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

E.J. Antonio


Damned

we could say the virus mutates geographically.  the task force keeps avoiding saying the obvious.  just say, it’s not the china version attacking new yorkers.  just say europe.  just say, our borders were closed to half the threat.  just say, the black mother who lost her daughter who worked at the giant supermarket cried so hard during her msnbc news interview that the newscaster lost her stoic face and cried with her.  the news, the task force keep avoiding stating the obvious.  we could plainly say: all essential workers are being sent to slaughter.  paint them with the mask of heroes.  send them to war with dull sticks and no armor.  where’s captain america when you need him; where’s wonder woman when you need her; where’s black panther?  living in fantasy.  just say, the emperor fiddled and danced naked in the glow of an artificial suntan while the country burned.  just say, the mother who lost her daughter who worked at the giant supermarket became hysterical during her msnbc news interview as she held up her daughter’s last paycheck for $20.  just say, she screamed into the camera that the snake oil drug of choice didn’t work; say the newscaster lost her stoic camera face and cried with her.  we could say a virus mutates across grief.  they keep avoiding stating the obvious.  damn it, just say: it’s still easier to focus on the color line to give a false sense of safety and privilege to the other.  just say, go to the party; play no-mask-required roulette with everyone’s life.  just say how the freezer trucks are filled with our murderous ignorance.

Living at the midpoint

between two hospitals

nerve wracking

sirens

speed east & west

drown out

all

other

sounds

like Wallace Roney trumpet

like Ellis Marsalis piano

like Mike Longo piano

like – add a name

like – add another name

like…  the respirators

failed

& the sirens race

back & forth

persistent

as blue jays

marshaling to battle

the crow

waiting to devour

every

single

note

trying

to escape


Another Juneteenth

if not here

then where

would i be?

shifting across histories

i never heard

the chains rattle

never felt the lash

thrashing ocean

sinking flesh torn

from ancient land

my body never knew

the name

i was separated

from…

i

search the faces

coming toward me

on any street in these

united states of ambiguity

half expecting to find

a familiar stranger

to claim me

rising from south

west east north

i

a living ghost

walking across paved over fields

hiding in plain sight

my anguish terror

layered

just below the surface

of skin…

a legacy passed on

unanswered

if not here

in the falsehood of amerika

then where who

would i be

had there been no shifting

across

histories

my body never knew?

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E.J. Antonio received fellowships in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Hurston/Wright Foundation, and the Cave Canem Foundation. She has appeared as a featured reader and performer at venues in the NY tri-state area, including Why Not Jazz Room; Arts Westchester; The Stone; the Hobart Festival of Women Writers, and Langston Hughes House. Her work has been published in various journals, magazines, and anthologies, including: the Encyclopedia Project, African Voices Literary Magazine; Black Renaissance Noire; The Mom Egg, and Killens Review of Arts & Letters. E.J. is the author of two chapbooks: Every Child Knows, Premier Poets Chapbook Series 2007 and Solstice, Red Glass Books, 2013. Her solo jazzoetry cd Rituals in the marrow: Recipe for a jam session was released in the fall of 2010. E.J. is a founding member of the Jazz & Poetry Choir Collective, which released its debut cd We Were Here in spring 2020.



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