Friday, January 27, 2012

the low road by marge piercy

the low road

what can they do
to you?  whatever they want.
they can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can't walk, can't remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover.  they can do anything
you can't stop them
from doing.  how can you stop
them?  alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they will roll over you.

but two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge.  with four
you can play bridge and start
an organization.  with six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
a dozen make a demonstration.
a hundred fill a hall.
a thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

it goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say we
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

when you talk to water

when you talk to water

“we found the friction of ice to be very high.” -dr. miguel salmeron

be prepared
for the water to talk back

be willing
to ripple like
undulating fingers &
tiedye rubber bands of light

in a lapping calmness
the water met me at the edge
slowly drinking the day,
hiding under the evening ducks

wish, swish, i pour
longing straight over the rocks
to the end of the exhale

(the universe is the best
matchmaker known to itself)

cold & unloaded i
stand up quickly but wait!
the water!

has a voice it jumps into me

be prepared
for the freeze

even the scientists can't 
explain why, it's slippery, 
these things happen, sense 
comes late and will not be


lower temperatures have a way
of behaving: strangely, like pressure

so test it with skate & shanty
cube that loose state 
of crystalline

pay clear attention.

nerves get built from cycles
of protection, from strong 
surface reflections. go 
deeper, see god, see liquid
and need, see understanding

remember the potential for merging

contained boundaries can appear
empty or full, more than half
a heart given. remember.
it all expands, evaporates, returns

this is a toast
to earth and to ice

be prepared
for the thaw


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

this one turned into a song.

covered mirrors

the bitterest fruit hidden under the biggest blanket i could find
here we were, me with her, the reflection forbidden
to pain to gut to uplift to sincere
now gut now kiss now weak goes knees in virtual directions
now gut.kiss.weak.knees
where is this thing going around and around
feels like a hand up my shirt or between her knees i’m frisked it's official
so the letter gets sent, the girls get called, the horses fly out the gates
the mixtape is a copy of a day in the life
the mixtape was a copy
the day was a copy
the life was a copy
the kiss was a cop
holding someone under arrest
or was it a bad joke with a false gun
were you committing crimes
the interrogation had no smoke
who polices these
who polices these
who polices these
parts? you know what i’m speaking of
who polices these
who drives this vehicle with no plates into foggy nights
who plays the fool the fall guy the lookout the hit man
or was it never a hit
didn’t make it to the radio
didn’t dial up a friend
maybe it was just a distraction
the real suspect was spit
shining a mirror
under a dark blanket
face puckered sour,

march 2011

Sunday, January 22, 2012

a poem by e.e. cummings

here's to opening and upward,to leaf and to sap
and to your (in my arms flowering so new)
self whose eyes smell of the sound of rain

and here's to silent certainly mountains;and to
a disappearing poet of always,snow
and to morning;and to morning's beautiful friend
twilight (and a first dream called ocean) and

let must of it be damned with whomever's afraid
down with ought with because with every brain
which thinks it thinks,nor dares to feel (but up
with joy;and up with laughing and drunkenness)

here's to one undiscoverable guess
of whose mad skill each world of blood is made
(whose fatal songs are moving in the moon

#42 from 100 selected poems

Saturday, January 21, 2012



my past fits into a bin
in three separate clothed sizes
the stoned the sexed the overgrown
& felt under

my variety of lies,
they squint
fall out of me like prizes
the computer virus
the computer spams
she pans and pants and pots
the commuter spasms

fucks the fall! & the decent

all i have is
all i have
all i have felled
or falling even
ever eventually
or wanted
the elements of friend
and don’t foe this up
and don’t admit this fall
you fallen heart you felt me up
i’ve tumbled to my own demure
for better yet it's chaste it's worse
forget by forgiven
think of him
or her
think of this
or them
and that too
blame me for
numb luck
struck doubt
trucked off
lost cows
it is serious
it is seriously
all my fault
this singular circularity
this that doesn’t die
i’ll go blonde trying
and blue to deny it
here it is it never left me
and i i i it it it
can’t be ringedly written
or resembling wrongth
you must be shaded in fields of wine
and acres of grape juice
will suck thumbs again
will suck thumbs again
in silence will suck
this thump


