Solidarity, abundance and love

“Solidarity is the idea that we don’t have to be the same to want the best for one another, that we can keep each other safe, we can share what we have, that we can find our way to consensus about how best to be in community together, better known as “democracy.” And that we will fight for it and for one another.” — with Maurice Mitchell in Newsweek.

Labor’s spring fruit

It’s so rarely that I mashup my labor and food loves. But this summer I got to explore so many fruity extended metaphors while writing on #redfored and austerity for Dilattante Army.

Former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover famously called Americans who opposed the 1936 overthrowing of the democratically elected government of Spain [8] It wasn’t until 1940, when the US entered the war against Germany, Italy, and Japan (which backed and enabled the Spanish fascist coup), that the antifascism was “on time.”

Similarly, it’s worth pointing out that the national media was much less sympathetic to the visuals of Chicagoans of all races, led by a Black chemistry teacher, opposing Emmanuel’s policy than they were to later visuals from so-called Trump Country. We might call the Chicagoans, pace Hoover, “premature anti-austerians,” winter citrus, sour flesh bound in bitter skin, back in the halcyon days before the 2016 election.

Read it — and the rest of the fabulous issue — here.

“teshuvah” means return

And this return is one to memoir and creative non fiction, after so long as solely a poet. I’m proud to be multi-genre, multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-everything writer-person, and so pleased that this essay found a home on the Sisterhood blog of the Jewish Forward. Sending hope and strength to anyone facing infertility now, this National Infertility Week, and all year long.

The Jewish imperative to life helped me find air when I felt I might drown in a sea of overwhelming sadness. Without it, I was so focused on what was lost that I nearly lost track of what was not – my own self, my potential, my life full of creativity and friendship. Jewish ritual and teaching, with its unambiguous insistence on the soul of the mother and the not-soul of the embryo, restored that to me. It gave me the courage to grab strong hold of my new partner, my bashert, with whom I now make a Jewish home.

Last year, to mark my exit from these years of sorrow, I ran the NYC marathon. I also hired a Hebrew tutor. At her suggestion, I ran loop after loop in Prospect Park to the v’ahavta, learning the sounds, the rhythm and, in some way, inscribing the might of the prayer into muscle memory.

The rest is here.


diaspora daughter

I’m not Muslim and I’m the right kind of brown and I called my family in Mysore today as I do most Sundays because #daughterofanimmigrant and they asked, as they often do, “when are you coming to visit?” And I said, “now it is so hard” and I could hear the nods in a short silence seven thousand miles long. My uncles and aunt have a long running card game, and I heard the updated tally — my aunt is winning — and I said, don’t cheat, the vocabulary word for cheat — mosa — a pearl, passed to me from my great-great aunt Thayi who did enthusiastically, unapologetically cheat 

[and in her example I am redacting the rest of this poem because I have submitted it! cheating FTW!] but here is the end:

And we, we are the lucky ones, no one is facing deportation and my difficulties are quotidian, time and money and the chances are high this sort of thing would not happen to me, a Hindu, a Jew, a poet — because the security state does not seem to read poetry even as they tap our phones and check our Facebook posts.

“An unassuming grace”

Of [my] poem, BK, AM, Randall Mann wrote: “‘There are so many things to admire…a delicacy; a charity of things left appropriately unsaid; an ease that looks easy, but isn’t.””

My poem and the lovely things Randall said are here, on the Podium site. I’m very honored he chose it for a prize named after a new poetic foremother, Rachel Wetzsteon. Here is one my favorites of hers.

An ease that looks easy, but isn’t, sums up these last years since the poem saw print. I’m glad, after a long silence, to have words back again, arranging themselves.

April showers, May flowers…

After a long, long fallow period, I feel super sunny that my byline has popped up twice this spring. 

Fruit: New Year’s Instructions, in Alimentum’s 2014 Menu Poems — my first foray into published poetry. I’m thrilled my new little lyric found a perfect home, in a journal I admire so often. 

Cold water holds 
Spilled sweetness

Bean: Cloudy Coffee, part of Killing the Buddha’s India focus. A love letter to my little-mom auntie, so far away, and to my morning (and afternoon) coffee, so close at hand. 

I slip into her kitchen to do what women do, our everyday work its own prayer, its own dribble of connection. Carefully, I inhale, and then blow the creamy cloud across the surface of the milk.

I’m basking in this summer city heat. Thanks to it, and no shortage of fertilizer lately, I’ve got lots more creative stuff sprouting, more cooking. Hope you do, too.