One of the joys of webpages is being able to disseminate work more quickly and at a fraction of the cost. A disadvantage, however, is that increasingly, work shared on a website may be deemed 'published' and disqualify it for other publication, most particularly for competitions. This can limit the number of poems that are published on websites.
an autobiographical study, for EL SEGUNDO WRITES' anthology published by TESS arts magazine in 2019. From and for people living in, or connected with, the beachside community in the South Bay area of Los Angeles.
was written for an anthology for vegan readers. I had some structural fun with the italicised rhyming grids in that they can be read left to right or up and down.
It is reproduced here with kind permission of the publisher.
Sometimes I walk El Segundo and ask my unmoved heart
Why I fail to feel for my tender, shaky, start.
An embryo's soft cartilage, grows hard with calcite stone,
Ossifying slowly, as our frame becomes our own.
So it was with mine. In this place.
I seek a sign: her face, his face.
Those parents who made me,
From teenage passion banned,
Yet moved the wand of life, as tide upon the sand.
I'll wager some part of me will always be
Marked by ocean or any sea.
Sometimes I walk El Segundo and see beneath my feet
Circled stones, family names, of those I'll never meet.
Dunes roll westward, lift then fall, a sun sets beyond the view,
This town where I should belong, is space I never knew.
So it is; to be outside it.
Seize the Day; the key to ride it.
Elsewhere, I had to grow
Far from here. Not my choice.
Yet still came joy of life, as songbirds find their voice.
At this shore, a smell I know, from long ago,
Merges sweetly with sewage flow.
Sometimes I walk El Segundo, and look for folks like me,
Turn down Handprint Alley, and make a silent plea.
Perhaps a whisper in the palms, a tone within the wind,
Will touch my core, expose me, like some poor eel just skinned.
I have tried to dig for roots here,
To find any sprig or shoots near
Something to call my home.
Rise Great Spirit, look, see!
True sense of place! El Segundo is lodged in me.
My blood heart, from cells is grown. Let it be shown.
El Segundo is in my bone.
Can an 'udder' poem of blood and pus,
Outrage, compel, and alter us?
Can we take strong words, make them scan,
To cancel out the stamp of man?
Can we forge a composition
That throws open cages, the beast’s grim prison?
Can we take a razor to the human’s face
Carve deep a template of enduring grace?
Can we blend together its age old scar
With boundaries that ebb from afar?
Can we engage a hopeless, weary heart?
Spark anew some shaky, tender start?
Go on. Go on. Go on. Go on.
Be wrong. No sun, You con. Eon.
And still No rain, Don’t try, Your name.
Just kill. Just pain. Do lie. Same, same.
Where in this is any sense?
What could fend off the false pretence?
What logic decides, that, over this?
What fool shouts kill over kiss?
Danger lurks at every turn.
If not the flood, then heat will burn.
Rising tides and stinking seas
Greet our dawns and fuel unease.
We are lost, done for. Heed the call!
We, the most dangerous of all.
What’s the point?
The point that will lance the loss of hope?
The point that will unknot our hangman’s rope?
The point that will knit us the scope to cope?
No go. No go No go. No go.
No show. You know. Low blow. Cash flow
Too late. Free range, Go mad So strange,
More hate. Derange. Iron clad. Small change.
Separation is the root word of sin.
Separation bars animals as kin.
They walk this earth, breathe our air,
Need equal water, show level care.
Last long the whales’ song, we say,
Empty words to save the day,
Or, complex tech and laws unite
Let these be used to win the fight.
I say, rise up, stoke our own beast heart
Lost when we set them apart,
Ate their muscle, fried their fat,
All our woes can trace to that.
I say, we have the wit, strength, imagination
To engage our love for transformation.
We, who see ourselves not called, but chosen.
Whose science hallows the rot it grows in.
We, who have known ourselves beloved,
Whose stray minds place us a cut above.
We, whose mastery makes mosque and kirk,
Whose finer powers make art from work.
We, whose music knows a hejaz scale,
Scale too the mountains and unfurl the sail.
We, who have flown skies, risked every sea,
Claim holy visions, aspire to greatness, talk Trinity.
We who are weak, fragile, brittle,
Who have all at our mercy, yet show so little.
We, who run in a circle –
a word with no rhyme
Nor reason, lest love bind it,
No beginning, no end – like time.
Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it.
Don’t sit, Get fit, Admit Your bit.
Do knit, Fire lit True grit. Do it.
Use it. Commit. Don’t quit. No shit.
©Anne Sikking - first published 2019 Vegan Tales, Vol.2 isbn 978-1-9993568-1-1