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from Interventions for Women by Angela Hume

say no

from Interventions for Women (Omnidawn, 2021)


Minneapolis, Minnesota, and San Francisco, California, 2020.

I started writing this poem during the COVID-19 pandemic, several months after the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by the white police officer Derek Chauvin along with the Minneapolis Police Department; after the dismantling of the summer sanctuary camp at Powderhorn Park by the City of Minneapolis; and during the catastrophic late-summer and early-fall wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington.


the streets are young and vital

as ever  

we owe a debt

the night

wet in the sick

dusk   every history

grips a crowd

conscious or not

in its fist

conscious or not

of the known world

simply gone

(go into the poem

the crowd  

the riot   knowing

what you are

your daily   deadly  






whatever you are

you’re no less lethal



a sudden   splitting


chemical agent’s

a neighbor

naked in its

collusion course  

any neighbor

a cop

any discourse  

a modality of the police

(what would it take to

say no to



there was the adrenaline

of the refuge

in the heat

in the park

donation needs



oral pain relief


28 & 29-gauge syringes

sharps containers

contact solution

emergency blankets

sleeping mats


sleeping bags



despite predictable


praxes of



new xl tshirts  

duct tape


pillows & cases

battery-powered fans

compression bandages

phone chargers

hand sanitizer



what we need is

something beyond

prescribed models

of what they

recognize as care

contagion time’s

a time for choosing

clarifying acts of love

and refusing


vermilion august

pummels thinner

distant branches

vessels leak  

a white opacity  

clots land in a lung

below sticky

water molecules

move with capillary

tubes   drag hundreds

of gallons up each

coastal redwood  

root systems

extend a hundred

feet   entwine with

roots of others

even a downed tree

can survive

into our lungs

ash of accumulated

fuel loads   forest


where we’d loved

each other’s body


under the canopy

on the spicy floor

after the lightning

surfaces of home

bathed in gold

the sky splashed

with corals

tens of thousands

ordered to go

before the month


light went out

of the sky

noon was a

shallow dish

of ash



glass turned

upside down

you cannot think your way

out of the problem

you’ve got to use fire


on the porch

in the heat

at a distance of

six feet

i said   i’m

in your hands

she said   it’s sweet  

isn’t it

my bark thickens

with every year now

i keep your words

in my ear now

all i want is to touch you

tell me again what you did


Sources quoted, referenced, or adapted, in order of appearance:

T.J. Tallie. “Asymptomatic Lethality: Cooper, COVID-19, and the Potential for Black Death.” Nursing Clio, June 8, 2020.

Idris Robinson. “How It Might Should Be Done.” Lecture delivered July 20, 2020.

Statement by Minneapolis Sanctuary Camp activist and resident. The Minneapolis Sanctuary Movement began at a Sheraton in South Minneapolis during the uprisings following George Floyd’s murder. For nearly two weeks, unsheltered people had access to safe, free housing at the hotel. When residents were suddenly evicted, some decided to set up a camp at Powderhorn Park. Community members supported the camp by organizing supply donations, meals, first aid, and harm-reduction support. In June, the Minneapolis park board named parks sanctuaries for unhoused people, a win for the Sanctuary Movement. But then in July, under pressure from local homeowners, the park board and the Minneapolis Police Department began evicting people. By the middle of August, the city had evicted all remaining residents of Powderhorn Park.

Elizabeth Shogren. “A Century of Fire Suppression Is Why California Is in Flames.” Mother Jones, December 12, 2017.

Reprinted with permission from Omnidawn Publishing.

Angela Hume

Angela Hume is the author of the full-length poetry book Middle Time (Omnidawn, 2016). Her chapbooks include Meat Habitats (DoubleCross, 2019), Melos (Projective Industries, 2015), The Middle (Omnidawn, 2013), and Second Story of Your Body (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2011). With Gillian Osborne, she co-edited Ecopoetics: Essays in the Field (University of Iowa Press, 2018). Angela is at work on a nonfiction book about the feminist self-help movement in the Bay Area (AK Press, 2023).

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