What goes into a poem? The cover of our third annual Lit Issue–with art from Keara McGraw–offers one recipe for a poem, while its contents offer recipes of several other kinds. You’ll find in these pages not just the work but what comes before it: the emotional ties and engagement with place that render these words so vivid.
I got a family reunion in my mouth. Love Jones on molars. Chuuch under my tongue. Loud packs and loose squared language. Bootlegged babble. Mild saucy and slick. Quick card crackin gramma. Squad a sanctuary on my top lip. Throw the handles of my cheeks. What’s good in the hood of my mouth. The yo in my yawn. A fugase flap and flick of tongue. Southside schtick and slobbered. A candy lady’s cabinet. Bud and MC Lite/Lyte a boombox on my beak. Suited and booted. Food and liquor leaking. Tripping on my tonsil. A1 and K47. The rink skating on my no’s and what consent mean. My gots belong to Giovanni and Jasmine. A Different World in a Dutch Masters. Elbows off the table of my teeth. Don’t you have any manners. Melanin in the suck. Auntie pokie neck roll caught in my throat. Living Single and large on my bottom lip. Natalie Diaz in my cupid’s bow. I speak a queer language. Color coded. No code switch or swap in my mouth. I hold a rainbow coalition in my tongue. Obama Care is in my back throat. Let my mom claim the baby in my teeth for tax season. I speak sacrifice. Urban dictionary in the suburbs. Know my rights and speak them. Loud. Like my music. Like my body. I speak my body. I speak my bossy. I speak Trina and Cardi B. I speak woman runs the house. I speak field and house. I speak house. I speak Chicago. Chicagu. Chic A Go. Redline lingering lick. I speak shaa(r)p. Sharp sword. Bible translations. Revenue. I speak Avenues and Blvds. Stomping grounds when I chew. Cabrini when my mom cooks. LeClaire Courts on 26th and California. I speak free my mans. I speak free my energy. I speak in royalist. In concrete King/Queendoms.
She was a perfect little girl, or so she tried. Her mother always told her she had dreamed of two daughters but her firstborn was a son. Her mother could only afford two children on her husband’s factory-worker salary. SHE was born. Her second child was her hope. Her fantasized daughter became her mother’s ears and constant companion. Folks told the girl she was going to be a fine little wife. She swept the floor in compliance. In the time and town where she grew up “feminism” was an unknown word. It probably would have been thought to be a medical condition to be treated by a gynecologist, a male gynecologist.
Black boy brown
Coltrane Ain’t This Blue
I love my nature
We are in the midst of a youth revolution & renaissance in Chicago, the beacon/center for the country/planet. Young artists & activists are using their voices & bodies & organizing abilities to change the way the city/country listens & thinks about the vibrancy & beauty of Black narratives.