Estella Ramirez

Estella Ramirez is a Poet from Los Angeles.

She is the runner up in the Los Angeles Poet Society's 4th Annual Summer Poetry Contest. Her poem, Bree Newsome, embodied the triumph of a generation of humanity who choses a path of peace and brotherhood.

 

Thank you, Estella for such a wonderful poetic ambition of documenting our history and for showing us Summer of Peace!

 

Estella's writing has most recently appeared in Kudzu House Quarterly and The 

Toast, among other publications. She is grateful for her teachers at Johns Hopkins University and Texas State University, where she earned her MFA in Poetry. Now in Los Angeles, California, she works as a private instructor and creative writing workshop facilitator. Her poetry salon and book club events can be found in her Meetup group, The New Notebook.

Bree Newsome

 

It wasn’t a moment

though a moment captured it

            captured her

                  poised

harnessed to the pole

in climbing gear

as though at the peak

of a mountain top

the Confederate flag flailing

          in defeat

                    finally

                            in her fist.

 

But it took a community of people

she was deliberately chosen

             as Rosa Parks was chosen.

It took planning and practice.

She collected her tools

                maybe her thoughts

                                running all possible

                                                outcomes

 

An early morning

at the South Carolina Statehouse

she was halfway up the pole

before police approached

nothing left for them

             but to call up impotently to her

                           ma’am.

 

She was cautious

            communicative

insurance but no guarantee against

            worst case violence.

I am prepared to be arrested

            she repeated.

But first she had to do this one thing

legs adjusting for best footing

crowd below

like the nightmare gym class of movies

except here the classmates are officers of the law

             here a black woman braves the shouts

                       here the gym class is a racist history

                                  still bleeding and burning

                                                 into today.

 

She reaches the top

takes the damned thing off 

           holds it

invokes God but also Justice

she has waited

               they have waited

                               we have waited long

enough but she will speak.

She will take her time coming down

                  she will ask for assistance to reach ground

                                     place her hands behind her

                                                   and allow herself to be restrained

                                                                 taken on her terms

                                                                              with coy smile

for a moment

            for herself

                     for all the little black girls

                            she says

                                       because I am free.

Pity and Pride

 

 

It was beginning to dusk

a summer walk downtown

the usual parade

of dogs on leashes

bodies on trend

me in the opposite direction

no cash, no plans, no purpose

but welcome to

the surprises of air on skin

the sienna of setting sun

almost pure joy of possibility

except for a far off but whittling

self-pity.

 

I came upon a street musician

crouched over his guitar case.

 

I felt two things in succession:

dread that I had no cash

the full view of his face.

 

The tumor swelled the entirety

of the left side

and I couldn’t help but wonder

how much it weighed.

 

I decided to give him

the dignity of being seen

right in the eyes

something I assumed

with some shame

he rarely received.

I smiled

with unconditional acceptance.

Acknowledgment

one person to another and back

was all that mattered here.

He returned the gesture

said I had the most beautiful smile

and for a moment I believed it.

 

In my privileged fantasy

two individuals met

wooed by one another’s

practiced brave smiles

each lovelier than they thought.

 

But it nagged at me –

the gall to think

my smile

some sort of currency –

he needs real money.

Perhaps he flatters every girl

the combination

of pity and pride

perfect for attracting tips.

I told him I’d be back

listen to him play.

 

But when I walked back

change pulsing in my pocket

he was gone.

 

I give up

making meaning

from an empty-pocket

kind of kindness

a possibly empty compliment

no coins lost

none gained.

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