30FOR30 Poetry Challenge: April 25

Week Four: Social/Political
April 25th: Write a poem about war.

Today’s prompt is to write a poem about war. When thinking of “war,” don’t only think of wars against countries. What are other types of wars we go through? What are some wars you go through? 


Here’s a poem from Warsan Shire: 

from War Poem


There is a war going on in my country. In all the years I have
lived in this body, there has been no peace. My mother still
has hope in her heart, she keeps a suitcase packed just in
case. This whole life we have been waiting for our flight to be
called. In the recurring dream I board a plane to Mogadishu.
Every passenger on the plane is my mother, my mother in
the seat beside me reading a crime novel, my mother in an
ill-fitting uniform serving drinks, my mother as the pilot,
winking, tipping his cap. When the plane starts to fall out
the sky I wake up.


Look, one war giving birth to another
one war crawling out from between the
legs of another, out of the rubble
of one war crawls out another
look, a snake swallowing its own head.


What do I do? I think I brought the war with me
unknowingly, perhaps on my skin, plumes
of it in my hair, under my nails. It sits with me,
watches my favourite TV shows,
sighs in the pauses of telephone calls,
sleeps between me and my partner in bed,
stands behind me in the shower – lathers my back,
presses the pill into my night time tongue,
at the bathroom sink uses its blue hand to
touch my cheek.

Even the dentist jumped back from the wormhole
of my mouth, I suspect it was probably the war
he saw. What do I do? I want to make love but my hair
smells of war and running and running.

Feel free to post your piece in the comments!


Happy World Poetry Day!

gay roses
by Raychelle Duazo

I couldn’t go all day without sharing something with you guys on this religious day. (I don’t care what you say, poetry is a religion and today is something we will celebrate. *shrugs*) Here are some beautiful pieces by some beautiful poets. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! You get it, right? They’re are beautiful! 


Thallium by Saeed Jones

saeed jones
Saeed Jones

If I held out the candle, paraffin burning for him,
then swallowed all the light, if

in the dark, I was a cobra’s tongue,
            how could it have been his fault?

Robber baron, unzipped vagabond, he mistook me
for the comfort of a small creek, water crawling along the backs
of rocks, emerald house beside it,

me at the door in nothing
but welcome.

Over wine, I warned him
soft—you can’t sleep here; you won’t
wake up.

In the snuffed room, my touch         serrated
bit of tooth

or switchblade.

Even a peacock feather comes to a point.

He thought
I was kissing him.

*Originally published in Blackbird*

The Oppression of Venus by Mars by Metta Sáma

metta sama
Metta Sáma

Nights are the only times I think of love.
And even then, it’s so very heterosexual, I pretend

to be happy. I sex a man who I can call husband, who names me
after rare shards of glass

held tight in catastrophic dirt. I pretend
I know how to fuck him. How to hold his limp dick in my hand with some emotion

close to eye-candy delight. A hungry look
saving the erection for the greediest mouth.

A boyfriend in my day life once promised that would make him
the happiest man in the world.

And once I pretended I cared enough
to believe him, but his dick would never stay limp long enough.

So at night, when I think of love I have to find a way to save the erection
for the mouth. Because my dream

husband likes it like that, too.
Something about love growing and pulsing. Something

about children and naming them after famous jazz singers, muslims, and animals
in flock. One was Coletrane Akil Murder, but I soon forgot

about breastfeeding it. I had fields of flowers to cultivate,
breads to bake, laundry to plump & fold. I was heterosexual

and gardens were abundant. My husband was never
alone and the diapers were always wet. The sex

was less than remarkable. I had lovers. I was heterosexual. I couldn’t stop
fucking neighborhood women in tall oak trees,

maids and baby sitters. We built a canopy and laid out a huge tub.
I got stuck. I was pregnant again. And my husband wasn’t

the same anymore. This one was a white man who always tied me
by the throat. I said I liked it.

I meant it. Being choked. By a white man. Who was my husband.
Our children’s names were hegemonic. Dominion and Galactic, Hegel and Patience.

