The Poetry Eye: Fall ’11

The Poetry Eye: Fall ’11

Speaking out, raising banners, uploading ideas – new & old activists are stepping up. On The Issues Magazine Fall 2011 explores progressive & feminist inspiration.
Featuring the poetry of E. F. Schraeder, Lynnel Jones, Sondra Zeidenstein,Toi Derricotte and Ursula K. Le Guin; Curated by Poetry Co-editor Judith Arcana.

igive by E. F. Shraeder

absentee activism shrouds
indifference with privacy

where protests lodge in
congress inboxes

and a daily dose of generosity
handily taps from a keyboard

simple as finger snap
leaving time to wonder

what have I done wrong
or right today if all I do

is hit reply to rapid fire prepackaged
emails and click to donate?

E. F. Schraeder’s creative work has appeared in “Blue Collar Review,” “Haz Mat Review,” “New Verse News,” and elsewhere. Schraeder’s creative nonfiction also appears in the recent anthology, “Kicked Out.”

Varieties of Rapture by Lynnel Jones

That May morning
another Rapture’d been forecast
and passed
and some who’d scoffed
were honking
just plain drivers
out at the stoplight
between the Chestnut Hill Diner
and the northbound lane
of the highway where
ten people held up homemade signs

By 1:00 we’d moved ourselves
and the signs
to the corner of Main
and Court House Square
our numbers enlarged
by three octogenarians
one hobbling between cars
stopped at the light
she was grinning and
knocking on windows
offering pamphlets
the other two
smiled and
nodded off
signs propped against their knees
and the wheels of their chairs.

Lynnel Jones’ poetry is steeped in the joys and struggles of Minnesota’s immigrant mining community, and the lives of the people of rural southern Virginia and Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, where she now lives. Her poetry has appeared in numerous online and print journals. Her chapbook, “Rocks and Crazy People,” was published by in 2008.

HISTORY by Sondra Zeidenstein

I was twenty-five, in Brooklyn, with two toddlers,
when I watched nine black children in their Sunday best
stopped by the Little Rock National Guard,
bayonets drawn, white women hooting,
their faces twisted with hatred, at least one of them
spitting on the girl whose skirt was prettily puffed by petticoats.

Fifty years later, here I am, my eyes fixed on Gwen Ifill
near fifty, on a segment of the News Hour
with the Little Rock Nine. Fiftieth anniversary—
1957, ancient history—of their having “integrated”
the high school in Little Rock which had never had
a black student in its halls. Gwen asks them, her elders,

in a reverent voice, her face without the usual television makeup,
no polish to her cheeks, her hair worn old-fashioned southern,
asks them how they are feeling today.
“I knew that woman, the one who spit on me.
I remember the shock,” she says, “the whole year like that.”
There will be blood in the streets–we see the clip,

Governor Faubus of Arkansas–if these children try to enter.
We see Eisenhower’s bald head lean toward the camera,
signing the children a federal escort. “When I left school each day
I didn’t know where I’d get the courage to go back.”
We, the remnant of those who watched, remember
the hollow of the mouth that spit. “It’s so hard

to come together this way, it brings back the emotions,”
she said, the little girl, her brightly polished shoes,
tight belt, books under her arm, the little girl
who had the strength to get up each morning
to be humiliated, scared–doing this, how could she know?
for Gwen someday, who would do it someday for the Rutgers Five

doing it even for me sitting against an icepack pressed
to my upper spine for nerve pain that’s keeping me down these days,
restoring me, in whose old brain 1957 is inscribed, to hope.

Sondra Zeidenstein is author of three volumes of poetry: “A Detail in that Story,” “Resistance,” and “Contraries.” She is editor of “Family Reunion: Poems about Parenting Grown Children” and “A Wider Giving: Women Writing after a Long Silence.” She is publisher of Chicory Blue Press.

The Choice (from a speech by Ellen Kuzwayo) by Toi Derricotte

The children who were shot in Johannesburg
for throwing stones didn’t pick the stones up
in Johannesburg. There are no
stones there – not even pebbles. They
filled their pockets in Soweto
and walked all the way.

Toi Derricotte’s five books of poetry include “Tender,” winner of the 1998 Paterson Poetry Prize, and most recently, “The Undertaker’s Daughter” (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011). Her literary memoir, “The Black Notebooks,” won the 1998 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Together with Cornelius Eady, in 1996 she founded Cave Canem Foundation, a national organization dedicated to the advancement of African American poetry and poets.

Peace Vigils by Ursula K. LeGuin

My friend, self, fool,
have you been standing
with a lighted candle
for five years
in the rain?
What for?

I guess to show
a candle can keep burning
in the rain.

Ursula K. Le Guin has been publishing poetry since 1964. Her recent publications include a volume of poetry, “Incredible Good Fortune,” the novel “Lavinia,” and an essay collection, “Cheek by Jowl.” She lives in Portland, Oregon. “Peace Vigils” (copyr.Le Guin) was first published in “The Wild Girls,” 2011 from PM Press.