Sunday, August 1, 2021

Excerpt from DIVINE DIVINE DIVINE, Daniel B. Summerhill


ways of pronouncing rapper, 2017

lil uzi vert,


lil yachty,

how they make the tongue polysyllabic,
stretching the way we wield our mouths to pronounce:


an ecosystem
that sings our glory,
its grime and gospel.

what other way to sing autonomy?

what other way
   to sing,

than to break
our grammer
the way 808s shake
license plates loose
on the rears of big body
american cars.

how we say,

a boogie wit da hoodie,

& our minds retract all predictions
and become bilingual
three minutes at a time
as if to say
  we are unscripted

—freestyle our names too.


i’ll never forget watching
my aunt attempt to muster

a water main break with

a single roll of paper towels

dripping with the same water

our neighbors bathed

in earlier that night while
questioning how the only Black
folks on the block managed to

stay afloat for years.

an open letter to the police department

after the news of andrew kearse

playing dead is not a pastime,
not a way of claiming liberty, or
self-justice, or elduing your inevitable
force, when a Black body stops moving,
it is always already a blues-hit silenced
by a government that believes
died in police custody somehow—
makes murder sound less aggressive.

albany middle school teaches a lesson on entrepreneurship

our bookbags be a Black market—
meager juveniles brandishing singles
behind blacktop filled fingernails
and back-pockets void of wallets.

by nine, i break even. jamel pries
open his second box of starburst, while
kumi brokers six bucks to a sixth grader
for the lack of supply and huge demand.

half past noon, our surge
   comes to a halt, and we gather behind
the b building to compare profits
  and crack jokes on jamel’s short shorts.

tuesday through thursday be the same saga.
  transactions in the hallways. while friday
be a sabbath, a space for us to take flight
   over the basketball courts with our nikes. 

on sunday, costco be a kingpin
    that knew we’d never miss a re-up unless
ms. peggy called our mothers in for a meeting
  to discuss the school’s drop in lunch sales.

monday be a chalk talk, our first lesson on
the ways our brown bodies aren’t allowed
to yield the same way other bodies are.
aren’t allowed to multiply the same.

today’s prayer

my son, tell them the body is a blade that sharpens by cutting
- ocean vuong

today’s prayer is for honing steel,
a third testament that Black folks anchor

to their galvanized body in ink. today’s
prayer is for a radical revision. in this variation,

jesus grew up in oakland off seminary
and oakland don’t have two cheeks. after

the first, you’ll discover how sharp Black
can be. in this variation, simon, andrew

and john are angela, eldridge, and huey.
today’s prayer is for honing steel and a chopping

block. today’s prayer is for peer review—
today’s prayer is to revise and resubmit.

today’s prayer doesn’t include
submission. today’s prayer is broadcast

from calvary and longinus didn’t get the good
side. in this variation we don’t lose blood,

just dull shrapnel. today’s prayer is for a blade.
today’s prayer is for a self-sharpening body.

Daniel B. Summerhill is a poet, performance artist and scholar from Oakland, California. He received an MFA in creative writing from Solstice of Pine Manor College. His work has been published on Obsidian, Rust + Moth, The Hellebore, Gumbo, The Lilly Review, and elsewhere. He lives in California’s central coast and is Assistant Professor of Poetry/Social Action and Composition Studies at California State University Monterey Bay.

For more information, and to order copies of DIVINE DIVINE DIVINE by Daniel B. Summerhill, please see here.

*Editor's note:

ways of pronouncing rapper, 2017 was previously published via A Garden of Black Joy Anthology

an open letter to the police department was previously published via Monterey County Weekly

albany middle school teaches a lesson in entrepreneurship was previously published via The Hellebore

Selected Works, Uche Nduka

1. What You Are

All you can do
is tilt the light
for the weather
to be fucked away
that talent for
sticking with the tide
going out to meet
its fate
the effortless glances
fractured words exchange
I appreciate you so much
but don't expect too much
of the end of romance
there are endless trips
to make down the cliff
into hair flesh veins
emptiness is difficult
to maintain
love quickly wears it down
this is no charming equilibrium
for even the mists
want to be valued and held
no destination can turn
you into anything but what you are

2. Seen From Every Roof

Everything happens here
where white sails tease
your face

                            in the night of
                                        the American West

I go backpacking
                          with the sea

as a way of accepting
                          that palm trees may
                                         or may not remember us

Gonna fly now
with fireworks
                      as tides guard tides

turn my back
on a half-smiling lamp
the sea and I

                        are seen from every roof

on equal footing with
every underworld
                           heard in every line

3. State of Light

Foghorns loop over Puget Sound.

