Jennifer Reeser

How to Hide the Native

Purchase powder pale as milk,
With names like "Marble, Level One."
The copper common to your ilk
Is rarer than cosmetic sun.

Line kohl of coffee brown or ash
With wider thickness as it goes
Along the lower, outer lash,
To make your eyes round as the doe's;

In hopes perhaps no more will tease
The children—without pang or guilt—
Who chuckle, with, "Are you Chinese?
Do you have Down? Your eyes—they tilt."

Sweep shadow in Apache Gold
Just over your near-lidless crease,
To cloak the epicanthic fold,
Pronounced as that of Chief Cochise.

One day, your shame shall turn to pride—
Or more like dignifying grace—
When alabaster Genocide
Wails, as you raise your reddened face.

Wounded Knee

Bury my heart, which still must beat,
With acid soil, and white deceit,
And let it feed a foot of wheat,

Before I buckle—red and tender—
Discrediting my race and gender
By unconditional surrender.

Were I to make the treaty good,
What wilderness , in totem, should
Be given me, of western wood?

That savage attribute, Surprise,
Appraises Little Big Horn lies
From hidden heights beneath the skies.

Once while I stood in stormy weather,
Drawing my spade and hands together
Firmly in gloves of doe-skin leather,

Between slim rows of squash and corn,
Planting long lines of fire thorn,
Something sublime in me was born.

All I possess, all that remains,
Is but to scoop the bandits' brains,
Like brute Comanches on the plains,

Returning to the sacred dust,
And the Great Spirit as I must.
When none submit, who dares to trust?

The Bird Clan

The Bird Clan—raven, dove, and eagle—
Is Mother's clan. It is through her
My lineage is counted legal,
And I am called a Messenger.

And though our Arbor happens near
To left, on ceremonial land,
Of that "delivery" clan, the Deer,
We do not carry news, by hand.

But we, we keepers of the Bird—
Two groves from those who keep the sod—
Come out with the unspoken word
Between humanity and God.

The blowgun and the hunting snare
We handle with uncommon skill;
And we alone may reap from air—
The sole collectors of the quill.

Forty moons ago, I ran—
My ribbons following behind
In strands of long hair—from a man
Whose treatment of me was unkind.

He was a white man, old and fat—
Though once, they say, he had good looks.
He wore a curved-brimmed, Texas hat,
And said that he had read great books.

Enamored of the fire stick,
He laid a claim to classic letters—
But this insistence was a trick.
In truth, he leads those pale go-getters

Who mock the word and bleed the weak,
Who blow—like powder—what they read;
Whose tongues, divided when they speak
With skilled maliciousness, mislead.

I saw the fairness of their skin,
Desirous to assume as sure
The fairness of their souls within—
But those were filthy, and impure.

They aided wild Atakapas
Who gnawed men's flesh with grisly rite,
In regions where the Mardi Gras
Is greeted as a feast of light.

I trusted each. I called him "friend"
Who never was a friend to me,
Who only took. And in the end,
They placed me in a pillory.

One sunset, then another sun,
He bided time, through their abuse,
Then—feigning valor—dropped his gun,
Insisting that they let me loose.

With half-despair, and half-conceit,
Though overflowing faith, I fled
The one who boasted that he beat
And then abandoned me for dead.

I fled, to fly with birds of prey,
With birds of peace, and live to tell
More cunningly than he can say,
The best revenge is living well.

Rinse My Sins

No longer can I stand these heavy rattles
of turtle shell tied tightly to my shins.
Baptize me, in between your British battles,
and make the sacred liquid rinse my sins.
The bath will not eradicate this running
of pigment in my skin, nor render clean
the red clay I am made, for all the cunning
of Cleopatra—your exotic queen
from whom my mother takes her "Christian" name,
and thus, this stain, as though I roast in flame.
Remove these bracelets of beaded teal
your fairer squaws beg, borrow, strip or steal.
Pretend I am a blonde, full-blooded daughter.
Hey-yah, hey-yah, hey-yah. Prepare the water.


