by Matthew Shenoda

Winter lingers on the valley floor
mist rising in its own essence.

We are reminded of the solitary ways we interpret loss
the temporal flash of an old thatch roof
the hands that made a place for us.

A felled tree becomes a home
made of its surroundings
local, in the way our own skin might be.

The markings of a mask,
etched less with a tool
and more the steady hands of a man,

a pattern shaped in the old order,
a scar on the tree
intended to mark a life.

 

Poem copyright 2020 by Matthew Shenoda. All rights reserved.

&
See more poems from Matthew Shenoda debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: Refuge” and “Revelation: Africa: Diaspora.”

 


Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay | Writing Prompt

 

by Matthew Shenoda

It is less about the opaqueness of the sky
and more the subtle alluvion of snowfall.

We are reminded that distance is as near
as memory.

The ox yoke always a twinning
a mirror of itself.

The thundering voice
of unraveling

a full body exaltation÷
salted with the dust of earth.

We have been made to shrink
to shed our circumstances for an idea.

The corporeal marketed in a way unimaginable
the mind affixed in its own terrarium.

When the four incorporeal creatures
make their way to this earth

the lion, the calf, the man, and the eagle
how do they decipher beast from human?

“Who was, and is, and is to come”                     
we take our chance at seeing again.

From horizon to sea shore
the earth tilts on high

magnifying its glory
and bringing us to our feet.

We chant in the order of Melchizedek.
We watch the islands recede.

We call upon the Spirit
and sing our way back home.

 

 

Poem copyright 2020 by Matthew Shenoda. All rights reserved.

&
See more poems from Matthew Shenoda debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: Refuge” and “Local

 


Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay | Writing Prompt

 

by Matthew Shenoda

Somewhere on an island
people chanting
while a man looks back for answers.

His words are written
in stackable blocks
spoken only in night.

His breath is long like his body
always fixed in time
lost in the shadow of itself.

He knows community is plausible
he feels its embrace
he sees it from his window.

But his is an African lament
riddled with aging flowers
waiting for a wayward bloom.

The petals fall inside themselves
like magnificent gazelles
open to a dune horizon.

Their quiet descent, a trail,
like pollen on his fingertips
a colored reminiscence.

The insistence on memory
drives him to the forked river of his childhood
the spring blooms awakened.

The echo of the chant, catches his ear
and pulls him back into the room.
This room.

They have all traveled distances
from those waters
and now, here
a foreign sound on this land.

But they have found a place to gather
as the cymbals crash
while he hears this ancient telling.

This thing that pulls him back
And fells him forward like a tree
familiar, perhaps, to those beside him.

Those who come, too,
from the forked river
whose misty banks rise through them.

We are nothing more
than a collection of things remembered
a chant to bring us home.

 

Poem copyright 2020 by Matthew Shenoda. All rights reserved.

&
See more poems from Matthew Shenoda debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: Local” and “Revelation: Africa: Diaspora.”

 


Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay | Writing Prompt

 

by Dominique Christina

Find the woman with three
Murdered sons and ask her
About the cockfight,
The deep door of Haiti
The have-mercy shriek
From overgrown graves,
The snare,
The crouching,
The bulge of sea

Ask her what prayers
She muscles through
What god she hallucinates, now
In the dark
In the deep of it,
Ask her if the island is
The victory or
The defeat…
Ask her if it matters
When she is always hungry-

You see that boy in the road?
He is named for Toussaint.
The warrior-king who swung
His sword to loose the bones
Of slave-holders,
To splinter each awful one
Til they peppered the banks and
Junk-piled the streets-
The littered remains of
Aristocracy and avarice
Yes lord

And now,
This little boy
Scrapes his net for fish
His name does not
Shield him from starvation

But listen,
It does say Fight. Stay. Win.
Ask around.              The old folks will tell you.

 

 

Poem copyright 2019 by Dominique Christina. All rights reserved.

&
See more poems from Dominique Christina debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: Haitian Lullaby: For Cecilia Laurent” and “In the Morning She Died for It.”

 


Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Review | Writing Prompt

by Dominique Christina

Sugarcane is a metaphor
We summon from an
Undeep grave
We plant new bodies every morning
Watch ‘em grow up sweet and tall.

