Voices from the Borderland is kicking off our Featured Artist Friday series with Jerry Lang reading at the Borderlands: Poetry on the Edge. This reading took place a few years ago, but has never been made public. We hope you enjoy it. Stay tuned for more featured artists.
In late July, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stating their concern that a pipeline slated to be built encroached upon ancestral lands.
It’s a five dollar donation to get in the doors of the Standing Rock Solidarity Benefit show, to be enveloped in the warmth, the glow, the murmur of conversations cut frequently by loud laughter. It looks like someone’s family reunion with folding chairs and cheap plastic table cloths, a buffet set-up with six donated Two Cousin’s Gut Buster pizzas and cheap booze. As the place slowly fills with people, the room becomes a beacon in the cold night, a bright light in a row of dim buildings, a convention of friends new and old, setting the stage for solidarity.
September 4th, Dakota Access begins clearing ground for the pipeline, bulldozing over sacred sites and burials. Protesters are attacked by dogs and pepper sprayed.
It took just under two weeks for Aurelio Villa Luna Diaz, Mark Sebastian Jordan, Kathy Fetzer-Goodwin to bring this event into the public eye, being touted in the local papers and drawing over a hundred contributors and participants. It even received threats, though none came to fruition. The K.E. McCarthy building was donated as a space for the show and by door time, all money spent on food, drink, and entrance would be sent to the Oceti Sakowin Camp.
Mark Jordan opens the show as MC and performer and along with Jason Kauffman, Lucas Hargis, and Nate Weiland presents a spoken word piece (Pronouncement: An Invocation for the Standing Rock Benefit Concert). He repeats the question: “who speaks?” over the murmur of the settling audience and we listen, and finally erupt into applause on his final call-to-arms, that “We speak!”
This becomes the theme of the show, the different voices no longer silenced, but calling for an end to injustice. This is a shout for self-expression and for claiming a space in the land.
the hollow-cheeked mother of winter
is pulling her gray cloak across the sky
is pulling her white blanket across the ground
memories of the dead, the ones
who shaped families and lives
and hunted and farmed and worked
still linger in the still air
coyotes on a distant hill
snarl for scraps of power
until their masters in tall towers
blaze their shock collars
all the sad madmen rumble their trucks
hulking on the horizon—drill baby drill—
star-n-barring it from the land of kingdom went
to the door of the bulging bank
By Mark Sebastian Jordan
Nick Gardner took us on a wild ride through his struggles with drug abuse. It’d be easy to overdose on the dark themes in these poems, but for the Narcan of his startling images and subtle lyricism. This set of poems proves the redemptive power of giving oneself over to the creative impulse.
Susan A. Sheppard is a self described Appalachian poet. Her poems gaze toward her youth and are full of recollections of Indians, bootleggers, and banshees. Where the words of other Appalachian writers unfold like copses choked with bramble and draped with Old Man’s Beard, Sheppard’s work is delicate, tightly worked, and shimmering.
Borderlands: poetry on the edge takes place every 3rd Saturday, 2-4pm at Main Street Books. Each month Mark Sebastian Jordan invites two of the best poets from Ohio and the surrounding States to be featured. The reading is followed by a short open-mic.
Dennis Loranger teaches music and literature at Wright State University, and writes poetry when he gets a chance. He has published in Rubbertop Review, Abyss&Apex, and elsewhere.
Borderlands: Poetry on the Edge is a monthly poetry reading hosted by Main Street Books in Mansfield, Ohio. The reading is curated by Mark Sebastian Jordan. Each month he invites two poets from across Ohio and the surrounding states to give extended readings followed by a short open mic.
A compelling story in vignettes, by Nick Gardner. Entirely too readable for as brutal as they are. A strangely hopeful little story.
Michael Veloff reads “Jesus on Front Street,” a poem about addiction, at March’s Book Loft, Lit. poetry and prose reading. Visit Main Street Books every First-Friday at 8pm to read or listen to great poetry and prose.
Jesus on Front Street
Jesus and me on Front Street
I picked up Jesus on the Corner
of Xrosswood Drive and Main
he had no dime to take of His own Sacrament
to rejoin the Flocking
spent on broken glass and stockings
stuffed with yestern pain
coasting to the Depot
He showed me His wounds once again
pictures of his Children in another State
with Nothing on their P(i)lates
wheels and wheels of fortune mists
and portends, omens, twists and opportunities missed
a Mystery to be wearing Flesh
the way of Gentle Fists
“Mother is worried about me.”
He confided as I parallel parked on Front Street
“I’ll only be a Minute, you can’t come in.”
with Great difficulty, hobbled by
the weight of Worlds’ Forgotten
Hero hobbling to a side door Sacrament
on Front Street
I think of leaving
Him, fleeing at the site
a fleeting Glimpse of where I’ve been
and seem to Moth around
Days of yours and mine,
“Are you sure you want two?”
wheels and wheels of wasted twists
Realities cast aside for Aethers’ Fists,
the Gentle Fists
the numbing wrists and opportunities’ mists
and Jesus wept
as we broke an Orange Pill in half in Sacrament
of helpless Bliss
© Michael Veloff, 2014