The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Them Gone by Akua Lezli Hope

The Wall Beyond Rage

that certitude is a death
does not dissuade the frantic search of many
does not deter donning its blind veil, gagging shroud or
cofn-armor before promise is recognized or decoded

that certitude is the real opiate
routine is syringe and anarchy is not antidote
only a holding pattern against a landing submission
then surges rage as dim-eyed, hungered and weary
we clutch the fragile myths to fragment.
the litter cannot bear the restless
agony of labor swelling – dancing, pumping, knifng, rising
kicking screaming cursing shouting
shouting to the wall.

the cunning intellectuals congratulate arrival
carve a doctrine of dogma: the tenets of arrival
that arrival is a death
does not defuse its fervent celebration
does not disrobe its priests, unravel mystique
or alarm spent anger to awaken

the terrain beyond each temporal truth we crave, beckons
yet craven, we fashion walls against the perilous country
only one moment beyond this, we live. cessation is
surrender. the only prize the journey


This selection comes from the book, Them Gone, available from THE WORD WORKS.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

A third generation New Yorker, firstborn, Akua Lezli Hope has won two Artists Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Ragdale U.S.-Africa Fellowship, and a Creative Writing Fellowship from The National Endowment for The Arts. She’s won scholarships for the Hurston Wright writers’ program and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She is a Cave Canem fellow. She received an Artists Crossroads Grant from The Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes for her project “Words in Motion,” which placed poetry on the buses of New York’s Chemung and Steuben counties. She was the guest poet at the Steele Memorial Library’s 2003 Festival. UNPACKING, her collaboration with dancer choreographer, Lois Welk, was presented in 2003 at 171 Cedar Arts Center. She was a poet-in-residence at the Chautauqua Institute where she read her poetry, lectured on jazz poetry, and conducted a workshop entitled “Writing Poetry as Mythmaking.”
Her poem “Metis Emits” won the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s short poem award for 2015. Her first collection, EMBOUCHURE, Poems on Jazz and Other Musics, won the Writer’s Digest book award for poetry. Her poems, Montserrat and AwaIting Your Return (for Jamal Kashoggi) were nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. Her manuscript, Them Gone, a finalist in the 2015 Word Works Washington Prize competition, was selected for Red Paint Hill Publishing’s Bryant Lysembee Editor’s Prize and published in December, 2018 by The Word Works.
She is published in numerous literary magazines and national anthologies including: 50 over 50, Minerva Rising, Strange Horizons, Eye to the Telescope, Breath and Shadow, The Crafty Poet II, The Cossack Review, Silver Blade, Tiny Text, The 100 Best African American Poems (2010); Killens Review, Breath and Shadow, Stone Canoe, Three Coyotes, The Year’s Best Writing, Writer’s Digest Guides, 2003; DARK MATTER, (the first!) anthology of African American Science Fiction, Time Warner Books, 2000; THE BLUELIGHT CORNER, black women writing on passion, sex, and romantic love, Three Rivers Press, 1999; Will Work For Peace: New Political Poems, 1999; MASKS, Earth’s Daughters 52, 1998; CHAIN, 1995; SISTERFIRE, an anthology of Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry, ed. by Charlotte Watson-Sherman, HarperPerennial, 1994; WHAT IS FOUND THERE, NOTEBOOKS ON POETRY AND POLITICS by Adrienne Rich, W.W. Norton, 1993; WRITING FROM THE NEW COAST: TECHNIQUE, Buffalo University, 1993; EROTIQUE NOIRE, (the first!) AN ANTHOLOGY OF BLACK EROTICA, Doubleday/Anchor, 1992; POETS MARKET, 1992, ed. by Judson Jerome, Writers Digest Books; CONFIRMATION, an anthology of Afrikan American Women Writers, 1983; EXTENDED OUTLOOKS, the Iowa Review Collection of Contemporary Women Writers, 1983; and Eyeball, 1995; Obsidian II, 1996, 1994, 1992, 1991; Blue Cage, 1993 (England); Hambone, 1992; African American Review, 1992; Catalyst 1992; and Contact II, 1989; among many others.
She holds a B.A. in psychology from Williams College, a M.B.A. in marketing from Columbia University Graduate School of Business, and a M.S.J. in broadcast journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is a founding section leader in the Poetry Forum on Compuserve. She served as a founding section leader of African American Resource Forum and in the Books and Writers section of the African American Culture Forum (American Visions) on Compuserve. She also served as a trainer, area coordinator, and group founder and leader for Amnesty International, U.S.A., in the southern tier of New York. She co-authored a biweekly column on social, political, and cultural issues for the Star Gazette in 1995.
She was a finalist in the 1991 Open Voice competition, in the 1990 Barnard New Women Poets Series with her manuscript Fuel for Beginners, and in the MacDonald’s Black literary competition for 1989. Her manuscript, The Prize is the Journey, was a finalist in the 1983 Walt Whitman contest. She is a founding member of the Black Writers Union and the New Renaissance Writers Guild whose alumni include Arthur Flowers, Walter Dean Myers and Terri McMillan.
She led the Voices of Fire Reading Choir from 1987 to 1999, performing her work and that of other African American poets. Akua has given hundreds of readings to audiences in colleges, prisons, parks, museums, libraries and bars. Akua bears an exile’s desire for work close to home, and a writer’s yearning for a galvanizing mythos.
She also creates sculpture, objects, and jewelry in glass, metal and handmade paper; designs crochet patterns, plays with her cat and the soprano saxophone, sings, and makes good manifest.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 
 

