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Who am I by Miko Reed

Who am I

Caramel thickness rich with layers of brown agave
Indigenous- my story is
Nampeyo’s Legacy fusing red clay with love
My story is locs of pain
Breaking free from resistance
It’s written on skyscrapers hidden below sea level
It’s passed down thru slaves and their masters
But mostly slaves that descended from masters
My story- they’ve mastered
It’s somewhere between finishing and starting
It’s an anomaly
You see my story is beautiful and ugly
It’s dichotomous
It’s strong and confusing
Like cancer in remission
It’s my mamas tears
It’s my daughters eyes
My story is pedagogical
It’s my sons fears
It’s still being written
It’s a juxtaposition
Where I have planted
But it is here
My story is here
Where I am blooming

Miko Reed is a native Washingtonian, retired Army Master Sergeant, and has been writing poetry for over 20 years. She is an author, public speaker, curator and host of 3 open mics throughout the DMV. Miko completed her Executive Masters in Leadership from Georgetown University in 2019, started her company Have A Voice, LLC,  to showcase other poets in 2020 and became an Amazon bestseller of her book, “Eggshells In Soft Black Hands,” in August 2021. She has also had her poetry published in an international anthology, “Now that you are Gone From This World,” and in various online publications to include, The Journal of Expressive Writing, both in 2022. Not only is Miko a poet, she also writes short stories and has recently been published in an online blog, Sad Girls Club. She also completed her second book, a novelette of fiction, titled “Pandemic- Suburban Women,” in the Fall of 2022. Miko is working on her 3rd book of poetry and prose titled, “Pain & Prosecco,” slated for completion late August 2023 and is a contributor to another anthology, Positively Purposeful Poetry…, slated for completion Spring 2024. She is in her third year at Johns Hopkins University, pursuing a second Graduate degree, a Masters of Arts in Writing. Miko is a mom of two beautiful kids, Madison and Mason, and they all live in Bowie Md.

Image: https://statemuseum.arizona.edu/online-exhibit/nampeyo-showcase

Hungry by Ashanee Kottage


In high school I was voted

“Always hungry”

I was an athlete so this

Made sense

I was also a woman, so, yeah,

I was constantly craving.

My hunger is ancestral,

To be of the global majority is to

Look like a meal and be treated like

A snack.

I am always hungry,

I see sweet cinnamon rolls in her hair and black forest glaze on my skin.

Ashanee Kottage is a poet, theatermaker, weaver, and thinker learning what ways to do in this world. (And unlearning all the ways of doing that burnt her out throughout her youth). She loves to write, to act, dance, direct, produce, and do boss shit. At her core, she is a storyteller, a student of the earth, and a friend. Sri Lanka is home, and Washington, D.C. is also now, home. She is starting her second year as a Post-Baccalaureate Fellow at Georgetown University’s Earth Commons and Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics. Her first poetry book Sand & Sweat – about girlhood, womanhood, homeland, and heartbreak – will be self-published on realballersread.com soon! 

Image: 94rain, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Two Poems by Andre Taylor

By Grace

What are the graces, that helped me face the trauma
In those places far removed from scenes of love
Seen from utter darkness where the blind ones led the blind
In caverns falling furthermore behind
What are the graces, that placed me in those shelters
Apart from helter-skelter that melted iron minds
There were calming words emerging
That were urging me to pray
That said I didn’t have to say a thing aloud
But hold onto belief
There would be comfort for my grief
If I would only seek, I’d surely find
The Graces
The Graces
The Graces
The race is given to
Those who do endure
And purity is not a thing for real
The Graces
The Graces
The Graces
That take me from my weakest ways to build
But how can I explain or understand
These things I cannot cradle in my hands
What are the graces, that replaced the things I knew
The abuse that for so long I held onto
That said to me this truly was the path
Do unto others
Before they do it unto you
Beware the smiles that hold the hidden wrath
There was shame for not being one with plenty
There was jealousy that sometimes came with envy
There is sadness in the lacking for so many
When I compare the glaring differences
In these instances of pain
How is it that I do not go insane
When the demons in my mind start screaming giving chase
How do I hold the calm look on my face
My answer

The Broadcast

Checking in
This is me
On the radio frequency
Of 12345
Still alive
On a planet called orator
In the great state of hope
From the city called elevation
And the county of elevator
Here I broadcast
Vast Concepts
Connection in the Spirit
Trying to affect the darkness
Of being alone
We cannot touch except through thought
And so, we think we’re on our own
In this realm
I found my breakthrough
Let me take you to the mend
Elevator, elevation, hope, orator still alive
12345 the frequency this is me, checking in

Brenardo is a resident of Prince Georges County. He currently holds the title as one of the Four Poets Of Excellence. 

Brenardo has been writing poetry for over two thirds of his life. This journey has taken him from journals to stages all over the world, and his work has been featured in countless newspapers, magazines, and poetry anthologies, including his own chapbook, “Bridge Over Trouble.” 

Brenardo is a veteran of the United States Navy, and a veteran of stage, radio, and television, where he has shared his life’s observations, and inspirations to astounding acclaim.  An alumnus of the “Poets In Progress,” and the Anointed P.E.N.S., he is currently a member of “Collective Voices,” and a free-lance Poet.

He is currently completing work on the follow up to his chap book entitled, “Bridges Over Aggravated Troubles.”

(You may contact him @ deotp123@gmail to order an advanced copy, or for more information of his availability for performing, or presenting his work).     

