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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

The Struggle

Vida Cross

Vida Cross


In his last photos
he looked unhappy
cutting the thick dry ham

For Thanksgiving
he sat alone
eating in the snow
under the crow’s irritating call

He should have posed
for another picture
on another day

he took the chair
to the park
and someone snapped the camera

Landscape Photo, Part 1

Snow resting on tree limbs
an effortless balance

Mama’s Photo

Breathe her photograph

She’s waiting for someone
her skin cropped to the moon

Feel her exterior
the outer body shell
cleavage powdered

She’s cinnamon
she slips between the eyes

Daughter’s Photo

She wanted to see
her pictures
days of a youthful black child’s
Sophia Loren beauty

Black and white dresses
translucent skin
unassuming eyes

She was a beautiful child
doing what a child is supposed to do
pull beauty out from under her mother’s inner thigh
wear it to spite the mother

“Look what I took from you
when I came out of your womb”

When she cried
her mother would say
“See that face?”

It’s been a tug of war ever since

Her mother won
when she kept the pictures

The Landscape Photo, Part 2

chased by fire hydrants
thunder clouds

One tree makes waves
struggling to uproot
wanting to run too

A Close Up of Daddy

The smooth color of skin
no visible ending
Vida Cross I received my MFA in Writing and MFA in Filmmaking from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, my MA in English from Iowa State University, and my BA in English-writing and BA in History from Knox College. I am a Cave Canem Fellow (2007 to 2013)and was recognized as the 2010 Honorable Mention for my book manuscript “Bronzeville at Night: 1945,” Judge: Elizabeth Alexander, in Cave Canem’s First Book Poetry Award. My work has appeared in Tabula Poetica with Chapman University, Transitions with the WEB Institute of African American Research at Harvard University, the Cave Canem Anthology XII: Poems 2008-2009, The Literary Review with Fairleigh Dickinson University, Reed Magazine at Reed College, and The Journal of Film and Video from The University of Illinois, Chicago. My work references my ancestry as a Chicagoan, Bronzeville resident, the art work of Archibald J. Motley Jr. and the poetic research of Langston Hughes.


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