Saturday, April 30, 2005

After Such Bullshit, A Formal Feeling Comes 

The bullshit in question refers to our unrevered President, the "after" to this last week, a stand-out even in his previous stellar achievements in the Annals of Bullshit. More on this later today or tomorrow.

To get that acrid taste out of our brains, herewith, our woman's edition of honoring National Poetry Month by actually reading some poetry:

It is the responsibility of society to let the poet be poet
It is the responsibility of the poet to be a woman
It is the responsibility of the poet to stand on street corners
    giving out poems and beautifully written leaflets
    also leaflets they can hardly bear to look at
    because of the screaming rhetoric
It is the responsibility of the poet to be lazy to hang out and
It is the responsibility of the poet not to pay war taxes
It is the responsibility of the poet to go in and out of ivory
    towers and two-room apartments on Avenue C
    and buckwheat fields and army camps
It is the responsibility of the male poet to be a woman
It is the responsibility of the female poet to be a woman
It is the poet's responsibility to speak truth to power as the
    Quakers say
It is the poet's responsibility to learn the truth from the
It is the responsibility of the poet to say many times; there is no
    freedom without justice and this means economic
    justice and love justice
It is the responsibility of the poet to sing this in all the original
    and traditional tunes of singing and telling poems
It is the responsibility of the poet to listen to gossip and pass it
    on in the way story tellers decant the story of life
There is no freedom without fear and bravery there is no
    freedom unless
    earth and air and water continue and children
    also continue
It is the responsibility of the poet to be a woman...to keep an eye on
    this world and cry out like Cassandra, but be
    listened to this time.

their shoes are stuccoed with sawdust and blood
the two young butchers walk singing together on ninth avenue
the sun is out because it is the lunch hour
they kick the melting snow and splash into deep puddles
then they embraceone another in the cold air
for water and singing may wash away the blood of the lamb

—Grace Paley

Poem For Maya
Dipping our bread in oil tins
we talked of morning peeling
open our rooms to a moment
of almonds, olives and wind
when we did not yet know what we were.
The days in Mallorca were alike:
footprints down goat-paths
from the beds we had left,
at night the stars locked to darkness.
At that time we were learning
to dance, take our clothes
in our fingers and open
ourselves to their hands.
The veranera was with us.
For a month the almond trees bloomed,
their droppings the delicate silks
we removed when each time a touch
took us closer to the window where
we whispered yes, there on the intricate
balconies of breath, overlooking
the rest of our lives.

—Carolyn Forche

This Beautiful Black Marriage
Photograph negative
her black arm: a diving porpoise,
sprawled across the ice-banked pillow.
Head: a sheet of falling water.
Her legs: icicle branches breaking into light.

This woman,
photographed sleeping.
The man,
making the photograph in the acid pan of his brain.
Sleep stain them both,
as if cloudy semen
rubbed shiningly over the surface
will be used to develop their images.

on the desert
the porpoises curl up,
their skeleton teeth are bared by
parched lips;
her sleeping feet
trod on scarabs,
holding the names of the dead
tight in the steady breathing.

This man and woman have married
and travel reciting
names of missing objects.

They enter a pyramid.
A black butterfly covers the doorway
like a cobweb,
folds around her body,
the snake of its body
closing her lips.
her breasts are stone stairs.
She calls the name, "Isis,"
and waits for the white face to appear.

No one walks in these pyramids at night.
No one walks during
the day.
You walk in that negative time,
the woman's presence filling up the space
as if she were incense; man walks
down the crevices and
hills of her body.
Sounds of the black marriage
are ritual sounds.
Of the porpoises dying on the desert.
The butterfly curtaining the body,
The snake filling the mouth.
The sounds of all the parts coming together
in this one place,
the desert pyramid,
built with the clean historical
ugliness of men dying at work.

If you imagine, friend, that I do not have those
black serpents in the pit of my body,
that I am not crushed in fragments by the tough
butterfly wing
broken and crumpled like a black silk stocking,
if you imagine that my body is not
burned wood,
then you imagine a false woman.

This marriage could not change me.
Could not change my life.
Not is it that different from any other marriage.
They are all filled with desert journeys,
with Isis who hold us in her terror,
with Horus who will not let us see
the parts of his body joined
but must make us witness them in dark corners,
in bloody confusion;
and yet this black marriage,
as you call it,
has its own beauty.
As the black cat with its rich fur
stretched and gliding smoothly down the tree trunks.
Or the shining black obsidian
pulled out of mines and polished to the cat's eye.
Black as the neat seeds of a watermelon,
or a pool of oil, prisming the light.
Do not despair this "black marriage."
You must let the darkness out of your own body;
acknowledge it
and let it enter your mouth,
taste the historical darkness openly.
Taste your own beautiful death,
see your own photo image,
as x-ray,
Bone bleaching inside the blackening

—Diane Wakoski

After great pain, a formal feeling comes—
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round—
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought—
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone—

This is the Hour of Lead—
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow—
First—Chill—then Stupor—then the letting go—

—Emily Dickinson

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~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
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