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Voices of Resilience

19 Nov

Poetry is life in print and this work gives voice to our resilient lives. Submit.
Lamisa Mustafa is a first-year student at Southern Methodist University, double majoring
in Human Rights and Sociology, and minoring in French. She is passionate about human rights and, specifically, the power of narratives in social justice. Through
Voices of Resilience, she will be creating a space for people to express themselves with poetry. This space will be both online and in-print in the form of an anthology with poetry submissions from SMU and the greater DFW community. Through her project, she hopes to expand her concepts of expression, continue to develop her leadership skills, and learn how to be a better global citizen. Her project began with her participation in the Pangea Network’s Young Women’s Leadership Conference and is funded by the SMU Caswell Leadership

Voices of Resilience
is an anthology celebrating human diversity and the human experience. We are looking for poems on any theme. Poems can be of form, free verse, or spoken word style. No formal poetry experience is needed to be qualified to submit, but the poems will be reviewed before publication. Please email up to three poems to
by December 17, 2017.

Thank you endlessly for your resilience.


Voices of Resilience


Of dust and children

7 Apr

He sits in the far left corner, whichever is most ignored
where dust and dehydrated dreams accumulate, atrophy and
die. He remains obedient to form; folded, knees perched in chest,
arms a perfect square fortress, head tucked just low enough
to absorb tears into the frays of the hole in his jeans.

It took a lifetime to find this place, dank and forgotten. Still it suffices-
the quiet makes a good blanket though at times the anthems surface.
He once thought they were sweet pet names because always
beginning with “you,” he pretended no one heard the antithetical
“ain’t shit,” “ain’t worth a quarter,” and the bottommost, “ain’t mine.”

The corner suits him fine as he’s only there to fill a space, not like in the world of yours and mine, where he charades well, playing father, husband and boss of a small textile company. When he started there fifteen years ago they made things.Now they ship and receive, and regroup, and rethink, and downsize for cost efficiency.Holding a stack of pink papers, he wanted to usher them to his corner to process

but he couldn’t. There’s only room for one in that corner nestled by gray walls and drab windows. There’s room for only one, no place for wives and children. So after discharging the last of his charges, Bill lowered his eyes, shrunk his linebacker frame to that of his nine year-old self and left his feet for the last time. They found him on
Wednesday when his father’s gardener fetched the lawn mower.

Asani Charles

One Night on San Carlos

25 Oct

One night on San Carlos

Listen now to the misshapen tall tale about how my five lettered name came to be. A Zulu horn player and his chanteuse troubadoured through the streets of San Fran and came upon our house to jam and graze through the grass.

Mama was fat with me and my rambunctiousness and no gift in hand, the African horn man looked in his bag for a name. He played her several melodies and staccatos, some somber and deep, others smooth and easy, like a drive down Pacific Coast Highway.

They must have rapped and jammed jazz and politics all night. You know how musician folk are, let alone two trumpeters, playing ego and sex in every lick like silk running over chords and dandelions while Mama and Mbulu side eyed and sucked teeth.

Soon the last song faded and fatigue lulled them to slumber, leaving the man from Johannesburg with one last offering. It was the best he had, full of Akibulan pride and history. It was green and natural, something about a flower he probably plucked calling on a memory of a spring afternoon.

Mama breathed it in, smiled graciously, and changed it to suit her best.

And so it is that Asani is rebellious in Swahili.

©Asani Charles


21 Sep

Then: stressed at work, slip

or fall to get paid leave. Now:

some shoot black men dead.

Her name is Billie Jean

26 Jun
  Eleven years ago, right around mid morning, my maternal grandmother left this place while her pain ridden body lay motionless in her bed. That adage that time heals all wounds is false, at least for those of us with perfect elephant memories. I still hurt and I still miss her walloppy laugh and I still turn to dial a number I can never erase, 323-757-5508, she had it for 32 years and felt slightly perturbed about changing her area code, just to tell this monarch what madness my kids have done today, just to see if she’d like me to recreate them for her listening or viewing pleasure.
 I never thought it would hurt like this. I never realized the significance of who was there with us, my mom and me, as we served BB her last day in the home she bought in what used to be a “Good Neighborhood”, in almost Hawthorne. My dad’s mom arrived twenty minutes before goodbye, “just checking in on my friend,” she smiled as I sat Grandma Clark down with a cool drink to nurse the last of her memories before she lost them and her days a few years later. I’ll never forget coming out of Grandma’s chamber in tears only to be solaced by the little Indian lady whose eyes danced when she smiled.
   So forgive me for this essay of a status but surveys show that my kids are two thirds grown and my ornery, secretive and goofy best friend who taught me the ropes of fighting, saw only a portion of these three unthinkable people. Yes, I know she can see us all but it’s just not the same. I need the walloppy laugh when Daniel tells a joke, when Zach cruelly denies another kid’s shot, or when Karlie robs a batter’s hope by throwing her out at first. If you’re reading this BB, wallop a good one and make Heaven shake, rattle and roll. I love you❤️.

2016 AP Reading Poetry Reading

17 Jun

I am quite blessed and honored to serve as an AP Reader for College Board’s AP English Literature Exam now five summers in a row, and to celebrate our last reading in Louisville, Kentucky, I read two pieces from Love You Madly: Poetry about Jazz, edited by Lisa Alvarado. Here is one of the three pieces I wrote for Love You Madly Poetry, inspired by the legendary Hugh Masekela, who gave me a most perfect gift, my name.

Mahlalela (Lazy Bones)

There is no laziness in those bones.

Music is the symbiotic marriage of math and science

to passion and sound, birthing life, melody and drum

but no work of art is that simple.

Exile a man because he protests with a flugelhorn and prod him out at gun’s barrel,

amidst an ebullition of homestead and singeing flesh, and thwart him westward,

much like the fathers before him. He does not respond in kind,

but riffs on his clarion, “Mahlalela,” lazy bones, as Letta rubs their noses in it.

Rob a country of her griots and the callers will muster like Malcolm and MacDuff,

amassing millions, nations even, firing lyric and melody, chanting “Amandla!,[1]

while Makeba, Masekela, Mbulu and Semenya, turn the studio into the war room

and dismantle the Boer bear from distant waters rallying, “Idlozi livukile! Masibuyel’ emakhaya![2]

No lazy bones in this anthem and victory march song.

Its cadence proud and contagious, its timbre too bright and confident,

fully assured of the perfect, long suffering truth that neither life nor land

has been lost in vain,

and that freedom yet comes.
© Asani Charles

[1] Power

[2] The spirits of our ancestors have awakened! Let’s return home!


A Paisley Tale

22 Apr

Once upon a time in my girlhood, I changed my name to Paisley and wholeheartedly believed my Prince Charming would find me bearing roses and my raspberry beret. We’d marry and make melodies in a purple mansion and grow wise and beautiful as Mr. and Mrs. Nelson. That was a long time ago but still the tears run deep without ceasing. I will not say good night but instead, sleep well with your beloved.

Prince Rogers Nelson June 7, 1958- April 21, 2016