We had the honor of joining of joining several other colleges to compete at the Clark Regional Slam the past week. While it was an extraordinarily close competition, our poets managed to win the slam. But in the end, it’s not really about the tenth of a point difference. It’s about sharing poetry.
Share on, poets. Share on.
In the heat of a Beijing summer
we are sitting in the kitchen over breakfast, feet sticking to linoleum floors.
Not just a table, but a broken Babel between us,
a fallen tower that once twisted like corkscrews pushed into the sky.
The confusion of tongues. My grandmother and I.
She’s eighty one, stands five-foot-three, looks like me, but squatter and rounder than me,
and wrinkled a bit like an elephant’s knee. Smiling, cotton-haired, chinese.
This is the english-speaking grandchild’s dilemma.
There are so many things I would say to you, if only I knew how.
Instead, I write poems that you don’t understand - Grandmother,
if there is a heaven, it only has one tongue.
You and I will walk to market in the early mornings, like you loved to do,
before the age seeped into your knees.
You will weigh watermelons in two hands, guessing at their insides,
and I will carry the plastic bags that are pregnant with dinner,
all the while asking you questions,
and we will have infinite time.
Some walkers in the woods
Children poke banana slugs
enjoy the ripe splurt of a slug under tractioned sole
muscles pulped & jellied
deliciously split smeared kissing the dirt with open mouth
with words and chants and open skin.
or finger tips
them up, children see what’s there
and haven’t yet learned to turn away disgusted. Children
always touch even the slime.
They say (the older kids, the siblings, the powerful ones)
they say that touch hurts a banana slug.
They say that the more you care for it, the sooner you kill it
that it’s better to crouch and cheer on its progress
through pine needles or
better to catch your breath from the romance of almost touching.
They say it’s better not to be involved.
I am old enough now
to take this story’s end for granted. That the slug
will cross the path intact and burrow into a fit of ivy
that the movement will trundle on
with or without my involvement.
That when justice crawls forward
my place is an observer, breath clouding mustard skin
in careful separation.
They say, don’t touch a banana slug. One of you will get hurt.
They don’t say, your fingers will stick to its icewater slime
like tongue to frozen metal
you will twitch to tug away its yellow peel. They don’t say,
the earth will paperweight your feet
will cash in its claim to your out-skewed joints
will yank you down into this flat-bellied crawl.
To be big again is no longer simple. Your muscles have felt
the cramp of insufficiency. Of having no power
but the certainty
of straining in the right direction. If you stay small,
you need no excuse to dwindle.
The arc of the universe creaks like your knees
as it bends to the dirt with open mouth.
If you unfurl back to your furthest height
like a wrung-out sponge unclenching
you will learn not to think about slugs.
The older kids praise you practical now.
Congratulations. You stride efficiently
You crush with ease
If your soles burst a slug or two
what’s it to you?
Listen. Your full-sized brawn leaves you weak in benevolence
but you are never too old
for the messiness of convictions.
Go on, bend down,
or all of us will get hurt.
Just a reminder that this week is the kick-off for Massachusetts Louder Than a Bomb, the first-ever statewide youth poetry slam festival! We need YOU to volunteer! You can sign up here, and by all means contact Cassandra (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions! Volunteering can be as short a commitment as you’d like- half a day is totally fine and super helpful, or more if you feel like it.
- If you’re interested in education, we need volunteers to help out the fantastic poets and teachers (New England’s finest!) who will be leading workshops on 3/30.
- If you have poems to spit, we need enthusiastic poets to greet students as they arrive.
(when you sign up, feel free to note your interest in either of these positions.)
Use this form to reserve your $5.00 tickets for our April 6th slam. You can pick up your tickets Thursday April 5th or Friday April 6 in Annenberg during dinner (or if you’re upperclassmen, we’ll send you details about picking them up in your dhall) https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dFhOQmIwb0JDZjk5VS1iQkRvYWVQX3c6MQ