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The Poems of the Circle Anthology

The Poems of the Circle Anthology

When the eyes, hearts, heads, and ears of enough poets are turned like a searchlight on a subject, look out. This is the point of the Circle Anthology: to see what happens when 27 literary artists focus on a place — Monument Circle — and all its meanings.

Conceived by Big Car’s Jim Walker and organized by Natalie Solmer, founder and editor of The Indianapolis Review, the Circle Anthology is a new body of work made for SPARK Monument Circle.

The poets read their work live on the Circle on October 19 as part of the What a Wednesday event. You can go here to listen to all of all the poems as part of our Circle Sounds project via WQRT FM — Big Car’s community radio station (playlist also embedded here).

Thank you to all the poets for taking part!

Here are texts of their poems in full:
 

The Archive In My Bones
by Uzuri Asad

With good fortune
And an open mind
You may find that there is something 
Beautiful 
Palpably regal
Raw
About one who knows their origins
One who knows their stories
And cares enough to commit to memory
The voices of others
The tales of their earthen trails
And gift them again and again 
Griot
Historian
Archivist
Walking with echoes of
A ravaged people
As their amplifier
Resilient still 
Despite 
Detachment from a legacy that was forced from view
Replaced with bloodied vision
Shattered constitution 
Along with their unwilling offerings
Of the elevation of
Every common thing
Contributions reduced to rumor
They who speak with honeyed rage
Point out mistaken monoliths
Embedded in monuments
Determined that these details
Will not be overlooked
Pay close attention
When the storytellers share their souls
You too might find yourself in love
With a bitter truth

 

*************************************

MONUMENT CIRCLE
by C.S. Carrier

brick-paved, a circumference of locust trees,
intersection of Market & Meridian, focal point,
machinery buzzing, the ground vibrating,
sward where numbers began, congregations,
a Starbucks, Hilbert Circle Theatre,
the green steeple of Christ Church Cathedral,
lampposts with speakers, preening finches, the cardinal points,
bronze statues of luminaries, conquerors,
bison heads with livid chins spurting water into basins,
the clouds are moving, the sun is bubbling over,
begonias, coleus, canna lily, grass bundles,
flagpoles with cameras, reflections in panopticon,
chloramine, the din of water cascading into pools,
hair matting the ground, dark façades,
the displaced fires of the Lenape & the Miami,
a man sleeping, a man eating from a trashcan,
two men holding hands at a picnic table,
a woman reading a book on her lunch break,
serpents writhe around the eyes,
pedestals wrought with laurels & tears,
bears strapped into upright poses,
eagles, pendants from their beaks,
invisible grid of radiowaves, the statuary is symbolic,
astragals of cannons & horses, bows & bowsprits,
oolitic limestone from southern Indiana, o bells,
o obelisk standing up, gesture to the dead, what of the living,
I felt hope when I saw the crowd assemble on the steps,
the summer heat blistering, announcing itself.

 

*************************************

To the brotha on the West Side
of the monument:
by Malachi Carter

Bro, I feel you.
I know that very position you’re in. 
My feet hurt, too
Walking around this Circle
just to look up at oppression,
I’m tired of false freedom, too,
my guy.
Yo, I was watching on YouTube 
this reflexologist in Toronto 
who uses these stick tools like a sculptor. 
Let’s get some reparations 
and go get foot massages,
you down? 
Your shackles are oddly burdensome gifts;
mine are compression socks. 
Both of ours are name-brand.
At least you got yours for free.
You hold up your chains 
against an eagle-encrusted shield 
shaped like the bottom of the chin of the liberator 
who apparently doesn’t see 
you.
Or maybe they’re saving you
for last.
Remember, angels don’t look
like white saviors.
Only the Old World Sparrows about your head have wings on their backs.
But keep looking up, big bro.
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
justice like the noonday sun
that sets on your sole.
Maybe that’s why you hang your foot over this monument ledge—
to get your own 
all-natural sun-beating solar foot massage,
you know, like those therapy lasers.
I see now—
you’re handing back Liberty 
her chains.
They were never yours. 