 

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Them Gone by Akua Lezli Hope

Kwansaba

for Jayne Cortez

Acid tongue, lash putrid meme from thought
Atomic coppice, bloom laser snakes, whip frenzy
Writhe Hendrick’s helix licks, soar Bessie’s dare
Outplay sound crushers, arrest water thieves, redeem
betrayed futures from oil-slicked bloody seas
Seize us epileptic seer, cleanse crusted eyes
with magma milk. Dilate portals. Make hear

Jayne Cortez (1934 – 2012), poet, activist, and publisher, was a
seminal surrealist innovator whose poetry and jazz recordings were pathbreaking
.


This selection comes from the book, Them Gone, available from THE WORD WORKS.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

A third generation New Yorker, firstborn, Akua Lezli Hope has won two Artists Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Ragdale U.S.-Africa Fellowship, and a Creative Writing Fellowship from The National Endowment for The Arts. She’s won scholarships for the Hurston Wright writers’ program and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She is a Cave Canem fellow. She received an Artists Crossroads Grant from The Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes for her project “Words in Motion,” which placed poetry on the buses of New York’s Chemung and Steuben counties. She was the guest poet at the Steele Memorial Library’s 2003 Festival. UNPACKING, her collaboration with dancer choreographer, Lois Welk, was presented in 2003 at 171 Cedar Arts Center. She was a poet-in-residence at the Chautauqua Institute where she read her poetry, lectured on jazz poetry, and conducted a workshop entitled “Writing Poetry as Mythmaking.”
Her poem “Metis Emits” won the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s short poem award for 2015. Her first collection, EMBOUCHURE, Poems on Jazz and Other Musics, won the Writer’s Digest book award for poetry. Her poems, Montserrat and AwaIting Your Return (for Jamal Kashoggi) were nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. Her manuscript, Them Gone, a finalist in the 2015 Word Works Washington Prize competition, was selected for Red Paint Hill Publishing’s Bryant Lysembee Editor’s Prize and published in December, 2018 by The Word Works.
She is published in numerous literary magazines and national anthologies including: 50 over 50, Minerva Rising, Strange Horizons, Eye to the Telescope, Breath and Shadow, The Crafty Poet II, The Cossack Review, Silver Blade, Tiny Text, The 100 Best African American Poems (2010); Killens Review, Breath and Shadow, Stone Canoe, Three Coyotes, The Year’s Best Writing, Writer’s Digest Guides, 2003; DARK MATTER, (the first!) anthology of African American Science Fiction, Time Warner Books, 2000; THE BLUELIGHT CORNER, black women writing on passion, sex, and romantic love, Three Rivers Press, 1999; Will Work For Peace: New Political Poems, 1999; MASKS, Earth’s Daughters 52, 1998; CHAIN, 1995; SISTERFIRE, an anthology of Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry, ed. by Charlotte Watson-Sherman, HarperPerennial, 1994; WHAT IS FOUND THERE, NOTEBOOKS ON POETRY AND POLITICS by Adrienne Rich, W.W. Norton, 1993; WRITING FROM THE NEW COAST: TECHNIQUE, Buffalo University, 1993; EROTIQUE NOIRE, (the first!) AN ANTHOLOGY OF BLACK EROTICA, Doubleday/Anchor, 1992; POETS MARKET, 1992, ed. by Judson Jerome, Writers Digest Books; CONFIRMATION, an anthology of Afrikan American Women Writers, 1983; EXTENDED OUTLOOKS, the Iowa Review Collection of Contemporary Women Writers, 1983; and Eyeball, 1995; Obsidian II, 1996, 1994, 1992, 1991; Blue Cage, 1993 (England); Hambone, 1992; African American Review, 1992; Catalyst 1992; and Contact II, 1989; among many others.
She holds a B.A. in psychology from Williams College, a M.B.A. in marketing from Columbia University Graduate School of Business, and a M.S.J. in broadcast journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is a founding section leader in the Poetry Forum on Compuserve. She served as a founding section leader of African American Resource Forum and in the Books and Writers section of the African American Culture Forum (American Visions) on Compuserve. She also served as a trainer, area coordinator, and group founder and leader for Amnesty International, U.S.A., in the southern tier of New York. She co-authored a biweekly column on social, political, and cultural issues for the Star Gazette in 1995.
She was a finalist in the 1991 Open Voice competition, in the 1990 Barnard New Women Poets Series with her manuscript Fuel for Beginners, and in the MacDonald’s Black literary competition for 1989. Her manuscript, The Prize is the Journey, was a finalist in the 1983 Walt Whitman contest. She is a founding member of the Black Writers Union and the New Renaissance Writers Guild whose alumni include Arthur Flowers, Walter Dean Myers and Terri McMillan.
She led the Voices of Fire Reading Choir from 1987 to 1999, performing her work and that of other African American poets. Akua has given hundreds of readings to audiences in colleges, prisons, parks, museums, libraries and bars. Akua bears an exile’s desire for work close to home, and a writer’s yearning for a galvanizing mythos.
She also creates sculpture, objects, and jewelry in glass, metal and handmade paper; designs crochet patterns, plays with her cat and the soprano saxophone, sings, and makes good manifest.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 
 

