I SAID I LOVED YOU AND I WANTED
GENOCIDE TO STOP
I SAID I LOVED YOU AND I WANTED AFFIRMATIVE
ACTION AND REACTION
I SAID I LOVED YOU AND I WANTED MUSIC
OUT THE WINDOWS
I SAID I LOVED YOU AND I WANTED
NOBODY THIRST AND NOBODY
I SAID I LOVED YOU AND I WANTED I WANTED
JUSTICE UNDER MY NOSE
I SAID I LOVED YOU AND I WANTED
BOUNDARIES TO DISAPPEAR
NOBODY ROLL BACK THE TREES!
NOBODY TAKE AWAY DAYBREAK!
I WANTED NOBODY FREEZE ALL THE PEOPLE ON THEIR
I WANTED YOU
I WANTED YOUR KISS ON THE SKIN OF MY SOUL
AND NOW YOU SAY YOU LOVE ME AND I STAND
DESPITE THE TRILLION TREACHERIES OF SAND
YOU SAY YOU LOVE ME AND I HOLD THE LONGING
OF THE WINTER IN MY HAND
YOU SAY YOU LOVE ME AND I COMMIT
TO FRICTION AND THE UNDERTAKING
OF THE PEARL
YOU SAY YOU LOVE ME
YOU SAY YOU LOVE ME
AND I HAVE BEGUN
I BEGIN TO BELIEVE MAYBE
MAYBE YOU DO
I AM TASTING MYSELF
IN THE MOUNTAIN OF THE SUN
I’ve come to this one grassy hill
in Ramallah, off Tokyo Street,
to place a few red anemones
& a sheaf of wheat on Darwish’s grave.
A borrowed line transported me beneath
a Babylonian moon & I found myself
lucky to have the shadow of a coat
as warmth, listening to a poet’s song
of Jerusalem, the hum of a red string
Caesar stole off Gilgamesh’s lute.
I know a prison of sunlight on the skin.
The land I come from they also dreamt
before they arrived in towering ships
battered by the hard Atlantic winds.
Crows followed me from my home.
My coyote heart is an old runagate
redskin, a noble savage, still Lakota,
& I knew the bow before the arch.
I feel the wildflowers, all the grasses
& insects singing to me. My sacred dead
is the dust of restless plains I come from,
& I love when it gets into my eyes & mouth
telling me of the roads behind & ahead.
I go back to broken treaties & smallpox,
the irony of barbed wire. Your envoy
could be a reprobate whose inheritance
is no more than a swig of firewater.
The sun made a temple of the bones
of my tribe. I know a dried-up riverbed
& extinct animals live in your nightmares
sharp as shark teeth from my mountains
strung into this brave necklace around
my neck. I hear Chief Standing Bear
saying to Judge Dundy, “I am a man,”
& now I know why I’d rather die a poet
than a warrior, tattoo & tomahawk.
Gradually he could hear her. Stop, she was saying,
stop! And found the bed full of glass,
his ankles bleeding, driven through the window
of her cupola. California summer. That was pleasure.
He knows about that: stained glass of the body
lit by our lovely chemistry and neural ghost.
Pleasure as fruit and pleasure as ambush. Excitement
a wind so powerful, we cannot find a shape for it,
so our apparatus cannot hold on to the brilliant
pleasure for long. Enjoyment is different.
It understands and keeps. The having of the having.
But ecstasy is a question. Doubling sensation
is merely arithmetic. If ecstaasy means we are
taken over by something, we become an occupied
country, the audience to an intensity we are
only the proscenium for. The man does not want
to know rapture by standing outside himself.
He wnats to know delight as the native land he is.
"And," she said, "you must talk no more
about ecstasy. It is a loneliness.”
The woman wandered about picking up
her shoes and silks. “You said you loved me,”
the man said. “We tell lies,” she said,
brushing her wonderful hair, naked except
for the jewellery. “We try to believe.”
"You were helpless with joy," he said,
"moaning and weeping." "In the dream," she said,
"we pretend to ourselves that we are touching.
The heart lies to itself because it must.”
I remember that house I’d rented with them.
The laughing and constant talk of love.
The energy of their friends.
And the sounds late at night.
The sound of whipping. Urging and screams.
Like the dead lying to each other.
Can you understand being alone so long
you would go out in the middle of the night
and put a bucket into the well
so you could feel something down there
tug at the other end of the rope?
Pacific women rise up for a Free West Papua!