 

*************************************

Mr. Transistor
by John L. Clark

Round & Round
lock it in and
crank it up
listen closely
flat tire
sounds like a
scratchy &
valuable vinyl
45 record
spin it backwards
revealing hidden
messages about
creative loafers
Underground Clowns
ringing buzzers of
joy ushering in the
latest new poetics of
circular secular
speaking &
thinking out
loud quoting
pop songs about
radio headphones
spinning around &
roundly sounding
Low power is
better than
no power.

 

*************************************

REVOLVE 
by Mitchell L. H. Douglas 

The track starts @ Market, backspins
to Meridian, each lane a groove, the song
of us embedded in the brick. It sounds 

its way out of the round:
in children’s laughter, in the matter
of Black lives–a protest 

from a car cut off, it’s needled driver
full weight on the horn. Crops of tourists scratch
heads, stare into the sun 

@ the Capitol’s back. A man
w/a cup half full of change
extends his hand, shakes 

& smiles. Lovers stop for a selfie,
rise of limestone spindle
between them, convertibles 

blasting the ’80s
into new millennia. You would swear
it was a dance, the way cars swoon 

left, locked in the lean of the curve. The couple
turn their heads to the beat, then back
to each other, grin in the spin. 

                            Polis, you carve headstones
on your heart, honor ghosts of war
while new death cuts in. Our center 

on spiral, fit to sift
new hurts from old. Digging
in the crates. 

 

*************************************

Haiku

by Jarrod Dortch

When I was younger /
we used to roll around the /
circle beat real high

Young Black and free with /
the world as our oyster /
the circle or track 

Still remember when /
my ride stopped popped and dropped on /
me on the circle 

The center of town /
we spin around trying to /
make a way forward 

When lit up and in /
all of its splendor the circle /
is Indiana

 

*************************************

To Indiana’s Silent Victors
by Matthew Graham

“The thunder-chorus of a world is stirred
To awful, universal jubilee.”
                                                   The Soldier
                                                   — James Whitcomb Riley

Written for the dedication of The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Indianapolis

At the dedication, on May 15th, 1902,
Riley read his poem, and in the center of the city,</span
In the center of Indiana,
A limestone exclamation point of remembrance 
Announced the start of a new century.
The dead of five military conflicts, one
Too shameful now to even consider
Celebrating, were honored
By the surviving veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic.
And although the white supremacists
 Of Indiana’s Knights of the Golden Circle
Were long gone, in twenty years
The Klan would percolate up from the southwest of the state
Into Indianapolis like swamp gas.
In his keynote address that day, General John Foster warned:
“Every country may carry within itself
The seed of its own dissolution.”
And so it may.

What does this memorial mean today
And what should we think of the dead of so long ago
With their wars of just and unjust causes?
And how can we learn from their thunder-chorus 
In our own still-tarnished and awful times?

 

*************************************                                                   

Under Her Watch

by JL Kato

When I was a boy, the lady atop
the monument was an angel,
smiling down on my side of town,
where hillbilly drifters
and German immigrants slept.
I was welcome to cozy up
in their shotgun shacks
on narrow lanes, as long
as I was the only Jap.

As a teen, I saw a different lady
leading a phalanx of dead soldiers
from the War Memorial
and American Legion Mall.
Like a falcon swooping
down on a dove,
she marched toward me,
pointing her finger, exclaiming
“I want you in Vietnam.”

When I was fresh out of college,
the lady bestowed, at last,
abundant blessings:
a wife, a career, a car,
a safe neighborhood.
But the bronze lady wasn’t done.
One snowy evening, I stopped.
to fill my gas tank. A ragged woman,
cold wind blistering her fingers,
pleaded for some change.
“No time and no coins,” I said.
As I put away the pump,
a voice from behind said,
“Get inside and buy something warm.
Take your time and stay out of the cold.”
A ten-dollar bill appeared
in the beggar’s hand.
When I looked behind me, an angel
with a flickering sword
disappeared into the night.

