An Essay “We the People” by Troy Jackson (from Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020)

 “We the People” is the opening phrase of the Constitution of the United States of America. “We the People” was chosen by the ‘Founding Fathers’ of the nation as the opening phrase of the Constitution because it would serve as a reminder to lawmakers and citizens alike that the power and responsibilities of the newly founded nation resided in “We the People”. The phrase “We the People” signified that the voting rights of the people would serve as the paramount political act in this newly formed land of various states, laws, and peoples.

Not included in “We the People” at the founding of the nation were women, native Indians, and slaves. Slaves who had been brought into the land as early as 1609 had no rights. Slaves who were the ancestors of a people we today collectively call African-Americans. My family and I are the descendants of those slaves. Slaves were granted no voting rights and considered only 2/3 of persons in the official census of the time.

On the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation “We the People” gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to culminate ‘The March on Washington’.  The ‘March on Washington’ attracted over an estimated 250,000 Americans.  The march was organized by A. Philip Randolph, Walter Reuther, and other notable American citizens.

‘The March on Washington’ was organized to advocate for the economic and civil rights of African-Americans and to call for an end to police brutality.  Scheduled speakers included John ‘Good Trouble’ Lewis, Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Performers included Mahalia Jackson, Marian Anderson, Joan Baez, and the now famous Bob Dylan.

Notable voices that day included Roy Wilkins who announced that W.E.B. Du Bios had passed the previous evening. Speaking of Du Bois, Wilkins said ” Regardless of the fact in his later years Dr. Du Bois chose another path, it seems incontrovertible that at the dawning of the twentieth century his was the voice that was calling you to gather here today in this cause. If you want to read something that applies to 1963 go back and get a volume of ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ by Du Bois, published in 1903.”

Also speaking that day was the late John ‘Good Trouble’ Lewis. Who would later go on to become the long-term congressman for Georgia’s 5th congressional district. John Lewis told protesters ” My friends let us not forget that we are involved in a serious social revolution.”

Walter Reuther made a call to the conscious of the nation that day when he stated, “American democracy is on trial in the eyes of the world…We cannot successfully preach democracy in the world unless we first practice it at home.” He went on to say, ” We must take adequate steps to bridge the moral gap between American democracy’s noble promises and its ugly practices in the field of civil rights.”

 Last to speak at the ‘March on Washington’ was the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was to deliver the keynote address. In his now iconic ‘ I have a Dream’ speech Dr. King urged America to become a nation where in which “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

 “We the People” spoke at ‘The March on Washington’ to forge a more perfect union, to demand economic and civil rights for all its citizens, and to end racism.  The people that day also called for an end to the police brutality that many protesters faced in the pursuit of the same democratic ideals inherent in the Constitution of these United States of America. 

The ‘March on Washington’ is highly regarded as the catalyst for the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965. I think that many scholars of democracy overlook the deleterious effects of the immigration policies of the era.  American democracy as we know it today owes much of its potency to the tireless work of Senator Philip A. Hart who was called the “conscious of the Senate”. 

Fifty-seven years later, “We the People” are here again in Washington at the Lincoln Memorial protesting racial profiling, police brutality, and systematic racism. The ‘March on Washington 2020’ was themed ‘Get your knee of our necks’ and was a call to the nation and lawmakers to end police brutality and systematic racism. This march was spearheaded by the Black Lives Matter Movement which had galvanized after the murder of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The ‘George Floyd’ protests as they are now known were held in big cities and small towns nationally and globally. It is estimated that as many as 25 million people have participated in these protests worldwide. Which has led to the forceful removal of monuments that many see as racist. The state of Mississippi a historical bastion of “White Supremacy” was even pressured to change its flag due to its symbolism of the Confederacy. “We the People” are speaking again… Washington please listen. 

  These protests have occurred during a global pandemic which has halted life as we know it. The Covid19 crisis has infected over 26 million people worldwide and killed over 850,000 according to the World Health Organization (WHO). While, here in the United States Covid19 has infected over 6 million people and killed over 190,000 people. It has also left as many as 50 million people jobless and with little or no health coverage. Many of whom voted against affordable health care just a mere four years ago.  Living during a global pandemic and facing systematic and structural racism is another barrier to the pursuit of happiness for many of today’s black and marginalized communities. Many of today’s voters are saying ” enough is enough” and it’s time for Medicare for all. Drastic times call for drastic measures the voices seem to echo.

Covid19 has caused the closing of schools, businesses, and government offices. The cancellation of many sporting events, entertainment venues, and live shows for musicians and performers. The NBA, MLB, CFA have all been impacted by Covid19. I’ve even had to suspend my attendance at my beloved University of Memphis Football games. Many people now see how vulnerable ‘Our Democracy’ really is to the winds of change, the climate crisis and other realities of life in the 21st century. America… young voices matter! America… black voices matter!

 Qualified Immunity and the Blue Code of Silence are widely regarded as obstacles to the end of police brutality here in the United States. Qualified Immunity makes it almost impossible for police to be held accountable for their actions. The rate of black deaths at the hands of police is three times that of white citizens. No wonder the popularity of organizations like Black Lives Matter.

Among Democratic voters 90 percent see police brutality as a “serious problem”. On the other hand, only 14 percent of Republican voters see police brutality as a ” serious problem”, as reported by a Gallop poll. Only 30 percent of African- Americans trust the police. With all these killings caught on video who can blame them? No amount of money can bring a love one back, even if anyone is ever held accountable. “Why turn your body cameras off” many people are saying?  Why aren’t they being convicted? Systematic racism is the most logical conclusion.


 ‘The Ending Qualified Immunity Act’ is a Police Reform bill proposed by Congressman Justin Amash of the the Libertarian Party that seeks to abolish Qualified Immunity for police personnel. Rep. Amash has so eloquently stated that ” The brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police is merely the latest in a long line of egregious incidents of police misconduct. This pattern continues because police are legally, politically, and culturally insulated from the consequences for violating the rights of the people they have been sworn to serve. That must change so that these incidents of brutality must stop happening.”

  “We the People” must vote to end police brutality! George Floyds death must not be in vain! Tamir Rice’s death must not be in vain!  Breonna Taylor’s death must not be in vain! The death of untold numbers of victims of police brutality must not be in vain!!! In this November’s election the choice is clear. It’s time for “We the People” to be heard!!!  

This work was inspired by the dedication and sacrifice of United States lawmakers John ’Good Trouble’ Lewis, and Philip ‘conscious of the Senate’ Hart.

Troy Jackson is a literacy advocate and writer based in Memphis. You can support him by purchasing a copy of his current work. Life: A book of Poems available on Amazon. 

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Book-Poems-Troy-Jackson-ebook/dp/B07Q1X

Feature image is from Unseen Histories on Unsplash.com

Re-post:Poetry by Neel Trivedi from Fevers of the Mind Press Anthologies

Why the Hate?

I ask a stranger how s/he was born?

From a mother’s womb they say.

Just like I once was.

So why the hate?

I ask a baby what religion is.

To the best of my ability to decipher baby talk,

s/he appears not to know.

Just like when I was a baby,

blissfully unaware of grown-up talk.

So why the hate?

I ask a stranger how s/he communicates?

With a tongue just like mine, they say.

The birthplace of every language, I think.

So why the hate?

I once spilled paint on my arm.

A palette of various colors made habitats on my skin

before leaving during my next shower.

Yet my heart, personality & identity

remained the same throughout.

So why the hate?

I try to form a collective hypothesis of my conversations:

We’re all born the same way & die someday.

Skin color & religion prove to be highly incompetent

to help a heartbeat, lungs breathe & brain cells grow.

So why the hate?

Beauty: A New Definition

For generations the wise ones have said

That beauty is in the eye of the beholder

But time passes, generations evolve

Some simple, some a lot bolder

Some proverbs die

Some new are born

Left to all to choose

Which are progress, which are scorn

Perhaps a similar time has come

To give beauty a new definition

Leaving the beholder out & say

beauty is in the heart of the pious one!

Beyond the Obvious

How the naive think

What abuse means

Perhaps some blue bruises

And a shattered spleen

Such evidence & signs

Are no doubt a fear

But is there no value

Of an isolated tear?

Everyone sees the obvious

Without a look inside

Curse this bloody flesh that makes

The wounded heart hide!

