Back to Issue Twenty-Two.

shea butter manifesto

BY EVE L. EWING

 

We, the forgotten delta people.
The dry riverbed people,
Hair calling always for rain,
Skin turned skyward wishing for clouds,
We stand for blood.
We kneel for water.
For oil, we lay down,
Fingers spread, as if in this way
we might skate across the yellow clay of it all
Like lagoon insects.

So it is written:
Heal yourself, baby.
With the tree and the touch, with the turmeric.
In this world, nothing brittle prevails,
So in this world, grease is a compliment,
No, it’s a weapon,
No, it’s a dream you had, where it was cold
And your mother, seeing the threat of gray at your elbows
And knowing that ash is the language of the dead
knelt, and put her hands on your face like this
And anointed you a protected child, a hot iron in a place of frost.
Recall this, and
Fear no thickness.
Be resurrected, glistening in the story of you.
Be shining.

 

 

sonnet

BY EVE L. EWING

 

after Terrance Hayes

I saved some cornbread for you in the skillet on the stove.
I saved some cornbread for you in the skillet on the stove.
I saved some cornbread for you in the skillet on the stove.
I saved some cornbread for you in the skillet on the stove.

I saved some cornbread for you in the skillet on the stove.
I saved some cornbread for you in the skillet on the stove.
I saved some cornbread for you in the skillet on the stove.
I saved some cornbread for you in the skillet on the stove.

I saved some cornbread for you in the skillet on the stove.
I saved some cornbread for you in the skillet on the stove.
I saved some cornbread for you in the skillet on the stove.
I saved some cornbread for you in the skillet on the stove.

I saved some cornbread for you in the skillet on the stove.
I saved some cornbread for you in the skillet on the stove.

 

 

arrival day

BY EVE EWING

 

Black revolutionaries do not drop from the moon. We are created by our conditions.
Assata Shakur

it happened under cover of night or early morning
depending on who you ask. the hour when the press
stops running. when the baker arrives and unlocks
the door. the cables came down, silent and charcoal,
matte and slithering. they hit the earth and coiled at
the foot of a tree, on a bus stop bench, atop a mound
of cigarette butts in front of the dialysis center. later
when the NASA boys looked for footage of the arrival
-- surely some security camera in some parking lot,  
somewhere in America…?-- that hour was all
blank, everywhere, all blank, like as if each of them
had a magnet for a beating heart, their veins murmuring
clear it away, clear it away, until the tape was empty.

in the years before, when hateful men warned of the coming,
crushing aluminum cans in their hands while their
friends threw darts, or in rowboats tying flies, they
spoke only of darkness. ‘their eyes will be dirt,’ the men said,
‘and they will cover the windows with tar in the places where we
talk to god. they will seize our daughters who
will return to us in rags, holding mud babies and
asking for a room to sleep.’ the hateful men and their
wives wore reading glasses and drank cinnamon tea
on the days when they wrote letters to each other about
how the coming people would steal, how they loved
the sound of grinding teeth in place of real music,
how the girl ones were greedy and lustful and
felt no pain but made endless noise and how small ones could
trick you, looking like children, but their skin was mercury
and they could not be shot dead so do not fall for it.
they wrote their letters on glass and plastic and metal.
they said ‘they are coming and they will paint everything black.’

so they had no words for the moon people when they did come.
and the moon people could not be captured. camera lenses
looking on them turned to salt and cast white trails across the
eyelids of the looker. and the moon people were dressed in
every color. they wore saffron yellow and Kool cigarette green and
Georgia clay red and they wore violet, they wore violet. and they
were loud. as their hands worked, hammering the iron of the
jail cell doors into lovely wrought curls and bicycle chains,
smashing the fare boxes at the train stations into wind chimes
and bowing low to the passengers as they entered-- some sashaying
through the turnstile, some dropping it low as they went underneath,
they sang. the moon people had been listening all this time and
they knew all about Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin and Mahalia
Jackson and Marvin Gaye and Missy Elliott, and they sang while
they smashed a bottle on the squad cars-- a Hennessy bottle or
a Coke or a pressed kale juice, whatever was near enough to say ‘this
here is christened a new thing.’ and they drove them down my street
and your street and your street, the tires painted to look like vinyl 45s
and the children tied yarn and ribbons to the windshield wipers
and the moon people turned them on high so that as they drove, the colors
waved in the sunlight, which was now streaming so clearly

onto the porch where i sat rubbing the rusting chain of the swing and thinking
of grass when the boy down the street, who in smaller days I walked
to school when his mother worked early, who loved lime
popsicles the best, who danced his way from his own porch to the basketball
court in the afternoon, who the police had recently declared a man, stopping
him mid-two-step to ask questions he could not answer because the query beneath
them was ‘why are you alive’ and none of us can say, the boy, he came to me and walked
up the steps where the paint is peeling and knelt at my side, and i did not
look him in the eye. instead i watched a firefly, the first of the summer, land on his left
shoulder, and i thought ‘here are two glowing ones,’ but he did not notice,
only held my hand and told me ‘we are free now.’ and i could not
believe i had lived to see it-- the promised light, descended to us at last.

 

 

EVE L. EWING POETRY.png

Eve L. Ewing is an essayist and poet. Her first collection of poetry, essays, and visual art, Electric Arches, is forthcoming from Haymarket Books in fall 2017, and she co-edited the fiction anthology Beyond Ourselves. Her work has appeared in venues such as Poetry, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Atlantic, The Nation, The Washington Post, Union Station, the anthology The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and many other outlets. Eve is proud to be one-half of the poetry duo Echo Hotel, alongside Hanif Abdurraqib. She is also the co-director of Crescendo Literary, a partnership that develops resources and events rooted in community-engaged art.

Next (Alisha Yi) >

< Previous (Katie Prince)