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American Sonnet

Today is a big, somewhat terrible – or at least stressful – day. I want to help you get through it.

Let’s look at America as it is: imperfect, ugly, well intentioned, trying not-to-be-bad. I wanted to find a poem that captured that. The work of Wanda Coleman typically speaks to me and I was tickled to find a little piece of her poetic mind to capture a state of being.

This is her “American Sonnet,” a work created in 1993 from her book Hand Dance. It is a meditation on our complication. It feels right for now. Some poems may capture our moment more directly but this feels right for right now.

Do. Vote. Be. Yearn. We will get better. We will.

after Lowell

our mothers wrung hell and hardtack from row
⠀ ⠀and boll. fenced others’
gardens with bones of lovers. embarking
⠀ ⠀from Africa in chains
reluctant pilgrims stolen by Jehovah’s light
⠀ ⠀planted here the bitter
seed of blight and here eternal torches mark
⠀ ⠀the shame of Moloch’s mansions
built in slavery’s name. our hungered eyes
⠀ ⠀do see/refuse the dark
illuminate the blood-soaked steps of each
⠀ ⠀historic gain. a yearning
yearning to avenge the raping of the womb
⠀ ⠀from which we spring

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