Image: Szombat78, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Four Poems by Stephani E.D. McDow

Diaspora Café

My heart bass and his strength drum go
boom, boom, boom
not 808s, but soul strings
hand heals and open palms
origin thumpin’ coursing gospel through the blood,
toppling pilars of fed HIStory, bellowing out THE truth
actively — in breath, in voice, in existing
can y’all hear me?

From soil to sand and back again
the rows of straight strands reaching to the earth in supplication, to
tresses like ocean waves ebbing and flowing,
connecting Spirit between Black and brown lands, to
kinky roots reaching high in praise and sun worship
the grio, the shaman, the hieroglyph, the song
unifying in seed sown
Earth warm
fruit grown

My Name in Time

With the hour hand at 10 and the minute only 15 after,
Mother, not mine
but my great grand,
with her cotton white and feel hair,
leather black skin and walking wood,
crept down the hall, wood stick tapping the floor
like the second hand’s click.
She pushed through the cracked door and
said to the young woman as she held her budding belly,
“Please, name the baby after him.”
*click, click, click*
And the young woman took one hand and
rubbed it down the length of the life evident within,
not in trying to commune with the girl child therein
but in displaying possession.
“But I’ve already named her.”
And she did. A name, not for its meaning or inherited power,
but from three things –
a car, a perfume, a drink
and for her, that was perfect. Items innately her, desired things –
because self was her center even as the child within her was meant to be.
“I’ve named her,” she repeated.
“But she’s the first girl of her generation. Please, name her for him.
For me.”
*click, click*
And she removed her hands from her responsibility and crossed them about her breasts.
Silent indignation radiating yet knowing she would yield,
she looked at Mother – the contrast of her elder so powerful against herself –
she saw white hair, Black skin, frailty and time.
And it was done. Shifting the names she’d chosen for me over to make room
so that my first name now the feminine of my father’s,
though she only called me ‘the baby’ until I was 6 months old
choosing instead to revel in her anger than succumb to my given.
Taking up the mantle of her cause, her side called me only by the name she’d intended.
His side proudly called me by Mother’s ask.
And, years after the second-hand click on wood stopped,
my ancestor’s way, prevalently quilted into our skin and hair
has armed us with the ear to hear her counsel and song, if we choose.
Listening, I am reminded that
my name wouldn’t bear the same meaning had it not been for Mother
not mine, but my great grand
because her insistence made me royalty.

Monk Round Midnight

Exasperated and precise
That plagued my
Questioned pleas
And it was these
That unavoidably masked my thoughts . . .

Yet taught and taught and taught.


tree in the night sky
asks why I love
against man-made intentions

I mention my peace
and cease malicious vibes and
strive for solace

I miss.

Stephani E. D. McDow is a multi-genre writer published in Day Eight’s Diaspora Cafe: DC, Bourgeon, Still Point Arts Quarterly, Genre: Urban Arts No. 7, and Femme Literati: Mixtape Anthology. Her work has been anthologized alongside nationally prominent voices such as Jericho Brown, Lucille Clifton, Tess Gallagher, Ilya Kaminsky, Dunya Mikhail, Marge Piercy, and Danez Smith in Raven Chronicle Press’ Take a Stand: Art Against Hate, winner of the 2021 Washington State Book Award for Poetry. A Tin House Summer Workshop alumna and Hurston/Wright Summer Writers Week Workshop Fellow, Stephani is a native D.C. Washingtonian who currently resides in Maryland and is working on her first novel. Learn more by visiting http://stephanimcdow.com.

Image: Vis M, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Three Poems by Nick Leininger


My name means victory of the people
It’s a name to honor those who were given the least

A name to honor the people taken from where they were from
I am my mother’s son

I don’t share my mother’s skin
I more closely resemble my father’s kin

Mark was my father’s father
I have his middle name

He worked with his hands
His hands were worn, cut and calloused
Cuts displayed all over his fingertips
A long lineage to farmers

His left eye was green and his right eye was blue
Not an ounce of malice buried between the two

Blue like the waters his ancestors traveled
Leaving Germany behind for the new world

My mother was born on an island
She grew accustomed to violence
Trauma was her only inheritance

During her first five years of life, her home had no running water
Her African ancestors wished they could run away. I’ll never know their names.

She came to America after she met my father
Her brown skin knew it wasn’t welcome here

She too came from humble beginnings
In honoring her past, I hope for a better future.

Black Tribes

Black leaders, black lives
Black leaders, black tribes
Ancestors from across the equator

Mothers and fathers, daughters, and sons
Some have been lost while others have won

The sun shines cascading a collection of shades
As shadow’s embrace a collection of shapes

Languages lost, and languages lived
Words left unspoken

The sound of distant melodies
The sounds of distant memories

Etched back into the infinite
Born back beneath…the sands…of time

Miles Away

I stand on the shoulders of giants, listening to the syncopation of giant steps
Miles and miles away, whole steps and half steps, marching away from segregation
A child of different tribes and different lives. We are one and the same.

Nick Leininger is a local DC poet originally from West Chester, Pennsylvania. Nick graduated from American University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communications. During his days as a student, Nick had his first poem published in the 2017 edition of Bleakhouse Publishing’s Tacenda magazine. Today Nick works for a tech company as a customer success specialist. Nick hopes to grow as a writer and to continue his support of the arts. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring the various museums and art galleries of DC, engaging in physical activity, and continuing his quest for the perfect cold brew coffee. Poetry is Nick’s preferred medium of self-expression. He believes that poetry is where he can accurately express his true self in the most elegant way possible.

Image: Tiago Fioreze, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons