Caution: Poetry at Work

April 2020

Poetry at work

This is the Poetry at Work Blog’s second publication of a student poem through our contest!

This month’s selected author is Godgift Iteghete. The intent of her poem is to honor and celebrate self-appreciation. Godgift says, “I was always told to love myself no matter what, but I never figured out just how to do that until recently. I know that to love myself is to constantly recognize my mental state, and to monitor my stress levels … I wrote this to celebrate all the African American women in this nation who have had to work hard to gain self-love and self-appreciation because the world does not deem them worthy of beauty or acceptance. I myself am an African American woman and I am finally coming into my voice and choosing to love myself amidst the society that we know as ours.”

Enjoy – and stay safe and calm in these rapidly-changing times!

A Love Letter to Myself

Underneath all this skin
Is a great mind that is ready to take on the world
A poet waiting to find inspiration in any and everything
A singer clenching her fists in order to emphasize the chords in which she belches
A dancer with a spin of Zanku to all moments of life
A songwriter with a heart beating to its own sacred rhythm

Underneath all this skin
Is a go big or go home type girl
With the eccentric flare ready to take on life by a swirl
Awaiting to be swooped off her feet by a flavorful kind of love
No, she is not discrete with her feelings
Yet she is not concrete in her abilities to express them
She breathes in sorrow and radiates a new tomorrow
She hopes and prays for better days as she sees suffering in this world we know as ours
Understand that underneath this skin
Is a goddess who does not wilt
To disrespect nor bow to snakes or cowardice eyebrows raised
she admires praises from the kin whom try to understand her
Not belittle her
Underneath ...
Nah atop this skin is the silky formed platter of melanin
The kind that shines without assistance
Some may say she glows in the dark

She never ceases to fail
No matter how many times she gets knocked down she stands back up
Life keeps trying to tilt her
But life doesn’t undo her
And even if she were a boat with a hole in it
And life was the ocean beneath her
It could not manage to sink her

She never ceases to be brave
Her voice of reasoning is one that astonishes many and shuns the rest
She speaks with her chest
words that can turn solid concrete into liquid in a matter of a moment

This person I speak of is the definition of beautiful
She is the woman I’ve always envisioned
She is me

- Godgift Iteghete

Write your own: Write your own ‘self-love’ poem. Try including imagery which you enjoy, or which empowers you. Describe how you see yourself, or how you wish others would see you. Use the poem to reflect on your best qualities and gives thanks for who you are.

March 2020

backpacking in the mountains

This is the Poetry Blog’s first publication of a student poem! We sent a call out to all CSB/SJU students and received many good submissions. The poems were judged by Writing Center staff as well as professional poet Larry Schug. After much deliberation, Jeffrey Wilkinson’s poem “Applemind Journeys” was ultimately selected.

The intention of this poem is to explore the similarities and differences between imaginative desire and charitable desire. It also asks the question of how perceptions of love are framed by perceptions of self.

Enjoy – and please consider submitting a poem for April’s post!

Applemind Journeys

Letting go of youth
Is an invitation to youth,
The paradox of aging.

Among the whine
Of sirens and cicadas
I dream of your wide embrace
Flanking more patience
Than I could buy with
A nuclear arsenal.

I flash by
The cracked facades
And tunnel vision
Of the poor
Whose eyes are grown
As long and useless
As the history of money,

And I try to pretend
You are here picking apples

But what I really see
Is a faint woman
Dim and yellow dress on,
Fondling the dry leaves
Growing in the grey trees
Across from the old train tracks.

I sense her shimmer in the wobble
Of the day's heat coma
Like a candle in a convent
Burning secretly among flames
Set by mad arsonists,
Or mud in a drought's mirage.

The apples of my mind's eye
Are fond desires here,
Even under the sink
of this cicada-beaten numb brown morning
That sucks the blasted pavement
Of this ghetto.
I hate to see poverty
When all I want is passion,
Yet my heart is full
Of the special ice
That keeps me cool in hot weather,
That condenses without warning
And makes me think
My love must be selective.

In fear of dehydrating,
I wish rapids
To brush the burnt faces
Of the ghetto's starving angels
Who, wrinkled by such finite desires
That speech is chafing,
Must only pray with
The square dance of sinew
For the same apples
As I so easily conjured from my mind's magic box.

Letting go of youth
Is an invitation to youth
Because when we look
For beauty in the dust of the age,
We are going to love Whatever we see,
Even if it is wretched and fixed.
And then will no longer see
What the wretched hope to see,
A transformed life.
Dust that is loved is still dust.

And so since that which we see
Fixes into human form
An unalterable placebo,
A grave happiness,
The dwindling diamond of dancing decay,
To etch spontaneity into code
Requires more than our sight;
Love requires
immersive Apple-sharing
Of the brain's wet soul.

- Jeffery Wilkinson

Write your own: Try a poem contrasting two opposite feelings or ideas.

Previous Entries