The Invisible Aura

Step into the vortex of my soul

To decode the language

I often speak to myself

Every night when I peel off my mirage

That the sea of gazes around me

surmises to be nonchalance

This is my universe where:

Depression is not a mere mood swing

It’s an actual chemical imbalance

My facial expressions are not always

Gateways to the feelings of my heart

Sometimes they are merely decor

My silence is not a symbol

Of any kind of equanimity

Listen to the aura who’s decibels

Don’t roar like a lion

But squeal like a mouse

Observe the aura that’s the

shy one in the corner

Acknowledge the unfelt emotions

For you may not feel them

But just a moment of your cognizance

Could determine their fate for eons

Soul Whisperer

I come with no ostentation

No glory or cavalcade

For I creep upon this junction

Not to arouse a racket

But to dismember the status quo

I make no proclamations to be

Your knight in shining armor

Or to dry your tears

But to bequeath equity of them

To feast on the salt with thee

I come not to sheath your malformations

But to stand in their gallery

And be a zealot for ages

Of what my heart senses to be

Not wounds but victors of endurance

Think not of me as a paladin

In a quaint fable

But a commoner just to proclaim :

I once bore what you did

 

And hearken the language of your soul

That others have stained as an enigma!

 

The Midas Scratch

 

Lay your fingers on the canvas of my flesh

And scratch till what you carve

Becomes the cynosure attire of my body

Never to be removed

Till the mind in its entirety

Is severed from the bones

Take no heed of any provisional brood

Or waterfalls of blood

For the blemishes will eventually mitigate

But the fable your fingers nurture with love

Will give me an immortal prevalence

To any and all around me!

Playing Along 

After Leonard Cohen’s “Waiting for the Miracle”

When the heart drowns in total despair

I soothe it by telling tall tales

Of an intoxication known as hope

A miracle is coming, says the heart

The mind just plays along

I dance in the name off faith

Even when my feet are numb

Lest I reveal the inner abyss

A miracle is coming, says the soul

The body just plays along

Stay in the slaughterhouse

So, my wounds can blend in

Lie in the rain so tears seem small

A miracle is coming, say the tears

The eyes just play along

So far not a sign

Not even a mere shadow

Or the calm before the storm

A miracle is coming, I say

The miracle just plays along

Neel photo(c) Neel Trivedi

Neel Trivedi is a freelance journalist & in the advertising business in Dallas, TX. He writes poetry & fiction. His work has been featured in Rhythm & Bones Magazine, Drabblez Magazine, Paragraph Planet, Dodging The Rain, Mojave Heart Review, Elephants Never, Chronos Anthology, Rising From The Ashes Anthology and Purpose Magazine. As well as Dailywisdomwords.com  He can be reached on Twitter @Neelt2001   

Poetry: Tomatoes by David L O’Nan (from the Cartoon Diaries)

We were in silent prayer in the garden
Feeling second-hand and lazy
With nice heirloom tomatoes growing
Around us
Let us lead them from the stomping –
And all those tobacco viruses
Our family needs the well.

For years we’ve slept in the same room
The children and us smack away the mites
On nights the thunder broke our bodies
And we became shy to the windy shadows

We consume the juices of the fruits
Kill the poverty from our heads
Separate us from the worms
We shouldn’t run away

When the man wants his money
All the hospitals want to own us
And hear them knocking down our doors
They garnish my wages
Force me to bankrupt depressions

Watch the money fall from dark clouds
In the many miles barely in our view

Damn it!

It makes me feel psychotic
I want to dissolve in this fertile dirt
Continually,
Crash me to the vines
When bruised and stabbed
I will just stink in the swarming heat
In the well,
Lay all my scriptures


photo from unsplash.com

Poetry: Psalm 46 Haze by David L O’Nan from the Cartoon Diaries (2019)

In mornings when most kings dine
In a sweat of night, the heat clutched
To the skin
In mighty robes
Yet, like a wet mop
A tide of anger
A misguided dreamer
Of thievery, wanted all the treasures
All the lucid wanderings
Gold coin eyeballs
Designed in statuesque build
Shallow, there will not be any crumbling
in my march through civil breakdowns
One king, death on rapid waters
The rocks like the clouds,
depends on powers of the wind
To move us from the heat
Like a Psalm 46 haze
He breaks the bows and shatters the spears
And cartoon kings start to smear
Paint begins to clump, like a clogged artery
Stains through to the canvas,
Blasphemy blankets purity
And in oceans and rivers
There isn’t any fresh fish
Smudges of floating ink, like blood
Ships keep moving in the night
The lighthouse light reflects only former royal shadows

You forget false righteousness
And you brand in the tattooed crimson to sea bottoms.

