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Week 1 - “The World Begins…” Poems

Updated: May 9, 2020

Poems written by Untold Stories poets in response to the prompt “The world begins…” echoing Joy Harjo’s poem Perhaps the World Ends Here.

The World Begins

-Desiraé Simmons

the world begins

in this time and space

again and again

with a faint sound

it's the door

it creaks a little when opened slowly

still dark outside, but often a soft glow

coming from the room down the hallway

and then something soft

hair frizz or fake fur

hard to tell as momma moves to make room

for the squiggly legs and all the stuffed friends

of course sometimes

its the sound of them dropping to the floor

in a triumphant circle around the smiling squish

proud of how big their hug was this time

that wakes me from slumber

sweet little precious

climbs into bed

demanding a warm spot and that part of the pillow

looks at me with eyes telling stories of our ancestors

squeezing my face like it'll all be just right



-Nuola Akinda

I can’t remember a time

Before the apple of my cheek

Rested on the curve of a brown woman’s thigh.

Sometimes her thigh was tree-trunk thick and

Coconut brown

Sometimes it was muscle of youth

Pulled tighter by the tension of wanting to be noticed

and invisible

In equal parts

She has many hands too

Thin, almond colored, with acrylic nails covered in Blue Magic

Or Pink Lotion

Sugarcane thick, tootsie-roll colored

With a thousand stories

Of love lost


Lost again

Like one of those huge, colorful balls that bounces along the sand at the beach

Until your cousin kicks it into the waves

And you watch it drift away

That is where time begins for me


Children running in and out of the house

Flies buzzing

Grown folks watching shows you’re too young to understand

And telling you to close your eyes

Which always makes you want to peek

Too grown

Hoping for a glimpse into what makes them so damn powerful

And beautiful

And why did I want to lay right there forever



Aching scalp

The world also begins at my grandmother’s clothesline

And my aunties’ kitchens

With the feeling of a white, silk slip

On my skinny knees

With fufu and egusi stew

Slipping down my throat

With coltrane riding salty air

Slipping me into dreams

That were wide enough to hold the ancient pain that rolled through me

Now I’ve lived enough to know

That I don’t know enough

to help us survive this


But I can be a brown woman

With tree trunk thighs.

I can braid truth and love

Onto the scalp of restless kin

I can love you

I can love all of you

And there will still be enough left for myself


generative ancestral wisdom

-Erika Murcia

The world begins in the wisdom of my ancestors. It begins in the generative and expansive ways of their resistance, survival, and vision. It begins in the unconditional love for communal work. The world begins when my mother made love to my donor, and as the winner, I rushed through his reproductive organs and made it to my mother’s womb so that one day I could experience pleasure while making love on my own. The world begins in the recognition of my roots and our resilience to stand still right now when a global pandemic urges us to come together in solidarity, tolerance, and peace. It begins when our human race recognizes a responsibility to take care of Mother Earth as her resources are finite. The world begins when I step on my mat and dance with so much sensuality while listening to reggae music. It begins when I remind myself that isolation cannot be rooted in fear but rather in movement and love. The world begins when I share a simple meal with my partner at the table. It begins when we as a family come together to revise our boundaries in sharing space. The world begins in my heartbeats, it continues when I am breathing love in and out mindfully right now, as I place my left hand gently on my chest and my right hand gently on my belly. It begins right here when I reach out through a text message to family, friends, and family.



-Julie Quiroz

The world begins

with a call


my voice bounces

off a satellite

to you

from what I hold

in the palm

of my open hand

Long ago

a call was a drum

or a song

or eyes

warm and




or sky


our dreams

A tree


calling us

to be




-Leseliey Welch

The world begins in water

Warm, cloudy with sustenance

For survival

Carrying sound and dreams

Before you were born, I knew you…


Ocean, sea, sacred

The fusion of parts bonded

Because they know

They need each other

To survive

Just add water...

To plant, grow, harvest

Cleanse, restore, thrive

Full, abundant, creative – free

H2O is the most abundant

compound on Earth…

Harvest, harness, power

Buy, sell, own

Misuse and misunderstand

We belong to the water…

It does not belong to us

God is the color of water…

Showing us

Who we are

We begin and end

The substance of things hoped for…



The World Begins

-Jayanthi Reddy

The world begins in a patch of sunshine. The warmth of distant fire makes our existence possible. Each aspect of our lives shifts in relation to sunlight.

In the summer, we call our loves to drink in the sun on the beach. In the winter, we curl up in patches of warmth that have landed through windows.

We plant seeds so they are positioned to receive the sun's blessing. We pull curtains closed, as if they could ever keep the sun from calling us out of bed.

We come outside on the first sunny day in spring. We exclaim to (supposed) strangers when the sun peeks out from behind clouds. We marvel at the moon who so kindly reflects the sun back to us.

Sunlight is actual medicine. Our star seeing life through from beginning to end.



-Maria Thomas

the world begins

a heartbeat and a whisper

after it felt like

we were huddled near cliff’s edge

holding on to each other

terrified the ones we loved

might fall over.



fashion your ropes

have faith

and swing possibility-wards.

now is the time to

unlearn binaries.

what, after all

are beginnings

and endings

when we’re traveling

along a circle

or dancing on a mobius strip?

know this world

has always been


cruel, hard, surprising and joyful.

and even the worst crises

open windows through which to pull

beautiful impossibilities

and dreamed-of futures

into this world

right here

right now.

and in this time

of heightened contradictions

choosing to be physically distanced

is how we show care

for our most vulnerable.

and we must

learn and create

new ways

of loving and communing

trusting that

just like stretched rubberbands

the further you twang us away

the fiercer the urgency

with which we’ll return

to each other






-Anuja Rajendra

The world begins and ends with form, so they say

while the depths of my being know

your essence is beyond visual caricatures

your presence is known to me, come what may

I know this as a truth

from the transitioning of you

my deeply loved one


She was ...

No, she is an “ is”...

I tell myself

Always and forever

My blood sister no longer in flesh

And forever in soul

I know that the world neither begins nor ends

as, in this glacial globe,

the effervescence of her cosmic dust

Is a glimmer of Avi on a rainy day

Is a beckoning of Chand on a celestially clear night

Is the magnetism of Chakor toward all that is good in the skies

Is the hope of Savera after midnight storms have challenged our might

Is the weaving of all of us together of Kabir with an innocence so bright.

The world begins with my sister Rachana, creation herself

And magicizes as fuel for the form of my sons’, nephews’, and nieces’ flesh

Lucky are you

All who inhabit this earth

And then heaven or hell

You are all entwined in Rachana’s energy with no beginning nor end

As her essence is plentiful within and without me and you

As the Almighty will never be meager in her offerings to us.

She will always dole.

Sanskrit Translations

Rachana (creation; also the name of my sister who transitioned to the formless)

Avi (sun; also the name of my nephew, son of another sister, Archana)

Chand (moon; also the name of my nephew, son of another sister, Archana)

Chakor (beautiful bird enamored with the moon; also the name of my son)

Savera (morning; also the name of my niece, daughter of another sister, Archana)

Kabir (mystic poet from India whom several religions claimed he was a practitioner of; also the name of my son)

Archana (prayer; also the name of another sister of mine

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