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Screen shot of Tilt West roundtable conversation prompted by Rebecca Vaughan

By Jennifer Ho, in response to Tilt West’s roundtable on The Semiotics of the Stay-At-Home

We are a nation divided — this much seems clear no matter what part of the political spectrum you hail from. And it has me worried, not because I think we all need to believe the same things but because we can’t even agree on what to disagree on. Meaning: shared beliefs on what constitutes basic “facts” have become rhetorical weapons in a war of competing realities.

I suppose I saw it coming over a decade ago, when people were disputing that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, arguing that he wasn’t a US citizen and wasn’t a Christian, despite his claims (and evidence) to support what seemed irrefutable facts about his identity. I recently watched a CNN news piece in which a reporter discussed with a QANON supporter that there was no evidence to support the assertion that Hollywood elites were running an underground pedophile ring. …

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Prompter Bianca Mikahn, Tilt West’s virtual roundtable on Art, Trauma & Resistance

by Autumn T. Thomas in response to Tilt West’s virtual roundtable on Art, Trauma & Resistance

In March of 2020, the country was forced into introversion at the onset of a worldwide pandemic. A “safer at home” mandate was put in place to save as many people as possible from the threat of a widespread infection, yet the result forced many people to face unsafe circumstances at home. We were forced to deal with our families, our personalities, our thoughts, our addictions. We were forced to see one another, vulnerable and scared, with no means of escape. For some of us, the world was safer than our homes. …

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By futurist Chet W. Sisk, in response to Tilt West’s panel, Afrofuturism and Black Safety: Beyond Policing

Note: This essay will appear in the author’s forthcoming book, 10 Easy Steps to Creating a New Society.

One of the most notorious crises in the United States is the ugly and never-ending confrontational relationship between the State (the police) and communities of color, particularly African Americans. Before we take another step into this centuries-old dance of violence, let’s clarify a few points:

  • While one can trace the practice of policing as far back historically as 27 BC in ancient Rome, the heart, soul and meat-on-the-bones of modern policing in the United States was inspired by the slave patrols of the southern states. …

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Tilt West’s first virtual roundtable on Curiosity & Deceleration

by Josh Mattison, in response to Tilt West’s roundtable on Curiosity & Deceleration

There’s a new podcast I just started listening to called Field Recordings. They describe their show as, “A podcast where audio-makers stand silently in fields (or things that could be broadly interpreted as fields).” And whatever you’re thinking that sounds like is probably close to correct. There’s no host, no editing; just the sound of a field, or a park, or ocean waves. The pieces range from one to fifteen minutes in length. Outside of the sounds of random people passing by, there’s no talking, so there’s no story, no emotional arc, no payoff at the end. Just the sound of tall grass in the breeze or ice skates on a pond or row boats passing under a bridge. They began releasing episodes right before the Covid-19 lockdowns started. And for me, during this time we’re living in, it’s a salve for my ears and thoughts. This kind of audio is not made for impatient listening. It’s not “content.” It falls into a category of what’s now called “slow radio.” …

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Noel Black (Photo Credit: Matt Chmielarczyk)

How to Be A Witch, Wizard, or Warlock in Today’s Economy

by Noel Black

Those who sought the illusion — it is done
Outdated bones impose the mundane
To discover the True
Do so with nothing
Seek not belief to remain
Hang up on people in real life the way they hang up on people in movies
Raise your right hand to the heavens and bring down
lightning to match the ground

It’s possible to communicate directly with
your chosen reality initiations
Become manifestations of The Witch

Who would say that pleasure isn’t useful? …

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Paulie Lipman (Photo Credit: K.V. Dionne)

We, Patron Saints of Troubled Times

by Paulie Lipman

bang our heads
in a whisper, screaming
to a lord We don’t think
maybe might be out there

All of our altars
rendered hollow wind
candles blown out, waiting
despite heaven’s backlog
for so many candidates to
finally be canonized

Reaching for the
language of ordainment
its distance further all the time
not realizing We are all
already fluent

Kingdom Come
ain’t coming through
so We must seize the
means of production and
baptize our own damned selves

Act as ye have faith
and faith shall be given
to We

But We is not
an empty office
Our newfound abilities
must be brought to bear
transmute thoughts and prayers
into actions both grand and fragile
Be of service to one and other
with no thought of reward
no fanfare or tithing
no pedestal or pulpit

We are all We and
no one stands higher

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Toluwanimi Obiwole


by Toluwanimi Obiwole

auntie grows ewedu in the backyard
Ibadan is a handful of lemongrass boiled with rainwater
the purest form of my father I know
here, he smiles in love letters to old girlfriends
runs his fingers through the rusted gate of his elementary school
and we all breathe easier here
the generator is twisted into ivy breaking through the brick of the outer gate
the red dirt marks everything
coats uncle’s pressed suit
grows into your blood
follows you the way a souvenir cannot
this is unconquerable land
wildflowers have overtaken the old foreign tire company
your sugar does not grow here
I’ve never met a land that rains like your grandmother bathing you
scraping with wise hands in a tin bucket
this is where I want my bones rested
where the sun is always showing off
where poverty is just another word the British made up
where the melon vines stretch eagerly up to our urging hands

We are familiar with laughter
The way America is familiar with debt
We live
Loud and up close

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Bobby LeFebre (Photo credit: Victor Fossen)

Ghazal for Spring

by Bobby LeFebre

For now, let us hang our pain and worry on the closest hook
and admire the army of tulips stretching outside, it is spring.

If you will, turn off the news and be still for a moment,
listen to the loud sound of silence that sings, it is spring.

The coyotes and deer and bear have begun to reclaim the land
the water is clearer, the air fresh, the fish are swimming, it is spring.

Mother Earth is shedding the old like a snake, curando heridas abiertas
showing us the love in sacrifice and growth; que hermoso, verdad? Es Primavera.

Chase the smile welling inside you, even if you feel that it’s fleeting,
it is proof the sun always has your back, it is spring.

Do not walk around the promise of new beginnings as if tomorrow will
foolishly repeat the mistakes of yesterday; seeds are sprouting, it is spring.

Forget not, there is a warm body in front of each shadow,
a heart beating, a mind conspiring, a spirit opening, it is spring.

This morning, entangled bodies made love as the cold rain fell softly outside,
physical distance morphing into metaphor; climax, equinox, it is spring.

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Bianca Mikahn (Photo credit: Katie Langley)

soul (noun)
the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body

philanthropy (noun, plural: ​philanthropies)
altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement

If you believe you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t yet spent the night with a mosquito. — African proverb

Giving First

by Bianca Mikahn

Awe inspiring collectives can
be found in the tiniest corners of nature
Neurons, insects, birds
like starlings blanketing the ​sky
To live
to have enough
maybe to distribute
in spite of inhibited acquisition
Inflate new ideas with pressed upon lungs
lift upon air with seemingly clipped wings
manifest this philanthropic soul

We’ve always built the boots and the straps
and the sinew tensed for pulling
We’ve always responded to struggle with familiar capability
an extra ladle dished onto an unplanned plate
an extra blanket on a bed laced
foot to head to foot with cousins
giving first
Consistent solemn promises to never stand idle
in the face of our brethren’s need
in the face of our sistren’s loss
in the face of vicious threat

There is active work to inhibit our vision
machines reading biometrics as though a computer camera
could recognize our flesh more clearly than a neighbor’s caring eye
This narrative of destitution endless, monolithic
almost always inaccurately reported
I’ve never met a welfare queen, only families in need
Of course currency is a limited tool
truthfully the weakest resource we own
It cannot ​respond and​ understand the way a heart might
does not plan and engage the way a mind might
Capitally seems to allow mastery of life experience
but experience was not always currency’s pet
once it roamed unbridled in the countenance of tribes and villages
general understanding of our inherent value

How does humanity save itself
from the maw of industrial greed
how do we fly free without risking ourselves prey

In these schools, swarms, herds, flocks
We could be the murmuration of the starlings
Each winged partner coordinating
with its seven most immediate counterparts
Creating a pulsing cloud of iridescent black
a visual spectacle of thousands sweeping pulling dipping redoubling
This phenomenon actually born an illustrious dance of defense
no scientist able to identify how such vast flocks maneuver
with complete cohesion
infinite lives spared through responding to neighbors with
speed grace and accuracy
no single fowl leading the flock
all movements governed collectively maintaining motion so fluid
it makes the blood in our human veins ache and race with wonder

This intimacy with wind currents
this result of countless butterfly effects
crashing over each other’s inevitability
tidal wave tendencies
tipping points defying gravity
organizing for the sake of survival
Beautiful causation in response to considerable peril
not just our capability, but our responsibility
Every finger and feather and wing and buck and prayer essential
One might think in this fecund wilderness of a world
only the largest most aggressive entities are allowed to procure safety
But the numbers we might find our strength in are endless
and brilliantly adept at converting the horizon into vistas of sweeping change
When our little pieces adjust into the perfect pl​aces
we ascend
a pulsing ​sky bound mosaic
Lifting past the antiquated naysayers
And back into the soaring arms
of our…

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Assetou Xango

A Letter to Black Femmes

by Assetou Xango

Black femme.
You night sky,
You starless galaxy
stars for eyes.

are so full of empty
of womb
of creation

balance of holy fire
You misunderstanding
so beautiful
so lawless
so… dark

They branded you that, you know?
“dark,” “black,” “demon,”

all reclamation
all “yin,” “rebirth,”

beaten spine still straight
you clawed teeth
you rip them apart with rhetoric
and discourse.

all community,
all let’s talk this through
all “What is ailing you, my love?”

tired of hearing about how black you are,
How straight your hair is not
you’d just blend in
Wishing you’d stop being all bold colored font

all redefining black as beautiful
nappy as galaxy

You all proud
them all scared
You not running
them all shaking.

stand tall against the wind
You recognize your skin as baobab tree

You all deeply rooted

wondering about your roots
on a land that feels like sand

You clinging onto the depths of empty
You know empty
You’ve claimed it
made it friend

You know what happens here,
in a starless night,
in a planet-less galaxy
in the largest womb ever known. …



Tilt West is a nonprofit org based in Denver. Our mission is to promote critical discourse focused on arts and culture for our region and beyond.

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