Thursday, January 19, 2012

ritual by susan mitchell

susan was my poetry mentor at florida atlantic university


as one who casts the word bread upon the word waters, testing
as one who not believing something will rise up from
those waters, but not disbelieving either
casts out her voice 

as one curious or hungry or filled with longing breaks
off just the crust of a word, throwing
the way she threw as a girl when everyone

told her that was not the way
to throw and expecting little or nothing
looks into the blackness but the waves

are not black they will be deep
scummed violet and bronze
like a memorial forgotten
                                     would it have made a difference
if she had cast the word thread upon those waters
unspooling what she spoke     sewing

knots and tangles into waves and might
thread return to her as dread or even dead

as one who does not know what it is she wants
but wants her wanting sanctified
and anointed with myrrh and futility     black

the waves are black and laced with white
shrouds which pass
                                         into nothingness and the way
a snowflake vanishes
into the waves her voice cast out from her

she has wanted so long such a lifetime not
knowing what it is she wants

as one who has eaten joy for no good reason
with no idea where it came from
and wept in her sleep forgetting afterward who

embraced her but the next day feeling the loss
as one who casts word after word
into nothingness fillets ruins of foam cresting

so the word lover vanishes into water
and with it go fervor and savior forever
and elixir 
                         as one who keeps opening and closing
so the word birth is buried in earth so
the word breath is lost in death

as one who waits to see the eyes of water
roll back into depth, who waits
to see the depth rolled back and parted so she

can fly through and thinks she sees wings
and knows herself deluded
even though she sees
                                             as one who marked off
her wanting who staked its boundaries and let
nothing cross over to staunch or squander it

as one who says I want therefore I am
as one who saw the word bread float in the word water
before they both sank under
the weight of her wanting

as one who thought she saw something leap
but it may have been the word motion coming back
to her shadow for shadow

what is the hunger to know the other's
hunger built up like an altar

sacrifice she understood the blood
of her hunger wanting hunger for hunger, its
teeth in her flesh the word flesh the word hunger

as one who the more she looked saw less
what little there was she messed into more mess
there was no depiction in it

what would it take to register the quickness
the alacrity to blow out

the candle of the waves the word candle
the voice of the waves the word voice
the living face of the promise of the voice

Susan Mitchell, Best American Poetry 2008,
from The American Poetry Review

Sunday, January 15, 2012

the strange winter of 2012

the strange winter of 2012

walking everyday is a must.

to the left,
a glimpse of dead milkweed,
snow in its mouth.

up up,
two birds, an airplane,
brown tree tentacles, brilliant sky, bluebright.

and right,
away the edges of yahara river freeze in clumps
slowly, savoring.

head down,
calf-deep snowsteps, shoeprints of joggers,
booted children, collared dogs.

tempo, pace, staccato sciatica,
swing arms, shake a body out.

one bridge wears a blanket of giddy sparkles,
unshoveled under observant legs, joyful eyes.

take this, the winter says
it's your power back


Saturday, January 14, 2012

an excerpt by vatsyayana

from the kama sutra

here some learned men object, and say that females, not being allowed to study any science, should not study the kama sutra. but vatsyayana is of the view that this objection does not hold good, for women already know the practice of kama sutra, and that practice is derived from the kama shastra, or the science of kama itself.  moreover, it is not only in this but in many other cases that though the practice of a science is known to all, only a few persons are acquainted with the rules and laws on which the science is based. . .

again, persons do the duties required of them on auspicious days, which are fixed by astrology, though they are not acquainted with the science of astrology.  in a like manner riders of horses and elephants train these animals without knowing the science of training animals, but from practice only. . .

a female, therefore should learn the kama shastra, or at least part of it, by studying its practice from some confidential friend. . . 

