08-24-2021

Ishmael Angaluuk Hope

Arrangements

 

I will never stop looking at women–

creases, dimples, folds, hips swiveling,

scanning bookshelves, munching lasagna

and Caesar salad, sweat mingling

with lily petals and berry-soaked sod.

 

I look on in despair when a woman
with thick apple hips and a soft belly

wraps a sweater around her waist,
folding her back like a cat picked up
by the collar as she collects a magazine

from the coffee table. I want to tell her

there's nothing to be ashamed of, her body

is the cinnamon of life, sweet ambergris,

milk and honey. All trunk and root,

crow's feet, round face, locks of silver hair.

Chamber bells clang, Chinese silk drapes

over windows, flow blue serving
bowls piled with oranges. She walks

down the aisle over eight copper

shields. I steal rapid glances

other women notice anyway.

 

 

 

Carrying Louis At Bedtime

 

The warm body of my son
as I slide my palms under
his head and behind his knees,

carry him down the hallway,

his little ear pressed
on my shoulder.
He shakes, whimpers.
I line our hearts up, let him

find mine, a resting place,
like lapping up chilly
river water, sun's rays feeding

tree moss on branches

weighted by snow.
I lay him down beside me.
He curls up on the pillow.

The warm body
of my son. The warm
body of my son.

  

 

Canoe Launching Into The Gaslit Sea

 

Now, as much as ever, and as always,

we need to band together, form
a lost tribe, scatter as one, burst

through rifle barrels guided

by the spider's crosshairs. We need
to knit wool sweaters for our brother

sleeping under the freeway,
hand him our wallets and bathe
his feet in holy water. We need
to find our lost sister, last seen
hitchhiking Highway 16
or panhandling on the streets of Anchorage,

couchsurfing with relatives in Victoria,
or kicking out her boyfriend
after a week of partying
in a trailer park in Salem, Oregon.

 

Now, as much as ever, and as always,

we need to register together,
lock arms at the front lines, brand

ourselves with mutant DNA strands,

atomic whirls and serial numbers

adding ourselves to the blacklist.

We need to speak in code, languages

the enemy can't break, slingshot
garlic cloves and tortilla crumbs,
wear armor of lily pads and sandstone

carved into the stately faces of bears

and the faraway look of whitetail deer.

We need to run uphill with rickshaws,

play frisbee with trash lids, hold up

portraits of soldiers who never

made it home, organize a peace-in
on the walls of the Grand Canyon.
We need to stage earnest satirical plays,

hold debate contests with farm animals

at midnight, fall asleep on hammocks

hanging from busy traffic lights.

 

Now, as much as ever, and as always,

we need to prank call our senators,

take selfies with the authorities
at fundraisers we weren't invited to,

kneel in prayer at burial grounds

crumbling under dynamite.

We need to rub salve on the belly
of our hearts, meditate on fault lines

as the earth quakes, dance in robes

with fringe that spits medicine, make

love on the eve of the disaster.

-from Rock Piles Along The Eddy (Ishmael Reed Publishing Company, 2017), selected by Fall 2021 Guest Editor, CMarie Fuhrman 

Ishmael Angaluuk Hope is a Tlingit and Iñupiaq poet, storyteller, and scholar living in Dzantik'ihéeni (or Juneau, Alaska) with his five children and wife, Lily Hope, a Tlingit weaver. Through his poetry, Ishmael Hope "elevates Indigenous thought and lifeways, intermingling the landscapes of personal experience, cultural knowledge, stories, and familial connections and the spirit and character of land and sea." Ishmael Hope served as a lead writer for the award-winning video game Never Alone and he is author of the poetry collections, Rock Piles Along The Eddy and Courtesans of Flounder Hill. He shares his poetry, presents on his culture and engages in artistic projects around the nation, while deeply participating in the cultural life of his people.

04-13-2021

Victoria Chang

04-13-2021

Victoria Chang