Three Poems by Safia Jama

Jama Banner

South with Wildflowers

I tend to my fallacies like this field of yellow petals
A little landscape my mind makes

It’s like an old tune you might whistle out of nowhere
Pretty, you think, but what the heck does it mean?

I get closer, twisting my neck upward to regard Spanish moss
See how it holds still, like a girl in a wind machine?

I slip unawares through the lacey skein
All our histories, locked up in that trunk

Even in this field, I am helped along
Red ants, red ants, come out from your green mansions

One afternoon, I stood in the Rift Valley and reached out a hand
I thought flower and learned the word thistle


Self-Portrait as an Agnes Martin Painting

After the show at the Guggenheim, I decide that I am a walking
Agnes Martin painting

Not unlike walking pneumonia, I walk around with this condition, just as
walking through the halls of the museum, I wear a faded grey coat
that somehow evokes the surface of her canvas

People stare in disbelief, back and forth, between me
and the paintings, unable to distinguish the two of us

Like the Agnes Martin, I have sharp lines
that blur and we both feel a sense of vertigo looking down

Later in life, I am black and blacker, much like the black pyramids
that appear in her otherwise European geo-space territories

Like an Agnes Martin, people think of me as calm and serene
while inside, I rail and rage

So I make my sharp angles more and more soft
as a kid’s new eraser

I want to clothe myself constantly in Agnes Martin paintings
and always be that safe and serene

And carry little cards that say


The Victorian Era

It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence. And crumpets.

The Whigs became the Liberals.
With strawberry jam.

Pax Britannica. Economic, colonial and industrial consolidation, temporarily disrupted by the Crimean War in 1854.

Quiet please, this is a library.

The end of the period saw the Boer War and a widening voting franchise.
Beware of the wild boar roaming the library!

Lord Melbourne, Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Salisbury aka Most Honorable:

‘…a patient, pragmatic practitioner, with a keen understanding of Britain’s… interests. He oversaw the partition of Africa’

You’re a good patient, my dear.

Sir Robert Peel, Lord Derby, and Lord Palmerston. William Ewart Gladstone.
We’re so glad to see you.

Ireland’s population, however, decreased sharply.

Good night, Irene.

Safia Jama is a Cave Canem graduate fellow, born to a Somali father and an Irish-American mother in Queens, New York. Her manuscript was a semi-finalist in the Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry.

Two Poems by Tyehimba Jess
Vi Khi Nao by Louis Elliott
Vi Khi Nao Covers

From personal ads compiled as narrative to a frame-by-frame retelling of a short film on grazing sheep, Nao’s poems and stories are acrobatic experiments in form.

Cathy Park Hong by Ken Chen
Minor Feelings Mockup

The poet’s new collection of essays, Minor Feelings, threads intense friendships, “bad” English, and standup comedy into a meditation on the Asian-American experience.

One Poem by Jon Ruseski
1 D0 Fa436 6 Cc5 47 Cf B0 A9 F56958 Fa6871

Maybe // There is // A genealogy of suffering // How // This morning // I read // Minimalism is the aesthetic code of gentrification // Really I want to say // Make less art