Poetry 6

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Poetry 6

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Steve Brown
[email protected]
Mr. Brown earned a doctorate in history in 1981 at the University of Oklahoma. When pursuit of a career in history stumbled because of discrimination, he expanded his activities with a local disability rights group. Brown’s initial work in disability rights involved development of peer support and skills training programs, community organizing and public education at Progressive Independence, an Oklahoma independent living center. Subsequent positions as an advocate, then as a disability specialist providing information and referral in a statewide advocacy agency, led to a stint as executive director of Progressive Independence (PI). While at PI, Brown’s unswerving commitment to advocacy and empowerment issues with all disability populations, was widely known and respected.

Brown embraced the challenges of the 1990s with a new role as Training Director for the Research and Training Center on Public Policy in Independent Living at the World Institute on Disability (WID) in Oakland, California. In this capacity, he facilitated planning of the 1991 international symposium, “Empowerment Strategies for the Development of a National Personal Assistance Services System,” supervised an internship program for disabled college students, and was instrumental in including concepts of disability culture in WID publications and activities.

As one of the early proponents of the idea of disability culture, Brown feels that people with disabilities possess a heritage and belong to a community of which we should be proud. Conveying this message in a variety of settings, including conference panels, presentations, speeches, and publications has earned him international recognition.

Mr. Brown’s publications include “Independent Living: Theory and Practice,” which has been translated into several other languages, and “Investigating a Culture of Disability: Final Report,” the result of a prestigious Switzer Fellowship from the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation and Research of the Department of Education, the first funding of its type for research into the field of Disability Culture; and two books of poetry, “Pain, Plain–and Fancy Rappings: Poetry from the Disability Culture” and “Voyages: Life Journeys.”

Mr. Brown is currently working on a book on the life of disability rights pioneer Ed Roberts. For information about booking presentations or workshops, obtaining or commissioning publications, please contact Steve at:
Institute on Disability Culture
2260 Sunrise Point Rd.
Las Cruces, NM 88011
(505) 522-5225 (Voice/TDD/FAX).

Holding Toes
© Steve Brown

The crystal-clear full moon
lights our sculpted mountains
on Christmas Eve
like the stars
twenty centuries past
are said to have illuminated
the skies
for three wise men
to find a baby king
ordained to bring peace
and joy
to the world
like you bring
seas of tranquility
and ecstasy
into my so serious
so intense
workaholic heart.

Death has stalked us as
stealthily as a serial killer
from the time our eyes
laid upon our hearts
like our fingers
entwined our souls
like the tears
that flow so freely
from you
unchain my own
tightly-bound grief.

Mothers and lovers
heroes and friends
welcome the night
shedding their frail human
skins to explore other
worlds while we
linger awhile longer
seeds from their mighty trees
planting more trees in our
gardens like shepherds
tending flocks
like farmers irrigating crops
like teachers molding students
molding teachers
like you nurturing
my scarred psyche.

Dreams wrestle
with nightmares
like Adam and Eve
fighting to remain
in Eden’s garden, knowing
the growing season lies
like I war with myself, knowing
peace lies
within reach
but unable to grasp
seeking solace
gazing into your emerald
eyes full of universal wisdom
or your gap-toothed smile
wider than oceans
or lying next to you
in the night, stretching my feet
like antennae searching
for your toes
to feel the warm
lover’s flesh like hands
held tightly
for the first time, knowing
at last
that all is right in our world.

© Steve Brown

Melting snow–days old,
virgin white still–
lingers like drooping
rabbit ears on our limp
cacti, bombarded this
winter by freezing, Arctic air
strafing the desert.

Paralyzing cold
reminds our
bodies of a promised
seasonal hibernation that, like
New Year’s resolutions,
become often vowed
unkept pledges.

Still tightly
hidden like our
desert’s summer
furnace sun
soul secrets that
fear unlocking.

Childhood walls,
barricading the tears
bear well their decades-old foundation.

Reasons, in any
form, to
forget my friend,
mountainous and larger-than-life,
struggles to survive.

This body I carry,
porous bones and
anemic energy, my
friend once dreamed he’d
haul into emergency rooms.

This body, I carry,
debilitated to
outside eyes,
looks to
outlast my friend.

