OPEN COMMUNITY SHOWCASE
Born in Camden, NJ, Sean Battle is the combination of an ambitious mother and Pro Wrestling theatrics. A random homework assignment in US History class would lead to his first poem, in the voice of a soldier in WWII. His work on written, verbal, and physical poetics has led to an MFA in Poetry at Rutgers-Newark, and a BA in English at Rutgers-New Brunswick, where he was President of the Verbal Mayhem Poetry Collective. Battle’s poems have been published in journals such as Borderline, Radius: Poetry from the Center of the Edge and The Legendary, as well as written and performed for the Raices Cultural Center production, Spirit of the Drum: History and Evolution of a Caribbean Tradition. He resides in Newark, NJ as an Adjunct Professor for English at Essex County College and will be releasing his first full-length poetry collection, The Forest of Bricks, through Mylk N' Honee Publishing in December 2014. Visit http://seeseanbattle.com
Read on for some of Sean's work.
Kwansaba for Newark by Way of New Brunswick
By Way of Voorhees By Way of Pennsauken
By Way of Camden, NJ
See enough rows of suburban houses where
rumbles are private. Walk down enough cities
stuffed with dried blood where bodies once
showed love. The tale will be colored
similar: how people prosper and produce, some
for mere profit, others to make known
that all spaces double as safe and satanic.
After Nate Marshall and Demetrius Amparan’s “Lost Count: a Love Story”
It seemed even the ghosts
didn't want to play with me.
So the rainstorm would have to do. It already
soaked my Pokemon card game mat, the deck
stuffed in light denim jeans growing damp
and dark on my neighbor’s step.
When Mom slid her car into park, she
was knee-scrapes-from-the-playground pissed
over me waiting to play around such danger
after buying me so many plastic friends
from Toys R Us and shopping malls.
Also likely, she just didn’t want me
befriending flu, having her focus budgeted
from the office to my hospital stay.
But there was the lack of vaccine
for beat downs in breeding grounds
of statistics; a wet dream for mathematicians
to add numbers up, equal my name.
Perhaps it was not even the best decision
for her to let me play this game, knowing
how my generation can be: my opponent,
flustered from not drawing the right cards,
could draw a pistol to snuff out embarrassment.
And so, rainstorm wouldn't
have my friendship to itself
without it digging through
ground and casket wood first.
Waltz of the Black Rose
Seeds sit at my mouth’s
root, watered enough
by spit to sprout.
This forest, never
laid out for the village,
will forever stretch
my lips wide with
others could use
to build new homes.
We must release this life
in hopes for roses to grow
from concrete, countering
boutiques of black bodies
Soon no one will be
around to smell
potent in the scent
of their crimson rivers.
None of this sounds
elegant till one
studies the rhythm
of a corpse in its
last dance, the bullet
or blade its partner
In this dance,
the best partner never
pulls it back up.
After rev Milton Brunson, for LadiiJae
There is no one else in the room when your mouth
opens like a cage, each word a bird blessed to fly again.
I, in exchange, am taken in by you like a sick dog
with a broken leg, left to die in the elegant cold.
When you sing, I am in a warm space, fed and bandaged
in ways I did not know were needed.
You gave me my hands, to reach out to man
to show him Your love and Your perfect plan.
You gave me my ears; I can hear your voice so clear.
I can hear the cries of sinners, but can I wipe away their tears.
I do not know you beyond what you show
of this gift: how your voice is the whistle
only I hear when around crowds. Each noun
and verb, flapping its wings, are like fingers
tickling my stomach, drawing my tongue outside
to pant. I whimper a breath when you stop, unaware
of how spent fellowship leaves you. Your song
is like my howl: scrawling out from the core.
You gave me my voice, to speak Your words
to sing all Your praises, to those who never heard.
But with my eyes I see a need for more availability.
I see hearts that have been broken, so many people to be set free.
When the notes get higher, my eyes shut tight,
hands begging to be uncaged from their sides.
My breathing is as if an anvil landed on my
chest, made me relearn how to love air. Release me,
for my legs and heart have healed. I am ready to walk
with the birds flying above, chirping in your tone.
Lord, I'm available to you
My will I give to you
I'll do what you say to do,
Use me, Lord, to show someone the way
And enable time to say,
My storage is empty and I am available to you.
For, Nola, My Niece in Spirit
If you want to know your history,
look towards your mother. She
is a walking, talking, dancing mirror,
showing you back to yourself
so long as love is in forefront
of Imagined Life. With books
shelved, art hung on refrigerators
or sharpie'd onto her arm and neck,
you’ve learned more at four
than most will at fourteen.
In February, the all-nighter for tests
taken at sunrise, you will know
to make way with no way before
you are able to name drop black
historical figures stripped of radical
for easy consumption. By then,
your throat will spit to others
truth that’s more castor oil than chewable
vitamins: good for the health of listeners,
bitter tasting going down the ears.
The world being crafted for such
a bluesy mouth is Now, not Future.
If Blue Ivy can get credited as a feature
on her mother’s song at two, you
can get chalked sidewalks
and bus stops decorated with
paper flowers in your name.
You and your brother’s smile
is why she wakes up, borrows
one of those flowers you made
to use as a hair piece, like you walk
around the house in her heels
and glittered socks. Between
the both of you, I don’t know
who gushes more sun rays from pores,
prayers, aspirations, and actions.
I imagine she would say
you. Not that she lacks light,
but you have much more to help the
community grow long after
she plants the seeds. I heard
for your birthday, you wanted
a concert featuring you and
your friends, inspired by work
your parents do on stage and off.
I can picture it now: Boaz, your brother,
beat boxing at two; your friend, Egypt,
to your left, Milly, to your right,
celebrating riches no checkbook
can push numbers on, as you recite
your signature cover: It was all a dream/
I used to read Word Up magazine.*
*Lyrics : The Notorious B.I.G, “Juicy”