 

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Them Gone by Akua Lezli Hope

Afro Funk

Some say it’s the corolla of Afro
on velvet canvas goddesses
implacable on village sidewalks
near Bboys from Corona
watching pickup ball near the maw of subway

Others say nah, it’s inefable, like
the young brothers’ lean in they walk
sisters’ swish in they leather wrapped
booties the rootie tootie of swayback
the bend of fantasy at bowlegs
where muscle rounds the curve.
who frst wore layers
staccato art-furrowed heads
whose kente woven scarf
meets momma’s best made

When every sunday dinner is a feast
or summer barbeque in backyard queens
means miles of pungent fesh
grilled in ritual ofering, smokes.
and the combat of rival stereos
foats through the haze…
as the thump and blaze of need-to-bes
rise from half-fnished basements
is that it?


This selection comes from the book, Them Gone, available from THE WORD WORKS.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

A third generation New Yorker, firstborn, Akua Lezli Hope has won two Artists Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Ragdale U.S.-Africa Fellowship, and a Creative Writing Fellowship from The National Endowment for The Arts. She’s won scholarships for the Hurston Wright writers’ program and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She is a Cave Canem fellow. She received an Artists Crossroads Grant from The Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes for her project “Words in Motion,” which placed poetry on the buses of New York’s Chemung and Steuben counties. She was the guest poet at the Steele Memorial Library’s 2003 Festival. UNPACKING, her collaboration with dancer choreographer, Lois Welk, was presented in 2003 at 171 Cedar Arts Center. She was a poet-in-residence at the Chautauqua Institute where she read her poetry, lectured on jazz poetry, and conducted a workshop entitled “Writing Poetry as Mythmaking.”
Her poem “Metis Emits” won the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s short poem award for 2015. Her first collection, EMBOUCHURE, Poems on Jazz and Other Musics, won the Writer’s Digest book award for poetry. Her poems, Montserrat and AwaIting Your Return (for Jamal Kashoggi) were nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. Her manuscript, Them Gone, a finalist in the 2015 Word Works Washington Prize competition, was selected for Red Paint Hill Publishing’s Bryant Lysembee Editor’s Prize and published in December, 2018 by The Word Works.
She is published in numerous literary magazines and national anthologies including: 50 over 50, Minerva Rising, Strange Horizons, Eye to the Telescope, Breath and Shadow, The Crafty Poet II, The Cossack Review, Silver Blade, Tiny Text, The 100 Best African American Poems (2010); Killens Review, Breath and Shadow, Stone Canoe, Three Coyotes, The Year’s Best Writing, Writer’s Digest Guides, 2003; DARK MATTER, (the first!) anthology of African American Science Fiction, Time Warner Books, 2000; THE BLUELIGHT CORNER, black women writing on passion, sex, and romantic love, Three Rivers Press, 1999; Will Work For Peace: New Political Poems, 1999; MASKS, Earth’s Daughters 52, 1998; CHAIN, 1995; SISTERFIRE, an anthology of Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry, ed. by Charlotte Watson-Sherman, HarperPerennial, 1994; WHAT IS FOUND THERE, NOTEBOOKS ON POETRY AND POLITICS by Adrienne Rich, W.W. Norton, 1993; WRITING FROM THE NEW COAST: TECHNIQUE, Buffalo University, 1993; EROTIQUE NOIRE, (the first!) AN ANTHOLOGY OF BLACK EROTICA, Doubleday/Anchor, 1992; POETS MARKET, 1992, ed. by Judson Jerome, Writers Digest Books; CONFIRMATION, an anthology of Afrikan American Women Writers, 1983; EXTENDED OUTLOOKS, the Iowa Review Collection of Contemporary Women Writers, 1983; and Eyeball, 1995; Obsidian II, 1996, 1994, 1992, 1991; Blue Cage, 1993 (England); Hambone, 1992; African American Review, 1992; Catalyst 1992; and Contact II, 1989; among many others.
She holds a B.A. in psychology from Williams College, a M.B.A. in marketing from Columbia University Graduate School of Business, and a M.S.J. in broadcast journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is a founding section leader in the Poetry Forum on Compuserve. She served as a founding section leader of African American Resource Forum and in the Books and Writers section of the African American Culture Forum (American Visions) on Compuserve. She also served as a trainer, area coordinator, and group founder and leader for Amnesty International, U.S.A., in the southern tier of New York. She co-authored a biweekly column on social, political, and cultural issues for the Star Gazette in 1995.
She was a finalist in the 1991 Open Voice competition, in the 1990 Barnard New Women Poets Series with her manuscript Fuel for Beginners, and in the MacDonald’s Black literary competition for 1989. Her manuscript, The Prize is the Journey, was a finalist in the 1983 Walt Whitman contest. She is a founding member of the Black Writers Union and the New Renaissance Writers Guild whose alumni include Arthur Flowers, Walter Dean Myers and Terri McMillan.
She led the Voices of Fire Reading Choir from 1987 to 1999, performing her work and that of other African American poets. Akua has given hundreds of readings to audiences in colleges, prisons, parks, museums, libraries and bars. Akua bears an exile’s desire for work close to home, and a writer’s yearning for a galvanizing mythos.
She also creates sculpture, objects, and jewelry in glass, metal and handmade paper; designs crochet patterns, plays with her cat and the soprano saxophone, sings, and makes good manifest.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 
 

