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Matthew Shenoda A Coptic poet and activist, Matthew Shenoda received an American Book Award for his first book, Somewhere Else, which was also named a book of the year by Poets &Writers Magazine. “As much about oppression and rebellion as they are about wordplay and jazz,” his poems “leap from contemporary urban America to pre-industrial Egypt, trying to make sense of the disparity.” A regular contributor to Voices of the Middle East and North Africa on KPFA Pacifica Radio, he lives in South Berkeley and is a faculty member of the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. Relics Scrabbling bones together like a gathering of river stones Bones become sacred Human remains, memories of cartilage Piled centuries high Skulls and leg remnants begin to tell the stories of before. I am the once-severed arm of a young girl Scrambling for a foothold in this desert Where once my enemy chased did not live I am the fingers of a woman whose knuckles live beneath a flower box We remember each other through these bones Through the songs of calcium deficiency and famine strings that strum us into night We are the gathering of old-timers whose eye sockets tell stories of victory 286 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 286 We are a memory shaped by vertebrae Clappers of rhythm disassembled by the skeletons of time I am the keeper of a man whose only hope was grounding toil Scrubbing my skin with the earth for food I am the elbow of children whose eyes twitched at the thought of cold I am the shin of garbage collectors building stamina for a city to come We are a memory shaped by vertebrae Clappers of rhythm disassembled by the skeletons of time We are the dissipating cartilage of our great-grandchildren’s memory holding to their sockets by a sinew of hope Making sense of these bones we reassemble history Making ancestral tapestries in the shape of retaining walls We are a memory shaped by vertebrae Clappers of rhythm disassembled by the skeletons of time You are the skin behind the clouds Matthew Shenoda 287 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 287 A Prayer for My People That one day we will wish to be nothing more than what we are. That we will see within ourselves the liberation of nations, of concrete. That we will understand the inevitability in the lines of our hands. There is a war raging in our backyard With it my sister’s spirit burns That the fire of my sister’s spirit will consume our enemies & burn our streets clean. There’s a system of mangled necks Whose heads speak with oracle tongues That we should learn to walk with wounded feet That our eyes must be liberated from their granite That our hands re-root themselves from the pools of acid rain 288 Matthew Shenoda 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 288 There’s a river forming in the bureaucrat’s head Its water made from rusted milk That we may understand this false constructed world & know: Holy things Do not die! Matthew Shenoda 289 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 289 In Passing There is something inside each of us that scurries toward the past in our bodies a rooted history perhaps in the balls of our feet a microscopic yearning that floats inside that sphere yearning in a language we’ve forgotten. History is too in our knees in the ball that pops & twists as we journey. And for those of us blessed to be old & for those of us blessed to be young it lives inside the tiny ball of skin deep inside the belly button tickles recollections from our tongues stories of stories from then— history lives in circles & spheres floating always suspended waiting for release. 290 Matthew Shenoda 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 290 Language Incessant, pushing for the struggle of re-generation one hurricane replaces another just when the island has been rejuvenated Living in kaleidoscope cities urban twisted metal sculptures piles of moving fabric & hair all that hair, braided together like a downtown skyline woven through towers with a one-two break-beat Even these buildings have rhythm metalworker songs & saw blade scratches take them as a symbol of our rise-up stance educate our children...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781610752060
Related ISBN
9781557288677
MARC Record
OCLC
769187839
Pages
328
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
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