Kristin Sharp-St. Louis, Missouri

Organizers:  Amanda Wells, Ann Haubrich, AP Pearson, Brad Cook, Christopher Chable, Fior Baptiste, James Eames, Jason Braun, Kelli Allen, Kevin McCameron, Kissa Price, Kristin Sharp, Lenny Smith, Louis Confliction, Margaret Prindable, Mk Stallings, Nancy Hughes, Nicky Rainey, Pacia Anderson, Pamela Garvey, Ree Cee, Robert Silvey, Sallie Durbin, Susan “SpitFire” Livley, Suzanne Roussin, Taylored Poet and Tony Renner

Contact: silsharp@yahoo.com 


Local poets and poetry show producers with support from the Regional Arts Commission are organizing and hosting a St. Louis offshoot of the worldwide literary event “100 Thousand Poets for Change” at the RAC on September 29th. This second annual marathon event starts at 11:00 a.m. and goes until 11:00 p.m.

The event will include a large and diverse collection of amazing and powerful voices including poets, spoken word artists, and musicians from different local live shows, literary groups, and universities. Each will share their art onstage in the name of political, social, racial, economic, and environmental progress and peace. Here is a list of some of the participants:

Michael Castro, Nicholas James, Surreal Sista, Brad Cook, Elva Maxine Beach, Taylored Poet, Matthew Scott Freeman, Brandon “Xplicit” Thornton, Katerina Canyon, Carl Sevvy Sev Gray, Phil Gounis, FeliceSkye Hutchinson, Pamela Garvey, Robert Dillard, Nicole Rainey,Cris Gualberto, Amanda Wells,Luke Hayden, Treasure Shields Redmond, Billy Foster, Dana “Kels” Kelly,Carl Hagen, Aja La’ Starr, Dwight Bitikofer,Susan “Spit-Fire” Lively, Jacob Oliver, Rebecca Wood, Nialah, Deborah Mashibini, Maria Teresa Balogh,Kristin Sharp,Chris Ware,Kristy “Lightning” McKeown,Susan Trowbridge Adams,Kevin McCameron,Andrea Richardson,Louis Conphliction, Leigh Savage, Stef Russell, JoyCe Blue, Lenny Smith,Kelli Allen, Suzanne Roussin, Ree Cee, Uncle Bill, Jay Martinez, Dawn Price, Jacquelyn Mooney, Mark Triller, Where we Migrate, Zack Palmer, Patrick Dugan, Just Like the Country, Christopher “Fiyahpoet” Rogers, MK Stallings, Christopher Chable, Mary Eden Phillips, Byron Lee, Jim McGowin, Pacia Anderson, Connie Bollinger, Kevin Renick, Jason Braun, Raven C. Wolf Felton Jennings II, Amy Genova, Christa Meyer, Jon Dressel, Catherine Rankovic, Drucilla Wall, Eamonn Wall, Maria Guadalupe Massey, David A.N. Jackson, John Blair, Ken Brown, Katy Miller. Susie Meyer, Mort Levy, Marcel Toussaint. Linda Austin, Thelma Ulrich, Ruth-Miriam Garnett, Mary Eden Phillips, El Apellido, Christy Callihan, Derrick Owens, Aaron Williams, Glendal Wallace, Connie McIntyre, Tim Leach, Will Kyle, Jason Vasser, Emmanuelle Pourroy, Aireez DeRychuss, Susan Rhodenbaugh, Jon MacEnulty, Erin Quick, Julia Gordon-Bramer, Troy Poet Lewis II, Prison Performing Arts, Peter Jones, Cheri McCoy, Copasetic Soul,Denise Baich, Matthew Smith, Sherry Holmes

Special Thanks to:

100 Thousand Poets for Change worldwide event organizers Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion

The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis: support, providing studio space, props and amenities

Jill McGuire: Executive Director of the Regional Arts Commission

Lisette Dennis: Grants and Volunteer Manager of Regional Arts Commission

Wendy Walker: Cultural Resource Center Manager of the Regional Arts Commission

Christopher Chable: support, organizing, technical support and maintenance of the Regional Arts Commission

Nicky Rainey: 100TPC silk-screened shirts, shorts and accessories, catering and support

Sallie Durbin: stage design and props

Margaret Prindable: art display, stage production and support and art installation

Ree Cee: producing and catering

Robert Silvey: donations, support and video and audio recording equipment

Suzanne Roussin: technical and video support

James Eames: welcoming committee and support

Tony Renner: art installation

Pacia and Heaven Anderson : sticker design and welcoming committee

Elowyn Wells Bowels: sticker design, sidewalk art and welcoming committee

Starbuck Coffee for coffee and condiment donations: *special thanks to Danielle

Dick Blick’s staff for assistance with art and design for stage

Producers:

Ann Haubrich, AP Pearson, Brad Cook, Fior Baptiste, Jason Braun, Kevin McCameron. Kissa Price, Kristin Sharp, Lenny Smith,Louis Confliction. Mk Stallings, Nancy Hughes, Pamela Garvey, Ree Cee,Susan “SpitFire” Livley, Taylored Poet

Emcees:

Amanda Wells, Brad Cook, Kelli Allen, Kevin McCameron, Kristin Sharp, Susan “SpitFire” Lively, Taylored Poet

Individuals and Groups:

Artistically Speaking, Chance Operations, Double Threat to Society: Black and Gay, Literature for the Halibut @ KDHX, Long River Collective, Poems, Prose and Pints, Poets and Musicians, Poor Soul’s Society, Prison Performing Arts, Saint Louis Poetry Center, Saint Louis Poetry SLAM!, Saint Louis Warrior Poets, Saint Louis Writers Guild, Soulard Culture Squad, Urb Poetry @ Legacy Books, Words On Purpose

Final Video List

FinalvideolistSTL100ThousandPoetsforChange2012

Poetry by Prison Performing Arts’ Vandalia Women’s Theatre Members

(Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center, Vandalia, Missouri)

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One Response to Kristin Sharp-St. Louis, Missouri

  1. Kristin Sharp says:

    Lament and Complaint – Summer 2012

    Oh God, why have you forsaken the minds of my countrymen?
    Their voices are filled with noise and harshness,
    exaggeration and superlatives.

    Oh God, why have you allowed the populace of my country to fill
    their minds with innuendo and disregard for facts?
    Oh God of truth, what purpose is served?

    Oh God, I want the sounds of wrongheadedness and rightheadedness
    to be replaced by civil discussion of issues and a willingness
    to compromise and to move forward.

    Why, oh God, have you allowed self-interested inflection to be funded
    by entities bent only upon their own self-preservation?
    Have you abandoned the 99 percent?

    Oh God, the bully-pulpiting, pie-in-your-face politics
    are laced with shrapnel and with sharpened blades
    designed to wreak destruction.

    Oh God, I want the sound of such discourse to dissolve.
    I want my ears to be plugged from prejudice against
    leaders with strange-sounding names.

    Oh God, let not our enemies come to believe
    that you too have been bought and paid for
    by those entities grown too large to fail.

    Oh God, show us once again how to find among us
    a common ground of tolerance and care
    for the generations yet to come.

    Oh God, whether or not our entreaties are politically correct
    help us to see the basic goodness among us
    and to live together in harmony.

    Oh God, may your kindness and greatness be exalted
    and may the strident voices of radio demagogues be brought low.
    May the crazies of the Internet be disregarded
    and may statesmen arise among us to lead and to help
    us preserve this good planet and to give health
    and usefulness to all of your children.

    Dwight Bitikofer, June 2012

    Conflict Casualties:
    Battle Cry
    Battle Tested?
    Battle Ready
    Battle Scarred
    Battle weary

    for some…when day breaks, the morning starts
    while for others new days break the mourning hearts
    walking dead rule in these parts and those amongst the living are given little regard
    So when bell rings it’s pledge allegiance or Pray to your God it’s the School of the Hard
    see that devilish Dean got an Open door policy for When trouble comes to knock
    And like the hands on a clock…Trouble coming is something you can count on
    Dreams and innocence perish while struggles and problems seem to mount on
    Urban Warriors come out to play for keeps Grad out from blocks of street
    To blocks of cell and they stay stocked
    With street soldiers…purplehearted and shell shocked
    No honor among predators
    No rest for the prey and neither side finds peace until
    final resting day, when they lay…still
    flag at half staff, the shout of 21 semi-automatic handguns…
    Night Falls
    Battle Weary
    Battle Scarred
    Battle Tested
    Battle Ready?
    Battle Cry

    Aireez DaRychuss
    © Copyright 2012

    Mystery Missing Peace (Mr. E Miss, Sing Peace)
    She…puzzle missing piece…
    puzzled missing peace…
    puzzled Ms? sing peace
    she speaks unto my troubled mind
    for her I am that unsolved Mr.
    Mr. E
    Mystery
    she seeks to solve the whole
    but all I have to spare is parts of time, at a time
    would rarely ever dare to fairly part with time
    self centered, seeking not her center but only the scent of her
    fragments of mine sent to her
    I share only parts that I not care be left behind
    and this time…it’s all borrowed anyway
    so it ain’t even right to promise her part of any day
    so I won’t…instead I offered her cliche “see u when I see u”
    now she say “u won’t and there will be no more dissing me”
    I told her I never dismissed her hell I ain’t call but I missed her…
    she said “that’s just it Mister E, you focused on mystery
    and aligned your self with misery Ms.d HER one to many times
    and that’s just way too many Misses for me see you strayed and plaid shoulda stayed…
    with way to many Ms’s now you’re just a box of missing pieces…
    missing peace in trying to find your Mrs until even that is distant memory” distance…member me?
    and with this she dismembers me…December cold she renders me…
    no more does she speak of we, no more does she seek for HE, no more does she weep for me,
    now, to me…
    she is just that missing piece, and I got no shot, just misses
    and some other He connected with her center, I’m…left with that scent…her
    returned to sender every mixed message I ever sent her
    I have no shot just Ms’s, she’s now his Mrs…
    used to be she was puzzle, missing piece…
    now she’s just missed…
    left me forever mystery in pieces…missing…peace

