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#16 ANCESTORS

February 15, 2017

I Come From a Long Line of Sailors – Tim Goodwin

My great-grandfather never
had to worry about whether
or not his cell phone would
weather the power outage
with some semblance of a
charge. The only thing he had
to weather was the coming
storm, staying dry in the onslaught
of raindrops. Some say those
were simpler times, when one
would not have to tether
themselves to the wireless ether
that anchors us so, like ships
with no passengers, slowly
rotting in dry-dock. My
great-grandfather left his wife
and four children. He vanished
beyond the azure horizons, in a
buoyant carriage. She never
saw him again (he had no
cell phone). She was only
twenty-three. She lived to
be ninety-five. She searched
far and wide for him, and I
searched Google, but whatever
footprints he left have long
been washed clean. Tell me,
was my great-grandfather
a product of his time, or
did he simply drift, like
we all do sometimes?
The difference between him
and I is simple: I have never
left shore, and he had no
life raft, compass, or map
to lead him back.

Bog Bodies – Lauren Kennedy

Great Texas Aunty died in a military bed
Just her iron self, and her diabetes, her man already dead.

The doctors had taken each foot and each breast
Her black hair, undyed, now white like the rest.

Sliced and supine on her altar, smoking cigarette after cigarette
The memory is my mother's, one I can't forget.

Ancestors, I will turn towards this pain and these frogs,

Only, show me:

Why would you suffer for your kings
When you could feed them to the bogs?

Incestors – Michael Bone

Mathematically speaking
Humans are done
You don't get anywhere
Timesing one by one

They Were Only Human – Theresa Desautels

My paternal grandparents were immigrants from Canada.
They were wealthy, and so welcomed, but spoke only French.
My grandfather came out to his family in 1970.
He was shunned, and died of heart failure.

My maternal great grandmother was an immigrant from Ireland.
She contracted tuberculosis after my grandfather was born.
She spent most of her life in quarantine.
My grandfather’s only memory of her is from age four;
when she pushed his hug away for fear of infecting him.
She died shortly thereafter.

I’ve had several uncles commit suicide.
A mother who blames herself for her rape.
A father who embezzled money and died of overindulgence.

When we think of “ancestors,” we tend to think "magic."
Of pure beings, of guiding ghosts.
Who, if we clasp our hands and close our eyes,
will bestow upon us their ancient wisdom.

And yet, here we are. The present iteration of our bloodlines. The same old stumbling meat bags.

My ancestors were just as fucked up as me.
Just as confused, just as lonely.
Just as bad, and just as good.

So here I am. With their iron in my blood and their stardust in my bones. Doing my damnedest, too.

I'll honor them.
I'll work to forgive their mistakes.
I'll work to forgive their humanness.
So that maybe in this lifetime,
I might be wise enough to forgive myself for mine.

Maybe there is something magic about it, after all.

Ancestors – Theresa Ragudo

I want to curl up in my mothers
   "you should know better"
Pitch a tent in my rebellious nature
Warmed by her hot frustration
Content as the wolves cry out
Each star a provoked glass tear that
I am too stubborn to break

Your mother was your fathers "yes man"
She fed you her fear with a forced smile
Unknowingly inserted her delicate spine
We watch dizzy from the head shaking
And wonder if you'll ever find his posture

Ancestors - Amanda Freeman

The doctor
Smooths my brows
Traces my jaw.

Slides palms over shoulders, spine,
Scapulae
Gazing through glasses
Reports: except for odd star tattoos
Nothing to worry about.
Even the new dark mark under my right breast.

Log into 23andme, she directs.
Alabaster women with thirty years swimming swimming
sun up to dusk
usually present
pre cancer.
This body exhibits remarkable sun recovery.

Perhaps a predecessor was from a desert, or Indian, she posits.
Or maybe, I hope, one of my people was a traveler
A gypsy oscillating from northern lights to equatorial nights

Their wanderlust's refrain relayed in my perennial transitions.