The Fevers of the Mind General Promo Interview with Chloe Gorman

1) Please describe your latest book, what about your book will intrigue the readers the most, and what is the theme, mood? Or If you have a blog or project please describe the concept of your project, blog, website

I’m currently working on the second series of ‘Penny Dreadfuls from the Moth Sanctuary’ – a series of free, short horror audiobooks I’m producing with my partner, Andrew Bate, and his independent theatre company, Moth Sanctuary Productions.

When lockdown hit the UK in March 2020 and production halted on the stage show we were producing, we decided to put my radio expertise, his music composition skills and our home studio set up to use and create some audiobooks. We started out by recording some lockdown themed classics, producing a version of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Masque of the Red Death’ and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’

Inspired by classic Penny Dreadfuls, we then decided to create some of our own, original short horror stories, which grew into a series of ten episodes all written, recorded and produced by Andrew and I in our living room. I wrote four of the ten stories – ‘The Neighbours’ is about a woman who is driven to insanity after moving in above a mortuary; ‘The White Haired Devil’ is about a mysterious fortune teller with dark, hidden intentions; ‘Midnight Visits’ follows a young boy terrorised by a figure in the night; and ‘The Token’ is the story of an archivist who uncovers a sinister secret about the foundling hospital she is researching, inspired by a production of ‘Coram Boy’ which I starred in at Nottingham Playhouse in 2019. I also wrote an exclusive bonus episode for Thornhill Theatre Space called ‘Alice’s Shadow’ about a dark presence lurking in her room at night.

We have just started writing series two with three stories already in the making, so we hope to bring to listeners for free later in 2021.

2) How old were you when you first have become serious about your writing, do you feel your work is always adapting?

I wrote poems and songs a lot when I was a teenager, but I stopped when I was around 15 and didn’t seriously pick it up again until my late twenties. I decided to do a Masters degree in professional writing when I was 28, during which I developed a real passion for the short story format. I started writing and publishing poetry at 30.

At first, writing poetry was a therapeutic way to process my difficult emotions and work through some of the things I was experiencing at the time, so everything was quite raw and intense. Nowadays I find my poetry writing comes in waves, but my style is certainly always adapting as I try to refine my craft, while still staying true to the emotion that inspires it.

Working in the audiobook format has really helped me refine my short story writing too. I spent 10 years working in radio before I moved into publishing, so writing for the spoken word is something I am fairly adept at but I had never applied this skill to my own personal projects. Using the time I had during the first UK lockdown, I was able to dedicate myself to writing, producing five new short stories specifically for the Penny Dreadfuls from the Moth Sanctuary series, and working with artistic director Andrew Bate to bring the stories to life with his incredible voice acting and scoring.

3) What authors, poets, musicians have helped shape your work, or who do you find yourself being drawn to the most?

I find Nick Cave a source of constant inspiration, both for his staggering creativity, but also for his work ethic. I was lucky enough to see Nick Cave in Conversation in 2019, where he described how he didn’t just sit around and wait for inspiration to take over, but actively went to work at songwriting, seeing it the same way most people would see a traditional job. The idea that creativity and artistic inclination isn’t a gift bestowed on you from above, but is something that takes grit, determination and work is something that motivates me to keep creating, even when it feels fruitless. Style-wise, I find Florence Welch a big inspiration too, especially for songwriting, as I admire her rich, descriptive lyrics and often haunting, ethereal sound.

In terms of inspiration as a writer, I adore Angela Carter as I find she has the ability to totally immerse me in her fantastical worlds. I find her strong female lead characters and subversive themes delightful too. I read a lot of Bret Easton Ellis when I was a teenager which has had an undeniable influence on my writing, if not for the gritty themes, but for my soft spot for unreliable narrators. I must mention Edgar Allan Poe, I came to appreciate Poe’s work in my adult life and I truly believe he is the master of the short story, as I find his work so compelling I can devour each story in one sitting. I aspire to be able to do the same one day. More recently I am also enjoying the work of Kirsty Logan. Her short story ‘Things My Wife and I Found Hidden In Our House’ is one I find myself returning to again and again.

4) What other activities do you enjoy doing creatively, or recreationally outside of being a writer, and do you find any of these outside writing activities merge into your mind and often become parts of a poem?

As someone who writes songs, I also love to sing. I have been singing in some guise since I was around four years old. I was part of a choir that performed in a production at Nottingham Playhouse in 2019, which was a lifelong dream come true. I have been producing songs with my partner, who is also a singer-songwriter, as another lockdown project so we are hoping to release an EP sometime soon.

