In the Sky, They Are Lineless by Sara McGuirk

(after Ronaldo V. Wilson)

I say: Crayola & you think color
(Association) & I wonder how much
We associate with color—tie to—attribute,
Collect (like bottlecaps in our knapsacks),
Throw at other kids at recess on the playground-grid-iron

& I consider
Color-coding, color-creaming, crinkling colored letters into
The words our children drag in
(Doorstep-dead-birds) with their dirty soap-tongue—
Words encoded by color

Case in point, in pointed pigment:
They had a color they called flesh (until 1962),
& guess
Just which shade it was,
(Just what peachy—perky & deserving shade)
Its snowflakes unstained by freckles even,
A complexion so fair—so in(politically)correct—
It’s nothing “personal,” just how they conduct their
Business

Then; in 1999,
They made a collector’s set: Crayolas infused with glitter
& I’m thinking: which
Abusive name would we use to shame the boy
Who kept those (secret) in his knapsack
—If he showed us—if he drew (unclothed) the most magnificent
Of masculine mermaidens,
(The most shameless we’ve ever seen) on this liquid, spectral, limitless beach—
How; would we snap him into wax-bit pieces?
Infringe upon his glittered drawing,
(This drifting masterpiece we
Should—instead—be flaunting
On every Mommy’s bone-bleach fridge)?
So; I want you to do just this &:
Bloom in living color—Oz it all—
Inside-outside-in (what lines?)
Let’s crack-crumble our crayons,
Our bodiless children’s finger-painted handprints
Un-white-washed by the pitiless, pesky,
Branded (brand-name) flesh (our Fisher-Priced pound of flesh),
Yelling (loud as living, lip-leavening color),
Left untouch-untortured by the name on a sliver of my color-glove,
My uncovered sleeve—no—
Color; me in love
& lovely in it all at once—a muddy gray, a grain
Of the whole col-igraphy                    (The language of the rainbow)
A (child playing with a)
Kaleidoscope                                      Wonders

At why we bother naming others—at all


Sara McGuirk is an incoming poet at the Iowa City Writer’s Workshop this year. She graduated from The University of Notre Dame with concentrations in English and Film Production. She perceives poetry as a montage of images and emotions directed by the music of language itself.

I’m Black by Stephanie Stuckey

Loving versus Virginia, Warren said God didn’t choose to separate us for kicks.
He said, “The fact that He separated the races shows that He never intended for us to mix.”
Don’t suppress it, address it.
Don’t ignore it, explore it.
You can go ahead and roll yours eyes because you think this story is old news,
but there are still people in this world who have yet to walk these shoes.
“You don’t need to take things so personally”…actually, I do.
Because if I don’t, imagine what things could escalate to.
Oh, wait… actually, we already have examples for this.
The school systems have embraced the motto “ignorance is bliss”.
They don’t like to share the stories of cruelty but will clog us with the history of royalty.

There’s that point in every history class that gets real awkward for that one Black kid.
The teacher says slavery and then talks like they’re walking on glass.
Trying to not offend by their choice of words
and not even realizing they’re making it far more worse.
Or the curriculum calls for that one book that has the ‘n’ word in it
and they decide to eliminate it, but for whose benefit?
“I hear Black people use that word all the time… who cares?”
This word is poisonous and has been warped to be “in”
but what it represents is an entire era of sin.

I didn’t grow up in a place where people looked like me.
But I didn’t realize I was different until someone made me see.
“Hey, go sit in the back of the bus.”
AKA you don’t belong because you look different than us.
Then I wasn’t sure if people liked me for me at all
or if they picked me just to fill a protocol.

Then all of my white friends got dates to Prom
and I was on my own wondering what I did wrong.
And from there was a tumbling of self-hate and complete self destruction.
I hated everything I was and everything that I wasn’t.

“It’s 2014, Civil Rights happened a long time ago.”
…actually there are still people that don’t like me solely for the color of my skin, I think I would know.
Because of this, Black women bleach their skin and burn their brown locks.
They eliminate any trait that links them back to where prior generations walked.

“You don’t look like Barbie so you should get a weave.”
My natural hair symbolizes my push away from what society has told me to believe.
My natural hair symbolizes my acceptance of M-E me;
my acceptance of the beautiful young woman that God has made me to be.

I refuse to let history repeat
and I will stand firmly on my two feet.
This subject is not the only thing that I fight for
but this is also something that should not be ignored.

How dare you nit-pick and judge so confidently?
Your lack of love is a sign of incompetency.
Don’t feel bad for me.
Actually,
I want to help you because being Black is not a problem to be fixed
but a heart full of hate is.
We are all beautifully and imperfectly made
and my belief in that will forever remain unswayed.


Stephanie grew up in the Seattle, Washington area and has been enrolled in mostly white schools her entire life. She realized around age 10 that she was being picked for certain things or rather not getting picked for things because of the color of her skin. That was when Stephanie realized how little people really knew about the life that she lived and since then, strives to speak up and spread the truth.

 

I’m Trying to Figure Out How To Save The World

I’m trying to figure out how to save the world
Men reshaped and molded it, using one element and then the next
Ignorant to the state of their neighbors
Most people on the world are slaves to the limits of their resources
We are not equals
But now we must put aside our differences
Forget what one has done to the Other
To save this earth, stripped and shaved
This earth that is not my body, to be claimed, capitalized on and discarded
As if there will be no lasting effect
As if I don’t remember the night I realized I could die
The night I thought I would leave
But didn’t
This earth cannot be me
Silent, waiting
Hoping things will get better
Hoping if we understand the man he will stop
Thinking time will heal it, him
The earth, this society, is singing its death song
And most of us haven’t even found our voice yet

I do not know how to act
My stereotype threat prepares me for every important encounter
Speaking on a subject I am impassioned about, but poorly educated on
When will there be enough information to convince you I am not a woman?
Someone they assume knows nothing
Holding a lowly position
Any position
I am afraid of

It’s easy to forget my agency
To feel like it was taken, used too quickly by those with power
Who never asked
I never asked

Now, equality cannot be the issue
We must save this body
This body they have used
To what end
Another man in charge
Following what another man tells me is a good idea
I do not want his agenda to be my agenda
I want us, the silent us
To be what saves the earth

I cannot sit by
Not knowing what action looks like
Not holding the optimism necessary to embark on this endeavor
I have other things to do
Work on this belly roll
File my taxes
Order more contacts
Drink more water
Make art
Invest
Couldn’t someone else do it?