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Breath & Shadow

Spring 2017 - Vol. 14, Issue 4

"You’ve Become Unsafe Ground"

written by

Akua Lezli Hope

You’ve become unsafe ground:

I can arrive at the inn and have a great meal

but the walls start to shake

the ground begins to tremble

denying our shared past

recasting steps taken to the door


You protest everything I remember of our befores


You make me recant 35 years of history

as you pretend to be 35

letting Hollywood’s tyranny rule

our other-coastal lives


Remember our flying along predawn streets

bejeweled, glistening under amber street lights

after-parties filled with the world’s best music

feasting on our youth in our great natal city


Pooling pennies for espresso in prescient cafes

feeding our singing stomachs instead of taking the train

poor eager hungry years of leap the moon joy

magic miles of concrete sojourned by winged feet


Daily inhaling azure words we read for food

sprouting bright new blooms every fortnight

a new tune, a new verse, a new love shared

growing after growing up, learning after school


I’ll keep silent, withdraw into this translucent shell

of wings, humming Giant Steps

as I scrape fallen leaves into piles

and dream of jumping on them,

feel their crunch and cradle as they pillow

my head to face a high blue forever above

before they are gathered, bagged

and smashed into compost

readying for this late-arriving spring.

Akua Lezli Hope is a creator who uses sound, words, fiber, glass, and metal to create poems, patterns, sculpture, stories, music, adornments and peace whenever possible. A third generation New Yorker, she has won fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Ragdale, and The National Endowment for The Arts. Her manuscript, Them Gone, won Red Paint Hill’s Editor’s Prize. She won the 2015 Science Fiction Poetry Association’s short poem award.  She has published 116 crochet designs, served as a volunteer leader for Amnesty International, and loves science fiction. A paraplegic, she has founded a paratransit nonprofit.

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