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Them Gone by Akua Lezli Hope

Evocateur

for Eartha Kitt

Your purr was always there
How catwoman, a role you made your own
was inhabited as shape shifter transmutes
fesh
making us believe along
that this human is something else
and more

your
fuidity sprung from
being beaten
metal made malleable early
after your forging in rough nameless times
unfathered streets and pass along mothers
poorly shod feet and indi
ferent others
What did Orson Welles taste in your blood

in your bitten lip?
holding you close was not enough
kissing did not teach
his hungry genius yearned to know your secret
only in some bloodletting
might he glimpse the mystery
of your transformative magics

Not just the must of recreation, lemons into aid
where is sugar?
where is water?
there was only this blood still wanting
with a community of riches
but no family to focus your light
How some light must blaze brighter
to not be extinguished
nameless times of foodlessness,
ragged, bare, singular in want when you can see
through windows of great stores of promise

When along wide Harlem boulevards
that concrete Mecca, Black folk did promenade,
hatted, coi
fed, well shod
as from cabarets, clubs, bars,
distant tinkles of laughter, joy, music
suggest you take this in and envision
yourself fabled, fabulous
so you carve your talent

with movement, with work
with your own fanned fame
your own coals carried in singed heart
Now your name is known, held dear
Eartha, as your voice held us
curled us around you
spun us up, your erotic ferocity
velvet whips, your recitative trill
cajoled, commanded, electric
to watch as you simmered or blazed in every camera angle
whenever you were there, you, we watched
and then these late, later years
teaching dance, passing your body’s gift on
your efort to give, transfuse
as all great ones do
shamans loving us into better selves
dancing us, singing us anew


This selection comes from the book, Them Gone, available from THE WORD WORKS.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

