27 January 2010

Voices and Soul

26 January 2010

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Tuesday's Chile, Poetry Contributor

The indignities of life seem to follow us everywhere. We live in a nation where no part of our existence is outside scrutiny. Banks now acknowledge they investigate our Twitter and Facebook posts and friend lists to deny or approve credit; we are subjected to full body scans at the airport; we have to urinate in a jar to flip a burger. Amanda Johnston tackles these intrusions with a particularly powerful and dark élan. She goes for the jugular when the application for employment asks...

Have you ever been convicted of a felony? If so, explain.

Fighting devils ain’t new to me. Hell, I’ve been fighting them since I was born. They always come looking like men I love. Mama showed me how to cradle their fire until the heat no longer singed my arms. We learned to swallow our salt and peppered tongues with ease. One will sacrifice everything in hell’s kitchen, but not my babies. I always fed them something sweeter, saving the brine and rinds for myself.  I like to bake. Even know how to make most stuff from scratch. I can dice, julienne, and score an apple pie crust like in Woman’s Day Magazine. Didn’t mean to make his face flower like that, forgot I was even holding the knife. Boom, Boom, Boom – ever heard the devil beating at your front door hungry and clawing for neck bones? Forgot exactly how the blood spilled, tried to tell the police that.  I like to bake. My babies need to eat. For years I cooked for other inmates. Guess you could say I’m experienced. Let me show you. I promise I’ll do a good job.

-- Amanda Johnston

20 January 2010

Voices and Soul 19 January 2010
by Justice Putnam,
Black Kos Tuesday's Chile, Poetry Editor

Tragedy and Redemption are constants in Caribbean culture; permanence and faith are tested by land-leveling hurricanes and island-forming tectonic shakings of economics and magma. Caribbean poet and Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott, addresses these dynamics; where permanence is but smoldering paper and faith can be snapped like a heated wire; where no matter how loud and constant a Belief might be shouted from the pulpit, Redemption and the renewal of Faith is sometimes found in the tragedy of...

A City's Death By Fire

After that hot gospeller has levelled all but the churched sky,
I wrote the tale by tallow of a city's death by fire;
Under a candle's eye, that smoked in tears, I
Wanted to tell, in more than wax, of faiths that were snapped like wire.
All day I walked abroad among the rubbled tales,
Shocked at each wall that stood on the street like a liar;
Loud was the bird-rocked sky, and all the clouds were bales
Torn open by looting, and white, in spite of the fire.
By the smoking sea, where Christ walked, I asked, why
Should a man wax tears, when his wooden world fails?
In town, leaves were paper, but the hills were a flock of faiths;
To a boy who walked all day, each leaf was a green breath
Rebuilding a love I thought was dead as nails,
Blessing the death and the baptism by fire.

-- Derek Walcott

13 January 2010

Voices and Soul 12 January 2010

by Justice Putnam, Black Kos Tuesday's Chile, Poetry Editor

The time it takes to blink an eye is the time it takes to roll back the clock to segregated lunch counters and strange fruit hanging from the poplar tree. Time is truly, that fluid. How can we give up when there is still so much work to do and so many people in need? How can we give up on a whole region when that region is populated by those who have struggled so mightily? We just cannot give up, we just cannot turn our backs. We cannot stop when the struggle is only...


I've come this far to freedom and I won't turn back
I'm climbing to the highway from my old dirt track
       I'm coming and I'm going
       And I'm stretching and I'm growing
And I'll reap what I've been sowing or my skin's not black

I've prayed and slaved and waited and I've sung my song
You've bled me and you've starved me but I've still grown strong
       You've lashed me and you've treed me
       And you've everything but freed me
But in time you'll know you need me and it won't be long.

I've seen the daylight breaking high above the bough
I've found my destination and I've made my vow;
       so whether you abhor me
       Or deride me or ignore me
Mighty mountains loom before me and I won't stop now.

-- Naomi Long Madgett

05 January 2010

Voices and Soul
Justice Putnam, Black Kos Tuesday's Chile, Poetry Editor

My Mother has been in and out of the hospital these last weeks. She's home now, after all, she is a tough gal from a family with a history of tough gals; but my siblings and myself are on a "watch." No family is exempt from sickness and loss. When it comes, especially during the holidays, a renewed appreciation arises; an appreciation of how motherly love and warmth envelopes us. This week's poem by Nikki Giovanni, on the irrevocable passing of life, reminds me of my Mother and of all the women here and elsewhere who have embraced me and us; how none will be forgotten and they will warm us still; because their memories and lives are gifts that can be stitched onto...


Like a fading piece of cloth
I am a failure

No longer do I cover tables filled with food and laughter
My seams are frayed my hems falling my strength no longer able
To hold the hot and cold

I wish for those first days
When just woven I could keep water
From seeping through
Repelled stains with the tightness of my weave
Dazzled the sunlight with my

I grow old though pleased with my memories
The tasks I can no longer complete
Are balanced by the love of the tasks gone past

I offer no apology only
this plea:

When I am frayed and strained and drizzle at the end
Please someone cut a square and put me in a quilt
That I might keep some child warm

And some old person with no one else to talk to
Will hear my whispers

And cuddle

-- Nikki Giovanni