“We are all going forward. None of us are going back.”
(Richard Siken)

there are two limes in my Hendricks and tonic
and Astroturf beneath my feet
there is a famous actor here who my girlfriend recognizes
he is wearing a hat and a pair of dirty sneakers
he is the son of two professional figure skaters from Leningrad

the last part of that
I learned from reading his IMDB biography

looking around at a lot of my sort-of friends gathered
laughing in a self indulgent and extravagant way
heads thrown back
too many teeth
touching each other’s knees with exaggerated and or maybe whimsical gesturing

one of my friends has a cigarette behind his ear and is wearing his “going out” shirt

you are in California
I see your best friend standing at the rooftop bar
she is wearing a backless dress
and it hangs off her beautifully
I guess, though, that she is not your best friend anymore

throughout the night I use the bathroom three times
the Dyson hand dryers kind of scare me
I watch two guys take a Vine of using them while making jokes
related to airplanes or something
and then loudly deem themselves “fucking hilarious”

later on
we are sitting on the edge of a sofa having one last drink
looking at the lights of the buildings and taxis
the New Jersey skyline
I see her again
the dress has slid down and I can see her black thong

she is laughing
and is checking her phone a lot
I look at her pretty and small features lit blue from beneath
and feel a quiet kind of sad

Bastards of the Tribe

Originally posted on joshualewmcdermott poetry:

The pack of Mende children fetching
cell-phone minute cards, eating the rice
left in the family bowl after the women
and men ate, sang songs for me
in now inarticulated rhythms; songs
no one remembers but for the echo of
their small feet and clapping hands. They
could play my guitar without ever having
seen one. They told me corrupted folk tales,
like how the devil buried his rice in a hole
in the ground and gave birth to day and night,
and then they asked me to tell them about
Harry Potter.

Who gave music to our ancestors, anyways?
And what happens when we stop our signing altogether?
In the Canadian grocery store, the blonde mother
pushes her son down the fluorescent aisles in silence
before the boy stupidly hums one or two notes
of a song he’s never heard.

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The Education of Two Boys

Originally posted on 100 Days In India:

Last night I couldn’t sleep. Thunder boomed in the mountains and shook the windows of the house. Every few minutes, the curtains lifted from the broad wooden sills, only to resettle with the passing wind. But it wasn’t the weather that kept me awake for three hours. Nor was it the giant, and I mean giant, spider that I found on the bed right before sleep. It was my mind. I was worrying about taking the boys out of school early this year, as well as the fact that next year we would be asking the school board again to let them leave in April. This time because I had a fellowship in Santa Fe. For three hours, I wondered if we were depriving our sons. I wondered if I should give up the fellowship. I wondered if the boys would resent never being able to finish the school year.

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The Poem I Promise to Write for You: Music by Jay Anderson Poetry by Joshua Lew McDermott

A music/poetry collaboration produced by Jay Anderson with a poem by Joshua Lew McDermott, as part of an album Dr. Jay Anderson is producing featuring poets from the Logan, Utah scene.

The Poem I Promised to Write For You: Music by Jay Anderson Poem by JoshuaLewMcDermott

jan 14


Naked in your blue jeans
beneath the window
arms behind your
head your breasts
and stomach so
pale in the morning light
fresh from the shower
Can I grab the camera?
Yes, go grab the camera
you look at my pictures
The body hair is actually lovely you say
Should we make love? I ask
when you see something
on a hike that makes you
hold your breath you should
always display your affection
with a dance or maybe by
taking off your shoes or swimming
in the stream even Chimpanzees
make displays at waterfalls or when
the rain rushes through the shaking
trees and as I strip off your jeans and
you stand naked in my room
arms above your head woman
I grab your waist and say
Now let’s celebrate the sunshine


Below is the flyer for the summer book tour of political activist Chernoh Bah of Sierra Leone. His new book is entitled NEOCOLONIALISM IN WEST AFRICA.

chernoh summer tour 3


We at Yellow Mountain are currently volunteering to help Chernoh organize venues at universities and bookstores so he can speak about the book and the problem of exploitation in Africa by multinational corporations and imperial fiscal policies enacted by governments such as the US and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Chernoh is the chairman of the African Socialist Movement – a radical movement which aims to unite all Africans under a democratic and socialist government.