A third generation New Yorker, firstborn, Akua Lezli Hope has won two Artists Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Ragdale U.S.-Africa Fellowship, and a Creative Writing Fellowship from The National Endowment for The Arts. She’s won scholarships for the Hurston Wright writers’ program and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She is a Cave Canem fellow. She received an Artists Crossroads Grant from The Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes for her project “Words in Motion,” which placed poetry on the buses of New York’s Chemung and Steuben counties. She was the guest poet at the Steele Memorial Library’s 2003 Festival. UNPACKING, her collaboration with dancer choreographer, Lois Welk, was presented in 2003 at 171 Cedar Arts Center. She was a poet-in-residence at the Chautauqua Institute where she read her poetry, lectured on jazz poetry, and conducted a workshop entitled “Writing Poetry as Mythmaking.”
Her poem “Metis Emits” won the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s short poem award for 2015. Her first collection, EMBOUCHURE, Poems on Jazz and Other Musics, won the Writer’s Digest book award for poetry. Her poems, Montserrat and AwaIting Your Return (for Jamal Kashoggi) were nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. Her manuscript, Them Gone, a finalist in the 2015 Word Works Washington Prize competition, was selected for Red Paint Hill Publishing’s Bryant Lysembee Editor’s Prize and published in December, 2018 by The Word Works.
She is published in numerous literary magazines and national anthologies including: 50 over 50, Minerva Rising, Strange Horizons, Eye to the Telescope, Breath and Shadow, The Crafty Poet II, The Cossack Review, Silver Blade, Tiny Text, The 100 Best African American Poems (2010); Killens Review, Breath and Shadow, Stone Canoe, Three Coyotes, The Year’s Best Writing, Writer’s Digest Guides, 2003; DARK MATTER, (the first!) anthology of African American Science Fiction, Time Warner Books, 2000; THE BLUELIGHT CORNER, black women writing on passion, sex, and romantic love, Three Rivers Press, 1999; Will Work For Peace: New Political Poems, 1999; MASKS, Earth’s Daughters 52, 1998; CHAIN, 1995; SISTERFIRE, an anthology of Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry, ed. by Charlotte Watson-Sherman, HarperPerennial, 1994; WHAT IS FOUND THERE, NOTEBOOKS ON POETRY AND POLITICS by Adrienne Rich, W.W. Norton, 1993; WRITING FROM THE NEW COAST: TECHNIQUE, Buffalo University, 1993; EROTIQUE NOIRE, (the first!) AN ANTHOLOGY OF BLACK EROTICA, Doubleday/Anchor, 1992; POETS MARKET, 1992, ed. by Judson Jerome, Writers Digest Books; CONFIRMATION, an anthology of Afrikan American Women Writers, 1983; EXTENDED OUTLOOKS, the Iowa Review Collection of Contemporary Women Writers, 1983; and Eyeball, 1995; Obsidian II, 1996, 1994, 1992, 1991; Blue Cage, 1993 (England); Hambone, 1992; African American Review, 1992; Catalyst 1992; and Contact II, 1989; among many others.
She holds a B.A. in psychology from Williams College, a M.B.A. in marketing from Columbia University Graduate School of Business, and a M.S.J. in broadcast journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is a founding section leader in the Poetry Forum on Compuserve. She served as a founding section leader of African American Resource Forum and in the Books and Writers section of the African American Culture Forum (American Visions) on Compuserve. She also served as a trainer, area coordinator, and group founder and leader for Amnesty International, U.S.A., in the southern tier of New York. She co-authored a biweekly column on social, political, and cultural issues for the Star Gazette in 1995.
She was a finalist in the 1991 Open Voice competition, in the 1990 Barnard New Women Poets Series with her manuscript Fuel for Beginners, and in the MacDonald’s Black literary competition for 1989. Her manuscript, The Prize is the Journey, was a finalist in the 1983 Walt Whitman contest. She is a founding member of the Black Writers Union and the New Renaissance Writers Guild whose alumni include Arthur Flowers, Walter Dean Myers and Terri McMillan.
She led the Voices of Fire Reading Choir from 1987 to 1999, performing her work and that of other African American poets. Akua has given hundreds of readings to audiences in colleges, prisons, parks, museums, libraries and bars. Akua bears an exile’s desire for work close to home, and a writer’s yearning for a galvanizing mythos.
She also creates sculpture, objects, and jewelry in glass, metal and handmade paper; designs crochet patterns, plays with her cat and the soprano saxophone, sings, and makes good manifest.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 
 

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Them Gone by Akua Lezli Hope

Building History Lullaby

You are the history we build.
You won’t remember this –
I came to see your frst play:

You are the narrator
your proud mother invited me
and we bear witness to your triumph.
O lone black boy, I clap and clap and clap
and take pictures and praise you excessively
for your part in the Tree Piggy Opera

Such is my joy to do again the unremembered
thing you will most forget.
My siblings don’t remember stories I read them,
nor our tea parties, but their children are read to
and play elaborate pretends

To give you the gift we had
of so much love that you don’t have to remember
you won’t have to remember:
someone will always be there
others will always know and ask for you
someone will always care,
it will be a link, a chain, a plate in your invisible armor
to arise and wrap you in the forcefeld
of our hope for you and your promise.


