New Jersey

at Ben Franklin bridge’s height

one can see halfway across New Jersey

a land so flat and so green

it almost looks like paradise

and although salvation

lies far beyond this state

it’s good to feel that way

every now and then

to feel at the height

of a bridge to see the scattered

skeletons of Camden skyscrapers

to know beyond are farms and pines

suburban colonies

graphed developments

at first with natural names

Collingswood, Haddonfield, Cherry Hill

then unnatural names, townships

called by the names of colonizers

villages bearing names of lost tribes

exterminated people still roam

the barren pines, while cars collide

on highways stretched over unmarked graves

until finally the Atlantic Ocean arrives

a massive highway itself, littered with bones

of humans in chains, of slaves, of migrants

an inferno of water crushing bodies

centuries in transit

on the way to hell in life

en route to paradise in death

wherever that may be

Whirlwind Issue #10 Letter From the Editor

Read Issue #10

Hello and welcome to the tenth issue of Whirlwind Magazine. The theme of this issue is on the meaning of the word Empire in the 21st century. In this issue we are focusing on the voices of those who have traditionally been marginalized in the literary world. Imperialism in the 21st century has evolved along with globalization, so that the term doesn’t exactly have its old implications (i.e. 19th/20th century American Imperialism, or 18th/19th/20th century British Imperialism) but that of an international elite who wield financial capital as a weapon in order to oppress the vast majority of humanity.

In the meantime, well-meaning individuals who act for progress have become entangled in debates over identity politics. With this issue, we aim to unite the fractured voices of writers and artists of all identities against the real root of both Western oppression and neo-colonialism: those who control globalized financial capital, otherwise known as Empire. In the 21st century, Empire adapts to resistance against it by means of implicit control over media, technology, and education systems, in order to convince people around the world that the process of globalized capitalist oppression works. We all know due to current events that this is not the case.

The following pages include engaging poetry written by contributors from the Philadelphia area and all around the world. Vernita Hall’s poems are beautifully self-aware and steeped in history as she candidly reveals the ugliness of racism. Ryan Eckes boldly speaks out against injustice, exclaiming, “never thank a democrat / for anything / we’re not supposed to be / raped and killed…” and does it in such a gritty and urgent Philly way.

Savannah Cooper-Ramsey eloquently criticizes “…walls constituting nationalism, nonsense.” Mark Danowsky’s chilling prediction of a Post-Trump apocalyptic wasteland speaks volumes. Robin Knight describes the excesses of Oberon in his intellectual isolation. Jessica Murray walks us through the automatic checklist of Empire’s quality control. Julian Tirhma introduces us to Empire’s training video. Our old friend from Jamaica, Gervanna Stephens gives us her take on how oppression makes her feel. Justin Alley’s poem juxtaposes imperialist war in Iraq with our decadent consumption of reality television. Mara Buck’s “What is Aleppo?” takes that now famous question and flips it on its head.

Catriona McAlister’s poetry confronts the luxuries we are so accustomed to in the industrialized world. Tom Pescatore’s poem reflects on the human condition in a lonesome, Philly fashion. Juanita Rey, Sandra Turner-Barnes, Kymberly Brown, Preston Hood, and Molly Day all take a look at womanhood in their own way. Our final poems come from Lamont Steptoe, who delves us into the ultimate form of oppression in slavery. And finally, we have Pegi Eyers with another brilliant essay on the many problems we face when encountering Empire. As always, we’d like to thank you, the reader, for your support and hope you enjoy reading Whirlwind issue #10.

coverissue10front

Cover Art by Andrea Walls

 

serendipity

as a poet you must live

by your own terms

write poems

not by instruction

boxed in a beige classroom

but in the open air

whether urban or rural

 

as a poet you must breathe

hard before inspiration arrives

but it cannot be forced

a sign must come

most likely as a familiar

bird who lands before you

and tilts its little dinosaur head

questioning your intent

because the right words

won’t come unless you mean them

 

as a poet you must rest

easy after a productive day

even if only a handful

of lines were birthed

even if it seemed

like serendipity

slipped away

fluke

pronunciation: “flooooook”

a noun for fortune

for every word uttered

on the television

every ten word song

written by seven songwriters

every poem written by a robot

or under the influence

of mechanization

 

or, creation via fluke

allowing the truth

to bubble up thru the surface

 

or, a parasite

or, a fish

depends on who you ask

 

a fluke is not a nuke

a fluke is not a matter

of life or death

 

like the last shot you took

or the first time you have sex

 

human civilization is a fluke

and we’re happy for it

 

etymology: parasites

is the common consensus

among scientists

suspension snapped

a bridge painted the same color

as the sky fears its own lack

of identity, staring down into the dark

water beneath its belly

its steel spine itchy from all the vehicles

that traverse its body

the metal pests rub rubber

against its skin

the bridge loathes its condition

and yet its purpose is clear

and it accepts its position with patience

until an earthquake or whirlwind

snaps its suspension and frees it