 

*************************************

wartime
by Lasana D. Kazembe

kind of like when
motionless man-shadows
decorate the face
time with its wearied worried
lips like icons raised
as symbol and
symbolic monuments that foretell and
prey on truth and beauty in
all its forms

who were those
lives inserted into a country’s
open sores? etched forever in lime
stone leaning pose screaming silent
dangerous questions kind of zinn
like when history comes a-calling
demanding it be listened to
dissected dealt with

who whose
were
those
lives that
gave their lives as
sun and sea do or
once did? who? sons?
sons of ones?
teased and taunted
haunted by the corrugated history that
comes a-calling
with its bronzed voice and
its obstinate eye its
brazen truth brandished
kind of like wartime knives
that ask not why

 

*************************************

Untitled
by Nasreen Khan

At the center of the city, there is a circle like an eye in the middle
of Circle City
and from the center of its pupil juts a steel and stone erection, altar
to gods of blood and war and death and slavery
encircled by a river of chemical water, sanitizing the floating sputum of a dozen cleared throats. 

           cast your bread upon the waters

Sleeping by this stern midwestern Ganges, Donna shivers under three layers of coats, castoff but impeccably mended. Muttering,
her breath forms crystalline in the fluorescent cold

 And when she takes the sandwich that I offer—salami and provolone, not skimpy on the condiments, her eyes are clear,
clear, clear, like the very center of the White River turned glassy when in coldest midwinter its frozen solid, and my Black dog Ahab skitters ahead, showing me where the ice is rotten on my crossing from bank to bank, and back again.

Donna used to be an opera singer. Donna’s fingernails are clean. And she puts the Ziploc baggie away to save the sandwich “for later”, but I think she was raised right and is just being polite.Two months before Donna first told me, “my name is Donna but out here they call me Beautiful.”

the world came to a standstill, and the people who had shelter sheltered in place.
And the ones with none called anyplace a place
And I walked East from out of the Western Haughville night on a wandering whim, across the 16th street bridge over the White River.

           cast your bread upon these waters

and I twirled at the intersection of New York where it crosses Pennsylvania
thrilled at the wide empty expanse of soundless car lanes,
all the people sheltering in someplace else
with their cars garaged in that sheltered place too
And it felt like in all the city with all its places, I was the last one left. 

           This is our bread you’ve refused to cast upon our waters

Here in the eye of this city, the eye of this storm, apple of our Fathers’ eyes, city Fathers cast in bronze 9 feet tall, sightless eyes with green cataracts of patina 

           Donna, give me sight!
           
I can’t see the specks of gold in your gaze, for the plank in my own.

 

*************************************

“To Indiana’s Silent Victors” 
          Monument Circle, Indianapolis 

by Karen Kovacik

No one has commissioned us unsung citizens 
in hoodies or union caps. No one has memorialized 
our guayaberas or rainbow flags, yet we stencil signs,  
unroll banners, raise our voices heavenward  
to make Miss Victory shake. No one cast us 
in bronze, no one sculpted us in limestone 
or granite. But we rise for the rule of law,  
build an underground to Illinois, seek  
retribution for knees on necks. We come 
without cannon. Few of us have touched  
a battleship’s prow. Yet we track every treaty  
broken. And glorify beech forests, 
along with buffalo and bears. At most,  
we carry spare change. And single moms  
who skip electric bills to feed their children supper 
we lift up! We adorn no plinths—no one calls us 
“conqueror.” We are bootsoles on brick, 
splashes of glitter or perfume. We’re unsung, 
citizens who will never have a monument, 
and we’re fending off another civil war. 

 

*************************************

Animal Statuary Haiku Times Two
by Anne Laker

Oh bison, bearded
and spitting, we killed you off
then bronzed you, mid-breath

Oh pot-bellied bears
I pass you at dawn running
to catch a Greyhound

 

*************************************

Two Voices Speak of Lady Victory in Monument Circle

by Alessandra Lynch

Shining and leaping it seems through stardust particles & mist & deadly particulates is she– in her flowing dress…trying to escape
   the cement pigeon-eyed center  of the city?

Beneath her,  heavy bronze soldiers crawl and stagger upward and flesh-people walk airily past
…some in masks

“Airily” for where is there to be?  Airily for need of clean air. They’re trying to launch to the moon…
…maybe she’s trying to get there first to warn them

At the human core is war not love after all?
…she’s a fierce love-form herself , her flowing colorless dress, an eagle-bird on her head, its   
    wings in shadow

Maybe she’s messenger to the moon, to mars
…dispel the costly human footstep

This is turning bleak.
…bleak contains  a lake and Blake!