This selection comes from the book, Them Gone, available from THE WORD WORKS.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

A third generation New Yorker, firstborn, Akua Lezli Hope has won two Artists Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Ragdale U.S.-Africa Fellowship, and a Creative Writing Fellowship from The National Endowment for The Arts. She’s won scholarships for the Hurston Wright writers’ program and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She is a Cave Canem fellow. She received an Artists Crossroads Grant from The Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes for her project “Words in Motion,” which placed poetry on the buses of New York’s Chemung and Steuben counties. She was the guest poet at the Steele Memorial Library’s 2003 Festival. UNPACKING, her collaboration with dancer choreographer, Lois Welk, was presented in 2003 at 171 Cedar Arts Center. She was a poet-in-residence at the Chautauqua Institute where she read her poetry, lectured on jazz poetry, and conducted a workshop entitled “Writing Poetry as Mythmaking.”
Her poem “Metis Emits” won the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s short poem award for 2015. Her first collection, EMBOUCHURE, Poems on Jazz and Other Musics, won the Writer’s Digest book award for poetry. Her poems, Montserrat and AwaIting Your Return (for Jamal Kashoggi) were nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. Her manuscript, Them Gone, a finalist in the 2015 Word Works Washington Prize competition, was selected for Red Paint Hill Publishing’s Bryant Lysembee Editor’s Prize and published in December, 2018 by The Word Works.
She is published in numerous literary magazines and national anthologies including: 50 over 50, Minerva Rising, Strange Horizons, Eye to the Telescope, Breath and Shadow, The Crafty Poet II, The Cossack Review, Silver Blade, Tiny Text, The 100 Best African American Poems (2010); Killens Review, Breath and Shadow, Stone Canoe, Three Coyotes, The Year’s Best Writing, Writer’s Digest Guides, 2003; DARK MATTER, (the first!) anthology of African American Science Fiction, Time Warner Books, 2000; THE BLUELIGHT CORNER, black women writing on passion, sex, and romantic love, Three Rivers Press, 1999; Will Work For Peace: New Political Poems, 1999; MASKS, Earth’s Daughters 52, 1998; CHAIN, 1995; SISTERFIRE, an anthology of Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry, ed. by Charlotte Watson-Sherman, HarperPerennial, 1994; WHAT IS FOUND THERE, NOTEBOOKS ON POETRY AND POLITICS by Adrienne Rich, W.W. Norton, 1993; WRITING FROM THE NEW COAST: TECHNIQUE, Buffalo University, 1993; EROTIQUE NOIRE, (the first!) AN ANTHOLOGY OF BLACK EROTICA, Doubleday/Anchor, 1992; POETS MARKET, 1992, ed. by Judson Jerome, Writers Digest Books; CONFIRMATION, an anthology of Afrikan American Women Writers, 1983; EXTENDED OUTLOOKS, the Iowa Review Collection of Contemporary Women Writers, 1983; and Eyeball, 1995; Obsidian II, 1996, 1994, 1992, 1991; Blue Cage, 1993 (England); Hambone, 1992; African American Review, 1992; Catalyst 1992; and Contact II, 1989; among many others.
She holds a B.A. in psychology from Williams College, a M.B.A. in marketing from Columbia University Graduate School of Business, and a M.S.J. in broadcast journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is a founding section leader in the Poetry Forum on Compuserve. She served as a founding section leader of African American Resource Forum and in the Books and Writers section of the African American Culture Forum (American Visions) on Compuserve. She also served as a trainer, area coordinator, and group founder and leader for Amnesty International, U.S.A., in the southern tier of New York. She co-authored a biweekly column on social, political, and cultural issues for the Star Gazette in 1995.
She was a finalist in the 1991 Open Voice competition, in the 1990 Barnard New Women Poets Series with her manuscript Fuel for Beginners, and in the MacDonald’s Black literary competition for 1989. Her manuscript, The Prize is the Journey, was a finalist in the 1983 Walt Whitman contest. She is a founding member of the Black Writers Union and the New Renaissance Writers Guild whose alumni include Arthur Flowers, Walter Dean Myers and Terri McMillan.
She led the Voices of Fire Reading Choir from 1987 to 1999, performing her work and that of other African American poets. Akua has given hundreds of readings to audiences in colleges, prisons, parks, museums, libraries and bars. Akua bears an exile’s desire for work close to home, and a writer’s yearning for a galvanizing mythos.
She also creates sculpture, objects, and jewelry in glass, metal and handmade paper; designs crochet patterns, plays with her cat and the soprano saxophone, sings, and makes good manifest.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 
 

 

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: elegía elegy by Raquel Salas-Rivera

[poem to be read in a circuit]

who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?

who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?

the doctor, the psychiatrist, the pastor, the lawyer, the cook, the poet
that publishes decolonial poems, the theorist who says who? the
cisgendered feminists—hi raquelita—the strikers, the memeists, the
ultrakids drinkingshots, the levitators?

who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?

who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?