Seeking tears,
I find irony.

The walls need knocking still.

Jaeda DeWalt
[email protected]
Ms. DeWalt is a published writer and photographer and a survivor of incest, rape and sexual abuse. Her book “Haunting Hands” is a photographic essay and collection of poems describing her journey to survive. A detailed preview of this book with poetry excerpts can be found at http://home.att.net/~jaede/introbk.htm, and a complete online gallery of prints from the book is at http://home.att.net/~jaede/bookgall.htm. In addition to “Haunting Hands,” Ms. DeWalt’s recent credits include: a photographic essay, “Black and White Emotions” which was featured in the April 1998 issue of the “Trincoll Journal.” Her poetry has been published in several issues of “The Nocturnal Lyric-Journal of the Bizarre” (Issues #45 & #49) as well as several anthologies including: “Collections” (Illiad Press 1997) and “Beyond the Horizon” (The Poetry Guild 1997). She has also had poetry featured in such on-line publications as “Amrita” and “Poe’s Addiction.” She has also written several greeting cards for Blue Mountain Greetings, Inc.

“Writing [Haunting Hands] was part of my healing process and I found it to be very therapeutic. It is my hope that other survivors will take comfort when they look at my photography and poetry, in knowing they are not alone in their feelings or their struggles, that they will see a bit of themselves within each photograph and poem. I have always found it easier to express myself, my pain and my struggles on the abstract canvas of poetry and photography. I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and really challenge myself by taking self-portraits as a way to further express myself to others.”

The Chamber
by Jaeda DeWalt

I have come out of the fog
Penetrating this filthy haze that taints my innocence
No longer a victim of my past
But rather a survivor, fearlessly exploring my future
Releasing myself from these chains of self-hatred
Shedding the shame that has coated my soul
For too many years

Stepping out of this chamber of horrors

My mind has been a prisoner to
For so long
Lifting off my shoulders the burdens,
Of anger and resentment
I have been carrying for this beast

Knowing that although I can never forget

I must forgive him for the evils
He has forced upon my flesh
Rather than weak and dependent
I continue to grow resilient and strong

Utilizing challenges of the past
As tools to cope with
The struggles that lay ahead
It is now I let go of the victim inside me
Drinking in the freedom from a past
That will no longer bind me

by Jaeda DeWalt

I often wonder, my precious child
If you will ever forgive me,
For sending you back to heaven prematurely
Will we ever meet again?
When I have left this mortal existence,

And entered into your realm

You entered my body through a violent act

Your mere presence inside me
A daily reminder of that horrific night
That evil man took away my sanctuary

For he didn’t just steal my body
He stole my virtue, my heart and my soul as well
It has been up to me to piece back together
The human wreckage he left behind
I have restructured my identity
And emerged a renewed young woman
Stronger and more self-reliant than the first

I now know I can handle any challenge life may give me
Now it is my hope that God can forgive me

For sending you back to heaven
Before you even had a chance
To experience a mortal existence
Bless you sweet, innocent child of mine

Emotional Imprints
by Jaeda DeWalt

Emotional imprints of incestual experience
Remain permanently engraved upon my memory
Visually reminded of the scars, as I gaze upon my naked

Remnants of a child cleverly hidden
Inside the shell of my womanly body
Forced to accept responsibilities of adulthood
Though I have never tasted the innocence of childhood

For he has partaken of my innocence
Many times
And it fastly became a tainted innocence

One of which
Leaves a bad taste in my mouth

My room still decorated as a shrine to an innocence lost
Stuffed animals, white curtains with frilly little ruffles
Pristine, porcelain dolls, poised upon my dresser

If only I could re-write the script of life
I would have a childhood
Laced with the sweet innocence of
Cotton candy dreams

Gone would be the trauma
Brought on by early sexualization
In its place would be a lovely woman
Exuding virtue, self respect
Limitless in her hopes and dreams

Emotional imprints remind me
This is reality
Surviving incest is my option
My biggest challenge to accept
That I will always be healing
Yet….I will never be healed

E.O. Anthony
Mr. Anthony is part of StreetWrites, a writing workshop of homeless and formerly homeless writers in Seattle, Washington and on the internet. “I was born in Cleveland amidst howling waste industrial wilderness of the fuming Cuyahoga where upwardly mobile upper Black Class aspirations interfaced with racial conflicts giving me an empirical demonstration of Marx’s class conflict — however fortuitous the introduction and emersion of artistic expression was welcomed via writing theater, making poems & stories & taking photographs became a necessary activity & vatic mode of healing.”

