Love Riot

He only loves me loudly
If there were a mountain,
he would shout his love a million times from its highest peak
If there were a water tower,
He would deface it in my name
With my face
Adorn it anew with words of adoration

But in this city of concrete and glass, there is neither mountain nor water tower in sight
So he settled for the subway station
Taps the man sitting beside him sheepishly and points
“that’s my woman”
With the sincerity and gentleness of a man overwhelmed by his good fortune

Sometimes, if I am lucky,
Only if I am lucky
My eyes will catch him first,
His pursed lips prepared to shout “I love you” at full force
And my kiss will intercede
Capture his words like a willing prisoner
Breathe deep his elation
His giddy innocence

I always play shy and surprised when I don’t catch him in time
I nuzzle into him and shield my sly giggles from the disapproving faces of our fellow passengers

I love you
I love you
I love you
He whispers into my ear
Lifts my face to look into it
And although I already know,
It’s always nice to hear
those words
again

– SOO

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Walk Away

walk away

tell the earth that i could not hold you

tell the ocean that i pushed you westward

tell the wind it was
my footsteps, night after night,
that frightened the warmth from our bed

tell the sun it was my salty kiss,
my lips that spoke too loudly,
that made you thirst for something other

fill this universe with the reasons why you must go
flood its shorelines with your well crafted excuses
but

tell
me
nothing
i have heard enough already
i cannot hear your voice
without trembling again

so go,
sweet
riotous man,
find some other woman to hold on to
and leave me to write this poem in peace

-soo

This Land Is Yours

You

Sweet you

America is for you
Brown beauty

Lost in the wonder of this world, bright and new

America 

is for you too
And you

Brilliant you

America is for you
Even when you are 

made to feel ashamed of your hue

Remember my sweet

Whatever you do  

America is for you too
At times it may leave you questioning, confused 

But America

This America is for you too
Your claim to it is as solid as theirs

No matter what they wish were true

America 

Yes, America is for you too
Never bow your head in shame

Do not cower when they call you names

You belong here

Your roots are deep

You grew from this land that so many seek
Space and fortune

Time and chance

All came together in a provident dance

All conspired to give America you

In this era

In this space

In this time

In this place
You breathe one breath

In joy and strife

You make America, America

It owes you its life
Your fates are interlocking 

pieces of one 

A beautiful tapestry, 

woven and spun 
This place called America

Battered and brave

Was not fully America 

Until the day you came 
Claim it

Know it

Savor it too

This glorious America belongs to you

– By SOO

When I Pray

Only when I’m hungry
only when
enough
is not really enough
you see, only when I’m hurting
only when the world crushes all of my dreams
only then do I look for you
wait on answers before I move
seek you
like those books say I should

hands clutching tightly
as it all just slips by
it’s at those times I need you
and want you by my side

but when its –
sun
joy
laughter
and parties to go to
warm smells of delicious
and music to dance to
people to kiss
lovers to hold on to
endless
endless
endless

another year set aside for singing
when its –
arms flung open wide for loving
when dreams are all revealed to me
and destinies all fulfilled through me
when I have
enough
more than enough even

plenty of all the right things
none of all the wrong things
when it’s all here
like I’d hoped for
I forget that you’re still in it

and you,
in silence
or in thunder, if needed
jealous lover, you call me back
reminding me that you’ve never left my side

-soo

When Earth Becomes An “It”

When the people call Earth “Mother,”
they take with love
and with love give back
so that all may live.

When the people call Earth “it,”
they use her
consume her strength.
Then the people die.

Already the sun is hot
out of season.
Our Mother’s breast
is going dry.
She is taking all green
into her heart
and will not turn back
until we call her
by her name.

Loving Again

Last night
we loved as if the gods
had announced only to us
that the sky would fall while we slept.
We loved
passionately
selflessly
thinking only of pleasure
giving pleasure,
and I knew I would not grieve
if life should end as you held me.
Daybreak.
The sun slid silently
into our room
kissed our faces
and lay softly
in our love bed.
The sky had not fallen.
The earth had not disappeared.
We were alive
to love again.

By Gloria Wade Gayles

Last Love BY Rachel McKibbens

To my daughters, I need to say:

Go with the one who loves you biblically.
The one whose love lifts its head to you despite its broken neck.
Whose body bursts sixteen arms electric to carry you, gentle, the way
old grief is gentle.

Love the love that is messy in all its too much,

The body that rides best your body, whose mouth saddles the naked salt
of your far gone hips, whose tongue translates the rock language of
all your elegant scars.