Then I woke from one dream and remembered
I was heterosexual. Daily, I chanted:

I am a heterosexual. I have sex with my husband. A white man
who only screws The Blacks.

Until my dream moved us to Cuba. Then he wasn’t my husband
anymore, but some other man who liked his dick limp

during football games. This heterosexuality was ceaseless.
Unsleeping. Unsilent. Under wraps, no? Alive & throbbing.

*Originally published in Drunken Boat*

Home by Warsan Shire

warsan shire
Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

*Originally published in Seekers Hub*

Self Portait as Sonoran Desert by Christoper Soto (aka Loma)

christopher soto
Christopher Sotoa (aka Loma)

She walks across my chest—
                                                          dragging her shadow & fraying
                                                                               [All the edges].
My nipples bloom // into cacti—
                                          Fruit & flower.
She eats // then I do.
           —A needle pricks her.

I have only seen this woman // cry once—
                                                                Squeezed // like a raincloud.
She cried because // two white men.
[Two white men]
                                                       Built a detention center—
                                                                            From bone & clay.

[The first bone— my clavicle].         The second— her spine.
She howls
                                                                  [As the fence // surrounds her].
She coughs &
Combs // the floor // my chest
Inside the detention center—
                                                     [She is named] “immigrant” “illegal.”
                                                                          She loses 15 pounds &
Mental health & her feet are—
                                Cracked tiles // dirty dishes.

This border—                         is not a stitch [where nations meet].
This border is a wound //                         where nations part.

*Originally published in Vinyl Poetry*

Happy Birthday by David Ishaya Osu

david ishaya osu
David Ishaya Osu

(For Ayodele Olofintuade)

I have stitched

you a wedding posy

with my pen

smooth her over

your tunic

she will be

a fence

for your bed

against incubus

smokes who skulk

behind green mornings (they want to nest in your quilt)

she will turn


for your rump

against winds aching, creeping

up the stairs

to steal your gold waistlaces

the play will

transpose to a poem


trapping those spectres

in your trawl

*Originally published in The Bombay Review*

Phlebotomy by Rage Hezekiah 

rage hezekiah
Rage Hezekiah

The fruit of my inner elbow acquiesces the pin-prick,
surrenders in the latexed palm

of a stranger. Moat gates lift, reveal familiar piping—veins
resembling my mother’s, that climbed the branches

of her wrinkled hand. I used to sit beside her on the couch,
and press my fingertips into tributaries

beneath her skin’s vellum. I’d observe the resilience
plumping the tubes, giving way to delicate pressure.

Today, claret color fills the vials,
I give, knowing it was never mine.

*Originally published in Really System*

Testimony by Paul Tran

Paul Tran
Paul Tran

I didn’t ask for it.
Something moved
in the tall grass.

Neither my imagination
nor the wind,
light rippling in the heat.

He had a human face.
But he wasn’t
human. He was

a hunger. Not for me —
for what he could do
to me: shepherd boy

alone in a field of thorns,
flock grazing
tufts of rhododendrons,

the world with its
back turned. He kissed me,
moved his wolf tongue

in and out
of my mouth, a hole
he filled with himself.

Disrobed, he tied
my underwear around my knees,
licked the bottom of my feet.

I didn’t like it.
I didn’t understand
what was happening.

When I said his name,
when I shouted what he was
at the top of my lungs —

a desire
for something
he couldn’t keep —

he dragged me by my hair
across the devil’s wilderness.
My back whittled

and threadbare. I wished
my scalp and skull had split,
spilled the contents

of my brain like rind
in a garden of unearthly delights
so I could be dead —

stay dead — and not chase
the impulse to testify
pulsing in my blood.

Cause and effect.
He planted me on a grove
overlooking my village.

He pushed his sex inside
me. The sky hid
behind gathering clouds,

too disgusted to look.
Perhaps it’s a gift
only to feel my body

taken from me.
Perhaps observation’s a lie.
No one believed me

anyway. No one came.
Only him.

and again,
until there was
nothing left.

*Originally published in The Offing*