It's hard to know where
to begin if my portrait
is also the portrait
of my country.

I haven't stopped caring
about whom I'm dealing with.

Graceful people doing
graceful things in graceful places.

I can turn around
and once again hear
a seagull say It doesn't have
to be either/or. Poetry
doesn't have rules like that.

Kids at school celebrate
a campaign that turned
into a crusade.

Metal headdress.
Pool lounger.

She said Okay
and poured it but
didn't drink it.

4. Squint / Strand

Looking earthward
the angels expect jackasses.

I've never been able
to concentrate on anything
else but this moving target.

Turning right
I see them leave hardwood floors
and hurry to the waterline.

They would see to it
that they would bruise themselves
only on a freelance basis.

There's plenty of room
for disdain or seduction
while fireworks feed the sky.

Your beard is blacker
                              than mine.

I wonder what goes on
                                  in your mind.

5. This Proximity

Serenity is on the bridge.

Your t-shirt is in the laundry now.

It makes me homesick for some place I've never seen.

As if there's a way if you're ready.

Three doors down. Four doors down. Five doors down.

Serenity isn't in fooling around with the moon.

On the drums you can flat-out tear it up.

A picnic blanket a place to brandish hope.

Rosebush strobe lights sleepover a slutty release.

Eager for an impending havoc or romance at high speed.

Asked if any of that immersion had made
a difference for lives that scat.

Flash lets you know that pubic hair is
not a quiet thing.

6. To Look and See

Either way it's inevitable
no better way to start
the day than with a book
that never ends
an alpine ancestry
sears itself onto
                         the window seat
survival means playing
with fire
whether I was wanted
                               there or not
I needed to leave home
                        to find my kind
of people
that flight was meant
to be
I was desperate for marvels

7. Budding Symmetry

is the most
crucial meal of the day

a seascape
lighting our way home

*       *.         *

No ground was lost
beneath the brilliance
of the migration of sparrowhawks.

Don't dim your light
while my lips yield
to your lips.

*.          *.            *

Explore the why
of bleeding heart
burning it down
since the saxophone
let in the thong.

We didn't come to abandon
to draw a line.

Uche Nduka-poet, essayist, dancer-is the author of twelve volumes of poems of which the most recent are LIVING IN PUBLIC and FACING YOU. He treasures the psychic territory of literary labour. He believes in aesthetic flexibility. Spectral intimations of imaginative potentiality thrill him. Some
of his poems generate electricity. Nduka's forthcoming volume of poems (Spring 2022) is titled FRETWIRE.

Two Poems, Bola Opaleke



Shhhhh! This is how she tamed a roaring lion.


Akanke let him get himself lost

in the forest of her shhhhh. Pull him

closer & closer until he disappears between


her thighs.


The weight of his face

concealed. Wherein the child mothers

the child, not even the blood moon


would dare


to stop the leaf that carries

the branch. He looks upward

to seek the face of mercy, licks shhhhh then


finds god


is no longer where

he used to live. Akanke could have

just tipped him over into his next life


but thought instead:


what use is a lion

reduced to limbless frog? If this planet

is any hint, beasts would still be


the gods


in the afterlife. She knows

he can only just whistle, not

roar. Tells him, the road from the forest


is forked


like the tongue of a snake.

Tells him, there is no coming back

from the shhhhh wherein he is fated to vanish. 



Guilt sometimes runs its fingers

down my spine the way a soldier runs his finger

down a map. I have lived inside a coffin


all my life. It suits the death my grief ignites.

I tried, but can no longer say, “Please, forgive me”


without first bending toward the ashen earth

to kiss the low clouds of helplessness. The soldiers,

they came in hundreds inside the yard where children play


boju-boju oloro nbo. They pulled off my clothes.

They vandalized the road on my body leading back home.


Tell me, how do you love a country laughing

at your pain? In the kitchen, undressed

on the wet floor, its shadow is the same as a man holding a gun.


Someday, a child will feel the guilt of leaving

his parents but not the shame of abandoning his home.


Dogs barking violently at naked women–

their hands tied to the back. They said, we’re wrong.

They have groomed them to always say, “it’s our fault”.


The dogs yelling at a little girl, “open it,

open the damn door”. Her tiny hand cannot


even reach the knob. She screams, hand clutching the air,

Baba, e gba mi, then her body gives. Night

begins to fall from her hair. Is this not how my country pounces


upon my soul? A girl crying & crying inside my head.

Her ghost not understanding that, me too, I’m living inside a coffin.






*Baba, e gba mi, translates to the English as: Father, save me

Bola is the author of Skeleton of a Ruined Song. Winner of 2020 Thomas Morton Prize in Poetry. A few of his poems have appeared or forthcoming in journals like Prairie Fire, Frontier Poetry, Rattle, CBC Books, The Nottingham Review, The Puritan, Literary Review of Canada, Sierra Nevada Review, The Indianapolis Review, Canadian Literature, and many more. He holds a degree in City Planning and lives in Winnipeg MB.  Bola is currently Arts Community Director with Winnipeg Arts Council Board of Directors.

Selected Works, Giorgia Pavlidou


The women’s naked body is a portion of eternity too great for the eye of man


- William Blake




 Language neurologically blazes and condenses as an operatic sundial suddenly spinning. Thus sonic irrigation transpires and becomes material confluence transmuting in human cells.


-Will Alexander












once below a time

i was like-




-them protein bags:     wrinkled sacks of bowels and bones





miniature machines

every  nine months


i was






though in my nightdreams

naked cyborgs sung to me



















 as if



gigantic transparent snakes






arrhyθmic beats

flooded my earshot








in the midst of this dark chaos:




the prima materia

of human flesh and plastic





my own corpse appeared

ablaze on an operating theater:




a young woman’s body

enclosed by θroat singing trolls

chanting in polyphonic overtones  








medical robots rewrote my skin



white coats re-spun my nervous system






my eyelids cracked open

the morning after



when words





under my skin




glossolalic fishtails;



waved inside my womb

pisces with decibel-scales




their invisible fins


organs whispered;






an alien syntax


shrieking sounds

as if resurrected

from languages

long gone extinct




annunciating that:



on the first day of the 6th month



after march 25th 

the day bodies of


burned up




squirmed θrough

rivers of asphalt

& uttered




et ecce concipies in utero



ohne dich kann












i was human


parents and grandparents

raised me


brothers & sisters loved & hated me


i birthed a baby boy i detested 

& adored


alas on the 6th month

my new genitals chanted hallelujah

in a meltdown of female sighs






my skin appeared



my organs




my mind




my womb








stroke my silicon nipples

kiss my plastic lips

be perplexed by my lexical fluidity





on the 9th month

when i entered labor





celestial triangles penetrated circles


circles stroked squares


the letter φ kissed the letter χῖ



water was seduced to disrupt



fig trees peeled & devoured their own fruit












my births

can never be reduced

to one or two


like my punctuation:


this silicon body







multi-polar embryos

gifted with perpetual regeneration


painted spectres  

in constant φonemic expansion



& my adjectives


they’re watching astral winds! 



lingual hailstorms in black holes


intergalactic φonemes






against a relentless human skull








my φonemic body was announced by the oblique

its lexical tentacles

burrowed in human skin







observe zillions of swarming infixes

spiraling up humanity’s spine



undulating around one’s neurotransmitters

undulating around one’s phonemes




his φonemic body

this one true body





when one tries looking

into all its eyes


like a spider’s:




this plastic body




with its multiple φantom-genitals

will rub against the orifices of masculinity:



four billion men will orgasm against their will


& when they do

they’ll have no other choice

than to speak to me

in one contracted voice



whispering sweet words in my ear

perhaps three times

perhaps seven times


& when they do







millions of splendiferous voices

will sprout in their heads




singing songs from the future


songs sung without consonants








songs of innocence









Inevitable Nights 

Some nights are inevitable. Perhaps it’s the wine. You’re not sure. Maybe you’re dreaming. Tripping? Do you really care? You don’t seem to. At least not now, you don’t. Yet these inevitable nights have something profound. Upon realizing this you get your usual fit of stupidity, and El susto embarks on its journey of slowly encroaching upon you.

“Is this the beginning of a yet-to-be discovered form of madness?”  

You look at all the women’s magazines lying disorderly on your bed. You wonder: “What if the pictures would talk to me – or worse – laugh at me?” and the image of an old mad uncle pops up in your head. He claimed he knew the difference between dreaming, hallucinating and making up stories. He died in an insane asylum. Your family tried mourning him, but empathy isn’t their field of expertise.

Next you don’t really know why, but you find yourself counting all the cute little memories you accumulated during your many travels. After you convinced yourself that some or perhaps most of these memories are ridiculous, you think about your many habits, and count these. Probably it’s the wine. Yes, blame the wine.

During these inevitable nights, you usually contemplate the many reasons why you never took pictures. Everyone is taking pictures nowadays. You hate showing photos to family and friends. The idea of telling tall tales or mundane anecdotes appalls you. You glance once more at your magazines. You feel relieved. The gorgeous women crusted into photoshopped images aren’t laughing at you.

 “What if I forget an important habit?” is the next question you’re considering. This consideration triggers another attack of stupidity. You look at your magazines and relax. The photos are still mute. 

Not so long ago when one could still go out and about, these nights seemed less inevitable. “What if the whole of who I am,” you carry on reflecting, “has been built around many little habits?” It occurs to you that some of these habits seem rooted in words like “here.” During inevitable nights you catch yourself fantasizing about exiting “here” and go “there,” and perhaps never come back “here.” 

This fort und da from “here” to “there” annoys you. Anger wells up from somewhere in your lower abdomen.  If you’d smoke you’d spark up a cigarette, but you don’t smoke. You quit smoking. Instead you drink. Drinking, however, is a habit you want to forget. 

Take a look at your magazines, but don’t blame yourself that you didn’t take pictures. 

In spite of all well-meant advices, you’re still furious at both your absent lover and your absent spouse. “They should have taken at least one picture,” you raise your voice at nobody in particular, because, after all, you are alone. Another one of your stupidity attacks. Look at your magazines. There’s nothing going on there. Or is there? 

“Suppose you’d actually go mad, how would you know?”

            All your mad family members start popping up in your head one by one. That scares you. You’ve lost count. 

Wait a second. Take a deep breath, and look at your women’s magazines. Anybody there laughing at you? Talking to you? Of course not, stupid.   

Still you whisper, “nobody cares.” Again, you feel angry at both your absent lover and your absent spouse. If you’d smoke, you’d light up a cigarette, but you don’t smoke. You drink. You gaze at your magazines.  This time you decide to look longer than usual. You stare. You try feeling if you’re losing it. Nothing. Instead anger’s welling up.

A few moments later, you observe yourself looking at the space around you with greater intensity. You look at the walls, your furniture, books, pictures, magazines. You even pay attention to the insects you never bothered to relocate. You stare at the spider. It hasn’t moved for months. You also stare at the little lizard that’s been dwelling here with you from the time you first moved here. Glance at the magazines. Nothing, but your mouth’s talking to the photos, louder and louder until you realize you’re pretty much screaming at your magazines. 

You halt for a second, lower your voice and whisper, “stupid magazines, stupid uncle.”

“The difference between him and me is that I have money,” you tell the lizard while staring into his eyes. You think he’s male. The lizard turns his head a little, but you aren’t sure. You come closer. “Has he moved at all?” you ask yourself. His eyes are staring right back at you. 

What are you looking at crazy lizard? 

“I have money, you know,” you yell at the lizard. He undulates off and hides behind the cupboard. 

Stupid lizard. 

All this excitement has made you nervous. This forces you to get up. You pace around in your room, exit, walk through the drawing room, pass the living room into one of your other bedrooms and stop at the window. Nothing to see, of course, why would there be? 

You giggle a little bit to yourself while thinking about the magazines. This thought makes you run, as if your life depends on it, toward the magazines, and you scream at the top of your voice:

“I’m not afraid.” 

”Stupid bastards” you’re saying to yourself, pacing around your room.  

“I know you don’t give a shit.” 

I don’t need anyone. Fuckers. Idiots. I don’t need you.

You pace faster and faster in the direction of the cupboard behind which the lizard hid: “I have money, stupid lizard.”

“Now you’re scared, aren’t you?” you yell in the gap between the wall and the closet and laugh hysterically at exactly the spot where the lizard disappeared.

You open the cupboard and see a stack of folded white shirts.

These aren’t mine, you think, feeling irritated.

“Again?” you shout. “Again they have put someone else’s shirts in my cupboard?” 

Fuckers. Idiots. I don’t need you. I don’t need anyone.

You don’t know if it’s because today the night is inevitably inevitable, but you decide to carefully examine the clothes. First, however, you need check the magazines: nothing to see there. Now go to where the lizard disappeared. 

“You see, I’m not crazy,” you whisper into the gap. 

Next you take the shirts out one by one. 

Who wears such ridiculous shirts? 

“Idiots.” Your whisper turns into a scream: “Where the hell do these shirts come from?” The decibels of your voice startle you. You become furious again at both your absent husband and your absent lover. 

“I hate both of them, ” you hear yourself say, “and the lizard too. 

Holding a shirt in your hand, you notice a tiny wet spot emerging on the tissue and then another one and another one. You realize you’re sobbing. 

“I hate them both,” you whisper to yourself.   

“Are these yours?” you ask.   

“Tell me, sweetheart, please tell me, love, are these yours?”

More spots appear on the shirt you’re holding now, wrinkled and wet. Your sobbing intensifies: tears running down your cheeks land on the shirt. You bury your face into the shirt. Your cries get louder and louder.

You look up in the direction of the spot where the lizard disappeared, and you yell, “I loved them, once, both of them, stupid lizard.” 

Your scream becomes a whisper: “I loved them both.” 

A few seconds later you say to yourself: “Is tonight a dark-red night? Or is it a light-red night?” 

I quit drinking, didn’t I? 

You pace and pace and pace, this time in all directions: out of “here” and into “there,” out of the living room and into another bedroom. Quick glance at the magazines. 

You shout: “I’m not crazy,” and you laugh and laugh and laugh. 

Now you are running as fast as you can: one room into another and back into the first one.   

“Idiots, I am going to teach you a lesson. How dare you? Putting your clothes in my cupboard. You disgust me.” 

At last you arrive in the kitchen. There you seem to calm down a bit. From that angle you meticulously scrutinize the drawers of the closet. After a half a minute or so, you run to the cupboard and open the drawer with one quick jerk. 

“Is it because of these strange nights or because of the bad wine?” You don’t know, but again you wonder: “Am I dreaming or hallucinating?” You chuckle at this question, look into the drawer, grab the large knife you usually keep for these kinds of nights, run toward the magazines, jump up and land on your knees on the bed. The magazines are right between your legs. You stab, stab, stab, till all the gorgeous women are shred to pieces. 

“Try talking to me now, bitches!” 

Exhausted you light up a cigarette and pour yourself another glass of your favorite wine.

“It’s late,” you whisper. The essay in the magazine about nail polish that you are reading can’t hold your attention. 

Once again I’ve landed in one of these strangely inevitable nights, you observe your brain think. 

A little lizard is running for his life at the other side of your room. 

The spider disappeared. 

A large knife is resting on your night table.

You switch off the light.

Originally trained in clinical psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, Giorgia Pavlidou is an American writer and painter intermittently living in the US and elsewhere in the world. She received her MA in Literature from Lucknow University, India and her MFA in Fiction from MMU Manchester, UK, (though her meetings with LA poet-philosopher Will Alexander have been/are exceedingly more impactful). Her work has recently appeared in such places as Caesura, Lotus-Eater, Zoetic Press, Maintenant Dada Journal, Puerto del Sol, Entropy and Thrice Fiction. She’s the main English language editor of SULΦUR literary magazine and of The Room, and has a chapbook forthcoming with Trainwreck press. Additionally, Ireland-based Strukturiss Magazine selected her as the main artist of their January 2022 issue 3.1. Before devoting herself full-time to painting and writing, she worked as a clinical psychotherapist for about ten years.