We get slick              or try to
Pull at the roots
Shuck the stalk
Let the juice run
Chew the rind-
Gotta be on your knees
For it cuz
We not supposed to know
Nectar no way

That’s how they got her.
Too proud to crouch-
That ain’t her religion
She say Shango and
We know she can’t bend-

She got too many
Stories in her blood
To go down easy
That’s how they catch her, see?

She standing straight as a curtain rod
Eating the cane with the
Sun on her face

Black as a coal
In a white dress.
She should be stooping
But that ain’t in her.
She a hurricane.
She wants sugar so
She takes it.

Free people keep afever
Know the heat,
Give it a name.

Unmuted black girl in a
Church-white dress
Big from the crime
Of taking sugar for herself

Sun-struck daughter

Every one of us keeps a  
Hell within reach
They make the want wide
Til we puddle from it-

We reconnaissance
Our bones
Get up the next day
Dig a hole and put a
Girl inside the
Color of coal
Ruined woman
From rising water and
Wind laid bare
Nectar will make for
Murderous indifference

When I get to it
I will eat my own fruit
Let it dazzle my blood…

My own dumb blood
That has never known
A rebellion
Til a girl in a white dress
Sneaked the sugar cane
Into her pink mouth,
Got caught and
Set herself on fire
To keep from the lash
Sweet smoke, that…
Dead from stolen sugar
And the promise of white men
Who ride the devil too much to
Know the holiness of a black girl
With syrup on her chin-

Now every time I smell
Something sweet I think: War

Poem copyright 2019 by Dominique Christina. All rights reserved.

&
See two more poems from Dominique Christina debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: Haitian Lullaby: For Cecilia Laurent”  and  “What the Old Folks Knew…


Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay | Writing Prompt

by Dominique Christina

Sit mother.
Be in your bone-cluttered body
Be in your easy chair.
Bring us what you know about
Citadels and marching men
About fallen cities and unrestored
Watchtowers sneering at the ocean
Mere rubble now
From too many wars-

Bring us witchcraft
Bring us juju
Bring us communion
Bring us
Bring us bring us ancestor
Toward a noble dream
Of conquering Africans
The coast pinched red
Pocked with bone
Fodder for vultures
The feast of death

Bring us the tremble
You talked down
When the earthquake shook
The stones loose,
Bring us the unmoved earth
The rising tide
The island baptized
By flood

Bring us the way you stayed
How you know your body
Well enough to keep it.
How did you keep it?
So many did not.
Do you think of them?
How you outlived
Every one?
Is it the way you remember?
Or the way you do not?
Oh matriarch
Oh wise bird

115 years of life and
You still smile
Your hands still work.

God is probably
An old woman
Sitting bare-breasted in a window
Overlooking an ocean
Not so frenzied with memory,
Smoking a pipe,
Waiting on the mail,
With cornrows and
More grandchildren than
Can ever be counted,

Some war-whipped witch
With a walking stick and
Two walloped knees-
Born before everyone else

Who refuses to,
I say, refuses to,
Die.

 

Poem copyright 2019 by Dominique Christina. All rights reserved.

&
See more poems from  Dominique Christina debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: What the Old Folks Knew…” and “In the Morning She Died For It.”

 


Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Review | Writing Prompt

by Nate Marshall

again the white me
on the internet appears
& this time he wants
what is his.

our name
is a country
he claims
for himself.

you need to quit
using my name.
it is not your name. you are
fake! i am Nate Marshall. you are
filth!

Nate Marshall calls Nate Marshall
all this.

one Nate Marshall deletes
the other.

every Nate Marshall i know
has an unruly name

                                                a word he can’t trace back.

one Nate Marshall deletes
himself.

every Nate Marshall i know
is mistaken.

 

Poem copyright 2019 by Nate Marshall. All rights reserved.

&
See more poems from Nate Marshall debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: another Nate Marshall origin story” and “Nate Marshall is a white supremacist from Colorado or Nate Marshall is a poet from the South Side of Chicago or i love you Nate Marshall.

 


Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Review | Writing Prompt