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aja monet: Grammy-Nominated Poet & Activist Recites Her Poem “Cast Away”

Web ExclusiveJune 07, 2024
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The Grammy-nominated poet and activist aja monet recites her poem “cast away” in the Democracy Now! studio. She is the artistic creative director of V-Day’s Voices campaign and the developer of the new audio play VOICES: a sacred sisterscape.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

aja monet: My name is aja monet, and this poem is called “cast away.”

i did not want to write a poem full of corpses

so i wrote a sacred pink blue sky jewelled on the horizon

laughter as the loudest star sleeps

humor hugs every ache whole

how heavy heads lay after a long day in the humid heat

caribbean moon sighs and joyous dreams

i did not wish to speak

of what should not be spoken

so silence breathed into all

the words, a haunting. i come from

a language that does not write itself, our ancestors speak

hurricane, a thunder tongue shivering tides

and a petty revenge, the mid atlantic is a vexed aunty

rattling rivers and roofs, ready for reckoning

knocking at the chest of men

on the other side of now

there is a door where we return

every island is a hip swaying

between here and there

a float in the dance

to belong

rocking in the arms of the edge
where the sea is an emerald flag

and palm trees praise the air

every shore is an altar

of remembrance

embraced on purpose

pickney of the sun ray

where prayer trembles

the light or how a storm retreats

we marvel and move eternal,

unforeigned and unlost

hips hollering, elbows flapping like fanning flames

bare feet chant in the sand or in a concrete jungle

love taps quake the nape of the earth’s neck

where daughters of diaspora dream

and inherit journeys of flesh

where a smile is also a scar

or how my grandfather came to see about us

years after he died

wearing my uncles face

dimpled and shining eyes

like two wet black beans

baptized by a spirit

charming man and all he was

checkin on his grandbabies

fear not death

fear not death

we visit kinfolk there, lingering

in the blood, where the ocean hums

tribe of the great abyss

a notknowing from where or what we come

and still still to arrive before they conquered

us, we came by shipwreck, by wind and wave
pushed into the water
splashing and shaking

the wound teaches us to remember

where tomorrow glows


listen to the animal clawing within

a rooster caws directions between this world and the next

there are roads that cannot be mapped

and there are streets that do not have names

we ran

we ran

we ran away into the okra tinted mountains

seeking maroon hills

i was born, we were born borderless, mounting a dollar van

like an orisha scribbling visions

on a train or in an airport

traveling ritual, voice, and time.

i was born of distance

in between now and then.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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