    Aireez DaRychuss
    © copyright 2011

    FOR HANNAH

    Oh, Hannah,
    Dearest Hannah,
    blessed was your fire,
    stoked though
    feet of eight/
    darkened block/
    snuffed flame
    sealed your
    unconscionable fate.

    I inhale the soot
    which marked the spot
    where once your
    hands held paper.
    Your splintered pencil
    wrote of faith and country,
    love and purpose.
    I choke from the
    breadth of their
    enmity for you.

    The sediment grows thick
    with apparitions
    for whom vindication
    has not come, as
    I struggle with breaths
    acidic from decades of decay.
    I am reduced to travailing,
    as my lungs, my heart
    digest the stench
    of horrors you endured.

    I want to mourn for you
    with peace and reverence,
    but am filled with anger
    that young poet so gentle
    was made martyr.

    Grown men tore
    into your youthful flesh
    punishing your temple
    for simply being Jewish.
    Yet you mustered the strength
    to stand to your feet again,
    gaped dress shaming them.
    Fleeting moments did you falter
    before again taking in hand pencil
    to write of blessings and hope.

    And when they knew finally
    they could not break you,
    they stood you without benefit of mercy.
    No counsel, no marches,
    no chance for reprieve
    no final countdown
    as you kneeled
    before uniformed soldiers/
    shot you like thief,
    like vagrant/
    young girl at war,
    unable to grasp
    the impact of your existence.

    In those last days of
    dolor and muck,
    wash and ascendance,
    what name did you call
    but Mother, Dearest Mother,
    what God acknowledged you
    Daughter, Faithful Daughter/
    no calvary sky darkened/
    connect undone/
    words not heard,
    while execution
    fulfilled their plan?

    Who came for you,
    who came for you
    while your Hebrew pen
    grew lonesome
    for your hand?

    Did no one think to aide
    those decedents
    who now grieve
    for never having read
    what more you had to say?
    Who failed to rescue you,
    who WAS it, Hannah?

    What man lacked humanity
    and let your worn shoes
    be stripped from
    weary ankles,
    after you paced in circles,
    gazing upwards towards
    Adonai and Mother?

    Did no one come
    while ashen tears
    fell upon the
    blemished face of man?

    Who comes for us all,
    when we give life for
    mission, exchange
    sanctuary for mortuary?

    Who will rescue OUR words,
    who will hear OUR pleas
    for love, for peace?

    What name will
    WE call, but Mother,
    Dearest Mother/
    when the soot
    fills our lungs and our
    pens can write no more?

    Will no one come, Hannah?
    Will no one come
    for us as
    no one
    did for you?

    Hannah Senesh [Szenes], (July 17, 1921 – November 7, 1944)
    Ree Cee

    ATTILA JOZSEF (1905-1937)

    At the Edge of the City
    Translated from the Hungarian by Michael Castro & Gabor G. Gyukics

    At the edge of the city, where I live,
    during the crumbling dusk,
    soot flies on soft wings,
    like tiny bats,
    and settles, like guano,
    steadily, and thick.

    That’s how this age sits in our souls.
    And like the heavy rain’s
    thick rags wash
    the notched tin roofs’ panes,
    sorrow wipes the hardness
    from our hearts in vain.

    Blood can wash it too–that’s how we are.
    A new nation, another legion on old soil.
    We differently pronounce the words,
    the hair differently sticks to our heads.
    But neither God, nor the mind, rather
    coal, iron and oil,

    the real substance created us,
    only to dump us hot and recklessly
    into the casting mould
    of this awful society,
    to make a stand,
    in this eternal land, for humanity.

    Following the priests, soldiers, citizens
    we have have become the faithful guardians
    of the law;
    all human creations
    and their intelligence
    hum inside us like bass violins.

    We have been indestructible,
    since our solar system was created,
    at least we haven’t been destroyed up to now;
    though many past tragedies are related
    of how famine, guns, blind faith and cholera
    left our homes devastated.

    No destined winner has been
    humbled and pushed around
    as we were humiliated under the stars:
    and thus we shot our eyes down:
    and discovered the secret,
    buried underground.

    Look, how wildly the machine,
    the dear beast, has rampaged!
    Like the puddle’s weakening ice,
    fragile villages crack up and break,
    and when the sky leaps and roars
    the plaster walls of the cities shake.

