Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 1



Faye Turner-Johnson


B-r-o-k-e-n

in the quiet of the early morning
taking living water to the Black-Eyed Susan
I stumbled over the flowerbed
leaving a toe wedged between the bricks
scraping away the breakfast I could not eat
a finger fell into the garbage disposal
I switched it on not reaching in to retrieve the limb
before it was ground to near shreds
the tiny bones and gristle making a sound I imagine my heart would
if it could grind a pain like that
hurting in lumps…yanked apart
last evening my tongue split into a forked monster when I read that
Jacob Blake was shackled to a hospital bed
the seven police bullets fired into his back at close range
lacking the power to both humiliate and suppress his super criminal black body
I tried to scream for him…for all of them as they melded into one enormous atrocity
but I had no sounds left to intone the anguish of the genocidal brutality
stacked in layers upon centuries of ignorance and hatred
once it was only my lungs that could not breathe
now the whole of my b-r-o-k-e-n inner core is collapsing …folding in on itself
like the Twin Towers on 9/11 disappearing in a plume of smoke
losing air yet fated to rise again on the 3rd day
reborn…invincible




As I Digress

             racing at breakneck speed…galloping to the edge of insanity
                                       I dive headlong over the cliff
                                                                 escape the beast of bigotry

             find sanctuary from thunderous footsteps…
                                                                 the encroaching shadowy monsters
                          in a world where they shoot and strangle
                                                                 violate with Jim Crow anger

                          turn myself inside out…crawl within the phrases of a poem
                                       journey to discover half-rhymes made whole within me
                                                    pressed against similes and metaphors to keep me warm

                                       verses full of light
                                                    rainbows stoking a fire inside

                                       languish here for awhile
                                                    away from a mean terrestrial planet…
                                                                              the horror of hatred in this unsettled nation
                                                    where the color of my female-gendered skin finds no peace

                                       seek respite inside the calming breezy curves of my words
                                                    unwind in this poesy defining paradise in the here and now
                                                                              within the sphere of my being

                                       where my non-white bloodline feels safe
                                                    our children become immortal…unscathed by hoods and cloaks
                                                                              flashing death sirens…badges of iniquity
                                                    no uncivil flags hovering master over me

                                       as I pull from the universe
                                                                 thoughts and ideas that frame comfort
                                                    penning a destiny of freedom and justice yet to be realized

                                                    here…within these lyrics that speak my dream
                                                                              awaken…this ebony tongue also beautiful



Faye Turner-Johnson: “I am a retired educator with B.A. degrees in Theater and Elementary Education from UM-Flint. My work has appeared in Sky Island Journal, Kissing Dynamite, The Five-Two, The Raw Art Review and other publications.”




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