Outside of creative pursuits, I love to cook. I enjoy being out in nature, particularly forests and the coast. Before the pandemic I was also learning aerial hoop. I had got myself to an intermediate level but unfortunately I haven’t been able to train for nearly a year, so I am hoping to get back into that as soon as I can.

5) What is your favorite or preferred style of writing?

For poetry, I find free verse comes the most naturally to me, although I do get imposter syndrome sometimes and question whether my work is really poetry when it is so unstructured.

For fiction I am a short story writer predominantly. Although I have started work on what I hope will become a novel, the sheer volume of words required often overwhelm me. I also get an immense sense of satisfaction by being able to tell a complete story in such a short space of time so I return to that form repeatedly as I find it the most rewarding.

6) Are there any other people/environments/hometowns/vacations that has helped influence your writing?

Without wishing to sound too much of a romantic, I find my partner has genuinely inspired a lot of my poetry. I think that is largely because he encouraged me to pursue writing it and has given me such unwavering support as I have done so. I find such beauty in the complexity of human relationships – love, desire, loss, even the everyday experiences – that writing inspired by him and our relationship is often what comes naturally to me.

For my fiction writing, a lot of that comes from the dark recesses of my own mind. One story in particular was inspired by a memory I had as a child. When I was around four years old, I was convinced that I had seen a ghost sitting at the end of my bed. For years I thought it was an old woman, for some reason or another, and I ended up converting this memory into a horror story called ‘Midnight Visits’ which we put out as one of the Penny Dreadfuls from the Moth Sanctuary series. After telling my parents this over dinner one evening, my dad revealed to me that just a few days after his father died, when I was four years old, he and my mother had heard me talking to someone in the middle of the night. When they came into my room, my dad said he could smell my grandfather’s aftershave and there was an indentation on the end of my bed as though someone had been sat there. He had never told me that story before, so I still get goosebumps just thinking about it!

7) What is the most rewarding part of the writing process, and in turn the most frustrating part of the writing process?

For me, starting is the most frustrating point. All too often I will find an excuse not to start writing at all, which usually comes from self-consciousness or fear. I then get frustrated with myself because I want to be writing and creating something. So I have to force my way through the blocks I put in my own path before ultimately enjoying the creative process once it starts.

The most rewarding part I find is editing. I work as a deputy editor for my day job, so I spend a good amount of time sub editing other people’s work, which to me feels like polishing something to get it to its absolute best state. For me, I love it when someone reads my story for the first time and tells me their interpretation – what they think is happening, who they think the characters are, if any parts don’t ring true or cause them to lose the immersion in the story. Going back through and refining, polishing and improving those things always gives me a real sense of satisfaction, as it feels like I’m investing in my own work and increasing its value. When someone has invested their own time in reading or listening to one of my stories, I want to make sure that experience is the best it can possibly be.

8) How has the current times affected your work?  
I feel very privileged that although the pandemic presented several challenges for me, both personally and financially, it also presented me with the time and opportunity to really invest in my own personal work, which is something I hadn’t really had before.

If I hadn’t had the extra time lockdown afforded me, I doubt I would have actually pursued the idea of creating a series of original audiobooks, so I am both proud and grateful to have had the chance to do that.
It’s also been wonderful to be more involved with my partner’s theatre company. I got to work with him to produce an exclusive, live streamed performance for Cheltenham Literature Festival and have had the opportunity to take on my first performing role, as we acquired a temporary license to perform Angela Carter’s ‘The Company of Wolves’ as a free online video.

I am exceptionally lucky that, despite a very sad death in my family due to Covid recently, lockdown has given me the space and the time to be creative in a way that I never have before.

9) Please give us any links, social media info, upcoming events, etc for your work.

You can find the Penny Dreadfuls from the Moth Sanctuary series for free on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4DIVULDVWQ&list=PL9RxMiCupesJ9Y_IpdDOWZ6UZMC_R-61b alongside some of our other work, including our Poe inspired ‘Deep in Earth’ performance for the 2020 Cheltenham Literature Festival and an exclusive reading of Angela Carter’s ‘The Company of Wolves.’

The Penny Dreadfuls series is also available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Podbean.

You can follow me on Twitter @chloevwrites, Instagram @chloevictoriawrites and on Facebook.com/chloevictoriawrites

Chloe GormanWriter, poet, copywriter, voiceover

Read my work at www.chloevictoriawrites.com twitter.com/chloevwrites

instagram.com/chloevictoriawrites