a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
you so aptly guard are now flung open
accepting so many from the hospitals,
nursing homes, streets, and transit.
The lines between the city of the living and
the city of the dead now blurred,
open for quick crossings without the rituals, or
ceremonies of leave taking and long goodbyes.
Once you were content to be the keeper of secrets
wearing a rose colored headwrap,
quietly attending to the new returnees.
Your legion of invisible ones always willing to aid the living.
Now the city where I live has so many dead,
you have taken up residence in parking lots
with truckloads of former husbands, wives,
grandmothers, fathers, sons, and daughters.
In this America your power is unquantifiable as
we count lives lost and transfigured forever.
You now are stronger than you ever intended to be.
Your tears flow unceasing.
Fight to keep as many as you can alive.
Iyansa, goddess whose gifts can both save
us and give others a quick merciful end.
We dream of a different time yet unborn.
Purple hued tempests fly all around the earth
where only a hint of your power is mirrored.
Iyansa, fierce owner of the ancestral realm
bless the day you can close your gates.
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: “Show Us Your Papers,” on Main Street Rag press, 2020, “Revisiting the Elegy in the Black Lives Matter Era,” Routledge 2020, “About Place Journal”, the “Langston Hughes Review,” and The Slow Down, American Public Media, October 16, 2019. She is a Cave Canem fellow and a Black Earth Institute fellow 2018–2021. Works in progress include a novel 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.