One low, one dead…
…it is a bleak stark time to be writing a Memorial Poem for a city

Where human hands are at war against human hands amid the endless stutter of guns, backwail of sirens
…and Sedges droughted and Red Knot, Eastern Black Rail, Piping Plover– jinxed

And butterflies failing and coneflowers burnt out like buildings, the sky in a stretcher
…and eyes of these Common Soldiers cast downward, silent mouths drily open and the      
     impoverishment of rivers and the dangling signal wires

Yet  you are singing to me
… I am singing to you and watching the people below Lady Victory or is her name Nike?

She is not leaping after all—she is wading through the clouds
…and she carries a torch

And we have the means to sing of her and we have the means
…to listen to the particular voices silent in the streets

Are we the Silent Victors—both  living and  dead—?
…No blood where her shadow falls
    pooling thickly in this hour– by tomorrow will be gone—

… She points her sword down, the eagle lifts its wings, her face is kind

If you had a face it would be kind
…if you had a face it would be one of a kind!

*************************************

Loop (or a Black Girl Keeps Returning to the City of Circles Part 1)
by Ashley Mack-Jackson

Question: There are Black people in Indiana?

Answer: When I was 10, I almost died from poststreptococcal 
glomerulonephritis: it was a trip: something else: how my body tried 
to shut itself off: I remember: I couldn’t remember how to tie my shoes
I remember: my mother: dead serious in the shadow of the quiet room:
where they send you to let the ones you love go: she refused to go: I remember: 

my body above me trying to drive myself back inside. Truth be told
I’ve always been holding on: letting go and something about December 1994 
made the magic of separation: resurrection too tempting: the birth of a savior: 
the patron saint of children and thieves begging forgiveness: a monument of war 
strung up with thousands of twinkling lights: a loop that broke and broke and broke.

Depending on which way it went, I could’ve been on any side of this city 
of circles: I was born at St. Vincent: Easter Sunday 1984: my mother waited almost 
too late: I died at least twice at St. Vincent: near Christmas 1994: my mother 
waited almost too late: at Riley Hospital: a hospital that lives in the neighborhood
the city stole from my mother’s people: I woke up to our pastor’s brown 

face haloed in fluorescent light. Jesus Christ, how could I not take myself away:
give myself back to this city: my people? Again, and again and again.
*************************************

How to Love a City Poem
by Chantel Massey

say her name with your whole mouth.
when you tell her story, start with her Heart. 
how when you place your hand there, 
you can tell she comes alive.
make sure you remind people to close 
their eyes & listen,
hear the beat of the city pound. 
it’s the feet that walk 
to catch the 39 to work first 
thing in the morning, 
the kids that laugh & ride bikes  
along the sidewalks 
on Kessler. its the cars 
that hum from Post Rd. to Guion,
then 121st st to Greenwood. 
make sure you remind people 
they are her Heart. watch 

how the stories stitched together 
quickly blanket her, call her 
Naptown, if you want, –
this only means she is held 
with warmth in many hands 
& her name in many mouths.
call her kissed. call us a choir, 
singing her a lullaby 
of all the wonders 
that rest in her belly; 
of all the wonders 
& stories in her Heart.
*************************************

Circle the center
by Kevin McKelvey

How do you find the center 
of a notched rectangle 
that wriggles to a southern confluence
where buffalo fled the ax? 

Is the center near Avon 
or Eagle Township or beneath
the stained-glass dome 
of the Boone County Courthouse? 

My head can bob a center
in Lake Michigan
or Morse Reservoir
or a farm pond.

This circle makes 
the mile square. 
The township grid 
squares the counties. 

Make yourself an obelisk: 
hand over hand above your head,
arms locked against your ears
—to slice through water—
to stand tall 
in the middle of a corn field
until it tassels above you. 

In this Owen County oolitic
the men’s floppy hats 
don’t hide their blank stares
and the women glare 
beyond the falling water.

Cannons and ships bluster 
from the astragals. 
But I fear the buffalo, bears,
panthers, eagles, horses—
the luster in their rock-old eyes
as if one more strain or flex 
could collapse this monument.

Liberty for who? 
is the question of any war— 
of who wins
who builds the monuments
who’s beaten and trampled
who’s still oppressed. 

