Please help the Black Earth Institute continue to make art and grow community so needed for our time. Donate now »

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

Pamela Stone Singer

Alina Calenderia


I thought it was an incantation, her name,

the way she said it in the singsong voice of a proud five year old.



Or a jingle, the way her lips pursed

perfectly in a subtle smile, vowels accentuated.


She waits in the salon while mother gets her hair cut.

Shows me her leopard print vinyl coat with bubble gum pink polyester lining.

Crosses her ankles, feet in ballet slippers.

Hair, a cape down her back. Quizzical brown eyes.




Alina tells me her brother, Hector is in 4th grade and he’s 16.

Her father, Ernesto is 16 too. Alina says,“They are very old.”

She tells me a story.


Once upon a time there was a little girl named Alina. Her mother, Silvia, is having her hair cut so Alina has to wait in the salon. Her mother cooks. Her father builds fences. Her brother eats pizza and tacos.

I ask her to draw a picture.

Square lines create a house.

Windows radiate light.

Stick figure of Alina waving.

Figure of Hector eating a taco.

But the house is sinking.

Glass on the ground.

Broken door.

Tacos are burning.

Stick figures disappear.



Will Alina know about the deep rivers

and that her mother had to learn to swim? Had to cross

Clothes on her back like skin.

Father in detention camp on floor cold as fear.

Alina Ramon Diaz Amorosa Calenderia

Be Mean. Street Burn.

Brown as bark.

Black as the universe.


Walk down a midnight street.

Jumped by cops. Tasered.

Rolled on sidewalk like a garbage can.

Left to crumble.


Skin scraped.

Raw patch. No dermis.

Burns like hell.


After awhile get up.

Can’t stand.

Knees clubbed.

Fingers splayed wings on the ground.


Head beating like a Louis Armstrong

solo in Harlem.


Audience looking like a thousand me’s.

Dark suits. Dresses with black frill. Baubles from ears.

Louis like a preacher mesmerizes the audience

who clap like strings on fire.


Richard Wright in the oven, charred.

James Baldwin’s protests, The Fire Next Time.

Cops breaking bodies,

Young man shot in his black back.

Back then. Here again.


Pamela Stone Singer believes poetry is a magical force that helps one look beyond the superficial. When someone writes or reads a poem, they access spiritual and mystical realms that transform the ordinary and help one understand that all life is extraordinary. For three decades the writer has experienced great joy from mentoring children to write and perform their own poetry, as a tool for their survival, resilience, and soul growth. With California-Poets-in-the-Schools, and Poetry Out Loud, the writer has taught thousands of children across economic, racial and social spectrums, especially connecting with at-risk and homeless students. The writer reads poetry locally, and is an ardent advocate for social, economic, and environmental justice.

©2024 Black Earth Institute. All rights reserved.  |  ISSN# 2327-784X  |  Site Admin