Session Four Anthology
MENTOR: Javier Zamora
We Are Coming For Our Language
In the history of words suffragettes fighting for rights
badges of honor queer an insult to some but a fortune
to others who wish to tell it slant & mingle fact with fiction
as they try to copyright our words we must reclaim our names
This appropriation is unnecessary for the power of language
has been distorted & used against us
This is unacceptable our culture will not be tainted our words
will not be appropriated we will veto this wrong an offensive
sting a symbol of irrational actions now in play must be
restricted by law singled out for the corruption that it is
& present itself for intense scrutiny for our language is at stake
Shirley Jones-Luke is a poet and a writer. Ms. Luke lives in Boston, Massachusetts. Shirley has an MA in English from UMass Boston and an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Ms. Luke's focus is poetry and memoir. She is working on a manuscript that combines the two genres. Her work has been published in several journals and magazines. Shirley was a participant at VONA, Tin House and Breadloaf Writing Conferences during the Summer of 2018.
Sometime the Work Comes to You
A herd of horses gathered outside my cabin, their hoofbeats steady as a bonfire crackling green logs. At the same time I could hear them bent to the earth, nipping the young grass. It was the wrong season. I wore two sweaters. In my dream, from across the lake, a wolf howled to remind me of a wound I'd left open in the soul. My blood flew with his howl. Then it turned in the air like a flock of pigeons and came back. The wolf sat beside me and watched. I asked to borrow his nose.
Caught the scent of decay and followed it to my heart.
A ruin of promises I never kept.
Lifted a lie and a pup with my eyes looked back.
I knew which poem he was, and lowered my hand to feed him.
He said it was time to stop writing poems and start living them.
A crow cawed in agreement.
A squirrel dug up a nut and brought it for courage.
I ate it and my eyes became light.
When I woke I could still hear the horses grazing. Went out to look and an angry wind blew leaves that bit the ground. The mountain dropped rocks, click-clack, into the valley. No birds at the feeders, ice on the day's tongue. I put on another sweater, thick gloves. My last piece of oak in the woodstove. It was time for work. I sat in the lap of the earth and closed my eyes. The wolf howled and I could feel it in my throat.
Reunion at La Jolla Cove
The sugar sand scents
the air between
whiffs of seal pee
& Our toes pull
into each ocean wave
& The cries of
the buried boy for
his phone-bound father
clamor as they
urch off the cliff’s
Look! Do you see
the swimmer from
a popsicle stick pier,
arm trailing grace in
cove’s fractured crystal
& Let’s not touch
the liquid ice, just
from brimming lips
moon chases fluid up
this crumbled bluff
We will not lower our hands. We will not be given time enough. Between instructions and riots. They could mould statues after us. Roll tears over tear stains. Been primed now to paint. Primed by tired expressions. To accept used band-aids. From our heated pleads. They conditioned themselves. Found cool in the shade. Pour shots. Hand us war. And entrench us as slaves. Only the soil spreads its arms. So we sink in like water does. Do not cross. Do not sound alarm. You are the sign to be misread. Tie the tongue. Hold the breath. Count backwards from a hundred. Count sheep. Imagine clouds looking down at us. And how they must make us out as animals.
the sound of purple clouds
cuticles pushed far back like
low tide with all the seaweed and garbage.
my nervous hands lilt into the lisps of her skirts.
i know last time i said a storm was coming nothing happened,
we just laughed for hours in bed with honey-sweet fingers.
(remember that time i spilt it in our bed. we were intoxicated for days.
my hands kept dripping over your skin.)
but this time it’s true. the sky is grey and billowing.
we are in bed when the storm breaks. feels like spitting apple seeds across the front yard.
ripe fruit lingers in the air above your chest.