Go with the one who cries out for his tragic sisters as he chops the winter’s wood, the one whose skin
Triggers your heart into a heaven of blood waltzes.
Go with the one who resembles most your father. Not the father you can
point out on a map,
But the father who is here. Is your home. Is the key to your front door. Know that your first love will only

Be the first. And the second and third and even fourth will unprepare you for the most important:
The Blessed. The Beast. The Last love. Which is, of course, the most terrifying kind.

Because which of us wants to go with what can murder us? Can reveal to us our true heart’s end and its thirty years spent in poverty?
Can mimic the sound of our bird-throated mothers, replicate the warmth of our brothers’ tempers? Can pull us out of ourselves until

We are no longer sisters or daughters or sword swallowers but, instead,

Women. Who give. And lead. And take and want

And want

And want

And want

Because there is no shame in wanting.

And you will hear yourself say: Last Love, I wish to die so I may come back to you new and never tasted by any other mouth but yours.
And I want to be the hands that pull your children out of you and tuck them deep inside myself until they are
Ready to be the children of such a royal and staggering love. Or you
will say:

Last Love,
I am old, and have spent myself on the courageless, have wasted too many clocks on less-deserving men, so I hurl myself at the throne of you
And lie humbly at your feet.

Last Love, let me never roll out of this heavy dream of you.
Let the day I was born mean my life will end where you end.
Let the man behind the church do what he did if it brings me to you.
Let the girls in the locker room corner me again if it brings me to you.
Let the wrong beds find me if it brings me to you.
Let this wild depression throw me beneath its hooves if it brings me to you.
Let me pronounce my hoarded joy if it brings me to you.
Let my father break me again and again if it brings me to you.

Last love, I let other men borrow your children. Forgive me.
Last love, I vowed my heart to another. Forgive me.
Last Love, I have let my blind and anxious hands wander into a room and come out empty. Forgive me.

Last Love, I have cursed the women you loved before me. Forgive me.
Last Love, I envy your mother’s body where you resided first. Forgive me.
Last Love, I am all that is left. Forgive me.
Last Love, I did not see you coming. Forgive me.

Last Love, every day without you was a life I crawled out of. Amen.
Last Love, you are my Last Love. Amen.
Last Love, I am all that is left. Amen.

I am all that is left.

the depths of my heart

I could spend my whole life trying to earn favor, earn love.

I could search the world,

ravish the depths of my heart

for some shred of worthiness,

but there is none to be found.

I could never hope to be worthy of the love that is shown to me…worthy of the grace that’s been given.

I know my own tendencies towards sin, my own lust after things of this world.If not for God, I know I would be the worst of sinners. I know I have it in me.

If you see any goodness in me,

if you see any worthiness in me,

any loveliness at all,

know it is because of the loveliness of Christ

– soo

Power by Audre Lorde

The difference between poetry and rhetoric
is being ready to kill
yourself
instead of your children.
I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds
and a dead child dragging his shattered black
face off the edge of my sleep
blood from his punctured cheeks and shoulders
is the only liquid for miles
and my stomach
churns at the imagined taste while
my mouth splits into dry lips
without loyalty or reason
thirsting for the wetness of his blood
as it sinks into the whiteness
of the desert where I am lost
without imagery or magic
trying to make power out of hatred and destruction
trying to heal my dying son with kisses
only the sun will bleach his bones quicker.
A policeman who shot down a ten year old in Queens
stood over the boy with his cop shoes in childish blood
and a voice said “Die you little motherfucker” and
there are tapes to prove it. At his trial
this policeman said in his own defense
“I didn’t notice the size nor nothing else
only the color”. And
there are tapes to prove that, too.
Today that 37 year old white man
with 13 years of police forcing
was set free
by eleven white men who said they were satisfied
justice had been done
and one Black Woman who said
“They convinced me” meaning
they had dragged her 4’10” black Woman’s frame
over the hot coals
of four centuries of white male approval
until she let go
the first real power she ever had
and lined her own womb with cement
to make a graveyard for our children.
I have not been able to touch the destruction
within me.
But unless I learn to use
the difference between poetry and rhetoric
my power too will run corrupt as poisonous mold
or lie limp and useless as an unconnected wire
and one day I will take my teenaged plug
and connect it to the nearest socket
raping an 85 year old white woman
who is somebody’s mother
and as I beat her senseless and set a torch to her bed
a greek chorus will be singing in 3/4 time
“Poor thing. She never hurt a soul. What beasts they are.”

Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

- James Mercer Langston Hughes