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Mindful Poetry Gathering - April 20th, 2022

Posted April 20, 2022 in News Articles

This week for Mindful Poetry Moments we gathered to listen and contemplate the poem "On the Last Day of the Semester, the Library Is So Crowded with Raucous Historical and Literary Figures It’s Hard to Tell People Apart"  by Brad Aaron Modlin. Rana Dotson opened our time with a meditation and Brad Aaron Modlin, poet and educator, led the reading and response. (You can watch the full recording here and read the full transcript here.)

Community Response Poems

Untitled
by Wade Hopkins

Mr Toad leans in and whispers to me
(At least he believes it a whisper)
That you cannot be too concerned about whatever is said "In there"
I lean in close and bellow, "Out here too, old fellow. Out here too."

Preening in the sunshine, the Rat explains
how along the Riverbank, one greets absence with silent acceptance.
Staring into the sky, I sing of raindrops on a spring day.

And precious, precious Moley reminds me that
Dolce Domum is never far beyond the tip of my nose.
And I remind the Mole that never is ever if you're only looking outside.

And the terrible, terrible, wide world.

That it IS, most certainly, much, too much.

Nena
by Sarah Pinho

He is antsy

    a voice tells him, “Run!”

He runs himself spent

    food appears

His eyelids droop

    soft blankets embrace him

He awakens alone

    warm arms reach for him

He is antsy

    crayons surface on a mini table

Her eyes seek out the wisdom 

of his imagination

On the page:

stick figures

Dad, sister, him

Where is she?

Her breath catches.

I lean in and whisper:

You are the skin he wears

the air he breathes.

You are his consciousness itself.

Why would he think a crayon could contain you?

“The Red Tent”
Inspired by The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
by Maureen Medina

Dinah leans in and whispers
Speak up

The power in her
Silenced voice
Embodies the duality of women as
Coveted creators of life and
Those whose life does not belong to them

Virgins or whores
The narrative favors the storyteller
You defend our honor
Because you’ve made it your own

Obey your mother
Protect your sister
Love them at all costs

We still haven’t learned
Freedom can’t be bought

And what to do with your
Lovers and wives,
The mother of your children?

Their value changes with
Their cycles
More than bloodshed
It’s a massacre
How they mutilate
Our bodies
Ravage
Our existence
Claim
Our birthright

Though you are bound to your
Phallic fallacy
A fantasy

Our truth is absolute
And that is,
We are free.

Meditations on seeing through the Eyes of Howard Thurman’s wife (first draft)
by: Troy Bronsink

Sue Bailey leans in and whispers to me
“Howard didn’t always consent, but those eyes of his told me he wanted to.
When we took boats and trains and buses to sit with Gandhi,
he was nervous and eager, entering the silk embroidered cotton tents
and with shoes off 
the nerve center of his consent was visible, even to the small hindu man who asked us
to sing amazing grace. 

Were we weighed down by knowing whether what you really want would be really possible
like you are?
I don’t think so.
When we moved to San Francisco, was his laughter hubris or healthy sense of humor?
Its hard to hear the genuine when at the end of the strings of movers, 
new landlords, and universities.
Its easy to forget the genuine when I remember I’m a second wife,
but I believed it would come with us, he believed
that the sound of the genuine would be there too, in the fellowship of all people.

Dear Mrs. Bailey
when you sat in those hard library chairs researching the black history of the West
were you, too, tired that so little would be read?
Were you, too, tired of being compared to his voice?
Were you, too, wrestling to find your genuine, in the presence of his?

Tell me what home meant for you, 
following him from Home to home to home.
Tell me, again, why you met with all those students?
So many faces, black, white and brown.

Like the dark face of the cashier at UDF
generous to my large white male body 
through a smile on warm days, or an eye role
about colleagues and customers on another.
Quiet without eye contact on days of hardship or private work.

What is genuine 
if not the hand on a peanut butter milkshake
handing and receiving, 
holding the everydayt
rying when we can, with hubris or humor, 
to give the fluid area of our consent to what whatever we’ve got right in front of us?

Tribute to Grey
by Benjamin Bagocius

Maine. The rocks
sharp and luminous

with wet. Waves wild
with diamond

The sun is not out
The clouds are

Grey gets its chance
to be beautiful

Grey is softer than light,
softer than dark

Grey allows everything

to be spectacular
The wind can be itself

It pushes me
like a cousin

who loves me
so much it doesn’t know

The wind flings its arm
around my shoulders

like a sister who has
just run up to me panting

Of Bridges and Backs
by Rana Dotson, daughter of Etiwanda, daughter of Ardola, daughter of Delola whose sister Ethel raised Ardola. Delola was the daughter of Mary L. Woods.

She leans in to me and whispers
Go.

Whispers:
My name is Mary
Daughter of
[Female, Age 44,
Skin: Black,
Teeth: White
Back: Strong.
Cleans house.
$1,440 for 150 pounds of flesh.]

She leans in and whispers to me
Go.

sunbeams spill from her
forearms
shins shimmer
a river showing us
our way home

earth folds her feet
cradling them like lost children
calloused pebbles in Virginia clay

hallowed hands hold forth
stirring air like slow sorghum
*CLAP CLAP*

Go! I am your bridge to everywhere you ever needed to be.

***

Mother Mary
You have carried far too many
for too long
Rest
Here now
in the meadow we have planted
Me, the seed blooming
Carried cross-continent

[Pennsylvania, Colorado, California, Indiana]

Bring your bright arms
to an arc now
encircling me
like the sun

***

Emerging through the light
We choose our way
He dusts the footsteps
Scrubs the interiors of unseen places
We came here
to help you rest
he says
i smile at his face:
[Man: 43
Skin: Black
Teeth: strong
Back: sturdy
Cleans house.
Feeds babies. Loves wife. Living  life.]

We linger in the clearing
having crossed the bridge built of backs
lit by the light of our foremothers’ arms
sowing, sprouting, finding new futures
for those yet unnamed

We. Being bridges to everywhere they will ever need to be.
Say to unknown futures now: Rest