ernesto cardenal, will he cry for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
will drake cry for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
will brangie cry for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
it’s a serious question
i don’t accuse
it’s a serious question
i don’t expect
that would be my question
what must expastors think of women of trans experience?
the famous poets, are they too busy?
will walter mercado cry for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
will my old comrades cry for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ like
they cried for so many who have died that we don’t know anymore how
not to alienate ourselves from the quotidian traumas?
will the boricua socialist organizations cry for SOPHIA ISABEL
MARRERO CRUZ? will they show up like they showed up for filiberto’s
funeral? will they defend her from those who will call her crazy, contradictory, unstable?

who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you will cry for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you will cry for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you cries for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you will cry for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
who among you would cry for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ
if she were cisgender

if she were a cisgender man
if she had made 27 albums and had a really cute mansion
if she had been on mtv
if she had 5 books titled
“deconstructing the trans in transgender”
“jorge luis borges’ trans-activism”
“memiors of an transpolitized academic”
“the performative and the puerto rican:
memoirs of my memories”
“medical interventions in puerto rico: a three part saga”

i’m serious
i’m not accusing
i don’t want to save us
or for you to cry because i asked you, ya know?
nor for you to take a sudden interest—even if it wouldn’t feel too bad to
hear her name repeated once or twice—
i’m just trying to figure out what the fuck i should do with such disparities

i wouldn’t have found out either
if it weren’t for my loves
impacts of impacts
chains of struggle without medals or prizes
that’s what i mean when i ask:
that i never would have known

surely her family cried for her
[as a man]
surely they spilled their knots
over their beard filled in by some amateur artist
without a doubt they cried for her and thought of her and submitted her
to the death they wanted

the death they chose so that they could cry in peace
over the life that never had the name SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO
CRUZ

i’d like not to hate them
i have less right than they do
to cry for her
i’d like not to want to scream at them and scream at me for screaming
but surely they cried for her
what do i do with so much silence?
what do i do with so much mourning without repercussion?
write poems? dream that others read them?
that upon reading them they’ll cry not for the poetry but
for SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ?
and who would they be, the criers?
tell me i’m not blaming you
please tell me


This selection comes from the book, elegía elegy, available from Anomalous Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

Raquel Salas Rivera is the 2018-19 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. They are the inaugural recipient of the Ambroggio Prize and the Laureate Fellowship, both from the Academy of American Poets. They are also the author of six chapbooks and five full-length poetry books. Their fourth book, LO TERCIARIO/THE TERTIARY, was on the 2018 National Book Award Longlist and won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry. Their fifth book, WHILE THEY SLEEP (UNDER THE BED IS ANOTHER COUNTRY), was published by Birds, LLC in 2019. They received their PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory from the University of Pennsylvania. Raquel loves and lives for Puerto Rico, Philadelphia, and a world free of white supremacy.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 
 

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: elegía elegy by Raquel Salas-Rivera

suprasegmentacionalidades (2)

you are so much more than your translation

she doesn’t understand why my home is not her sanatorio
why oh the ocean is beautiful oh el morro oh

YOU HAVE NOT READ ME IF YOU HAVE NEVER DIED & GONE
TO PUERTO RICO

YOU HAVE NEVER READ ME IF YOU WERE WAITING FOR THE
POEM TO COME OUT IN ENGLISH
you could of course not read me not soulform one dash—mid-me

THIS PLEASURE TINCTURE es aquello fresquería de sarduy prestada
MY SURVIVAL AS POEMS FOR YOUR CONSUMPTION
MY FLESHECHOED AGAIN FOR YOU TO QUIVER

if you have come this far you understand i’ve made holies of all things
i love and in myself abundance of loss wellsupped into cavern(ícolas)
ousness
you have understood what it is to make of loss
but not loss
what it is to drag my words rage swollen and tucked
many in the present shifts of memories crystalizing like sugary pop rings
you have understood what it is to be the bastard before there were family
crests
but not loss

I CANNOT TRANSLATE FOR YOU ANYMORE
I’VE BURNT HOLES IN MY SHIRTS WITH CIGARETTES & FORGOTTEN


This selection comes from the book, elegía elegy, available from Anomalous Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

Raquel Salas Rivera is the 2018-19 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. They are the inaugural recipient of the Ambroggio Prize and the Laureate Fellowship, both from the Academy of American Poets. They are also the author of six chapbooks and five full-length poetry books. Their fourth book, LO TERCIARIO/THE TERTIARY, was on the 2018 National Book Award Longlist and won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry. Their fifth book, WHILE THEY SLEEP (UNDER THE BED IS ANOTHER COUNTRY), was published by Birds, LLC in 2019. They received their PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory from the University of Pennsylvania. Raquel loves and lives for Puerto Rico, Philadelphia, and a world free of white supremacy.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 
 