If only a fledgling eagle
could crown us all free and equal
Liberty or Victory or Miss Indiana
while we balance on a globe 
with a too-tall sword 
and a torch above our head, 
the flame a golden dove taking flight.

*************************************

Nos vemos en el circulo.
by Félix J. Medina

Una línea que esta curveada, de una forma que abraza a todos, y cada punto en la línea está a la misma distancia del corazón. 

Nos juntamos alrededor del círculo.
Alrededor del fuego urbano.

Este es nuestro estilo de vida Hoosier, que nos recuerda de nuestras derrotas, pero también de nuestras victorias.
 
Todo escrito ahí para recordarnos. Aquí comenzamos en el fin, y terminamos en este nuevo comienzo.

Nuestras vidas están interconectadas completamente por medio de esta forma de vida 

No importa quién eres o de dónde vienes, sabes que el estar aquí, hace que el mundo sea redondo.

Hemos elegido a este círculo para que nos represente, porque todos hemos pasado por los mismos desafíos, y no hemos tenido opción más que ir para enfrente. 

Este es un eco de 120 años de memoria. 

Mira a tu alrededor. Todos los que estamos aquí en el circulo somos tus ciudadanos que alimentan al círculo con lo que necesita para funcionar, para respirar. 

El círculo está en nuestra bandera, está en nuestra forma de vida, en nuestro cielo, y es el objeto redondo más perfecto y mayormente conocido en el universo.

(English translation)

Nos vemos en el circulo.

by Félix J. Medina

A line that is curved, so that its ends embrace each other, and every point on the line is the same distance from the heart. 

We gather around the circle.
Around the urban fire.

This is our Hoosier way of life, and is here to remind us of our failures, but also of our victories. 

All written for us to remember. 
We start here at the end, and end in this new beginning. 

Our lives, are interconnected fully through this humble form of life. 

No matter who you are, or where you are coming from, you being here, makes the world go round.

We have chosen this circle to represent us, we’ve all been through the same struggles, and had no choice but to push ourselves through those moments. 

This is an echo of 120 years of memory.

Look around. Everyone you see in this circle is a fellow Hoosier, one that provides to the circle what it needs in order to function, in order to breathe. 

The circle is in our flag, is in our way of living, in our sky, and it is the most perfectly round object known in the universe.

Meet you at the circle.
*************************************

Lady V

by Susan Neville

            I stand barefoot on a star-encrusted ball. Look up! Do you see me? I spin so fast you might think I’m standing still. I spin like the earth spins, the planets, like electrons spin, and protons, tornados and whirlpools, like children spinning on blocks of ice. I’m a dervish. One hand in the air, I direct the dance of ordinary time: In one direction the football spirals, in another the basketball spins into the hoop, in another, piston rings carry heat away from the hot piston of the racecar into the cooled cylinder wall of the engine. And there, the weekly passing of the peace, and there, the buttery violin passing a melody to the shining slide trombone.  The fruits of the spirit: ice cream and strawberries, horse-drawn carriages, weddings, birthdays, picnics, song, our daily bread and passing circuses. I’m your wedding band. You circle me in celebration and despair. I’m made of the small eggs of rock that formed around the shells of inland sea creatures, and of the waves that spun the shells and the pressures that crushed them. But that was long ago. Do you like my dress? I do, actually. It’s so difficult to get that movement in hard stone. My dress is ruched, it billows around my ankles when I spin on my ball of stars. An eagle is attached to my hair. 

 

Once

Once my grandmother brought me to hear a president and to drink a soda at the five and dime. Once my mother bought a warm bag of red-skinned peanuts for us to eat, and we looked in the department store windows at mannequins dressed in Chanel.

Once I saw Richard Lugar on the circle, and he was very short. Once I saw William Hudnut, and he was very tall. Once I saw Francis Farmer, and she was very sad. 

I rode a carriage around the circle with my daughter on her 10th birthday and with my brother on the day of his wedding. That was once. I sang with my high school choir at the foot of the monument at Christmas, but several times. I’ve stared into the fountains as though they were the blue green of the Caribbean. I’ve bought a pencil from a man without legs. In middle school I watched Dr. Zhivago and Gone With the Wind while sipping juice from a plastic orange. Sometimes now I think I catch a statue in motion, the sound of the eagle prepared to soar, the windows on the curved buildings opalescent and reflective as the arc of a soap bubble, and I think I can hear the voices of the war dead whispering from underneath the monument, joining with the sound of  spinning wheels on the spinning brick tube of the street. 

