a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
A Kahlo Story (beginnings)
bless all the boats that carried me here. over wave and windstorm bless them. when i feared they would fail bless them. all the way across the sea, in the hands of those who despised me, called me ignorant, animal, savage…those boats visible and unseen, bless them. from Africa, from East Texas, from Alaska, kayak and canoe and Ark ….blessing them blessing them blessing them.
and the strong hands and far seeing eyes and unbreakable hearts, the lived lives of mighty Ancestors…every halfbreed hope. i know that none can thieve away our identities.
the blood the waters the flow in concentric circles… this glimmer of life always moving.
we woke and knew the change we woke. after some longtime slumbers narcotized opiated the poppies lulled us hypnotic and the machines played constantly in our thoughts. some Ancestor’s song found its way from far through the cacophony of the ancient overlords and slowly but surely we returned to our living lives. we woke.
let us go free now we said without speech. i hear the sea moaning and the deep running souls losing the fight. the trees weep unceasing and the howls of the wolves are fading away across the land. the children are falling so many and they never rise anymore, our futures becoming populated by restless ghosts. wake!
rise up children shake the devil on out your soul. turn off the poison stories and make up your own medicine.
as we shifted we grew stronger and our bodies glowed with sun breath clean thoughts. there was so much to be done. some said that someone greater was on the way. others said that was old lies but many said no, this one is different. this one moves for us. this one is mighty is unconquerable. one step carries them over vast territories, journeys of many days and nights.
our hearts wanted to believe and so most of us did so. the dream comforted for the road was uneven and twisting and so very long.
we’d get tired. then somehow each time someone would raise a song or tell a story that made us laugh or cry or sigh and feel lighter some way and we’d be onward again. the curse falling away as we moved at last, breaking and crumbling to dust behind us.
how shifting shapes we became ourselves, fully.
arising from the spaces too small, those cold corners of hurt…the way then the warmth moved into our bones and quickened us. the dream we whispered to one another again and again until it rose up and walked.
the way Kahlo stepped.
Looking up, the sky discs surrounding this here-place are brighter, with rays…softer than those orbiting many of the places Kahlo has seen. Gratefully, these discs provide energy. They re-generate every being within their trajectory, cyclically, without fail…Kahlo included. It is a powerful place to be, especially after that last step… Step 778 had been a step to the Blue World, where Kahlo had served the Stones. It was a place of hardness – with beings of hard hearts, hard opinions, and hard heads. So now, softness…is just what’s needed. Kindness. Maybe one of these round, silvery orbs floating above will channel such energy. Yes, the last step was about change. This step is about compassion. May the Ancestors bless us. Leaning into its waves, Kahlo stepped…
The long wanderings of these Ones lead to this moment. Faith that time can be held in one’s hand, shaken and thrown to the ground like bones…or shells. Seas. Oceans. Stretching out like endless carpets over which Kahlo steps. Soft, rolling waves…lapping up every injury, every hurt, every pain and every ounce of blood. Then sending it all back as Dark Memory. It is in this darkness that Kahlo hears the true name.
“The only place you can begin a journey from, is here…” (The Tumpin Lewes)
Where to begin? Where does any journey begin? For me, every journey begins from here and it begins with a song. A call. This song now, is a wail… It’s a keening through the blackness of where I am. It reverberates along finely tuned, invisible wires connecting me to all that is. Most beings that can feel pain, feel it in a very personal way. Not me. I am Dagoran, and for the Dagora, pain is a universal experience. As is happiness, hunger, fear, and mercy. This call bent Kahlo in thirds…
SharIfa Mami Watu first emerged as a spoken word artist in 1992 as a member of the Jazz and poetry ensemble, ‘WordSong’, based in Atlanta. The group featured such Black Arts Movement veterans as Malkia M’Buzi, Askia Toure, Sam Grisham, and saxophonist Fuasi Abdul-Khaliq. Her first solo recording, ‘Sharifa’s Favorite Things’, was released jointly in 1995 by Warner/Elektra/Atlantic and Downbeat Records in Berlin, Germany.
Her most recent collections are Hiphop H.A.I.K.U. (Higher Awareness Is Kept Underground) Vol. 1; and Philly Wall (Hiphop HAIKU Vol.2).
Transatlantic recording projects and independent writing projects continue to fuel the fierce creative force that is SharIfa Mami Watu. She continually uses her words and her voice to make space for expressions of love… Love that heals and fosters creativity and freedom. As a Black American womyn writer of African descent, SMW knows very well that such love and determination are her legacy. See her collaborative work Rough Ground.
Storme Webber is a writer, interdisciplinary artist, curator, educator, and cultural producer. Her poetry and experimental prose has been featured in numerous anthologies, including: Voices Rising: Celebrating 20 Years of Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Writing; Cornbread, Fish and Collard Greens: Prayers, Poems & Affirmations for People Living with HIV/AIDS; Black Women and Writing: The Migration of the Subject; Jack Straw Writers Anthology (Volume 13); Yellow Medicine Review: International Queer Indigenous Voices; and The Popular Front of Contemporary Poetry. Her poetry/prose collections include Diaspora, Blues Divine, and the forthcoming Noirish Lesbiana.
She’s been featured in the documentaries Venus Boyz, May Ayim: Hope in Heart, What’s Right with Gays These Days?, and Living Two Spirit. Honors include Writer in Residencies at Richard Hugo House and Writers in the Schools, and she’s been supported by 4Culture and Hedgebrook. Her interdisciplinary work was featured at Queer Arts Fest, 2014 and 2015.