    So who calms the wild dog of the shepherd?
    The landowner? Come on!–
    The machine grew up with us.
    It’s childhood and our childhood are one.
    For us, it’s a meek animal. Now, call it!
    Its name is on our tongue.

    And yet we see already, that soon
    you all will fall down on your knees
    and pray to what is
    merely your own property.
    But only those who control and feed it,
    are those that it obeys. . .

    Thus, we are here, the children of the substance,
    suspicious and together.
    Let’s lift up our hearts! They belongs to those
    who lift them up, no matter.
    Our collective will
    can make each of us strong forever!

    Up with the hearts, high above the factories!
    Such sooty, great hearts’ steep incline
    of those only who saw and heard,
    who saw the sun choke in its own smoke,
    who heard the tunnels throbbing
    in the the world’s deepest mines!

    Up, up!… all around this divided world
    the slatted fences stagger from our breath,
    as if in a raging storm
    they cry out, faint as if dead.
    Blow them away! Up with the hearts,
    Let them smoke overhead!–

    Until we attain
    our beautiful potential, order,
    with which the mind can apprehend
    the finite infinite,
    the laws of creation outside,
    & the instincts within.

    This song whistles at the edge of the city.
    The poet, your kin,
    just stares, stares at it, the fat,
    soft soot that falls and falls and drifts,
    and settles, like the guano
    steadily, and thick.

    The word stammers on the poet’s lips,
    but he (this world’s engineer of magic)
    can see into the fully conscious future,
    and can, inside himself, project
    the same harmony you will,
    finally, outside, erect.

    1933

    From A Transparent Lion: Selected Poetry of Attila Jozsef, translated by Michael Castro & Gabor G. Gyukics (Los Angeles, Green Integer Books, 2006)

    ATTILA JOZSEF (1905-1937)
    translated from the Hungarian by Michael Castro & Gabor G. Gyukics

    I SAW SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL

    I saw something beautiful, something sweet,
    I imagined a tender rose
    I gazed at it and, like a boulder,
    reality tumbled down upon me.

    But this boulder is only symbolic.
    It’s best if I speak directly . . .
    This is how dutiful, edifying,
    everyday problems teach us.

    Behold, my instinct followed the
    right path, when a man came in:
    “he wants to turn off my lights”
    rumbled in me like the sea.

    The knife was on the table
    –I was sharpening my pencil–
    if I stab this fellow, I knew,
    I would be getting even for everything.

    I felt desperate. Now everywhere
    will be dark and sad.
    An animal can guard its home;
    but this is another kind of war.

    Grabbing a gun means weakness:
    the enemy kills you, beats you and
    your tenderness flies away.
    In the State of Law, money is the gun.

    Here and now, warfare is different.
    The hero doesn’t even draw his sword.
    Banknotes ignite bombs’ explosions
    and shrapnel of little coins fly all about . . .

    That’s how I was thinking, I said
    good day, and I drew away to the side,
    and in the evening the gentle stars
    smiled at me with the full moon.

    1937

    From A Transparent Lion: Selected Poetry of Attila Jozsef (Green Integer Books, 2006) translated from the Hungarian by Michael Castro & Gabor G. Gyukics)

    NUCLEAR MADNESS

    I
    live under
    the shadow of the bomb
    I
    live under
    ground
    Radio & television
    buzzed
    stay calm
    & then
    all hell
    rained down

    I
    live under
    the mushroom’s head
    Underneath
    the twisted
    roots
    of trees
    that withered
    & shrivelled up
    dead
    with forever
    forbidden fruits

    No one around me
    knows
    who to blame
    Nobody
    answers
    why?

    No one
    can tell me
    the score
    or the game
    Nobody sees
    the sky

    I
    am a lucky one
    buried alive
    in this realm
    of worms
    & bones
    One of the few
    who
    are lucky to survive
    We make war now
    with sticks
    & stones

    I
    live under
    the shadow of the bomb
    in a shroudy
    world
    of night
    I
    live under
    the mushroom’s head
    Nobody
    sees
    the light

    Nobody
    sees
    the light

    *

    -michael castro-

    POET’S RAP

    Gather up & gather round
    a poet’s rap
    is going down
    ain’t nothing new
    the evening news
    colorfully true
    st. louis blues
    aching thru
    myth/history
    & snaking round
    the mystery
    & shaking apples
    from your tree
    to lift you from
    your gravity

    Poet’s Rap
    It’s a killer
    Poet’s Rap
    It’s a killer

    Now
    times are hard
    careening fast
    & each new day
    could be our last
    more reason to
    use heads & hearts
    & not abuse
    our natural smarts
    cause any answer
    we can find
    delving deep
    in heart of mind
    down in its depths
    & still as stone
    we understand
    we’re not alone

    Poet’s Rap
    It’s a thriller
    Poet’s Rap
    It’s a thriller

    Yet
    in our time
    we separate
    & seeds get sown
    of fear & hate
    this rap reminds us
    real-ize
    life’s unity
    that underlies
    our lonely separate
    transient me’s–
    our individualities–
    & know
    compassion’s
    what we need
    to full-fill life
    not self-ish greed

    Poet’s Rap
    it’s a yearning
    Poet’s Rap
    It’s life-affirming

    Beau Jesus says so
    Buddha too
    & Martin, Black Elk
    & Lao Tzu
    & every animal
    through whose eyes
    a soul cries out
    we recognize
    each still small voice
    says, to be free
    we must express
    our unity
    & bathe each self
    in selfless bliss
    as lovers do
    inside a kiss

    Poet’s Rap
    Thou art That
    Poet’s Rap
    Thou art That

    So
    expand that
    I-dentity
    & understand
    “I’m” not just “me”
    & that the inside
    & the out
    is what we’re finally
    all
    about
    The universe is
    where we are
    eternity’s
    more near than far
    the final Word is
    All is One
    So now you know
    The rap’s undone

    Poet’s Rap
    It’ll haunt ya
    Poet’s Rap
    It’s a mantra

    it’s a mantra

    it’s a mantra

    -michael castro-

    RECEIVED WISDOM

    “Whatsoever thou wilt
    reveal unto me, that
    I shall say, that
    I shall pronounce . . .”

    *

    “Why can’t we just get along?”
    Rodney King said it, beaten & broken,
    to the microphones of the world,
    said it from the heart
    in the greatest moment of his miserable life,
    spoke the truth for once, revealed it,
    to America,
    who sneered

    *

    “In the gap between the subject & the object
    lies the entire misery of mankind.”
    Krishnamurti

    *

    If you search for wisdom
    Investigate justice & evil—
    Ask your teachers,
    Those who are seekers like you;
    & ask your students,
    Those who question your answers

    Paraphrasing Shmuel Ha-nagid

    *

    Jackie K referred to
    LBJ & Ladybird
    as “Colonel Cornpone
    & his little porkchop”

    *

    “It may be that God is
    the impulse to laugh. And that we
    are the different kinds of laughter.”
    Najuradeen

    *

    Sex is the root of it all: sex—
    the coming together of men and women:
    sex: sex.”
    Walt Whitman

    *

    lovers
    love
    errs

    *

    “the tragic splendor of death, purging, illuminating all.”
    Walt Whitman

    *

    “The nation is broken
    but hills & rivers remain”
    Tu Fu, “Spring View,” translated by Arthur Sze
    *

    “the eternal body of man
    is the Imagination”
    sd William Blake—

    or, as Bird sd to Mingus,
    “Let’s finish our conversation
    up on the stand”

    *

    “art is about
    how things should look
    & the way
    we should look
    at things”

    *

    “Never play poker with a man named Doc.
    Never eat at a place named Mom’s.
    Never get involved with a woman
    who has more troubles than you.”
    Nelson Algren

    *
    Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Dan Quayle Intones

    “My friends,
    no matter how
    rough the road may be,
    we can & will
    never, never
    surrender
    to what is right”

    *

    “the truth
    is the greatest enemy
    of the State”
    –Goebbels—

    *
    Freud wrote:
    “By accepting
    the universal neurosis,
    the individual
    is spared the task
    of forming
    a personal neurosis”

    *

    “You’ve had enough of
    living in the Greek
    & Roman past.”
    Appolinaire, “Zone”

    *

    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
    Gandhi

    *

    das Ding an sich

    *

    Spirit unfolds & enfolds at once—
    Transcends & includes
    Paraphrase of Ken Wilbur

    *

    “Eyeh asher eyeh”—
    “I am that I am”
    God’s name as given to Moses

    *

    Chinese ideogram for ‘crisis’
    combines the ideogram for ‘danger’
    with the ideogram for ‘opportunity’

    *

    When the flower blooms,
    the bees come
    uninvited.”
    Ramakrishna

    *
    when one flower opens
    ordinarily
    dozens open
    Kabir, quoted in Janine Pomy Vega’s “Which Side Are You On?”

    *

    LET FREEDOM WRING

    We used to believe that things were not real, unless
    we could see it with our own eyes. Proof: a photo, a film,
    unless it was printed in black and white, unless it was shown on TV.

    We used to believe before PhotoShop, before the Internet, before SPAM and target markets, before Hollywood product placement, before government-monitored conglomerate-owned media,

    before orchestrated threats, the false chorus of fear campaigns, before Patriot games and Homeland inSecurity, before the War on Terror-izing Americans, before the Real ID Act passed. It’s hard to believe

    that most people, here or there, in America, Iraq or Iran, seek answers in bullets and bombs. It’s hard to believe that a bunch of families,
    no matter what their differences, think it’s okay to let others die. It’s hard
    to believe their so-
    called leaders, our so-
    called leaders know better, that without them,
    we wouldn’t have found a better way than war. It’s hard

    to believe.