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: elegía elegy by Raquel Salas-Rivera

brutilambona

pendeja para bien
sácale el provecho porque tan alta que te sube
hasta la punta de las uñas de seis
pulgadas tacas asá
estirá tomada del asalto una cerveza liviana
un almuercito sin mucha mayonesa
ella te está haciendo un huequito
en el pre juicio

sabe tanto que no sabes de tanto
pero es claro brutilambona
porque la mides según el
despulga o repulgamiento de las cosas que pone
en su cartera sobre la rodilla
detrás del miramento

cuando ella te asalte tendrás sólo una mirada
apendejada
dirás que brutilambona
pero ella por millas
te alarga las pestañas del baúl
la pintura cambiada del esmalte
de la puerta

tus decorados peores
porque no sabes
andar en puntas
por eso las nubes están tan lejos
porque sólo crees en zapatos funcionales

brutilambona

pendeja in the good sense
enjoy because so tall she climbs you
to the tip of the nails of six
inches heels like that
stretched taken from the hold up a light beer
a lunch with little mayonnaise
she is making you a holie
in the pre judgment

she knows so much that you don’t know much
but is of course brutilambona
because you measure her according to the
de or reinching of the things she puts
in her purse on her knee
behind the looking

when she holds you up you’ll have only one gaze
pendejaed
you’ll say how brutilambona
but she for miles
elongates your lashes of the trunk
the paint changed of the enamel
of the door

your worst decorations
because you don’t know
how to walk en pointe
that’s why the clouds are so far
because you only believe in functional shoes


This selection comes from the book, elegía elegy, available from Anomalous Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

Raquel Salas Rivera is the 2018-19 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. They are the inaugural recipient of the Ambroggio Prize and the Laureate Fellowship, both from the Academy of American Poets. They are also the author of six chapbooks and five full-length poetry books. Their fourth book, LO TERCIARIO/THE TERTIARY, was on the 2018 National Book Award Longlist and won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry. Their fifth book, WHILE THEY SLEEP (UNDER THE BED IS ANOTHER COUNTRY), was published by Birds, LLC in 2019. They received their PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory from the University of Pennsylvania. Raquel loves and lives for Puerto Rico, Philadelphia, and a world free of white supremacy.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 
 

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: elegía elegy by Raquel Salas-Rivera

offputtingon

you are offputtingon
sometimes (for me) you masturbate
like covering yourself with the hand so as not to
spray all your feathers and i come
sometimes you leave flown down the bathroom path
and the curtains run
through your fingers because you fall and don’t want
on top of m(e/y) offtakings

if you play a song you’ll also quit over
received calls and i’m without receiving
decisiones i sing and you. he. act basic
your face of

egglaying
or caution quitting

take it off me now and don’t offput
in exchange i won’t take off and i’ll make you
spin like offputtingonputtingoffputtingon


This selection comes from the book, elegía elegy, available from Anomalous Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

Raquel Salas Rivera is the 2018-19 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. They are the inaugural recipient of the Ambroggio Prize and the Laureate Fellowship, both from the Academy of American Poets. They are also the author of six chapbooks and five full-length poetry books. Their fourth book, LO TERCIARIO/THE TERTIARY, was on the 2018 National Book Award Longlist and won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry. Their fifth book, WHILE THEY SLEEP (UNDER THE BED IS ANOTHER COUNTRY), was published by Birds, LLC in 2019. They received their PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory from the University of Pennsylvania. Raquel loves and lives for Puerto Rico, Philadelphia, and a world free of white supremacy.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 
 

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: elegía elegy by Raquel Salas-Rivera

(i) penetrate

my arm is the potent organ of my femininity
i can reach my liver with my arm

when i signal [being inside me] i can bleed me
i can create a whole [crack] in my health through
which the fermenting liquids will leave
impregnating the river with their
reeking suficiencies

griefripeish gripadjustment.

i’ll rend your sun from it’s second shadow(earth)
and when so much dustlight is made of the world
i’ll take us to the favorite tomb and make us love after
sticking the long finger in our body like a common accusation


This selection comes from the book, elegía elegy, available from Anomalous Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

Raquel Salas Rivera is the 2018-19 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. They are the inaugural recipient of the Ambroggio Prize and the Laureate Fellowship, both from the Academy of American Poets. They are also the author of six chapbooks and five full-length poetry books. Their fourth book, LO TERCIARIO/THE TERTIARY, was on the 2018 National Book Award Longlist and won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry. Their fifth book, WHILE THEY SLEEP (UNDER THE BED IS ANOTHER COUNTRY), was published by Birds, LLC in 2019. They received their PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory from the University of Pennsylvania. Raquel loves and lives for Puerto Rico, Philadelphia, and a world free of white supremacy.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 
 

 

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