Luther Jett – Diaspora

Jett LE P&W 5 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Five Nov-Dec 2023.

Diaspora, poems by Luther Jett.


She gave me a box of darkness.
I sang her a promise of rain.
After the long march
perhaps this was not the moment
either of us expected.

No shadow-shrouded mountain.
Nothing written on the stones.
Only these wings which sprouted
from our weary shoulders.

And when we flew, we flew
in different directions.

I kept the box — unopened.
Where she landed
there were many broad rivers.

At the amsterdam zoo

Grey December, lions
in their pit, an imitation
savannah beside the North Sea.

Nearby, flamingos, capybaras,
one lone panther whose eyes spit
green fire. In the pit, a pride
of ten or twelve — cubs,
maned males, regally lazy.
A lioness paces, glances
upward time to time.
The pit is not so deep.

Families line the railing
ten metres above —
a mother props her kid atop
the stone wall which holds the rail —
Better to see. Better to be seen.

The lioness pauses her patrol,
stares up at the child.
Every muscle tensed, tail tip
twitching, hind legs bent
so slightly. She seems
to calculate distance, potential
trajectory — the trigonometry
of death. And then ———

Her shoulders slacken, she
resumes her imprisoned prowl.
I think the mother never knew
how near her child
stood to becoming prey.


A girl in an elevator
screams and a neighborhood
is set ablaze, block
after block reduced to ash.

It’s not that simple —
never was. Someone
told a lie that magnified,
hung — a cotton-gin fan,
to weigh an entire
nation down, to the depths.

Someone nursed a wound
that festered. Someone
cast blame to escape blame.
Then someone got his gun.
Someone got his torch,
lit a match, threw a stone.

And somebody else got rich.

© Luther Jett

Luther Jett is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland and a retired special educator. His poetry has been published in numerous journals as well as several anthologies. He is the author of five poetry chapbooks: “Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father”, (Finishing Line Press, 2015), and “Our Situation”, (Prolific Press, 2018), “Everyone Disappears” (Finishing Line Press, 2020), “Little Wars” (Kelsay Books, 2021), and “Watchman, What of the Night?” (CW Books, 2022). A full-length collection, “Flying to America” is scheduled for release in the spring of 2024, from Broadstone Press.

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