'Our freedom as indigenous Māori and Pacific women in Aotearoa New Zealand is inextricably bound up with that of our Pacific West Papuan brothers and sisters.'- Oceania Interrupted
Our mouths are adorned with the Morning Star flag as symbol of enforced West Papuan silence.
Our hands are bound to symbolise the lack of freedoms experienced by West Papuan people.
Our voices and movement are restricted to symbolise the lack of freedom of expression of political opinion, the lack of access to just and equitable resources, the lack of access to free and independent media.
Our bodies are adorned with black to celebrate the female form and to draw on black as a symbol of mourning.
On behalf of the Free West Papua Campaign and the people of West Papua, thank you so much indigenous Māori and Pacific women in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Also, all supporters around the world for standing up for your suffering Melanesian brothers and sisters across the Pacific.
With your help, West Papua never free from this illegal Indonesian occupation!
FREE WEST PAPUA
You will reply today, touching warm letters,
leafing through them in the dark, confusing vowels with consonants,
like a typewriter in an old Warsaw office.
The heavy honeycombs
glisten with gold from which language is spun.
Don’t stop, just write,
type over the empty white space, stamp through the black silent trail.
No one will return from ramblings through the long night,
and forgotten snails will die on wet grass.
Central Europe lies under tissue white snow.
I always believed in the lazy movements of Gypsies,
not everyone has inherited this worn coin.
If you look at their passports,
which smell of mustard and saffron,
if you hear their worn-out accordions,
which reek of leather and Arabic spices –
you’d hear them say that when you leave – no matter where you go –
you only create more distance and will never be any closer than you are now;
when the songs of old gramophones die,
a residue seeps out
from damaged cans.
The overburdened heart of the epoch bursts every morning,
but not behind these doors, not in cities burnt by the sun.
Time passes, but it passes so near that if you
look closely, you can see its heavy warp,
and you whisper overheard sentences
and want someone someday to recognize your voice and say –
this is how the era began,
this is how it turned – awkward, heavy like a munitions truck,
leaving behind dead planets and burnt-out transmitters,
scattering wild ducks in the pond,
that fly off and call louder
than the truckers,
When choosing your course of studies you should find out
among other things –
if the culture at the turn of this century
has already pressed itself into the veins of your slow arm,
rooted itself in the whorls of your thick hair,
carelessly blown by the wind,
and tousled by fingers
like streams of warm water in a basin,
like colored clay beads over cups and ashtrays,
like a vast autumn sky
over a cornfield.
Translated by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps
Walking through the supermarket at night
past the green flash of salads,
behind the two teens holding hands –
the girl picks out lemons and sweet peppers
and lets the boy hold them, then laughs and puts them back.
It’s ten to ten, before this they argued
for a long time, she wanted to leave, he convinced her to stay;
pockets full of green stuff,
gold Assyrian coins, painkillers,
sweet love, enchanted paprika.
take us out, come on, take us out, the dank soul, every dead fruit, the blood of
strawberries, and fish killed by old ship propellers in southern states, minced
with earrings and British punk pins, their gills stuffed with
caffeine, black disease, turning away from the green light, they groan as if begging
take us out from here, come on, take us out to the nearest bus stop, to the nearest
gas station, to the nearest cool ocean, they seem to signal, bending
their dank souls, till the propellers in the night skies above the supermarket
wreck the juicy air, and the caffeine stains your fingernails
take them out, well come on, hide the warm green flashes in your pockets, place silver and gold coins under your tongue, take us to the nearest hiding place, to the nearest stadium,
blood for blood, the lord calls us, moving our fins
Since I won’t ever be able to hold anyone
the way he holds her, I can’t simply pass by
all this still life, I hesitated too long,
didn’t have the strength to move, so now I have to follow them.
Where you are now, you must know what awaits them, right? where
you wound up, you can predict everything – two or three more years of golden
teenage swooning in the August grass, squandering coins on all kinds of
poisons and that’s it – memory fills the place in you once occupied by tenderness.
Since I won’t ever be able to be afraid for anyone
the way she is afraid for him, I won’t ever be able to give
anything to anyone with the ease with which she places
the warm lemons in his hands;
I will follow them further
through the long exhausting twilight of the supermarket,
with yellow grass underfoot,
dead fish in hand,
warming its heart
with my breath
warming my breath
with its heart.
Translated by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps
Serhiy Zhadan’s beating is said to have caused a great deal of protest among Russians.
Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
about children or thinking about the world/all of it
disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not
as I need to be
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own
who in the hell set things up
and in France they say if the guy penetrates
but does not ejaculate then he did not rape me
and if after stabbing him if after screams if
after begging the bastard and if even after smashing
a hammer to his head if even after that if he
and his buddies fuck me after that
then I consented and there was
no rape because finally you understand finally
they fucked me over because I was wrong I was
wrong again to be me being me where I was/wrong
to be who I am
which is exactly like South Africa
penetrating into Namibia penetrating into
Angola and does that mean I mean how do you know if
Pretoria ejaculates what will the evidence look like the
proof of the monster jackboot ejaculation on Blackland
after Namibia and if after Angola and if after Zimbabwe
and if after all of my kinsmen and women resist even to
self-immolation of the villages and if after that
we lose nevertheless what will the big boys say will they
claim my consent:
Do You Follow Me: We are the wrong people of
the wrong skin on the wrong continent and what
in the hell is everybody being reasonable about
and according to the Times this week
back in 1966 the C.I.A. decided that they had this problem
and the problem was a man named Nkrumah so they
killed him and before that it was Patrice Lumumba
and before that it was my father on the campus
of my Ivy League school and my father afraid
to walk into the cafeteria because he said he
was wrong the wrong age the wrong skin the wrong
gender identity and he was paying my tuition and
it was my father saying I was wrong saying that
I should have been a boy because he wanted one/a
boy and that I should have been lighter skinned and
that I should have had straighter hair and that
I should not be so boy crazy but instead I should
just be one/a boy and before that
it was my mother pleading plastic surgery for
my nose and braces for my teeth and telling me
to let the books loose to let them loose in other
I am very familiar with the problems of the C.I.A.
and the problems of South Africa and the problems
of Exxon Corporation and the problems of white
America in general and the problems of the teachers
and the preachers and the F.B.I. and the social
workers and my particular Mom and Dad/I am very
familiar with the problems because the problems
turn out to be
I am the history of rape
I am the history of the rejection of who I am
I am the history of the terrorized incarceration of
I am the history of battery assault and limitless
armies against whatever I want to do with my mind
and my body and my soul and
whether it’s about walking out at night
or whether it’s about the love that I feel or
whether it’s about the sanctity of my vagina or
the sanctity of my national boundaries
or the sanctity of my leaders or the sanctity
of each and every desire
that I know from my personal and idiosyncratic
and indisputably single and singular heart
I have been raped
cause I have been wrong the wrong sex the wrong age
the wrong skin the wrong nose the wrong hair the
wrong need the wrong dream the wrong geographic
the wrong sartorial I
I have been the meaning of rape
I have been the problem everyone seeks to
eliminate by forced
penetration with or without the evidence of slime and/
but let this be unmistakable this poem
is not consent I do not consent
to my mother to my father to the teachers to
the F.B.I. to South Africa to Bedford-Stuy
to Park Avenue to American Airlines to the hardon
idlers on the corners to the sneaky creeps in
I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own
and I can’t tell you who the hell set things up like this
but I can tell you that from now on my resistance
my simple and daily and nightly self-determination
may very well cost you your life
I wanted to be strong. I never wanted to be weak again as long as I lived. I thought about my mother and her suicide and I thought about how my father could not tell whether she was dead or alive.
I wanted to get well and what I wanted to do as soon as I was strong again, actually, what I wanted to do was I wanted to live my life so that people would know unmistakably that I am alive, so that when I finally die people will know the difference for sure between my living and my death.
And I thought about the idea of my mother as a good woman and I rejected that, because I don’t see why it’s a good thing when you give up, or when you cooperate with those who hate you or when you polish and iron and mend and endlessly mollify for the sake of the people who love the way that you kill yourself day by day silently.
And I think all of this is really about women and work. Certainly this is all about me as a woman and my life work. I mean I am not sure my mother’s suicide was something extraordinary. Perhaps most women must deal with a similar inheritance, the legacy of a woman whose death you cannot possibly pinpoint because she died so many, many times and because, even before she became my mother, the life of that woman was taken; I say it was taken away.
And really it was to honor my mother that I did fight with my father, that man who could not tell the living from the dead.
And really it is to honor Mrs. Hazel Griffin and my cousin Valerie and all the women I love, including myself, that I am working for the courage to admit the truth that Bertolt Brecht has written; he says, “It takes courage to say that the good were defeated not because they were good, but because they were weak.”
I cherish the mercy and the grace of women’s work. But I know there is new work that we must undertake as well: that new work will make defeat detestable to us. That new women’s work will mean we will not die trying to stand up: we will live that way: standing up.
I came too late to help my mother to her feet.
By way of everlasting thanks to all of the women who have helped me to stay alive I am working never to be late again.