Author Archive: Higgins

Moon Phases

Artist: Kelly Towles | Insta: @kellytowles | Location: Washington, DC

“Moon Phases”

A poem by Olivia Armanini, 2017
Inspired by @erbodyloveslucy
Published with permission from the author.

Moon phases are the most reliable GPS
blue car or blue ocean,
ETA or Tidal wave,
both attempts at reaching
Opposite ends of the earth.

And what keeps her reaching?
The achievement of dreaming.
intentional imagination is a greater
force than the moon’s gravitational pull.

So when they ask her where she is from
the soft lips no longer stutter
because she belongs wherever there is music.

Living in forest base drums
tap dancing  on your shoulders
to adjust retired posture.

Bouncing to beats
bruises the feet
the symbol to breathe
So she can stare at the ocean
and never be scared.

Olivia Armanini is a poet from New Orleans. She is a poet of Spoken Word and Typewriter Prose studying English at Southeastern Louisiana University. Olivia has authored two collections of poetry: “I Took Over Pan’s Shift Three World’s Ago” and “Prophetic Warings: A Collection of Truth From Science to Stardust.” The collection titled “Prophetic Warnings:” is available on Amazon. Follow her on instagram @poems_by_olive to collaborate for heART and see words that reestablish the ordinary.

Calling all Artists

The Ghost of Poe | Artist: Unknown | Location: Richmond, VA

“Calling all Artists”

A poem and call to action by Olivia Armanini, 2017
Published with permission from the author.

Define, slang, morph, spit, change, edit,
scribble, mark, draw, write

This is the need

This is the
pressure to
fulfill the
prophecy.

And we artists never know if it is
one of fate or free-will…so…we

Define, slang, morph, spit, change, edit,
scribble, mark, draw, and write until we realize

this craft is not dark magic

our expressions are not taboo.

We are not wizards and witches making new
worlds. NO. We are witches and wizards
bringing attention to what is already here.

Young scribe,
your only job is to
acknowledge that your hand fits perfectly
around the feathered pen.

Olivia Armanini is a poet from New Orleans. She is a poet of Spoken Word and Typewriter Prose studying English at Southeastern Louisiana University. Olivia has authored two collections of poetry: “I Took Over Pan’s Shift Three World’s Ago” and “Prophetic Warings: A Collection of Truth From Science to Stardust.” The collection titled “Prophetic Warnings:” is available on Amazon. Follow her on instagram @poems_by_olive to collaborate for heART and see words that reestablish the ordinary.

One People, One Community

Artist: Aniekan Udofia | Good Hope Road, Anacostia, Washington, DC

Artist: Aniekan Udofia | Good Hope Road, Anacostia, Washington, DC

On A Classroom Discussion of Frederick Douglass’s “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July”

A poem by Joseph Ross, 2016
dedicated to K.A and M.T.

Reprinted with permission from the author.

He sat on the edge
of the classroom, having learned

the safety of edges. Before him,
American Literature, a stone

of a book, lies open to
a lion’s page. Douglass’ questions,

a low growl, quiet for now
but their teeth are poised to sing

an attack, to devour anything
the color of complacency.

Last night as his human eyes
stalked this speech, this student

caged the words in his own notes,
furiously underlining and writing

like the skin of our century
hunting down the answers

to Douglass’ questions that live
to haunt his country.

Today, those questions claw at this
free student, stunned by their teeth.

As the discussion begins, the lion’s
words lunge off the page.

Everyone in the room panics
and scatters into brilliance. Some are

unprepared for the animal precision
of this nineteenth century

man the slave breakers
could not break. But this student’s

pulse thrums with post-slaughter
adrenaline. Never before has he

seen words rise up and fight
like the predators they are.

Read the inspiration for this poem, Frederick Douglass’s Independence Day Speech at Rochester (5 July 1852). It can be found on the TeachingAmericanHistory.org website.