    Julia Gordon-Bramer
    wordgirl@nighttimes.com

    New Haikus

    Payday comes
    A balm briefly soothing
    Wounded pride

    Byron Lee

    Web surfing
    People watching others
    Living life

    Byron Lee

    Smiling face
    ASPCA ad
    Buzz Stolen

    Byron Lee

    Oldies, but Goodies

    Dilemma

    Should my pants peak at my thighs?

    Should I dangle participles?

    Should a smile be rubber-stamped on my face?

    Should I broadcast every thought unfiltered, or should a bitten tongue
    clamp down every concern?

    Should my neck snap to the drums, or should my head bang to the riffs?

    Should I choose between store-bought brands of black and white, or
    should I mix my own gray?

    Byron Lee

    Losers

    She lost weight.
    I lost interest.

    Byron Lee

    Food

    It’s my
    Drug

    Better yet, it’s
    Everywhere.

    I head to the break room to
    Tie one on.

    AA meetings in the gym.
    (I get nowhere without a
    Sponsor.)

    I get the
    Munchies without the
    Smoke, but I’m just as lazy,
    After the hit.

    When the world beats me down,
    I take it out on
    The bag.

    Krunchers, Lays, Ruffles.

    Any one of ’em will do.

    They’re all the same.

    No matter how many I
    Pick up, they never get jealous.

    Byron Lee

    Borrowing Money

    Welcoming smile
    Fades to cool
    Panic. They pat the
    Back of their pants like they
    Don’t know where their
    Wallet is, then
    Pull it out in
    Quick, cautious surrender.

    I get what
    I ask for, at
    Least some of it.

    It’s as
    Hard for me as
    It is for them.

    Byron Lee

    Parade

    Hunched backs, nagging coughs, oxygen tanks.
    Wives steady their
    Husbands’ hands at
    Check in.
    Sports highlights on
    Waiting room plasma.

    Woman forsakes relative to
    Annoy stranger.
    Her iPod blares,
    Earbuds merely props.

    Youth cherished while
    Basking in sunset.

    Byron Lee

    Knee Jerk

    I stroll through
    Desolate mall.

    White family walks
    In opposite direction.

    Mother
    Abruptly alters path to
    Shield her children.

    Not the
    First time.

    Won’t be the
    Last.

    Byron Lee

    Right Now

    Right Now

    I want to see you. Peruse your
    Present. Take in what will
    Never pass your lips. Stumble with you towards
    Shared sacrament and lie
    With you among the wreckage.

    I want to know you.

    Right

    Now

    Byron Lee

    Street Corner Circus

    The young Berliner’s blond swoops of hair that covered his left eye
    and half-shaven head had grown a bit by the time he arrived
    by plane in Saint Louis that early summer’s night
    Straight from Costa Rica after spending a three-month stint with a traveling circus
    He spent his early mornings and late afternoons
    Tan
    Shirtless
    Barefoot
    on the damp clover clustered grass in our backyard humming tunes while performing
    Tumbles
    Bounces
    Summersaults
    Handstands
    Back flips
    The Bosnian children next door behind the wooden fence
    Begged their father to lift them so
    they could peer and marvel at the bowling pins he tossed into the air
    Their oohs and aahs were often heard throughout the neighborhood
    as the height of the pins would
    Rise
    Rise
    Rise
    He would juggle them so high
    seemed like they would get stuck and lost in the treetops
    maybe even in the sky

    One late evening when the cicadas called in the last of the fading light
    The youngest neighbor boy was rushed to the hospital
    with seizures, delirious and loss of sight
    which threw his mother into panic and gave us all a fright
    The eldest brother was left in our care
    Upset and worried he sat in a wicker chair on the porch
    with his fingers running nervously through his dark brown hair
    We tried to quiet his concern with small chat and jokes when
    the Berliner jumped up with an idea and with a small coax
    He led us out onto the street
    at Walton Row and McPherson=where the two meet
    We all gathered on the sidewalk that was uprooted by a tree
    A perfect bench so we could witness and see
    As he lit the batons with gasoline
    The flames started slowly and grew to great lengths
    Smoking
    Hot
    Dancing
    Four balls of fire on the end of rounded steel planks
    The first few flames escaped and soared in the air like fireflies
    making circular spins as the smoke turned, twisted and climbed
    You could see the smile in the child’s eyes
    as the flames came, went and passed our faces by

