didn’t understand heartbreak until after my third miscarriage.”
Or even, “Once a month I look at my daughter’s eyes through bulletproof glass. All I can think, while I sit there with my heart breaking, is that orange is not her color.”
Some of these people are tossing this word around instead of using the more accurate, “disappointment”, “sadness”, or “slight melancholy”.
As in, “You know that guy I met three days ago and who didn’t call? I need to stop talking to guys wearing black t-shirts in bars–instant heartbreak.”
A high school girl somewhere is probably listening to Taylor Swift ad sobbing melodramatically about the angular boy two houses over who is putting her through all this heartbreak.
Of course, a heart does not physically break. But anyone who has ever sat on their bed waiting for a call they know will never come has felt their chest being torn apart like Christmas wrapping paper on a toddler’s gift.
All day every day, people are analyzing heartbreak, researching it, guarding against it, trying to heal from it, or praying against it. There’s even a Wikipedia page for it. The long list of articles that come up in a Google search confirm that people are writing about it as well. Some of us sit on the third floor of the school library and try not to think of the boy with the beautiful eyes who taught us this word three years ago. And some of us have lived with heartbreak for so long it has become another skin cell, a scar that won’t fade, another layer we put on in the morning before we head out the door.
For people who do everything in degrees of desperation, the word heartbreak means lying curled on your side under a multicolored shawl, shivering and wanting to cut open your wrists just to stop the pain. For those of us who make rationality and logic our dearest friends, heartbreak means longer workouts, bleak silences, and a devotion to our safe, daily routines. For people whose worst battles are in their minds, this word means meeting all affection with a sarcastic quip and guarding all their painful memories with powerful locks.
Heartbreak is your mother sitting on the wicker couch with a mug of ginger root tea, listening to Chicago’s “Inspiration”, with that look on her face she gets when she’s thinking about your father. Heartbreak is practicing not flinching every time you see the profile picture a person you used to know as well as you know your own skin. Heartbreak makes you look away every time your married friends hold onto each other with their eyes, forgetting that you’re there. Heartbreak is the smell of old love poems you tried to justify writing. Heartbreak is the taste of dark cooking chocolate. Heartbreak is cupping your son’s warm face while he sleeps and hoping that he never meets a woman like his mother.
I write clumsy poems today because I thought I had my heart broken by a blue-eyed, curly-mouthed boy six years ago while I was a freshman in college. I tend to be more cautious now in using the word “friend” because I learned how heartbreak tastes at sixteen when my father left.
Heartbreak means bravery happened. You only become acquainted with heartbreak if you have opened yourself up to someone and watched them walk away closed. In people who practice beauty, the ugliness of witnessing that closedness can inspire art or music that goes right through the soul. Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” went right through my soul the first time I heard it and I kept restarting the YouTube video, silently vibrating with his voice and his pain. Cooke, a black musician who lived in the racism of sixties’ America, wrote this song describing the heartbreak of living in a land full of people that refused him dignity. Being black in America has always been heartbreaking. Sam couldn’t know that five decades after he made that prayer in a recording studio in a December in 1964, his sons and cousins would still be refused dignity, and this would be at the center of their own ache. That’s the worst of suffering heartbreak. It makes you hopeful even as it crushes your hope.
Heartbreak colors the fibers of your personality that people only see when the light hits you just right. Heartbreak makes you delve into your yesterdays, write all the things you’d rather not remember, tie them up neatly, and deliver them in an assignment to your professor. Because heartbreak is a terrible nightmare to sleep through, but apparently sometimes you can come up with a great story from the wreckage–and who doesn’t love stories?