Sights and Sounds by Benjamin Zephaniah
There are More than Six thousand Different Languages Spoken On Earth.
There is No person On Earth Who can speak Them all.
Every person On Earth Could learn To speak Any language On Earth.
There are Some languages That are not Spoken.
Languages Like people Have family trees.
Languages Like people Are all precious.
Languages Like people Can disappear.
Languages are Like people
Respect your tongue.
Sign languages Are Crucial
Protect your hands.
My Father as Cartographer by Natasha Tretheway
In dim light now, his eyes straining to survey the territory: here is the country of Loss, its colony Grief; the great continent Desire and its borderland Regret;
vast, unfathomable water, an archipelago—the tiny islands of Joy, untethered, set adrift. At the bottom of the map his legend and cartouche, the measures of distance, key
to the symbols marking each known land. What's missing is the traveler's warning at the margins: a dragon— its serpentine signature—monstrous as a two-faced daughter.
Mothers by Nikki Giovanni
the last time i was home to see my mother we kissed exchanged pleasantries and unpleasantries pulled a warm comforting silence around us and read separate books
i remember the first time i consciously saw her we were living in a three room apartment on burns avenue
mommy always sat in the dark i don't know how i knew that but she did
that night i stumbled into the kitchen maybe because i've always been a night person or perhaps because i had wet the bed she was sitting on a chair the room was bathed in moonlight diffused through tiny window panes she may have been smoking but maybe not her hair was three-quarters her height which made me a strong believer in the samson myth and very black
i'm sure i just hung there by the door i remember thinking: what a beautiful lady she was very deliberately waiting perhaps for my father to come home from his night job or maybe for a dream that had promised to come by "come here" she said "i'll teach you a poem: i see the moon the moon sees me god bless the moon and god bless me" i taught that to my son who recited it for her just to say we must learn to bear the pleasures as we have borne the pains
The Trees by Jericho Brown
In my front yard live three crape myrtles, crying trees We once called them, not the shadiest but soothing During a break from work in the heat, their cool sweat
Falling into us. I don't want to make more of it. I'd like to let these spindly things be Since my gift for transformation here proves
Useless now that I know everyone moves the same Whether moving in tears or moving To punch my face. A crape myrtle is
A crape myrtle. Three is a family. It is winter. They are bare. It's not that I love them Every day. It's that I love them anyway.
bare by Danez Smith
for you i'd send my body to battle my body, let my blood sing of tearing
itself apart, hollow cords of white knights' intravenous joust.
love, i want & barely know how to do much else. don't speak to me
about raids you could loose on me the clan of rebel cells who thirst
to watch their home burn. love let me burn if it means you
& i have one night with no barrier but skin. this isn't about danger
but about faith, about being wasted on your name. if love is a room
of broken glass, leave me to dance until my feet are memory.
if love is a hole wide enough to be God's mouth, let me plunge
into that holy dark & forget the color of light. love, stay
in me until our bodies forget what divides us, until your hands
are my hands & your blood is my blood & your name
is my name & his & his
HeLa by Jericho Brown for Henrietta Lacks
I won't die. I keep white men up at night. I come from the deepest basin they know. They want to watch me grow so they took me from Mama. When they hold me close, it's always so cold, but when Sister came to see me the other day, she kissed me & called me beautiful & I was warm again, like it always was with Mama, just for a little while. Yemoja olodo awoye Yemoja...
I—two, one hundred, three million, legion, spawn of gall, glory of silt gone sour—make the slack-jawed bow & wish they could drink from my ever-after. Now these men have brought women friends to look at me. They say I'm getting stronger every day. They want me to tell them my secrets, but I don't know what they mean. How can I explain who I am if they can't see, after looking at me? They call me HeLa. Healer. Mama would be proud to know we got healing in us. I hope she understands I didn't want to go... Yemoja Orisha Orisha Yemoja fun me lowo. Asé. Asé.
little prayer by Danez Smith
let ruin end here
let him find honey where there was once a slaughter
let him enter the lion's cage & find a field of lilacs
let this be the healing & if not let it be