Our poetry editor, Joe Pan, has selected a poem by Robert Gibbons for his series that brings original poetry to the screens of Hyperallergic readers.
* * *
tell him we are yesterday
“I say who will name this Renaissance; who go tug the elbow of Langston Hughes; tell him we are yesterday again to McKay and Cullen and Hurston Walker and Baldwin; we doin’ it again.”
—Ruth Forman, Renaissance
we are under the experience
of a renaissance
a look back to move forward, a call of our being
to sankofa, a shift, a brother and
the time unfavorable, the moon mops
the floor with the blood
our ancestors know this must be, so the way
will be clear for generations, their fear
and trembling, limitations unhinging
a march, a call, a demonstration, open
the dusty books, when we thought it
acceptable, but this struggle
is in motion, in perpetuity, under the influence
of the renaissance, a penance and a
prayer, water hoses and dogs and Charles Moore
and citizen councils are still here, the doors
barred and locked and chained with
changed names and generational curses
the influences are fear, as it shifts
with the sunrises and inequality
in droplets, the signs of executive order
and disobedience, keeping us far from
the goal, this renaissance, still fighting
still to ignite the dream dreamers savor
left behind in the foot holes and strong holds
of power, with guard and police
and suspension of disbelief, the markets
of justice, graver, markers of James Chaney
and Ruby Bridges, all the world in stitches
tell them we are yesterday again
to explore we go back, to the ciphers, the
pipelines crude and rude and bait them
and rate them on a Pew scale, and tell them they
made it, and we really have not cannot tend the ivy
the ceiling, the towers, the power
brokers funding the plantation
the renaissance has not patience but rations
and pockets of redistribution, the pollution of street
corners becomes mourner’s benches, teddy
bears and libations, the flame inflames the tree stumps
and rump of a back street, a hood
a flood of mistrust, and musty dance halls the only
place to feel at peace
tell them we are yesterday again, we are porters
then barterers then carters
carriers of the hate and decision of a dead president
that led with executive order, fought
yesterday again while porters sleep
on the backs of Plessy versus
Ferguson, Dred and Coretta
not all are free, until all are free
come the judgment
* * *
Robert Gibbons is a poet-performer living in New York City. His first collection of poetry, Close to the Tree, was published by Three Rooms Press in 2012. Other credits include the Black Earth Institute, Turtle Island Quarterly, Paragram, Deep Water Literary, Suisun Valley Review, Fruita Pulp, and Killer Whale Journal. Information regarding his collection can be found at www.threeroomspress.com.
To submit poetry to Hyperallergic, email 3–5 poems to Joe Pan: poetry at hyperallergic dot com.
From 1968 to 1973, the Nihon Documentarist Union did radical documentary work in Japan. They made two films in Okinawa before, during, and after its reversion.
Every corner and crevice of Columbia University’s MFA Thesis show feels lived in, reflecting not just artists’ experience quarantining with their work, but also that of re-entering society.
Curated by Clare Dolan, this solo exhibition in Frenchtown, NJ contains new and unearthed paintings, sculptures, and prints selected from the organization’s 60-year history.
Sprawling across the Joshua Tree region, nine site-specific works consider the ways in which people have relocated to the desert, destroying what came before them, and cultivating new life.
The rendition could be a platform for essential conversations on sociohistorical and economic land rights issues.
Conversations with Leslie Barlow, Mary Griep, Alexa Horochowski, Joe Sinness, Melvin R. Smith, and Tetsuya Yamada will be accessible online or in person at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
The UK has long refused to return the contested sculptures, which were stripped from the Parthenon in the 1800s.
The National Gallery of Art launched a new artwork guessing game inspired by the super-popular Wordle.
Now on view in Pasadena, this exhibition explores how four artists challenged the limitations of gestural abstraction by exploiting the resonance of figural forms.
The union said that grass hedges were erected around the entrance, blocking the gala’s guests from seeing the protest outside.
The small New York art fair celebrated its 26th edition with the works of 11 women artists.
The artist couple shared creativity and mutual devotion reflecting a period of light and joy that came after considerable darkness in their early lives.