the following are the arts to be studied, together with the kama sutra: singing; playing on musical instruments; union of dancing, singing, and playing instrumental music; writing and drawing; tattooing; arraying and adorning an idol with rice and flowers; spreading and arranging beds or couches of flowers, or flowers upon the ground; colouring the teeth, garments, hair, nails, and body, i.e. staining, dye-ing, colouring and painting the same; fixing stained glass into a floor; the art of making beds, and spreading out carpets and cushions for reclining; playing on musical glasses filled with water; storing and accumulating water in aqueducts, cisterns, and reservoirs; picture making, trimming, and decorating; stringing of rosaries, necklaces, garlands and wreaths; binding of turbans and chaplets, and making crests and topknots of flowers; scenic representations; stage playing; art of making ear ornaments; art of preparing perfumes and odours; proper disposition of jewels and decorations, and adornment in dress; magic or sorcery; quickness of hand or manual skill; culinary art, i.e. cooking and cookery; making lemonades, sherbets, acidulated drinks, and spirituous extracts with proper flavour and colour; tailor's work and sewing; making parrots, flowers, tufts, tassels, bosses, knobs etc. out of yarn or thread; solution of riddles, enigmas, covert speeches, verbal puzzles and enigmatical questions; the art of mimicry or imitation; reading, including chanting and intoning; study of sentences difficult to pronounce; practice with sword, single stick, quarter staff and bow and arrow; drawing inferences; reasoning and inferring; carpentry; architecture, or the art of building; knowledge about gold and silver coins, and jewels and gems; chemistry and mineralogy; colouring jewels, gems and beads; knowledge of mines and quarries; gardening: knowledge of treating the diseases of trees and plants, of nourishing them, and determining their ages; art of cock fighting, quail fighting and ram fighting; art of teaching parrots and starlings to speak; art of applying perfumed ointments to the body, and of dressing the hair with unguents and perfumes and braiding it; art of understanding writing in cypher, and the writing of words in a peculiar way; art of speaking by changing the form of words, by changing the beginning and end of words, adding unnecessary letters between every syllable of a word, and so on; knowledge of language and of the vernacular dialects; art of making flower carriages; art of framing mystical diagrams, of addressing spells and charms, and binding armlets; mental exercises, such as completing stanzas or verses on receiving a part of them; composing poems; knowledge of dictionaries and vocabularies; knowledge of ways of changing and disguising the appearance of persons; knowledge of ways of changing the appearance of things, such as making cotton to appear as silk, coarse and common things to appear as fine and good; various ways of gambling; art of obtaining possession of the property of others by means of mantras or incantations; skill in youthful sports; knowledge of the rules of society, and of how to pay respect and compliments to others; knowledge of the art of war, of arms, of armies, etc; knowledge of scanning or constructing verses; arithmetical recreations; making artificial flowers; making figures and images in clay.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Kopis'taya by Paula Gunn Allen

(A Gathering of Spirits)

Because we live in the browning season
the heavy air blocking our breath,
and in this time when living
is only survival, we doubt the voices
that come shadowed on the air,
that weave within our brains
certain thoughts, a motion that is soft,
imperceptible, a twilight rain,
soft feather's fall, a small body
dropping into its nest, rustling, murmuring,
settling in for the night.

Because we live in the hardedged season,
where the plastic brittle and gleaming shines
and in this space that is cornered and angled,
we do not notice wet, moist, the significant
drops falling in perfect spheres
that are certain measures of our minds;
almost invisible, those tears,
soft as dew, fragile, that cling to leaves,
petals, roots, gentle and sure,
every morning.

We are the women of the daylight; of clocks and steel
foundries, of drugstores and streetlights,
of superhighways that slice our days in two
Wrapped around in glass and steel we ride
our lives; behind dark glasses we hide our eyes,
our thoughts, shaded, seem obscure, smoke
fills our minds, whisky husks our songs,
polyester cuts our bodies from our breath,
our feet from welcoming stones of earth.
Our dreams are pale memories of themselves,
and nagging doubt is the false measure of our days.

Even so, the spirit voices are singing,
their thoughts are dancing in the dirty air.
Their feet though the cement, the asphalt
delighting, still they weave dreams upon our
shadowed skulls, if we could listen.
If we could hear.
Let's go then. Let's find them. Let's
ride the midnight, the early dawn. Feel the wind
striding through our hair. Let's dance
the dance of feathers, the dance of birds.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

claiming space

because i was talking about her tonight, 
and the lessons i was determined to learn....  

claiming space

retracting her spine & shining
                           her teeth
                           they poke
a growl emits a bark escapes
                           the fuck
double exclamations take it up
a notch we've gone to level seven
& beyond that still

we're leveling & i'm in-breath
in-breathing hold & holding
still she gives no room just back the fuck up
take it back i won't i'm not getting
Louder or MAYBE I AM

in my tiniest, gentlest
voice i say, hard truth


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

three poems by lucille clifton


this belief
in the magic of whiteness,
that it is the smooth
pebble in your hand,
that it is the godmother's
best gift,
that it explains,
that it can sprout singular blossoms
like jack's bean
and singular verandas from which
to watch them rise,
it is a spell
winding round on itself,
grimms' awful fable,
and it turns into capetown and johannesburg
as surely as the beanstalk leads
to the giant's actual country
where jack lies broken at the
meadow's edge
and the land is in ruins,
no magic, no anything.