 

*************************************

Victory

by Brianna Pike

She hovers high above the circle; 
torch glinting gold, sword lowered 
well below a gaze that drifts
south across a cerulean sky

before falling to the stream
of cars on their way to:

dinners round well-loved 
kitchen tables;

late summer gardens brimming 
sunflowers and bees;

block parties full of dancing children; 

the aroma of fried food shimmering off pavement; 

the seemingly endless turquoise of community pools;

soft green grass and smoking barbeque;

and fireflies that pierce the night like stars. 

She watches you circle the monument murmuring 
gratitude for barbeque, sunflowers, stars and pools.

She watches you circle around and around and around 
seeking victory.
 
But don’t you see? 
She is already here;
gleaming and grateful

asking you to just look up.  
&nbsp

*************************************

Haiku #1

by Karen Pope

Aqua blue fountains
dare hold drowned copper pennies
tossed wishes hoped true

Long Poem

by Karen Pope

Driving counter clockwise,
I am often transported back to a time
when downtown histories 
were as obvious 
as is the joy 
of being greeted by warm Hellos…
 
Streets 
designed to direct feet and wheels
North South East West
intentional pathways
radiating out from center mass
Monument Circle…

City blocks of   
tall  short  wide  skinny  shoulder-to-shoulder  buildings 
ornate with glass panes
portals for workers to peer outward
and 
for pedestrians to peer inward…

Buildings with heavy doors
that seemed to inhale and exhale crowds of people
one-by-one
two-by-two
all shuffling to the rhythmic sound 
of doors  swinging open  swinging closed…

The bus   
my imagined Merry-Go-Round ride
seated firmly
but caught up in the dizziness
of  buildings  white clouds  blue sky
twirling  whirling  in tandem
just outside my bus window…

A past 
not yet faded into black
LS Ayers
Blocks
Woolworths
Marrows Nut House
King Cole 
Power and Light…

Nor is the timbre of my mother’s voice
after buying submarine sandwiches
and 
Spanish peanuts with jelly beans…

Reminding me and my twin
that she hasn’t any more money
time now
for us to go back home…

Moving counter clockwise
she went
Moving counter clockwise
he went
Moving counter clockwise
I went…
*************************************

THIS DAY CAN BE EVERYTHING

by Nick Reading

 

Concrete and cloud frame everybody walking here. 
Little shadow, no shade, in a sweat 
since midnight. Parts of town awake 
with windows humming. Parts of town silent. 

The city bus approaches, bicycles stamped 
on the front like ransom, like spoils. 
The guy attempting to catch it runs like 
he doesn’t want to go where he’s headed. 

From the steps of the monument, I count
every street, like years, passing
in direct routes through my body. 
Out of sight, a mother calls a child,

her voice sifted through the fountain’s
thin curtain, It’ll be alright, in refrain,
sounding more like a hymn 
than a promise. A promise like 

pop-up showers in the afternoon. Like 
recalling an apology I owe. 
A hymn like waving at strangers 
as if I’ve known them forever.

The hospitality in a day promising 
to offer hope in its strange parlors 
startles my world in a breath.  
How familiar it feels to be hollow. 

The mulberry’s spotted canopy. 
The space between our bodies. A seat 
on a bus somebody fills. The time off a clock 
that’s ours. Our hands and what we hold.  
*************************************

 

Circle City

by Natalie Solmer

The first time I ever got drunk was in Indianapolis
at the top of its tallest building, looking through
walls of glass. I was a teen at a cousin’s wedding

in the clouds, overlooking the grid, its circle center,
floating over the monuments to the dead.
I was nervous. My sister stole me screwdrivers—

orange juice & vodka until I melted
and my heart became shiny as the glass,
until there was the buzz of a city in me, circling.

Fate side-eyed me for a decade
its plot to pull me & Indy back—circles &
circles again, Tori sang when I was love drunk

on someone living in this city & circling me
across blue mountains. I drove back in
& touched the blood red street

of brick that still circles
the monument to the dead.
Near these ghosts, we’d make our bed

once. Again & again you’d evaporate
& leave me with a city, sad & shining
until finally it became all my own
& I learned to live in it. 

