Dakar By Anna D Sene

Dakar

I never knew I would miss the heat of your sun,
That decorated my black skin with pearls of sweat.
I never thought I would yearn for your sand
That made my house smell like petrichor in your rainy days.

Today, I opened my windows and did not see your face
So, with my mahogany hands, I attempted to fill
The fading sunglow hole left by the daffodils The daffodils
of your gardens.

I wore my clothes and smelled,

the wintergreen dream scent of my grandmother
The perfume of her warm love
Her hugging voice and tender look.

I put my shoes on, and stepped on the road,
But did not meet elders around a baobab,
Who greeted me with smiles,
Waving hands while playing Checkers.

I waited at the corner of the street, next to the bakery
And could not see the faces of my childhood friends
To keep playing hide and seek,
And tearing joy trying to reach mangoes at high peaks.

So, I went back to my room disappointed
But the lap of my mother had deserted
Her soft hands were not in my hair
Her big palms did not hold my face,
My tears splashed loudly on the floor.

I looked at the mirror with puffy eyes,

Desperately searching for the wisdom in my dad’s look
Or the kind lines in my brother’s book
Maybe the cycle of the moon over my rooftop.

Nothing stared back.

But a lonely girl waiting for the echo of home
Her Mahogany hands attempting to fill
The fading sunglow hole left by the daffodils
The daffodils of Dakar.

By Anna D Sene

Biography:

Anna Diagne Sene was born and raised in Dakar. Anna started writing in English to get out of her comfort zone, and to reflect on her life as a Black Muslim woman. Outside school, she likes reading, meeting new people, drinking bubble tea, and eating cere, her favourite Senegalese meal.

Big Girl Things By Karese Burrows

Big Girl Things

I thought I wanted you teach me big girl things,
where I’d forget what was childish or juvenile.
So I fell into you, because I thought you’d catch
me before I hit the ground, small, jagged pieces
of me scattered everywhere, big ones too. Maybe
you were terrified. Maybe I changed, became
something too heavy and you moved your hand
away. I’ve never heard a heart beat as fast as I have
than in that car with you, on those nights, driving
down quiet, empty highways, where I learned big
girl things, mistook dream for reality, let you take,
and go on taking because I thought you’d keep me
safe. But maybe that car was really a cage, and your
hands were just big, beautiful lies, inlayed and blinding,
sharp like blades, trying not to scratch but still leaving
a wound. Either way, what did you teach me? What
did I learn from you? That maybe love is really just a
mirage, some unsolvable thing that leaves us twisted,
possibly mad. That maybe kisses are just small, violent
agonies and big girl things are as unbearable as they
seem. What else? I don’t really know. The only thing
left to say it this: you are the impossible thing I am
trying to forget, and yet, still keep remembering.

By Karese Burrows

Biography:

Karese Burrows is a poet and graphic designer from The Bahamas. Her poetry has previously been featured in The Rising Phoenix Review, Harpoon Review, L’Ephemere Review, Penstrike Journal and Words Dance Publishing. Her first chapbook This Is How We Lost Each Other was published by UK independent publisher Platypus Press in 2018 and can be purchased from Platypus Press, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. She can be found at kareseburrows.tumblr.com.

Prayer for the Next Black Boy By Mia M

Prayer for the Next Black Boy

This time, I’ll say
“[black boy] put his hands up”,
and I’ll mean class participation.
I’ll mean roller coaster.
I’ll mean dancing,
not police raid.

This time, I’ll say
“[black boy] had chains around his wrists”,
and I’ll mean jewelry.
I’ll mean they had diamonds in them,
gold.

This time, I’ll say
“[black boy] was unarmed”,
and I’ll mean he finally opened up to me.
I’ll mean this
beautiful
brown
body.

This time, I’ll say
“[black boy] fell to the ground”,
and I’ll mean football.
(American or European.)
I’ll mean basketball,
wrestling.
I’ll mean he got back up
because

this time, I’ll say
“[black boy] will be buried”,
and I’ll mean in the crook of my neck.
I’ll mean between my legs,
so he’ll still see heaven.

This time, [black boy] will say
“I can’t breathe”,
and he’ll mean damn, she was so fucking beautiful when she walked into the room.

He’ll mean don’t call the police,
and, there’s no need for an ambulance
because

this time, his blood will be rushing to his dick and not out of his head
onto the pavement on the side of the road.

By Mia M

Biography:

Mia M is a nineteen-year-old Congolese girl currently living in South Africa. She is a social activist studying Human Rights Law and Gender Equality Fundamentals who likes to write poetry loosely based on those themes. You can find her on Instagram (@whereismia.exe). Also see her gender justice movement on Instagram (@move4men).

