divine magnet





Vanessa Jimenez Gabb


Images for Radical Politics #1

City College of New York, 1971

they had nothing to lose -

this great feeling of love

belonging not to then or now

but to the future

this took them

when they were ready to be taken

and were

everything makes sense

the moment it makes sense

everything after is for life

Riverside Drive, 1954

Before she dies in the next decade

This mother says to this daughter


Your white dress

So very black

Your hair in summer

Words shutter

Like shells windblown

In verano

My hands’ color

Then yours

This sound:

Hum of the Ford

The waves this way

Crown Heights, 1968

all of his brothers had disappeared

into disenfranchised white and black

men and women who bombed them out

like buildings

because that’s what had been

done to them

what people become

when you don’t let them

he saw on his way to somewhere else

Belize City, 1961

Hurricane Hattie was lethal that season

the water rose up

all of the little houses were built on stilts

to save themselves from the land

coming through

taking itself back

East New York, 1983

she plays the piano in the middle room

of the railroad apartment

he has flown back

across the blue

to seek out the small, enfeebled country

the word is how strange

they are to not believe in God

her belly growing as they speak strangely

we all came from the sea

we are foaming

but do not have to foam



an elephant calf doesn’t know how to use her trunk

her truth

what it means to balance

actual combat leads to wounds

death possibly

the hippos know this


relentlessly hot

not concerned with the heat

and then, rain

the river divides again and again

what life has the river given

we have lived under the spell of the river

it has defined cultures

life itself

everyone is here in a river

of shit

the flies stuck to our faces

men move a barge across the river

in the oppressive heat

the village moves with the river

the king and queen

when they set foot on the land is when

they all will have arrived

fuck the king and queen

on the backs of mammals

concern ourselves with the heat

raise dust

realize we are lions

we travel 2,000 miles

we travel across the bridges

we want mangroves

we want to preen ourselves

I would like to go to Africa

I would like to be shot into space

the wild dogs

make everyone go the night without

river always river reinvented

the people will move the river

somewhere it has never been



for Canarsie


we aren’t far from the pier

years and years the grey pier

the pier is grey matter

isn’t far from the brain

the spine

this is nice

you with me going

toward there

do you dream

i think i dream

about invisible places

i don’t know

everyone is gone

this is what happens


isn’t all memory elegy

how do you know

its improvidence

when you ask questions

you can answer

you punch a boy in the face

and you know

it was the only thing to do

you wanted to be fearless

and so you were

i am dizzy out

on the highway

i want the only pizza

i have ever loved


the mother and father tell the children about what life could be

they talk about what it was like to have this life

they once had

they say years ago so much of everything was red

red our hearts

red our fists

for a few years war waged

we set fire to a great many places

and for a moment things looked promising

the system finds a way to reinvent itself

to mask the bad

to make the people react

against themselves and like that

the war continued

but it was over

humans executed

they say we are like spies now

we’ve gone underground

and you, you are the new agents of change

when will the conditions be such again for another war?

the child asks

when will we come out of hiding?

the system cannot help itself

so brazen sometimes

and those times are the times when it is hard to look away

don’t look away from us they beg

these are crisis moments

these you can see

but make no mistake, they say,

the conditions are always there

waiting for you to realize them

they are a serpent in the still of the night

coming way before it sinks its teeth

into your skin


oh no, why you wan fuh go bak dere gyal?

alma’s son was shot in the mouth

the bullet went right tru

missing man

the palette


dis was a church man yes

all he did was da church

he jus happen to be walking by


no he wasn’t a kid

dere’s nobody to sue

nobody has nothing gyal

i don’t know

da rich people dem

probably up in Ladyville dere

probably behind da gates

by Ladyville dere

if you wan fuh go where da tourists go

sure dey have protection

or up by Chetumal dere

it’s bad, gyal