Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Like Mums Humming

—Poems by Romella Kitchens, Pittsburgh, PA

Like Mums humming (and Zinnias) to be understood.
Like the spilled seed of the sunflower to not be
Come Status and Clematis and St. John's Wort.
Loved Aloe and the abandon of sensual vine.
"I stand replenished by those who say yes instead of
The Marigolds look brighter in this light.
Spiritual marigolds reaching up and out towards the sunlight
suddenly, like hybrid, long-armed dancers.
It doesn't take an army to create an emotional revolution.
It doesn't always take the masses to make things right, to right the
wrong; it may only take YOU.
Making love is not always physically intimate, it can be not about the
body at all, but instead about the heart.
Growth comes with compassion.
Look at the living in your "Garden Of Living”, respond.
The wilting plants grow with care, as do the submerged and hurt
human beings.
It is only necessary,
but "Necessary" is the center of its own constellation.
It is a truth we face, then face again.
Without it, we are empty-handed gardeners without tools.
They wrote one evening on a tiny slip of paper:  "Please do not
work back all of the way into the wild plants and flowers. They have
won over my heart. They are so maverick. The wild and the uncultivated
need a place to remainder to, too."
And, We understood.


I was at work and a woman who knew I believed in poems
told me, told me gently as if she were painfully speaking out about
a beautiful, older aunt or a loved relative of mine who had passed respectfully
in her arms unbeknownst to me.
And sister, I stood still.
The clock of my heart made to mark the millisecond you reached out
and took God’s hand…
Made to stop there, still, then be covered with black cloth.
Sister Maya, I stood in the room of my understanding, you were
gone, draped in Black—the windows shuttered.
Your poems, as if to fleshen offspring, bowing their spilled tears and heads in
deference to you only to you…
Your words standing up like peaceful preachers proclaiming you into the eons.

 Maya Angelou


Family should be a creation.
It should be sculpted, painted passionately.
There should be tapestries of family.
Family should fill the walls of truth.
It should have breath from the first ribs of mankind and on.
It should have admissions of the dark, the deep,
even the suicidal...
But yet that saving, that heroic, that wanting to be and
maintaining that spiritual meditative.
Like certain arms or heights or ways of walking, its
tangible characteristics of family should include homage to God.
Family, whether rich or poor, the proud estate.
To welcome into the family walk should be to welcome
into spirituality—not into the lost and the
addicted unless family helps create healing.



When I was a little girl, I had been watching
Gandhi on television.

I became upset about a small household matter of
freedom to come and go as
I would please, and decided to go on a
“Hunger Strike”.

So, I wrapped my little, naked body, in a white sheet
toga-style, listed my demands and then refused to eat
accept for juice and soup for seven long, summer days.
Meditative thoughts as my only solid “food”.

Yes, it took seven days of Tang.
But, I tell you, a stubborn, rebellious body is
a wonderful thing….
I won that one.

Maybe it is the sound of the train or the worn houses so heavy
in their backs and knees.
Maybe sorrowful people all seem the same, and tomorrow
and yesterday are all of equal confusion and complexity.
But for some reason we laid down and closed our eyes
as the thoughtful Pennsylvania sky turned evening orange
and purple.
You laid next to me, afraid of the illness in your body
as only a person just told by a doctor they would die would
Yet beyond sympathy and the paternal line,
I could not trust you not to need and to hurt me for it.
Not to form your victories on my defeat and blood because
enmity is taught in a family as well as love.
But still I laid there, willing to risk, comfort and love you.

The adder snake of mankind is borne sometimes of fear,
violent competition as well as sharing.
Yet, the sharper side of any blade will always be more
direct than the gentle.
But, gentleness prevails.  It holds out its hand.
It forgives and, in doing so, learns the tender joyfulness
of caring, even past the body, of never letting go.



As I sleep and in my waking hours, I hear the poems of other people.
I see the prophetic and the prophet—sometimes in the earthly heaven and
sometimes in the lands of famine, war and loss.

Throughout the shrapnel of violence, there has always been the flesh and
mourning of the disciple, asking the world for more.
The soul takes no side.  It sees conflict as the general infliction of suffering
and longs for resolution.

What is this poem?
What is this season?
What is beyond this darkened killing field?


Saddles switch and the apocalyptic rides into the turmoil of time.
The twilight sky is orange with fire.


A tree in Israel cries out.
The courtyard of its birth a societal womb.
The arm-like branches multiple.
Go to it beyond the fig trees.
Witness the most yellow, sweetest lemons, shaped not unlike a
Woman's breasts.
The land is fecund, surreal in its worth.

Yellow peel like the sunlight, like a saffron-hued woman's skin.
Taste the days if ever the conflict is no longer.


The lemon of spiritual worth falls to the ground through the dark
Green leaves, far from the redness of strife and blood.

 University of Pittsburgh



The letter written of life should be one concerning love.
For we have borne the burning cross of hatred too long.
We as human beings can amend the pejorative rules of hatred
again and again.
Thus, I have amended the rules of genocide, self-genocide,
separatism repeatedly.
I have searched the tree of life for forgiving, non-bitter fruit.
So have many others.
This is the most difficult thing, with neutrality and cynicism
taught to us as intellectualism.
Customs change but love stays, even though banished and pushed
away.  We must not deny it.
We should instead break the custom over our knees and seek
solidarity in the battle to be caring human beings.
We are built on what we believe, foundationless without that.


Today’s LittleNip:


I am finding poems everywhere today.
In the still waters of the Monongahela River.
As a lost seagull flying overhead and in the bottom of
a death-white coffee cup…
In the wine of summer—in the syllabic of city heat and inching
metal car-hulls pushing force against their own tired, aging engines.
What was it that you said to me?
That this world was without hope?
Yet, the “divine high piping” like that of David
seems to deny and defy that.
And we as birds have but a little way to fly.
But we do and we do, stealing through the
“dust under the inverted bowl we call the sky” everyday.


Our thanks and welcome to Kitchen newcomer Romella D’ore Kitchens, who has been writing poetry for over 40 years. She is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native and has poems published in anthologies, online and, in poetry journals including:
Chiron Review, The California Quarterly, Brevities, Caprice, MUDFISH and others. She has performed poems in public for many years and is an Autumn House Poet. Pittsburgh has an eclectic arts community with a very strong, large core of poets who have been born or lived there over the years. They include Jack Gilbert, Gerald Stern, Jan Beatty, Ed Ochester, Terrance Hayes, Ross Gay, Gerald Stern, Li Young Lee, Judy Collier and countless others of literary merit. For more of Romella’s poems, see
Thanks for stopping by, Romella, and don’t be a stranger!



 Romella’s chapbook, Hip Hop Warrior
may be purchased from Main Street Rag at