Serendipity 

by Yeabsera Tabb

a place for the mundane 
a place for the extravagant 
a place consistent, familiar, and also brand new

here at the center of the city 
where we walk, work, wait and wonder 
my heart longs for something 
something like an unlikely connection 
a random interaction 
an interruption of the normal 
moments that conjure feelings of familial laughters
moments like encountering an encouraging smile 

here at the heart of the city 
I long for pass by moments to linger 
to blossom anew 
to feel the grim of the day fade one small talk at a time 

a place to witness pure human kindness

here at the heart of the city 

to encounter a stranger and realize 
we are not really strangers
to feel seen even for a blip of a moment 
to feel the the beat of my heart after a round of ping pong 
to get a moment to sit

*************************************

Comeback
by Sylvia Thomas

Meet me at the circle
Where I am no longer
on the street corner
I am ahead of the curve
that carves out a place for community
and where culture makes the cut  

I grew up here

Where victory is a reminder
look up at the top to find her
We put her there
Did you see the people along the way?

Take our turn on the
steps of our monument
because it has taught us, we all have
something to say 

Circling the statues with its stories
from past daughters and sons
we know these battles were won
but the wars have only begun
Here in the heartland, there are
no captains of the coasts
We are citizens of tomorrow

Living for the people who have died
the chants, the rallies, the protests,
the songs, the screams, and the cries
Bricks like these make us believe we are heard
We hold on to every word

 

Oh, to be at the center
To look around at each other
And think of our common link
Where you are
Where you are going
Where you were

 

I am not that far away

 

*************************************

The Breaks 

by Manòn Voice

after the golden hour, patina scintillates the corpses 
of skyscrapers emptied of the proletariat 
the electric colors     move into rhythm
the circle turns turntable 
early hip-hop discotheque 
a vanity of blooming neon 
beneath a quarter gleaming mustard ball
playing the Hook up top 

bicycle, scooter, and car wheels spin around the platter 
needling the groove 
a Harley motorcade of DJs extends the break 
and the clacking of horse hooves 
dot the beat 
the traffic of bodies will contort
down rock
         up rock 
fighting the torque 
spindling them back into the cycle 
some never leave
forced into the centrifuge of scratched dreams 
tagging these streets steps and sidewalks in sleeping bags 

an 
emcee
in a hoodie 
and black jeans 
curses his courage 
on the track spits back 
a cacophony of slurs 
he has nowhere to go 
to sleep except in his hands 
a Veteran 
beneath this salute to soldiers and sailors 
has never made it back home to his own mind

but at least the statute is familiar 
the tone arm lifting us in and out of time 
in
the capital city a
tale of      two 
turntables 
playing the same record 
on opposite sides of the mixer 
on loop.

*************************************

Monument Circle, September 8, 2022

by Jim Walker

and yet here we are
at war with ourselves
bayonets of so much sound

pause the Circle
fold it in time


and I see people wobble walk
side to side as rocking horses
made of leather and old meat
I still take long, steady strides
only I hear my hip pop, feel tiny pain
nothing like whatever put her
in the machine she rides slow
behind the leashed dog

old man drives circles
in a Slingshot
with a skeleton
in the passenger seat

spitting buffalo, the upright bears
barrel banded in iron — just trying to help
eagles lift off from black stalks
war horses drink this blue water
— its hiss and fountain spray
*************************************

Homecoming

by Raiha Zainab

 

To Indiana’s Silent Victors we stand,
In the brotherhood of this land,
We link arms and rejoice
In the victory of our voice

Monument Circle stands for thee
Lighthouse for our way to liberty
Holding up Lady Victory
Calling us home to the land of the free

War to the East
Soldiers forge into battle
The Goddess of War urges on the charge
In fight of the Union, we march

Peace to the West
Lady Liberty welcomes us to our homecoming
Break away your chains, hold up your flags
To Liberty we return

Atop it all stands Lady Victory
Her eagle crown fighting for our freedom
Her golden torch the light of civilization
We look to her to find our way home

To the Circle City
To Indianapolis

To all we love

To all we leave behind

Here to the Circle we come to remember
The land we built up together
Here in the plains of Indiana
Here in the crossroads of America