08 June 2010

Nashville Spoken Word Census

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in Nashville's premier Spoken Word Census, featuring 16 writers/poets on Thursday night, telling the story of Nashville in 2010 through the spoken word. It was my poetry debut. I have spoken my poems aloud before only to a small group in college and a small group of writers at a workshop last fall.

The show was exciting, and I left immensely inspired by all of the artists who participated in the show with me. I'm still getting high on that inspiration nearly a week later.

Some friends have asked to read the poem I shared, so here it is. It's the story of a woman I met in April off of Nolensville Road.

Amira in America

her apartment is always black
lights or food—
she can choose only one

three almond-skinned boys
only one an American baby
soil in his favor

but soil produces no
food no job no chance no light
soil keeps her begging

reaching roots fight
ground of gravel, of gray stone
arms stretch toward the ones

fastening their Bible belts
speaking through smiles, blessing her heart
language now her border

she prefers her story
to these stuttered beggar phrases
extra-terrestrial words

i need job
my boys not eat
please don’t forget me

back home she taught school
owned a store, spoke in
full sentences

she danced by a river
like the Cumberland
but regal, ancient—the soul-deep Nile

home of whispered prayers
home where she feared believing
home where she cradled two boys

against her belly—
the incubator of a
boy ordained for new soil—

and glared down the
barrel of options aimed at her heart:

stay home or survive
she could choose only one

May 2010


Anna Cramer said...

Ciona -- You are amazing. I loved hearing it in person and reading it gives me a chance for greater reflection. A talent to put words to paper like you do. Peace, my dear friend. Anna

Ciona said...

Thanks, Anna! I pray now that I can somehow use it to help the family who inspired this piece.

Safiyah said...

brings me to tears!