Eve’s Afterglow
by Elluadge Anthony

Announcing egypt-bronze skin
your invitational fuschia lips surround gleaming
teeth more precious than pearls.
I would swim in your smiling lake –
eyes to that forever milk and honey land
where the pure river of life eternally
proceeds out of the throne
of God
and of the lamb;
but you are endorphin afflicted to sin again
removing you
from Abba our heavenly Daddy
especially now that your purple blinking semaphore
eyelids flutter
and your mascara dribbles across your cheeks
differentially eclipsing
all delusions
of control:
this ontic pretense
of sep/a/ra/tion
ego boundedness
as opposed to the opening upward heart leaping
More than love, grace beyond Yule-tide is
Christ cleansing the conscience
so much more than our thalamic exchange of electrons:
bodies of many kinds
and different species
thermodynamically dancing in the field
around the tree with twelve fruits
each fruit healing our separate nations singing hallelujah.

Bojana Blagojevic
In her own words: “My name is Bojana Blagojevic and I am a 22 year old student from Bosnia. I write poetry and a lot of my poems were written during the war. They helped me survive the difficult times I had to go through. I was almost 16 when the war started. For two years, my mother and I were living in a besieged town (my native town — Gorazde). There was no electricity, no water, no means of communication. There was very little food and constant danger of death because of continuous shooting and shelling. We were separated from my father for two years without having any news about each other. (He went to visit his mother the day before the war started, and he was planning to be back the following day…But the following day, the shooting started, the town was closed, and no one could go out or into the town.) My mother and I escaped after two years and we found my father through the Red Cross.

“During the war in Bosnia, I worked for the International Red Cross for three years. Besides writing poetry, my survival was helped by teaching myself English and French. My education had been interrupted, but I managed to come to the United States in 1996 (with help from a friend from the Red Cross who had some cousins here) and continue my education. My schooling is sponsored by the Presbyterian Church (greately thanks to my poems written in English). I am a third year student at Rutgers University (studying Political Science). My family is still in Bosnia, and I live with my host-family.”

Ms. Blagojevic has had a collection of her poems in Serbo-Croation published in Bosnia in the book “Heaven of Lost Birds” as well as in local newspapers, and in the book “Youth Poetry 1997” in Yugoslavia. Some of her poems in English have been published in newspapers, magazines and anthologies in the U.S., Australia, Switzerland and Germany. She had two collections of her poems in English ready to be published and is seeking a publisher, the first one is “Story of One Heart” which she wrote during the war, the second was written after the war and is called “Dance for Life.”

For Little Souls
by Bojana Blagojevic
[Author’s Note: This poem was written in my native town after two little girls got killed in a shelling. It is devoted to all children who died in the war. One of them is my 9 year old niece. (written in November of 1993 in Gorazde, Bosnia)]

Oh little souls…just born…just died…
who could be so cruel to steal your smile…?
Oh little souls…little hearts…
who was so cruel to steal your dreams…?

People are strange, they gave the children
darkness instead of playing and joy…
Who was so cruel to destroy
all that you had in your chests…?

Oh little souls, I hope
that you will be born again in the space…
Maybe like small, beautiful birds…

That sky and stars will give you the kiss
instead of mothers…
Maybe you will exist again,
like small, beautiful flowers…

Oh no, its so hard to stand
Oh no, its so hard to know
that you are here no more,
that you are here no more…

I Had a Tree
by Bojana Blagojevic
[Author’s note: This poem was written after my mother and I escaped from my native town after two years of living under shelling and shooting, without electricity, water, with very little food…After we settled in another, more peaceful town, I remembered a tree that lived at the end of my street…Before the war, when the tree was all green and beautiful, I didnt even notice it. But, when the war came, and it was hit and destroyed by a granade, I suddenly realized how beautiful that tree was. It reminded me of my happiness – while I had it, I wasn’t aware of it; When it was destroyed by the war, I suddenly realized how happy I used to be… (written on January 6, 1995; in Pale/ Serb Republic -Bosnia)]