Socialism in this context simply means that workers, African workers in this case, ought to democratically own the wealth and resources their countries produce, rather than a small wealthy class or foreign corporations. The African Socialist Movement fights for democracy in all spheres of social life, not just political life. It aims to empower Africans in all aspects, and eradicate the roots of poverty, exploitation, and inter-tribal warfare that plagues the continent.

I’m happy to be an ally of the ASM and to be helping Chernoh spread his message.

If anyone knows of a venues where Chernoh could stop by on the tour this summer, please contact Joshua at joshualewmcdermott@gmail.com or yellowmountaincollective@gmail.com

-Joshua Lew McDermott

The Institute for Sierra Leone Languages and The Importance of Saving Indigenous Languages from Extinction

The Threat of Language Extinction

The preservation of centuries of priceless knowledge, culture, and different ways of looking at the world depend upon the survival of indigenous languages. When a people lose their language due to cultural imperialism, it can harm the very fabric of their social relations and personal identities. When a language dies, not only does the ethnic group who once utilized the language suffer, but the world loses an unfathomable amount of knowledge, knowledge which enriches the world and gives unique perspectives on how to deal with the trials we face as a species and as individuals.
Today, globalisation has sped up the process of language extinction. Due to globalisation, which relies on the urbanisation (and destruction) of rural communities and ethnicities and the use of a dominant economic language, it is estimated that by the end of this century nearly half of all languages which exist today will be gone (“Language: At threat of extinction”).

As a world community, we need to recognize this trend and do our part in preserving the world’s languages, and thus in preserving the cultures and identities that make us human.


The Institute for Sierra Leone Languages

One example of an organization that is working to resuscitate and ensure the long-term survival of languages is The Institute for Sierra Leone Languages (TISLL). My good friend Gibrilla Kamara works in Freetown for the TISLL, which has been working diligently to help (and often lead) the effort to transform the local indigenous languages (many of which are solely spoken languages) into written languages and to foster literacy within mother-tongues amongst native Sierra Leoneans.

To do this, TISLL provides “literacy opportunities, training and provision of resource materials, translation of scriptures and other supplementary reading materials.” It does all this in the following six indigenous languages: Mende, Themne, Krio, Limba, Kono, Loko, and Kuranko (Kamara).

The Institute for Sierra Leone Languages also operates a library for students engaged in linguistic research, and, according to Kamara, TISLL’s Literacy Program Activities include:

  1. Developing a desire to learn to read one’s own language
  2. Preparing primers and graded readers in various Sierra Leonean Languages
  3. Training Writers, Teachers and literacy Supervisors.
  4. Producing materials that will aid the reader in transferring his/her reading skills to English.
  5. Encouraging the production of reading such as newspapers, histories, and traditional folklore books
  6. For those that are already literate in English, learning to read one’s own mother-tongue helps them to maintain their own cultural heritage.


What We Can Do

The first step that individuals within the Western world can do to help preserve the world’s languages is to simply be aware that language extinction is a serious problem, and to help spread the message of language preservation to the broader public who may not be aware that such an issue exists. The second step to stopping the cultural genocide of language extinction is to support and align ourselves with the efforts of our own ethnic groups, or different ethnic groups we are aware of, in preserving their languages. The battle for languages is not some harmless trend taking place in obscure corners of the globe – language extinction exists in virtually every country; Native American languages have been grappling with the threat of extinction for centuries, and their survival still hangs in the balance today, for example.

Spread the word about language extinction and find out what you can do to support and raise awareness of groups such as the TISLL. When a language dies, a part of our humanity dies with it.

By: Joshua Lew McDermott


Kamara, Gibrilla. Interview by Joshua McDermott. Email. 17 Apr. 2014.

“Language: At threat of extinction.” AlJazeera. Aljazeera, 18 Apr. 2012.