Dry Blood - Sanchez

We haven’t known
eachother
for many years
or ever
for that matter.
But your dry
blood
courses through these veins
and with it
all your knowledge
and love
I never knew

Ancestral Stream – Cory Smith

Every river starts as a stream,
every stream has it's source.
What comes before is
a part of what will flow on it's course.

In every one of us,
in the stream of our DNA strands
are locked in the experiences,
those of our ancestral people/lands.

The courage of a sailor,
the creativity of an artist,
all that makes up me
is also what makes all of us.

So learn the stories of your family,
of those who have gone before.
You'll come closer to setting free
What truly lies at your core.

Then write down your story,
whether through art, photo or rhyme,
that those who will follow in a distant time
might now better their own family tree.

Ancestors – Izeck Hempseed

ancestoR, what?

ancestoR, what?
Who R my ancestoRs?
R they my paRents?

gRandpaRents?
gReat-gRandpaRents?
gReat-gReat- gRandpaRents?

foRe-fatheRs?
foRe-motheRs?
foRe-paRents?

homo Sapiens?
pRimates?
chimpanzees?

bonobos?
kangaRoos?
chickadees?

XX or XY?
Rna or dna?
pRotons & electRons?

staRs & galaxies?
quaRks & qusaRs?
some oR all of these?

fRiends & family?
society & community?
is it what you bleed?

memoRies of the foRgotten
all ancestoRs, please

Ant Sequesters – Davo

Ancestors
Hear me now
If there be any continuity
From my generation
connecting the one before and after
it lie in the same epitomes and axioms
from golden ages thousands of years ago
in epiphanies had by the mad
as Jesus, Newton, Einstein
all gave genius
later perverted
with great power comes great spectrum
in learning what we
can do
we now shift
toward should

Incestors
Hear me now
We are all a little bit Genghis Kahn
We all took from the tree of knowledge
and learned to lie
that our intention be a spectrum
tumultuous tongues
inherently forked up

Ant sequesters
spirits from the soil
pedometers lending
what frail continuity
be close
to Earth

If I really focus
my prayers I mumble
are identical
to ones spoken
by nature

Forgive me
for what I take unneedingly
Help me listen
keep me true
aaaaaaaaaaaa
oohhhhhhhh
oooooooooooh
mmmmmmmm

Proper Care and Feeding of the Dead – Eric Chisler

Where, precisely, do the dead go?
I mean, obviously not their bodies,
I get where those are headed.
Here's where someone chimes in:
"Back to the earth, man."
"We're all one."

I can't help but gag a bit,
Reviled--properly--by that prospect.
"We're all one"
Said less to bind us together
(As it promises), and more to
Constipate any potential raised brows.

Hushed, as it were.
"Don't worry about it."
"We've got it figured out."
"They go... everywhere."
Our new nowhere.
Ah, utopia. No. Where.

No, that's a promise I'll pass on.
Give me somewhere.
Make me someone.
Let's get risky, eh?
Have some consequence.
Don't deny me my echo.

Offer the echoes some space,
So they can trace the whole architecture.
As evidence of this girded vastness.
I mean for chrissakes,
We come from somewhere.
From someones.

How do they get invited,
Gathered in like they matter?
What's a table set
In their distinct honor
Look like today?
What feeds the dead?

Maybe we can start
By listening for their echoes.
The way they see themselves:
In our gait;
In our words;
In these times we're in.

Maybe that's at least
Paving some way for them,
Leaves a place in the proceedings.
But how do we offer them nourishment?
What does an ancestor need?
Moreover, what have they left us to tend?

And perhaps it's this:
We've been left the prospect
Of joining them one day.
We've been given the chance
To be remembered.
What a precious thing.

Soothing, that prospect.
You know, like comfort food.
Aha! That's it.
Of course it is.
We remember them.
Remember them like they're here.

I'll tell you, actually.
It's not like that.
Quiet yourself a bit.
Listen and watch.
Note where it all comes from.
Can you feel it?

They're here, waiting.
Waiting to be noticed.
To be recognized for it all.
Your being here.

Yes, they wait.
Without you,
That's all they have.
Don't make them wait.

Send me prompts for: