1. Beauty

    They say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

    Behold,
    single mother three children
    living with her parents to survive.

    A girl working two jobs,
    seven days a week,
    saving to go to school.

    Heart-spurned lover,
    abuse victim, a decade later;
    trying to prove to her mother,
    it’s not her fault.

    Voluptuous goddess
    whose partner is concerned
    about blood pressure, diet,
    shortness of breath.

    Child in a grown body,
    with a woman’s years,
    trying too grab the attention of men
    who look like the picture of her father.

    Bag lady, your eyes tell stories
    of glory, despair, success, failure
    deceit, withdrawn ineptness.

    Grandmother falls from her bed in the home.

    Daughter does not sue—
    tired of the long drives every month.

    Life does not make you less beautiful.



    Bermuda born  was shortlisted for Scarborough Arts’ Monica Ladell Award in 2013. In 2011, his collection of poems Bending the Continuum (Guernica Editions) was a recommended midsummer read by Open Book Toronto. In February 2014 Dane shall be the monthly Writer-In-Residence for Open Book Toronto. 

     
  2. Eight-year-old Gabriel has been treated for a rare form of schizophrenia all his life; a disease he inherited from his recently deceased grandfather. While attending his grandfather’s funeral, Gabriel encounters an old friend of the family who claims Gabriel and his grandfather weren’t sick at all but are instead gatekeepers for an unseen supernatural realm. Gabriel must abandon all he knows and loves to fulfill his purpose, his legacy, as a NOKA.

     
     

  3. SU SU



    SU SU

    Susu su su Susu su su
    among the yellow poui
    you hear
    I hear
    leaves in the Japanese garden
    'tiday fi mi tumaro fi yu'
    like Brer Anancy talking in his nose
    Susu su su


    And how I laughed that day
    I heard them say
    'im shouldn bury there
    im a go come back fi dem have no fear’
    denying all the rural wisdom I had known…

    Then quick and fast
    some hidden hit man
    strikes us off our anxious lists
    and you
    and I
    stand open-mouthed
    as poui leaves whisper just before they fall


    tiday fi mi
    tumaro fi you
    Susu su su
    Susu su su

    - Velma Pollard

     

  4. The Diving Ballet



    For Binnie

    No one
    Can teach us the deep-water
    Moves – we are swimming a dance to music
    We cannot hear in our heads.
    We hear

    With our skins.
    Holding hands to keep from drifting
    Apart, we try to embrace. We brush lips.
    But a nearer thing than each
    Other,

    A kissing
    Of many skins, is wrenching
    Us out of our two-ness. In water suspended,
    Our bodies are inside and out
    Of themselves.

    As I fall,
    You rise. It is a diving
    Ballet. Above, you break surface. Below,
    Leaning to stay down,
    I touch

    Bottom –
    Thinking, can this be earth?
    I am flying so close to a floor whose one
    Will is to send me back, feet
    First, to a ceiling

    Of wind.
    I resist, dreaming myself
    empty; weightlessness holds like an anchor.
    Now overhead, motionless,
    You shadow me,

    Belly-floater!
    Instantly, you lunge, tumbling –
    Taken by impulse, you are set free in your body,
    Head flung back, back-
    Somersaulting

    In a long arc,
    A slow-rolling lyric sweep.
    As I rise below you, I see in your upside-
    Down face curving up to me,
    Circling

    Up from under you,
    The adventure your body, newly
    Strange, is beginning to believe in, in
    Love with itself. For minutes,
    You do not breathe.

    You see in,
    Looking out. Something within you
    Is swimming beyond, getting further ahead
    The more slowly it strokes.
    Your mind

    Must slow down
    To catch up. In spaces between
    No-breaths, you are learning to hear the waves
    Of your pulse cross the Self-
    Abyss.


    - Laurence Lieberman

     

  5. Molasses



    i’m a hands woman 
    love to take his large fingers 
    and suck on the tip of each one
    just before i walk away

    molasses is that audacious
    once you use it to sweeten your tea
    you’ll never go back to sugar 
    but beware
    it sticks to everything
    leaving a trail

    molasses can be callous
    leave it to harden
    and you’ll pass each other on the street
    your hatred all that connects you
    not even remembering 
    the lunch time quickies
    that got you through 
    the afternoon of work

    mark my words
    children who turn away
    from their parents 
    will not have the pleasure
    of sitting at a table 
    spread in their honor

    family is kindred
    to molasses


    - Opal Palmer Adisa