overheard in the hospital

pluck the hairs
from the head
of a virgin.
sweep them into the hall.
take a needle
thin as a lash,
puncture the doorway
to her blood.
here is the magic word:
repeat it, she will
become her own ghost.
repeat it, she will
follow you, she will
do whatever you say.

from shapeshifter poems


the poem at the end of the world
is the poem the little girl breathes
into her pillow     the one
she cannot tell     the one
there is no one to hear      this poem
is a political poem     is a war poem     is a
universal poem but is not about
these things      this poem
is about one human heart     this poem
is the poem at the end of the world

Sunday, January 8, 2012

on the path to your house

like candy, like death
 these moments can harden a person, turn a fire into a freeze
 someone is lost, buzzed, high, tricked.  a body crumbles with excess
 trapped in metals, teeth, salves and saviors
the way the tongue burns for more, there is no saccharine ending

but aren't the ladies lined up like jawbreakers in a candy store?

 don't drink the sun don't drink the distraction
 even the shadow appears delicious
 this is a reminder of all the pretty things
 between here and they're still
 walking back and forth without permission without
 cotton candy, diabetes, crash & crumbs, your words
 the snow will cover, the dogs will lick
 sugar rivulets & rivers, white creeks & sweet lakes
molding you and killing you.  full hands and skilled hearts and empty cavities and


Saturday, January 7, 2012

an excerpt by audre lorde

Excerpt from Use of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power

The erotic functions for me in several ways, and the first is in the power which comes from sharing deeply any pursuit with another person. The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.
Another important way in which the erotic connection functions is the open and fearless underlining of my capacity for joy, in the way my body stretches to music and opens into response, hearkening to its deepest rhythms, so every level upon which I sense also opens to the erotically satisfying experience, whether it is dancing, building a bookcase, writing a poem, examining an idea.
That self-connection shared is a measure of the joy which I know myself to be capable of feeling, a reminder of my capacity for feeling. And that deep and irreplaceable knowledge of my capacity for joy comes to demand from all of my life that it be lived within the knowledge that such satisfaction is possible, and does not have to be called marriage, nor god, nor an afterlife.
This is one reason why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all. For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our lives pursuits that feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing ourselves to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives. And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe.

Friday, January 6, 2012

these warm january days

I'm perfectly able to hold my own hand,
but I still can't kiss my own neck


I wanted to give you everything
but I still stand in awe of superficial things

Thursday, January 5, 2012



it's a sheep's
brain tomorrow not the sheep's
best day i'd say
without sleep & the nurse

is blurred by slippery
eye muscles, closing in
three vessels full of red
this little god

in me seeks your everlasting
subordination this little science
seeks your biggest
synapse locked down

who went where after the
dumpster of books & paychecks?
note this, they yell take
me serious they pace

teach me heal me give me
boundaries be my best
education my most trustworthy
flake be my last hand

hold it
you are an institution
hold this
you are a moment

this midline is warm
can you
feel it


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

i was

i was

your drug
of choice most of
the time your enabler
too, like the moon in scorpio,
capricorn, in half, your hair, my
fingers, i was bitten by that apple
shot by the trigger finger, this live
body in a corpse pose i was trying to
break it down bust out blast off be real
i was not in your veins i was everywhere at once
speaking in circles and trapezoids and parallelograms
constructing beauty out of leftovers, unable to turn red
wine into clear water, i could not perform enough miracles
loaded on sex and seduction and just the right amount
of your rejection i was never on my own
two feet wearing pink shoes you didn't
like i was not quiet in bed during
any hot activities or cold fights
i was bearing your bitter load
drinking with my eyes shut
wandering with quiet pens
through journals at night
you were too afraid
to look in your own
corners too fearful
to see your father

the detached
lonely addicted 
puppy dog

in the mirror


Monday, January 2, 2012

which came first?

which came first?

she throws away the basket
i take it and load my eggs
all cracking splitting discharging

the dream of chickens has passed
the hope for balance has gone

who settles, who calls it
a two year night? i have
piled them high
as my lover.
i am trapped

aware, prepared to feed
lonely, circling
ready to refuse touch & eyes

i lie.
i am not ready.
i have been hungry for months.

april 2007

Sunday, January 1, 2012

burning the old year by naomi shihab nye

Burning the Old Year
Letters swallow themselves in seconds.   
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,   
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,   
lists of vegetables, partial poems.   
Orange swirling flame of days,   
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,   
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.   
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,   
only the things I didn’t do   
crackle after the blazing dies. 
from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Far Corner Books, 1995)