The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (121-125)

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121.

Thursday morning

a gong from the night sky

the rest of the world is asleep

& i’m madly collecting thirty words

(& their kin)

 

words slip from my fingers

stick to my sleeves

slide back, slide back gravity bound

 

i’m going to have to recreate the whole world

with language from these thirty words

but what’s language without possession

or colour?

 

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122.

Thursday morning 4am

thirty words are left on the living room floor

none of them articles

none of them adjectives

none of them pronouns

none of them coloured or even black

 

The list of things to do in a pile of letters

the calendar is blank for next month

& the past week

thirty words fall in a cascade

(so what is a world without letters?)

 

if I speak, will words fall from my mouth

gravity bound

& attracted to their kin on the floor?

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123.

When you suggested the Lord’s Prayer

there was no indication that your left ring finger

had anything to do with it

 

There were eyes pressed against the window

the window

eyes with tongues hanging out of them

 

the window

the window

long tongues, lecherous tongues

at the window

the window

 

eyes looking straight at me

the window

the window

tongues slurping

 

the window

the window

the window

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124.

Your hands on my skin

like yesterday never happened

like the shiver of a spiderweb in the sun

like time vibrating

like praises to that same god

only a breath’s worth

 

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125.

& forgive us our trespasses

as your finger bleeds into the bucket

forgive us your trespasses

our trespasses

yours

 

the debate rages on

until your ring finger

tired of being married

drops off from your hand

& walks out the door for good

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The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (111-115)

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111.

The signposts were up

for the readers, for the poets to clue in:

No more poetry with possessives

& there you were, holding my hand

a possessive

my hand

 

Signpost 1:

your head is broken

your is a possessive

your head belongs to you

 

Signpost 2:

my head is broken

my is a possessive

I own my own head

 

Signpost 3:

our heads are cloven

our heads is a plural possessive

 

Signpost 4:

a hateful eye meets a mean eye

 

Signpost 5:

exit ahead – Amach

we’re almost there

hands still entwined

we’re laughing

homestretch

 

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112.

The glass in your hand

is full of the night sky

the moon in it is clear, full & bright

 

Take a sip

this taste of glory

doesn’t mattert

doesn’t really matter

 

The moon shimmers in the glass

resplendent

next to the red umbrella beside it

the moon in my mouth is a delightful crunch

your blue on mine is a moment I can’t buy

& the warmth down my throat

is worth a morning that will not show

 

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113.

second floor

green paint

a clock counting down to eternity

the moon

a soft & exhausted sun

two or three women who look alike

men who look nothing like you

a scowl

we’re still walking through this poem

 

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114.

out in the distance

the desert creeps

in the same pace it has for millenia

as the lineup of witnesses decreases

— they have work

children other obligations

so now just you & me

to watch the desert crawl

 

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115.

On the top floor

Christ & the devil in deep conversation

fineprinting, the two of them

fineprinting the laws of devotion

& the meaning of sin

 

beside them a scawl on the wall

a heart with an arrow

between N & A 4evah

 

Shandon explodes in a warm glow

nothing changes

nothing remains the same

now I know, I know

Tikkun Daily

The Art of Revolution: Spoken Word, Video, and Performance Art to Change The World — Juliane Okot Bitek

by:  on January 8th, 2013 | 2 Comments »

Juliane Okot Bitek knows the power of narrative. An award winning writer living in Vancouver, Canada, Okot Bitek is also an Acholi woman who calls Gulu in Northern Uganda home. Considering the civil war (1986- 2006) that plagued northern Ugandans, it’s no wonder much of Okot Bitek’s passionate writing focuses on social and political issues. In the last decade, through her poetry, essays, fiction, nonfiction and opinion pieces, Okot Bitek has fought both to make sense of, and to expose the tragedies of her homeland.

Okot Bitek comes to writing through an impressive lineage. Her late father is the famed Ugandan poet, essayist, novelist and academic, Okot p’Bitek, who was, shortly before his death in 1982, appointed as the first professor of Creative Writing at Makerere University in Kampala. Things weren’t always so rosy, however. As a result of her father’s work, Okot Bitek and her family spent the early years of her childhood in exile in Kenya. As a result of this history, Okot Bitek is no stranger to political strife and social unrest. Still, in spite of this, she describes the pleasure of growing up in a house full of books and lively debates between her parents and their literary and artistic friends. Some of Africa’s luminaries were regular houseguests: Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and David Rubadiri were men she called uncle, and on a given day they might be filling the Okot Bitek household with their intellect, their opinions and their friendship.

Growing up in such an environment would make anyone sensitive to the importance of storytelling. As Okot Bitek says, “Stories are everything. Without a story, none of us exists.” But it’s not just the significance of narrative that is so dear to Okot Bitek, she is sensitive to the invisibility and the silence that shrouds those whose stories don’t get heard. This is evident in the work she has recently completed, which is provisionally titled Stories From the Dry Season. Collaborating with Dr. Erin Baines of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia and Grace Acan, a women’s advocate and LRA survivor, Okot Bitek took on this work as a way to tell the stories of women from northern Uganda who were abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (L.R.A) and who eventually returned to civilian life after long and terrible years of abuse and assault.

A doctoral student at UBC herself, Okot Bitek recently participated in a poetry reading at the Liu Institute for Global Issues with one of the subjects of her book and co-author, Grace Acan. In 1996 Acan was abducted, along with many other girls, from her school in Uganda when she was only 16. For eight years she was the captive of rebels, living a terrifying and unstable life in the bush as a “rebel wife”. She bore two children during this time, but tragically, one of her them was killed in an attack by the Ugandan army. Attempts at escape by other bush wives were met with brutal beatings, even murder, but eventually Grace did escape and she is now a university student who is also involved in the Women’s Advocacy Network, a local NGO that seeks justice for women affected by the war in Uganda.

More on Grace Acan can be found here.

And an interview with Grace Acan can be heard here