Jennifer Reeser is the author of four books of poetry, including Sonnets from the Dark Lady and Other Poems (2012), which was a finalist for the Donald Justice Prize, and The Lalaurie Horror (2013), which debuted as an Amazon bestseller in the category of epic poetry. Her books have received critical praise, and X.J. Kennedy wrote that Reeser's debut collection "ought to have been a candidate for a Pulitzer." Her poems, essays and translations of French and Russian literature have appeared in POETRY, Levure Litteraire, The Hudson Review, Recours au Poeme, First Things and The Dark Horse, among others. Her writing has appeared in many anthologies, including Measure for Measure, in Penguin's Everyman's Library series, An Introduction to Poetry, The Able Muse Anthology, and Poets Translate Poets: A Hudson Review Anthology. Her translations of the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova are authorized by FTM Agency, Moscow. Reeser's own work has been translated into Urdu, Persian, Czech and Hindi, and composer Lori Laitman has set her poetry to music for the song cycle tribute to poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. She is a regular poetry contributor to William F. Buckley, Jr.'s magazine, The National Review. Reeser is the former editor of Iambs and Trochees, and has served as a moderator, manuscript consultant and mentor at the West Chester Poetry Conference. She lives in the southern Louisiana bayous with her husband and children. Her website is found at www.jenniferreeser.com


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The most recent addition to The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline is Jane Kenyon by Susan Spear.

Gail White and Nausheen Eusuf are the recipients of the 2017 Mezzo Cammin Scholarships to the Poetry by the Sea conference.

Alice Mizrachi is a New York based interdisciplinary artist working in the mediums of painting, installation, murals and socially engaged art. Her work explores the interconnectedness of individuals and community through the dual lens of compassion and empathy. Through figurative work that reinforces both personal and community-oriented identity, Alice aims to inspire creative expression and a sense of shared humanity through art.

Alice has worked as an arts educator for nearly twenty years for a variety of organizations including BRIC Arts, The Laundromat Project and The Studio Museum in Harlem. As a pioneer in the field of socially engaged art at the local level, Alice has been recognized and selected to develop arts education curriculum for organizations such as HI-ARTS (Harlem, NY), Dr. Richard La Izquierdo School and Miami Light Project. She has also been a panelist discussing community-engaged art for events at Brown University and The Devos Institute of Arts Management.

As a painter, Alice maintains both a studio practice and an extensive body of work as a muralist. Her work have been featured in exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, UN Women and the Museum of Contemporary Art in DC. She has been commissioned as a mural artist for projects in Amsterdam, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and across the United States by organizations and museum including: Knox-Albright Museum, Buffalo, NY; Worcester DCU (Worcester, Massachusettes); Wall Therapy (Rochester, NY); La Mama and Fourth Arts Block (NYC); Miami Light Project (Miami, FL); and, Chashama (Harlem, NY), among others.

Alice's mural and installation work has been constructed in galleries and public spaces as part of site-specific arts education and community development projects. Her work often engages local neighborhoods and reflects positive visual responses to social issues. Her process activates a shared space of love, hope, optimism and healing as a means to connect with participants. Frequent topics include identity, unity, migration and the sacred feminine.

Alice and her art have been featured in a variety of publications including the book, 2Create, Outdoor Gallery: New York City, the New York Times, and Huffington Post and The Architectural Digest. She has a BFA from Parsons School of Design and was an instructor at the School of Visual Arts in 2015. Alice was also the co-founder of Younity, an international women's art collective active from 2006-2012. She has received grants from The Puffin Foundation and The Ford Foundation. Her recent projects include a residency in Miami with Fountainhead, a residency with Honeycomb Arts In Buenos Aires and a mural with The Albright Know Museum in Buffalo. Alice currently holds a studio space at The Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx. Her upcoming projects include a workshop/ panel at Brown University and a book release in Summer 2017.

32 Poems
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