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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

Jacqueline Johnson

Mind of My Mind

First lesson of air.
Softly remove impediments.
Camera, shawl, shoes, sweater.
Surrender worn out thoughts,
old shoots of worry.
Joy a new gift
weaving its grace like
a bee going flower
to flower. I learn
to drop pride, masks;
become a different song.
Second lesson of air.
Watch her dance over
green shoots and grapevines.
How each leaf bends,
rises in her caress.
Heel and arch to earth.
Third lesson, just breathe.
Follow the flow from throat to
heart, diaphragm to womb.
Listen to the body, let it tell you
its secrets. Follow breath
all the way down to your feet.
Fourth lesson, follow the air
coursing over a navel hidden by
feathers and waist beads,
circular swivel, back and forth
frenetic samba of lovers.
Dance, the body can fly without wings.
Fifth lesson, enter the waves soliloquy.
Ululations of water over earth.
Wind upturning feet and legs,
be smart enough to open your chest wide,
trust she will return you breathless,
yet alive to your own life.

African Woodwind

(for Yusef Waliyaya)
Your body is a broken piece
of mahogany god laughs through,
you the beat within the drum itself.
Mischievous, elfin, cut your tongue with
palm wine, marks from another life.
You a bad Osabisaba!
Playing drums with hands and feet,
your whole body a rhythm section.
You and Khaliq twenty years ahead of time
playing four funky flutes through your noses.
Original African prana yoga.
African woodwinds caressing the air.

Wild Life

It’s midnight
and some bird,
some damn bird,
maybe from South America
or Neruda’s front porch,
thinks my half dead, Japanese
red leaf tree
is his paradise.
Sings loves songs
all night long.


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. Works in progress include: “The Privilege of Memory,How to Stop a Hurricane,” a collection of short stories, and “This America,” a poetry collection. 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.

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