Calculus Notes on Turmeric By Palak Parikh

  1. Calculus Notes on Turmeric
  2. I. Turmeric: derivative of terra merita, Latin for “deserving earth”
    1. A. I am the daughter of farmers. My mulch-weathered dark feet are tangible of pedigree
      1. 1.Great-grandpapa washed his face in
      1. 2. dark soil. Massaged cow’s urine to make a cup
      1. 3. of black & white mocha
    1. B. Indians are known to worship the earth. Loam & all. Ground
      1. 1. a worshipped devi. Mother Sita, mother earth. Late night
      1. 2. parties of golden spiced carols
      1. 3. shoved into a campfire of curry & dirt
    1. C. From where we birth
      1. 1. Nani smothered me with fuller’s earth. Mongers,
      1. 2. we were called. Pink American
      1. 3. baby turned brown
      1. 4. One bungled kiss from grandpapa’s
      1. 5. charred dry lips
    1. D. From where we die. Indians are burned
      1. 1. our singed ashes tossed into sacred
      1. 2. puddles. Left nibbling
    1. E. of unearthed beauty: green
      1. 1. Flesh eaten wounds meander
      1. 2. my soul. Cultivated in our farm, my name
      1. 3. is the spinach fronds mistaken for
      1. 4. me, the earth
  1. II. Turmeric: integral of tumere, Latin for “to swell”
    1. A. Disease
      1. 1.Hyperpigmentation: I souse my nail beds in makhani. But swathed with roti before intercourse. Golden discharge past cooked flour, fifty buck acrylics tarnished. My boyfriend doesn’t hold my hand. Laughter at lunch. I sever my nails, yellow hues darken to red.
      2. 2. Jaundice: I wear mama’s hand-me-downs for pooja. White kurtas & dupattas are hard to come by, she says. Saffron & sandalwood blister my bodice. Corroding white chiffon & white blood cells. A hushed temple of prayer, I stand. Breasts tinted my white friend’s blonde hair.
      3. 3. Virus: Muffled peddlers, deities, guava kiosks. A fractured yellow veil blinds me, flirting with the smog & the gossip. The dark man unsheathes a fistful of mutants into the oil. Parging softened dregs on his scalp. Augmented swirls searing antibodies and onions, single handed invasion. One yellow. Mulled. Hijack
    2. B. Healing

By Palak Parikh

Biography:

Palak Parikh is an emerging Indian-American writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is intrigued with writing as a means to foster female empowerment and connect with first generation Americans. She often explores topics like feminism, race, and cultural mongrelization. She has been recognized by the California State PTA and Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. When she is not writing, Palak enjoys drinking coffee and trying new exotic foods!

Midnight in the Forgotten Country By Marissa Michel

Midnight in the Forgotten Country

ki kote yon lagè kòmanse?
Where does a war begin?

In the pits of dream-starved children?
The ones hungry to capture the promise of a ripe sunrise

in their longing mouths
and hold on to the taste of freedom for a while longer?

Yesterday we were all children
We split the earth with the force of our footsteps

We were baptized in the cool shadows beneath palm trees
and devoured fleshy mangos in celebration

Èske yon lagè kòmanse an silans?
Does a war begin in silence?

Silence like my grandmother in the first breaths of a new day,
as she wraps the coils of her hair into fake silks and plasters on a weathered smile?

Yon po chofe anvan li klou – A pot heats before it boils
she tells me. Beneath her clay surface is something like pain.

Oswa èske lagè etensèl nan BOOM nan yon peta?
Or does war spark in the BOOM of a firecracker?

In my sleep I hear the wailing of my forefathers
Despair has a voice louder than God’s

I imagine the revolutions woven into the tapestry of my lineage
My father drenches each syllable of our family name in pride

Pride. It runs deep and long, a river in my blood
We come alive to the beat of cow-skin drums

and sweat onto the hot pavement
We glisten gold in the midday sun

Lè yon lagè fini?
When does a war end?

My grandfather exhales the dust of rubble and gun powder and
death

our prayers mimic battle cries and we lean on each other like soldiers
We bring dlo nan je, tears, to the altar

I wonder ki jan nou konnen ki moun ki te genyen?
How do we know who has won?

We adapt to discomfort, honor sacrifice. Life is a bittersweet melody.
We are a chorus, singing anthems to the rhythm of our heart beats

Mothers give passed down lessons as peace offerings
They say

Timoun, pa kite evaris kraze gratitid.
Child, do not let greed overpower gratitude.

We forget to care
We fill our hearts with fantasies instead

Nighttime is for hoping. For making wishes to shooting stars
and dreaming of the impossible

The coming of a new day brings fresh battles,
fresh wounds, fresh victories

For now we hold ourselves in the milky moonlight
and offer the air a silent declaration

Nou toujou isit la
We are still here

By Marissa Michel

Biography:

Marissa Michel is a second generation American of Haitian and Puerto Rican heritage. She served as the 2020 Prince George’s County Youth Poet Laureate. In 2020 she received multiple national gold medals for poetry in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards, and an American Voice nomination. She was also the recipient of the 2020 Diaz-Mattison Poetry Prize. Her newest works can be found in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Online Gallery, Love Letters To the Mothers and Fathers of the African Diaspora, and the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival. More information about her can be found on www.marissamichel.com

Tarantulas By Fatima Sausan Masoud

Tarantulas

In Palestine, my brother built
a makeshift zoo and began to

charge admission: half a shekel
for a full day’s pass.

He caught the tarantulas
every morning with a bucket and

an olive branch. Placed them in
thick plastic bags, hanging on the

garden wall. The tarantulas gnawed
the sides of their homes, pawing

at the sky, chewing their way
toward the domed hills. One

night, a tarantula escaped.
She crawled into my grandmother’s

bathroom. We awoke to the
screams. Grandmother beating

at the tiled floor. The tarantula
running toward the open door.

Grandmother kept hitting, even
when the tarantula was just a spot

staining the blue tile. My brother
stood in the doorway, crying.

The next morning, he took down
the zoo, plucked the bags off the wall,

and returned the tarantulas to
the hills. They marched across

the sand. We watched them run
back to their homes, their bodies

dotting the desert, staining the
landscape like spots on the sun.

By Fatima Sausan Masoud

Biography:

A Palestinian-American born in the southwest, Fatima Sausan Masoud (she/her) holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. She lives in El Paso and teaches First Year Composition and Elementary Arabic at the same university. She finds time to write in the in-between spaces when her kids are asleep. Find her on Instagram (@applewhiskey).

Immigrant warrior By Wayne Myers-Taylor

Immigrant warrior

Mother on my mind.
I find her face, her words
In an old jewelry box, filled with her scent.
I saved her perfumes;
Poison, and Escape.

Here in the box are her records;
Her campaign to lay siege to New York.
Her correspondence with governments —
Pleas for sanctuary, proof of work,
Statements of funds, testimony of friends
To her solvency, and her resolve.

The certificate says she’s naturalized
But her photo says otherwise;
Jamaican queen in tiger stripes
Sharply focused in black and white,
Untamed, and ready for war.

Brooklyn, unsteady and unready
For the heat she was bringing;
Hard island woman, coming out swinging.

By Wayne Myers-Taylor

Biography:

Wayne Myers-Taylor divides his time between writing poetry and short fiction, teaching yoga, and updating websites. Previously, he was a journalist at Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and other media outlets. He lives in Northern California, but Brooklyn is his home.

National Poetry Month Prompts 2021

We are reviving our tradition of sharing a series of new National Poetry Writing Month poetry prompts! We are doing things a bit differently this year by releasing all of the prompts in advance. Our series this year contains 41 new prompts, as well as the entire series of 29 prompts from 2016.

Please pay what you can if you are able. If you are experiencing financial hardships, feel free to download the prompts for free. Out of the funds we receive, 50% of the proceeds generated from the sale of this series will be donated to Ripple Community Center. Ripple operates a day shelter, an affordable housing program, and strives to serve those “who are living with mental illness, who have experienced significant trauma, or have other conditions or experiences that can leave them isolated and alone.”

Click here to start your writing journey

Ancestor Song By Kristina Sargent

Ancestor Song

Thick wool sweaters often covered the
crooked trail of her left collar bone.
The one that never healed straight.
It sang her story anyway,
the way the Appalachian winds,
rains and rivers do.

It sang the story of a yellow field
consecrated in end-of-day, golden light.
The field she was dragged through by her golden hair.
It told the story of the back of a rifle
That was turned on her, when he realized
the chamber wasn’t loaded.

He smelled of whiskey,
and claimed to not remember doing it.
Claimed to never have noticed the
crooked road of her collar bone
that shouted at him
with winding, sing-songy curses,
the way the Appalachian winds, rains and rivers did.
Until the day the curving roads swallowed him up.

And my great-grandmother,
8 months pregnant at the time,
packed her bags of scarves and wool sweaters,
and left.

By Kristina Sargent

Biography:

Many Houses By Oona Mackinnon-Hoban

Many Houses

I will lie and say I do not remember it all –
the creek-bed behind my grandmother’s home,
the fragile sight of deer on the road,
their legs moving like ice across water,
the way I would stretch my palms out wide
and try to cover the sun, lying there in the grass,
a thing waiting to be buried.
I am a child marching towards death,
Lot’s wife the moment before the turn.
I do not dream about it, but if I did
I would be placed right in center of it all
made soft by time and age,
and there would be no horsemen,
no hand broached down from the sky
only the second before the deer was there
and the moment after it had gone,
unharmed, into some part of the world I could not see.
The door will open on its own, a screen blown in
by a summer storm, and I will be able to feel it
thick against my skin – every contact, every mark of pain,
like a hand passing through water
until she turns around to see me,
and it will all disappear, washed down current
carried away into some greater flood.

By Oona Mackinnon-Hoban

Oona Mackinnon-Hoban is a senior at Barnard College, graduating this spring with a degree in English. She was born and raised in Portland, Maine and now lives in New York City.