a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
as we hold the ground for you
whose words deny us,
demean our humanity worse than slavers.
Natural inheritors of our dreams
we keep the path open
whose ways we may not know
dissonant, cacophonous, brilliant.
True it took a long time to recognize you,
wearing clothes three sizes too large
sporting black hoods,
death’s awesome mask
to cover your dance,
shade your truth.
Children born in the age of chaos,
hail storm of bullets your lullaby.
Guns so high tech one can shoot two
blocks away through a brick building
into newborn heart of an only daughter.
This era of accidental, intentional misuse of
Oxossi’s armaments: power, medicine and justice.
Sons of Ketu wear elaborate braided crowns
courting the feminine with your beauty.
Where is the wisdom once woven in your hair?
Dissonant poets don’t just carry the drum, worship its beat.
Sing your new war songs, challenge everyone around.
Children of Ketu re-energize us. Demand our best selves.
Cut! Cut language, lives anew.
*Ketu or Alaketu – some believe it to be one
of the original birthplaces of rap located in Nigeria.
Oxossi – god of justice in the Yoruba pantheon.
Jacqueline Johnson is a multi-disciplined artist creating in poetry, fiction writing and fiber arts. She is the author of A Woman’s Season, on Main Street Rag Press and A Gathering of Mother Tongues, published by White Pine Press, and is the winner of the Third Annual White Pine Press Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in Fifth Wednesday, Callaloo, Renaissance Noir and Tidal Basin Review. Ms. Johnson has received fellowships from the New York Foundation of the Arts, the Mid Atlantic Writers Association’s Creative Writing Award in Poetry and McDowell Colony for the Arts. She is a Cave Canem fellow and BEI fellow 2018-2021. Works in progress include: The Privilege of Memory and How to Stop a Hurricane, a collection of short stories. She is a graduate of New York University and the City University of New York. A native of Philadelphia, PA., she resides in Brooklyn, New York.