by Najya Williams
To a body long forgotten. To a body long stretched plucked pulled. To a body long
To a body never forgiven. To a body often criticized. To a body discarded. To a body thick like molasses. To a body distorted. To a body well traveled. To a body invaded. To a body degraded.
To a body.
To my body.
I offer a prayer
Thank you for touching the <sky> when my spirit clawed at the
Thank you for not buckling under the weight of hate’s sovereignty. Thank you for writing your own roadmap to divinity along my thighs and tummy.
Thank you for counseling me on the power of beauty rooted by intimacy. Thank you for the dark hues that envelop me. Thank you for illustrating adequacy in hidden crevices I’ve never seen.
Thank you for protecting the truth I am manifesting. Thank you for growing and shrinking so effortlessly. Thank you for swallowing the worst of me.
Thank you for gracing the horrors in me. Thank you for walking me toward freedom when I couldn’t even recognize it. Thank you for forgiving me even as I condemned myself through eternity. Thank you for modeling the maturity I never knew I needed.
Thank you for accommodating the entirety of me. Thank you for being
what I need you to be.
Thank you for being
what I didn’t want you to be.
Thank you for
so that I can just be me,
wholly and uneqivocally.
Write a letter, prayer or ode of gratitude to your body. What have you and your body overcome together? Have there been surprising moments within your relationship? Have you recently learned something new about your body (resilience, strength, capability, etc)? What does your body need to hear from you right now? What would make your body feel appreciated?
Light through Lace Curtains
by Karen D’Amato
The day he scolded God light dappled the small-
flowered walls. Death banded his life like the ring
he wore, a bright new thing clotted in clay, a shawl
of light escaping. It was morning and the sun’s ball
shimmered in pieces on his bed. I sing
the day he scolded God. Light dappled my small
love for this man escaping, who couldn’t stall
death any more than a wasp his last sting,
who wore a bright new thing clotted in clay, a shawl
of dark curls under a small blue suit, the gall
of life giving him fists. I went to your school for nothing,
he scolded, the day God-light dappled the small
strange fruit of his organs. If he had to fall
at thirty-five, God-pinned, he’d go out swinging,
flinging a bright new thing clotted in clay, a shawl
of cursed thoughts for me to write for him. Through all
I’ll never know of his insides, my Braille’s this thread: loving
the day he scolded God, when light-dappled, small,
he wore a bright new thing clotted in clay, a morning’s shawl.
Previously published in String Poet (Volume IV, Issue 2, Fall 2014).
Write a villanelle that speaks to a current situation: yours, the country’s, or a combination of both. What I love about the villanelle is how its musicality and structure shed light on difficult circumstances and the emotions that invariably accompany them. Its rhyme scheme can be a bit of a challenge, but the variations on repeated phrases you choose to include can open it to possibilities unimagined at the start. (See here for step by step instructions.)
Born and raised in “Chocolate City,” Najya Williams (she/her) is a poet, filmmaker, and performer. Her debut poetry chapbook, Cotton, spoken word album, mad black woman, and original short films are available online via her website, najyawilliams.com. Looking ahead, Najya remains committed to changing hearts and minds across the world, one word at a time.
Karen D’Amato has been writing or dreaming about poetry for as long as she can remember and seeks to “live the poem” in all ways possible. She began her teaching career as a visiting poet in Boston elementary schools and later taught middle school English in Quincy and undergraduate Writing at Curry College in Milton, the latter for thirteen years while she also served as faculty advisor and editor for the college’s literary arts journal. Her work has appeared in the online journals Del Sol Review, Perihelion, and String Poet, and in anthologies including When a Lifemate Dies: Stories of Love, Loss, and Healing, Summer Home Review I and II, Eden Waters Press Home Anthology, and Cancer Poetry Project 2. She lives in Jamaica Plain where she enjoys walking the Emerald Necklace and working with children.