Writer of the Week: Bianca Mikahn

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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
Thrive
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 people

Bianca Mikahn is an emcee, poet, digital composer, cultural activist, and educator. She is Executive Director of Check Your Head, a youth mental health-based organization, and she is a Partner Artist with Creative Strategies for Change and Youth on Record. Mikahn’s writing style is described as fanciful yet pragmatic, fearlessly addressing themes of self-awareness, mental health, and community engagement. Explorations in music production recently garnered Mikahn the title of “Best Avant-Garde Band” from Denver’s Westword. She has shared stages at Regis University, the University of Denver, the La Napoule Art Foundation in Nice, France, and Stockholm, Sweden’s historic Fylkengin Theatre. Currently, Mikahn is honing social-emotional learning and art-based facilitation to encourage trauma-informed care and mental health first aid (adult and youth modules) in marginalized communities. Mikahn also serves on the Tilt West Board.

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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