    Then suddenly the boy jumped to his feet
    With his arms raised he began to speak
    “Welcome everyone to the Circus of Jonas-
    He’ll toss fire in the air and entertain us!”
    A true ringmaster emerged from the young little lad
    “Now I would like a dollar from you and you and you”
    As he laid out his hand
    While behind him fire sticks dragged on street pavement leaving
    Long lines of flames bleeding and flickers of
    Yellow
    Blue
    Red
    Reminisces of light burned in our retinas and crackling sounds in our heads
    Ropes swung in circles until they became full rings of fire
    We were captivated and mesmerized as the flames leapt
    Higher
    Higher
    Higher
    Just then the father returned to retrieve his son. He exclaimed
    “Damian you have the coolest neighbors! —Did you have fun?”
    “Oh yes. Tata! Look what you missed…”
    He said as he jumped into his arms and gave him a kiss
    With a final round of whistles and applauds for our Berlin fire wielding friend
    and we all sighed when the fiery flames flickered dimming to an end—

    Kristin Sharp

    Children of the Chemical Wars

    I am a child of the chemical wars–
    I’ve seen everyday people
    Spray the ground and wind with poison
    To keep the bugs away
    At bay
    We’ve grown to hate them
    Even though the insects help pollinate the plants to
    Fertilize
    Grow
    Feed

    I’ve seen US crops dosed by white clouds of a toxic powdery breeze
    Same substances used to bring the Vietnamese people to their knees
    when our government destroyed their jungles during the Vietnam War
    Then carefully harvested and boxed, these tainted food crops are sent off to
    Families
    Neighbors
    Stores

    I’ve seen men grab their heads in agony over loss of
    Memory
    Livelihoods
    Life
    Standing slumped over
    Sickly cattle
    Dying children
    Cancer riddled wives
    Yet, they still load their
    Planes
    Trucks
    Containers
    to spray
    to manicured lawns
    to mist the mosquitoes away
    to make sure weeds don’t come back after long rainy days

    I’ve seen birds with halfcocked heads
    wobbling on sidewalks and into streets
    Hoping for a fatal blow to release
    I hear their mournful songs and fading cries
    begging for relief from this polluted ensnared net of sky

    I’ve seen bees disoriented toiling on pavement
    Falling off flowers and too weak to take flight
    Unable to find their way back to honeycombed beehives
    Often returning only to find
    a home empty of a queen with no bees in sight

    I’ve seen soil
    Dry
    Dead
    Drenched
    in hazardous liquids and the color of sand
    Next to dirt in its natural state teaming with life beautifully grand
    with organic edible fresh fruits and vegetables growing
    Sustenance one needs for the brain to work and blood to keep flowing
    For understanding and learning to occur=true knowing

    We are the soldiers of the chemical wars
    Unknowingly enlisted
    With every spray bottle and can in our hands and dollars
    Spent
    Hoarded
    Fisted
    With all of the perfection our made-up society demands
    and every choice that we as individuals make about our land
    Another generation is at risk
    Exposed
    Destined to get sick
    Are we blind?
    Our minds too clouded
    poisoned and wounded to know
    that all the
    Chaos
    Destruction
    Killings
    are happening because of our desire to maintain the status quo?
    Have all of us resigned
    to accept the norm of these Corporate dominated times?
    Seems we’ve become comfortable living lives with heads foggy and hazy
    as the outside world watches as our country deteriorates slipping into
    chaos and crazy

    Take a look around you—
    Right now!
    The cancer is spreading like a gnarred root in the ground
    Who will care for all those touched by this fate
    if each must carry a cross of illnesses baring such heavy weights?
    How much more loss can we take?
    How many more people will have to get sick and die
    How much longer can we wait?
    We cry for others to hear but each turns away in disbelief
    So, we can all continue to run from the truth and hide our grief
    But when the world can no longer contain its pain
    and the ashes come trickling down like acid rain
    and we are all forced to recognize the poor choices of ours as women and men
    What will we say then?
    What will we do then?

    Kristin Sharp

    Operation Green Thumb

    I am Eve
    And yeah, I took a bite out of that Eden’s Apple
    Plucked it from the tree myself
    And with my front teeth
    I pierce that red fleshy skin
    And took a deep juicy bite
    It tasted amazing
    I love it so much I become
    One
    With the Apple
    I also began to love the tree and its gifts
    Started visiting it everyday
    Making sure it had water and love
    And tended to it’s soil and branches

    Adam
    Well he got real jealous
    Told me I couldn’t visit the Apple tree anymore
    Said the friends I was keepin’ were a bad influence
    Encouraging me to relax, meditate and sleep
    Lazy!
    He called it

    Oh my dear friend the Snake who lived in the tree
    He had warned me that Adam was up to no good
    Never wantin’ to come outside–always stressed out and working
    I told Adam what the Snake said and he had him killed that same day
    People still killin’ snakes today because

    I am Eve
    And I turned my back on the world
    Nature, snakes and the trees
    Oh and I joined Adam and his quest for greed
    Sometimes I even pushed us too far with all my wants, needs and everything
    But it never really quite took
    I swear I’ve been asleep for thousands of years
    So here I am
    Looking at the garden I haven’t tended
    Realizing
    I had better get to work

    Kristin Sharp

    The Voices Unheard

    I Was Only 16
    And Just Had a Son
    I Was Shot From Behind
    With A 9mm, Then You
    Stepped On Me After
    Being Shot and Handcuffed
    You Call Me a Party Crasher
    I Call Myself (Kevin Cedeno)

    You All Shot of Us 11 Times
    On The Jersey Turnpike
    Because You Was Racially Profiling
    You Said We Tried To Run You Over
    3 Of 4 of Us Was Injured
    You Called In Self Defense
    We Call Ourselves (Keyshon Moore, Leroy Grant,
    Danny Reyes, Rayshawn Brown).

