Mike Rosen - When God Happens
Before the towers collapsed into a white noise of smoke and bodies and strewn paper,
there were people in the windows.
They clutched family photos and they jumped;
became human tombstones, falling into the shrapnel of a city covered in the ash of its own citizens -
a city shapeless and somewhere else, riving as it fell.
That night, I feared everything but darkness,so I slept on the floor, at the foot of my father’s bed.
It’s a place where monsters and planes are made easy work of.
That morning, I went to the window.
I wiped my hand along the sill,
I watched my fingers turn gray and I thought: bodies
but I didn’t want to wash them.
I wanted to go to the roof. I did.
I saw the smoke crawling into a postcard.
The smell was everywhere.
I wondered if they would change the postcards now.
Put smoke on what once were towers and then address them to our relatives in Texas and Carolina
where they were rearing to go to war and say,
"I wish- I wish you were here.
I wish you could see these clouds forming under the clouds.
I wish you could touch this smell with your nostrils every time you breathe.
I wish you could run your hands along your window and wonder how the bodies got through the door,
and see what it’s like to live in the most Beverly Hills version of a war zone,
and realize what war might just look like, feel like,
taste like in your breakfast cereal when you realize you’re sitting there, digging Cheerios out your bowl
when they’re digging bodies out of the ground.
That day was not about your God or their god,
because when God happens no one is right.
These were times when we lied to our children.
When you lie to children, no one is right.
I can’t make this any clearer to you.
That day had no black or white,
'cause under that rubble everyone was gray.
Under that rubble was no red, white or blue.
Under that rubble there was just gray.
Now I know… New Yorker’s, we talk a lot.
Sorry, but I’m taking this one back for my home,
'cause under that rubble was not your country.
Under that rubble was our city, our town
our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters.
That day no one in New York grabbed rifles.
We grabbed bandannas and shovels and we started digging because our lives were underneath that rubble,
and the firemen were looking for the bodies.
It has been ten years and my friend is still looking for her father’s body.
Your war is not helping her find him;
Your war has done nothing but add to the list of boys like me,
who wish to sleep at the feet of their fathers’ beds.
My father worked nowhere near the Trade Center,
but I didn’t know that then.
What I knew was that the phone lines were down,
and that until i heard his voice, so was he.
Your war has done nothing but add to the list of boys in New York, in Iraq, in Afghanistan -
the list of boys who are still waiting for their fathers to come home.”
Blythe Baird - “Girl Code 101” (NPS 2014)
"Give me one accomplishment of Mary’s that did not involve her vagina."
Performing during prelims at the 2014 National Poetry Slam.
big shouts and thanks to button poetry for sharing this poem o’ mine! xoxo
Javon Johnson - “cuz he’s black” (NPS 2013)
"Black boys in this country cannot afford to play cops and robbers if we’re always considered the latter. Don’t have the luxury of playing war if we’re already in one."
Performing for Da Poetry Lounge at the 2013 National Poetry Slam. DPL ended up placing 2nd in the tournament.
New poem from the #afterschool show. Joshua Bennett and Carvens Lissaint “How To Win A Fight”
when i walked you to your car after our first date,
i looked up at the sky,
somehow surprised by how much
this universe can hold without breaking.
you taught me the names of constellations,
pointed them out, traced them with your
fingertips as if through being gentle
you could avoid being burned by three years worth
in the end, there is no tragedy like the beginning,
and i would restart a thousand clocks
just to say goodbye to you over and over and over again.
when i hear you breathe, the world steadies itself.
things stop burning themselves out. you make me feel
so goddamn full of light,
and i need that, here. i need…
waking and sleeping
and i keep trying to fit other people
into the spaces you occupy in my mind,
but i can’t because
none of them will ever reach me like you did.
you’re under my skin, inside my bones,
pressing thumbprints into my soul
with every single it’s getting late, i should go,
you caused a hundred thunderstorms in my heart.
the first time you kissed me, i cried
i thought there would never be anything else
that would feel that holy,
and you know what?
i was right
tonight, you’re a thousand miles away in michigan,
staring up at that blanket of light that i don’t think of anymore.
i never thought i’d miss the sky
but you painted its wholeness into my dark nights
and filled me up with so much radiance that I’m empty of, now,
missing the highways of a hometown that doesn’t belong to either of us anymore.
this is a poem about distance.
this is a poem about the mind-blowing cost of airplane tickets.
this is a poem about those suburban teenagers,
a lifetime ago, who told each other not to love too harshly but did, anyway,
i wish you were here.
every night when i step outside i think,
you would hate the city.
there’s nowhere you can see the stars.
Skyline - Art Project (June 2014)
Materials: Post it-notes, Sharpies, Color pencils
This was originally going to be a wall of Post-Its with several of my favorite quotes from books, movies, songs, and poems. Somewhere along the middle, I thought I could take it up a notch in creativity and based the shape of the Post-It piece on the Pudong skyline. There are over 60 quotes on there and it took 4 days to complete.
*The Sierra de Mulder quote on the third photo is paraphrased because I didn’t have Wi-Fi when I made it/took the photo. After I checked the quote, I changed it.
Olivia Gatwood - “Directives” (WoWPS 2014)
"It is easy to hurt someone who looks just like you, especially when you hate yourself."
Performing during prelims at the 2014 Women of the World Poetry Slam.
Neil Hilborn - “Liminality”
"Heaven is an exhausted horse laying down to die."
Performing at the Soap Boxing Poetry Slam.
I wrote the first draft of this poem five years ago, and I still love performing it today. Check it out. I’ll say pretty stuff in your ear.