Posted in activism, poetry, published

America; America

I keep having this dream where
the white man isn’t angry
the black man entered
the white house.

When I wake up, the white man
has stolen everything.

I tell my neighbors but they don’t believe me
because he’s a white man wearing a red hat

and says he owns a bible.

They tell me he is our president and I don’t believe them
because I remember voting with my nephew
on my hip, his chubby fingers reaching for the ballot
while telling myself:

                              I’m with her because he’s with me.

I keep having this dream, America,
and you keep building more doors
for white men to enter our houses.

Originally published in Drunk Monkeys’ special “The Year of Trump” issue, which can be found here.

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Posted in poetry, published

A Woman in Town Tells Me

my grandfather was a native;
there’s no paperwork to prove it,
but old pictures seem to say more

than new words. Told me she lived
on the same hillside as him when
they were young, that once they were

working around the same garden—
said she never knew he was there,
not until she backed into him while

raking the land, looked up to see the sun
cowering behind him like a shadow.
He frightened her with his footsteps:

my grandfather could walk across
dry leaves without making any sound;
a white man, she said, could not.

I saw it in his face, the nativeness
that she spoke of: the cut of his jaws,
eyes which spoke bluntly without

his mouth shaping the words. I learned
gentleness by the way his tired hands,
palm-rough and cradling, gripped

my small frame, how one might
cup water before bringing it to the lips.
Most depict him with harshness,

misunderstanding more than much else.
My grandmother, on the other hand,
and on the wrong hand, married him

for his looks. His darkness, too hard
to look away from, drew her to him—

never his light.

Previously published at Forage
https://foragepoetry.com/2017/04/29/a-woman-in-town-tells-me-by-rachel-nix/

Posted in poetry, published, Uncategorized

Rivertown

From the edge of the Tennessee River
on the Muscle Shoal’s side, we lean
into the humidity sitting atop those still waters.

The sunset hits the old railroad bridge
with all intent to steal the glory of the city
and succeeds,

rallying with it the headlights
from cars headed into the humming.

By evening’s latter end,
folky new south singers and blues bellowers
have not only taken the city back,
but have stolen the light.

 

Originally published at Hobo Camp Review – Issue 29
http://hobocampreview.blogspot.com/2016/07/rachel-nix.html

Posted in poetry, published, Uncategorized

Prayer

          for Rachel Woodard

Grey as the in-between of everything
never meant to be understood—
your eyes had a way
of taking the weight of the day
from my shoulders;

 

when they could not, I found in them
such forgiveness for my defeat.

Heartfully, I always listened
when your wisdom asked for my attention—

our words, sparse enough,
were generally traded
with playful mischief.

Grandmother,

in the years since I saw your face last,
photographs have come to feel
something like prayers.

I miss, most of all,
the way your smile sounded.

Previously published at Black Elephant – Issue 3 / September 2016

 

Posted in poetry, published, Uncategorized

The Language We Bury Them In

for Hannah Hamilton

You wrote of comfort, crawfish boils and Port Vincent – for your father
and the South and all of the things I’ve ever loved or never knew about.

I read more and I learned you: your voice, flat on a paper, but heaving
from aches, jerking from anticipation, and then rising with syllables

slapped together to represent something more full. When I found a way
to trade words with you over coffee and curry in South Mississippi,

a middle-ground place where neither of us held reputations more than
what we’d imagined, I knew you were more than a poet, more than

a culture-fed woman on her way; wild-eyed, you described yourself
a sleepy sheepdog and I’ve yet to understand why. In our first meeting,

instinctually, I suppose, we became locked in a stare-down, allowing
ourselves to learn each other’s breed: similar in the way we claw at truths

and how reliant we are on the packs we run in. Sitting with you that day,
across from your Iranian eyes and pure Louisiana rhetoric, I swear

I eyed your words while you spoke them, realizing they held breaths
of their own: graceful with grievances and with an air of atonement.

I can see now why you write them on your skin. Words deserve more
than the language we bury them in; they’ve earned the right to live.

But Hannah, no one wears declarations the way you do. Yours reach
across the table, grab my hands, and place in my palms maps to live by.

Previously published in Paper Swans’ Chronicles of Eve anthology / Spring 2016

 

Posted in poetry, published, Uncategorized

Believer

I do not need you
to pray for me.

I am a common woman,
prideful

&

reckless,

lust-ridden

&

forbidden
by your kind:

those who point to me,
wanting to anoint me
with all things pure,
unsure
of my worth
until I feign their ways.

I am no follower
of fire and brimstone;

&

as your kind says of me:
I am too far gone.

 

Previously published in Bop Dead City – Issue 14; January 2016
https://bopdeadcity.com/buy/

Posted in activism, poetry, published, Uncategorized

I’d Be Lying

if I said I wasn’t nervous. My sister, concerned:

I’m afraid Christians may hurt my son.
I’ve been up all night trying to decide if we should go
.

When I say Christian, I don’t mean Christian; I mean
those who say amen when it isn’t right.

Is it more important to be seen, to show ourselves in the light –
where darkness protrudes to swallow good? Should we cower,
allow those who holler hatred to mark us apathetic?

All this worry, all this fear, all to decide: is it safe to hold a candle
in the park to mourn people we know in a way only our empathy allows?


The argument: was it a Muslim or should we blame the gun?
I know that people are afraid – not so much of what they do not understand,
but that which they cannot control.

There are no Muslims in my town – little diversity at all.

I do not fear those who do not exist here. I fear those who do,
those who outnumber me and those who lean on falsehoods;
I fear their guns and their tempers,
their blind hatred and their snap reactions.

I know those who are victim to a misshapen faith do not understand
love as it is: without preconceptions.

I know those who fight for this generation’s musket do not know
they are the ammunition for the weapon they believe protects them,
the weapon used to kill their neighbors.

They do not know that with every belly-ache argument
to hold on to these guns they pull a trigger; someone dies.
They do not know intolerance is genocide.

They shout: sinner, abomination—
not knowing the heaviness of words, of slurs.They define: bleeding-heart liberal;
not knowing the truth of it.

They do not know this fear:
watching folks bleed to be remembered as human.This is:

a baseball game / a grocery store / a first date / a dog park / America / a marriage
ceremony / lunch with friends / an argument at work / the internet / a public restroom /
church / business as usual / a quick walk down the block / prom / Orlando / home /
where you want to be / a bar / a safe place / Pride Month / a dance floor / war / a funeral /

a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral.

 

Published at Words Dance – June 20, 2016.
http://wordsdance.com/2016/06/id-be-lying-by-rachel-nix/