    You Shot Me Four Times in the Back
    Once In the Chest, Once In the Palm
    And Once In the Arm
    I Was 21 Years Old
    They Have the Nerve to Drag My Body
    Down The Stairs While In a Body Bag
    You Called It a Box Cutter Attack
    Self-Defense
    I Call Myself (Brennan King)

    I Was Only 13
    In addition, you shot Me Dead on the Spot
    I Was an Honor Student
    Playing Cops & Robbers with My Friends
    (Now the Same Playground Is Named After Me)
    You Called It Wrong Doing
    I Call Myself Nicholas Naquan Heyward Jr.

    I Am 23, and Haitian Immigrant
    Both of You Killed Me
    You Said I Ran into You with a Knife and Stick
    But Witnesses Talk Differently
    You Are the Same Precinct That Murdered
    Aswan Keyshawn Watson
    And Attacked Mourners At
    Patrick Dorismond’s Funeral
    You Call It an (Attempted Assault)
    I Call Myself Georgey Louisgone

    I Died In Your Custody
    In Your Precinct
    After Being Beaten and Tortured
    You Also Labeled Me as a Murder Suspect
    Of Murdering a Fellow Officer
    You Call It Wrongfully Arrested / Cop Killer
    I Call Myself (Earl Faison)

    I Was 23 Years Old,
    You Chased Me and Grabbed Me,
    We Fell,
    You Drew Your Gun And
    Shot Me with A Lose Grip from Your Hand
    And You Said You Don’t Remember
    Pulling the Trigger
    No One, But You
    Told Your Fellow Officers That
    “I Had To Shoot This Guy,
    I Thought He Was Reaching”
    You Called It Accidental
    Now I Am Not Here
    Malcolm Ferguson

    All four Of You Shot Me
    19 Times Out Of 41
    Reaching For My Wallet
    Even Reloaded and Murdered
    Me in Cold Blood
    You Called It Wrong Person
    I Call Myself (Amadao Diallo)

    I Am 23, Father Of 2
    My Friends Are 31 And 23
    You Shot Me 31 Times
    With 2 Full Mags
    You Shot Joseph Guzman 11 Times
    You Shot Trent Benefield 3 Times
    They Are Living but I Am Dead
    Before My Wedding
    By A 12 Year Veteran Detective
    You Call It Investigating Prostitution and Drug Use
    I Call Myself Sean Bell

    Police Brutality Is Still Here
    If We Don’t Stand For
    Nothing We Will Fall For Anything
    My Tears Will Flow Forever
    These Are Some of the Voices
    That Are Unheard.

    Troy Poet Lewis III

    WAR IN AMERIKKKA

    There’s a war in amerikkka
    I said there’s a war in amerikkka
    Our children keep dying in amerikkka
    Because these so called soldiers keep fighting for amerikkka
    Lacing up their boots
    Buttoning up there suits
    Because another soldier has died today
    You know like I know that this soldier is under age.
    Not old enough to buy cigarettes
    Not old enough to liquor
    But in the governments eyes
    He was old enough to be another USA victim.

    There’s a war in amerikkka
    I said there’s a war in amerikkka

    They worry about to African Americans walking down the street
    But the say nothing when it comes to 1500 covered in sheets.
    They worry about Michael Vick killing does & such
    But does the government really love dogs that much.
    You might as well legalize ism
    Because you signed and voted to keep racism

    There’s a war in amerikkka
    I said there’s a war in amerikkka

    Racism, nationalism, anti-Semitism
    These are some of the things that you want to call Americanism.

    There’s a war in amerikkka
    I said that there’s a war in amerikkka.

    My daughter is six years old
    But I guarantee that when she turns twenty
    She will be fighting for amerikkka
    I don’t believe that,
    She’s going to be standing next to me holding guns and bats
    Holding our backs here in
    Amerikkka

    There’s a war in amerikkka
    I said there’s a war in amerikkka.
    There’s a war in a-m-e-r-i-k-k-k-a.

    My child is at war
    Your child is at war
    Our children are at war in amerikkka.

    There’s a war in amerikkka
    I said there’s a war in amerikkka
    And our children are at war in amerikkka.

    Troy Poet Lewis III

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