Joseph Ross is the author of three books of poetry: Ache (forthcoming 2017), Gospel of Dust (2013), and Meeting Bone Man (2012). His poetry has appeared in a wide variety of publications including The Los Angeles Times, Poet Lore, Tidal Basin Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and Sojourners. He recently served as the 23rd Poet-in-Residence for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society, just outside Washington, D.C. He teaches English and Creative Writing at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. and writes regularly at www.JosephRoss.net. Follow on twitter @JosephRoss27.

“Harlem” Hughes & Woodson

SAPS14174

Artist: G. Byron Peck | 2007 | Shaw Community Mural feat. Langston Hughes & Carter Woodson | Washington, DC

On A Classroom Discussion of Langston Hughes’s “Harlem”  |  “Or does it explode?”

A poem by Joseph Ross, 2016
dedicated to Drew

Reprinted with permission from the author.

We held Hughes’ question in our hands
with the danger it deserved.

Then talked our way through the brown
sweet of a raisin, the yellow

disgust of a moist wound.
We held our noses to guard

against the assault of decomposition,
the stench of failed flesh turned

the color of no.
We nearly smiled at the morning

pastry, the candied version
of our country’s sin.

We wondered about the dead
weight, the way it lies and drags

down every hopeful shoulder.
But when faced with the threat

in this final question, you see
it for the terror it is.

Read the original poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes on the Poetry Foundation website.

Joseph Ross is the author of three books of poetry: Ache (forthcoming 2017), Gospel of Dust (2013), and Meeting Bone Man (2012). His poetry has appeared in a wide variety of publications including The Los Angeles Times, Poet Lore, Tidal Basin Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and Sojourners. He recently served as the 23rd Poet-in-Residence for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society, just outside Washington, D.C. He teaches English and Creative Writing at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. and writes regularly at www.JosephRoss.net. Follow on twitter @JosephRoss27.

The Songs of the Storytellers

Artists: Sintex and Gamma Acosta  |  Location: Denver, Colorado  | Project: Colorado Crush 2013

Artists: Sintex and Gamma Acosta | Location: Denver, Colorado | Project: Colorado Crush 2013

The Songs of the Storytellers

A poem by E. Higgins, 12/29/1978

From the heart I chant my stories and see my visions.
My eyes closed, I see more clearly those past events from which I draw my tales.
Through the mysterious realm of dreams I foretell comings and goings and
Disclose occurrences of the past.

Curious and anxious are the children who listen
To hear of my sorrows and joys, achievements and failures.
They listen openly and hear all, even those words unspoken.
Someday perhaps they will rectify the disappointments in
Our lives by achieving where we have failed.

I, Storyteller, am made of Earthly things,
A composite of elements which are looked at but are rarely ever seen.
My children are of the Heavens, for they do not have
Enough years to know of Earthly ways.

I, through my songs and visions, will help them to know
The difference between convention and self-fulfillment.
To you I am entrusted, my Heart and my Songs;
My Visions and my Dreams;
My Happiness and my Disappointments-
To keep for as long as you find Love through me.

Shine, Perishing Republic

Artist: ROA  |  Location: 1501 W. Main St., Richmond, VA

Artist: ROA | Location: 1501 W. Main St., Richmond, VA

Shine, Perishing Republic

A poem by Robinson Jeffers, 1925

While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire

And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass hardens,

I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth.

Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.

You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly

A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains: shine, perishing republic.

But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening center; corruption

Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster’s feet there are left the mountains.

And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant, insufferable master.

There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught–they say– God, when he walked on earth.

 

Caress and a Pinch

Artist: Unknown  |  Location: Washington, DC

Artist: Unknown | Location: Washington, DC

A stencil collage from the walls of Washington, DC.

Caress and a Pinch

A poem by M. Higgins

Straps of leather
Buckles of steel
A caress and a pinch
A sigh and a squeal

It is a costume
A ruse
A display of love
Delivered by a leather glove

Tomorrow we start anew
In our blouses, our skirts
Uncomfortable pairs of shoes
Anticipation keeps us alert

Day ends
Evening begins
We don our costumes
To act once again