I had a tree-
my friend…
It lived at the end
of my street
I didnt know
that I loved
its arms colored
in green
I didnt know
that its soul
was part of my life
and me…

I had a tree-
my friend…
It bore singing birds
in its soul
I loved it
but didnt know…
until the war has come
and we remained

I had a tree-
my friend…
When the war came
we met,
like for the first time…
It didnt ask me
where was my smile
It didnt ask me
where were my friends

It knew it was war
and time
when everything
fades and ends…

I had a tree-
my friend…
When the war came
we met,
we felt each others hearts…
I didnt ask it
where were its arms
I didnt ask it
where were its birds

I couldnt help it
to survive harms
we both remained
without springs…

I had a tree-
my friend…
It lived at the end
of my street
I left,
but even away,
I meet its sadness
in me…

Sarajevo In My Dream
by Bojana Blagojevic
[Author’s Note: During the war, I could not visit my sister who lived in Sarajevo because of the closed roads and front-lines in between us. So, I wrote this poem, trying, at least in my dreams, to cross over that empty space created by other people.
(written on April 19, 1995 in Pale/Serb Republic, Bosnia)]

Whenever I try
to go to Sarajevo
in my dream,
to see my sister,
my niece…
I have to pass
a broken tree
over some strange,
unfriendly stream.

And then I travel
by wings and trains,
and through my head
so many thoughts
fly and scream
These days, above Sarajevo,
it always rains-
it rains,
in my dreams.

But I go,
from time to time,
in spite of night
which always comes
with me,
and covers
Sarajevo town
and all its streets.

Whenever I go
to Sarajevo,
to see my sister
in my dreams
I meet an empty space
and death
of my niece.

And always I go
with hope
to break through dark
of this time,
to find my sister
in my dream,
and dear niece

Death Fireworks
by Bojana Blagojevic
[Author’s Note: This poem describes shelling (bombing). It was written after I arrived in the U.S. to continue my education that had been interrupted by the war. It was the Independence day and I went to see fireworks. The fireworks were very beautiful, but the noise they made reminded me of shelling…So, I wrote about a different kind of fireworks – death fireworks… (written on July 6, 1996/New Jersey, U.S.)]

Just like a sudden
it comes
to make your heart
in million colors
Oh, how lucky we are…
They were blasting
all around us,
and we are still alive.

Didnt you hear
those goodbyes?
Did you know meaning
of all falling stars?

Didnt you hear
that someone cried,
through all those nights?
the madness
of artificial lights
sent out to burst
our bodies and hearts
in million pieces.

It is too strong,
for strongest minds,
you start to wonder
where your peace

Oh, they were so,
so close to us…
They flew over roofs
and dug out the ground…
You couldnt escape
their screaming
You couldnt sing
Against all those
death fireworks
The bells were dumb,
and couldnt ring

The town knelt
and dreamt in its pain-
just to forget
all beautiful, flowered
where only pure
soil has left.

Didnt you hear
those goodbyes?
Did falling stars mean
that they died?

We saw the colors
vanished in night…
And the whole space
silently cried…

Dance for Life
by Bojana Blagojevic
[Author’s Note: This is a poem describing my survival through the war. (written on January 11, 1997/New Jersey, U.S.)]

I danced on a narrow wire
to stay alive in my world
Evil eyes carefully watched,
waited for me to fall.

I danced and soon I was tired,
my body was leaning down
My heart was about to burst
over the suffering town.

Black birds were flying around,
like I was destined to die
Thank God for telling me “Go,
if you believe- you can fly.”

But I was closer to fall
But I was closer to ground
My dance was losing its hope
My voice was losing its sound

Evil eyes waited and wished
for angels to fall asleep,
so they could bring an end
to my lifes dance, and me.

Thank God for my soul was awake
Thank God the Light was my guide
The narrow wire of faith
led to the peaceful side.

When death was falling all over
When music threatened to cease
Light blinded evil eyes
and hand was given to me.

Away from all, I can see
black birds – the killers of hope
Thank God for my strength to make
the dance for life of my soul.

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