“THERE is a wolf in me … fangs pointed for tearing gashes … a red tongue for raw meat … and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.”—Carl Sandburg (via dirkashlyknoedler)
“Aidos (“shame”) is a vast word in Greek. Its lexical equivalents include “awe, reverence, respect, self-respect, shamefastness, sense of honor, sobriety, moderation, regard for others, regard for the helpless, compassion, shyness, coyness, scandal, dignity, majesty, Majesty.”—Excerpt from the preface Tragedy : A Curious Art Form by Anne Carson to Grief Lessons by Euripides translated by Anne Carson. (via rimeswriting)
“She took off her clothes like a kite takes gently to a warm April wind. He fumbled his clothes off like a football game being played in November mud.”—Sombrero Fallout, Richard Brautigan (via damnnearhysteria)
Once along this path it was as if God stirred me Between the eyes. My head fell from a cloud To a meadowed land where woodlarks forever search For twigs too heavy to carry. Upon waking, the stulp Where I stood was no more. I witnessed beetles moving Near my face as if for the first time free from the galling glow Of the sun. Larks reappeared. The song of their hungry young Sweetened the air. Beetles dropped to their holes, And I thought of Mary and the many trees It would take to build a ship to sail to her. Hourly now a voice asks Well honest John how fare you now at home, And my reply is thrown to the pigs each morn.
Can’t see the field for the easel. Sometimes the easel Is a mirror and you’re fixing your hair. Sometimes this eddy Of air carries the canvas into the woods, the tongue of a bear In your pocket. Chasing it, you stop and think: "Those trees contain a form I might Someday admire,” “Those torsos Are mighty fine,” or “This bathtub has been the place Of many a good weep” and all apply As grasshoppers swarm around your face until the sound Of a yodel streams from the inside a tree! “Hello, yodel,” you say. Yes, that is the curve of a lover’s back you see in the shadow Of a tree, mossy blonde hair on the small of her back, Her thighs and youth turned to bark. It’s Rewarding—your face flat here in the vortex of distraction.
A longing lives inside the mind: both to be in the past Where we weren’t, but also to be the person We are in the present living in that unrealized past. The moon Is a paint bucket on its side. The moon is the Eye of the camera that records the moment when two bodies touch. She’s spent all night erasing names and details from the love letters, Filling the gaps with origami birds and words painted In red on the bedroom wall. Radio reminds Her of falling in the woods on her back. The way the sky Looked through those loblolly pines. The way the night Was so bird-less that worms could be heard digging, The way that waltz felt new and routine and in disarray: These are things no one else has known.
nothing and nothing gets by you, but I get so distracted that my notice has been put on notice for birds and for traffic For instance, the constant slap of the sound of waves against gutters gets by me Grass stain on my hands from falling down at the hospital gets by me Physics Sequined dresses The Olympics get by me Meanwhile, the mountains are, so far, only distant, and some days I am even making my way through them with my pants on, which is lucky, though at other junctures sunflowers and pine tree needles my arms in full blossom as you appear around a corner kaleidoscopically The day looking up between us pink clouds
So when people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read in school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange and stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is.
I grow old, old without you, Mother, landscape of my heart. No child, no daughter between my bones has moved, and passed out screaming, dressed in her mantle of blood
as I did once through your pelvic scaffold, stretching it like a wishbone, your tenderest skin strung on its bow and tightened against pain. I slipped out like an arrow, but not before
the midwife plunged to her wrist and guided my baffled head to its first mark. High forceps might, in that one instant, have accomplished what you and that good woman failed in all these years to do: cramp me between these temples, hobble my baby feet. Dressed in my red hood, howling, I went—
evading the white-clad doctor and his fancy claims: microscope, stethoscope, scalpel, all the better to see with, to hear, and to eat—straight from your hollowed basket into the midwife’s skirts. I grew up good at evading, and when you said, ‘Stick to the road and forget the flowers, there’s wolves in those bushes, mind where you got to go, mind you get there,’ I minded. I kept
to the road, kept the hood secret, kept what it sheathed more secret still. I opened it only at night, and with other women who might be walking the same road to their own grandma’s house, each with her basket of gifts, her small hood safe in the same part. I minded well. I have no daughter
to trace that road, back to your lap with my laden basket of love. I’m growing old, old without you. Mother, landscape of my heart, architect of my body, what other gesture can I conceive
to make with it that would reach you, alone in your house and waiting, across this improbable forest peopled with wolves and our lost, flower-gathering sisters they feed on.
“There are gentle souls who would pronounce Lolita meaningless because it does not teach them anything. I am neither a reader nor a writer of didactic fiction, and despite John Ray’s assertion, Lolita has no moral in tow. For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm.”—Vladimir Nabokov (via sheaskedforstorms)
A lot of misogynist press has taught us to scorn feminism as relegated to the past. In fact there’s so much more: we’re just at the tip of the iceberg in what has been addressed in terms of re-imagining a less patriarchal, a less misogynistic way to structure our world, society, communities, political and spiritual systems. Whereas all the systems that we have seem to be neutral, in society they are taught biased; they were all established by men and they’re all patriarchal systems, they’re all hierarchal systems. It’s not that they supplement something good that could be gleaned from that, but we are at the point now where we’re expecting nature to collapse within a century. It occurred to me in the last year that people can more easily imagine the apocalypse that religions have been telling their members of choice for the last 2000 years, than they can imagine the subtle shift in our systems of governance towards more feminist systems.
I have no hope that men can resolve the crisis that we’re facing now. Men can participate, men can draw upon feminine resources inside themselves, but it is for women to gain the empowerment necessary to participate so vigorously and internationally to create that change, I think they’re really our last hope. It’s the great untouched resource of the world; it’s half the population and if we organised ourselves differently it could be instantly reformative.
I recorded this some time ago to be read on a friend’s anarchist radio show and I’d forgotten about it. Isn’t listening to your own voice weird? I don’t sound formal like this at all in in normal conversation (I think in conversation my voice is more thickly Australian), and I am not that comfortable reading my own poetry. This is what I sound like putting the distant memory of years of speech and drama into practice, if you wanted to know!
when I overdosed the doctors at the hospital force fed me charcoal the cruellest antidote to a bottle of vodka and fistfuls of smooth white pills my body spewed black dust when I got the bill from the hospital there was an itemised line for the Carbon Tax I wanted to be baptised in Ash Wednesdays but I couldn’t find the right form to renounce my confirmation name so I put my name down on a list of people Mormons will baptise after they die now they pump my stomach for stars I buried inside why aren’t any journalists asking the right questions which are why are we mining our shame backwards and who will get the Southern Cross constellation in this custody dispute we call leadership because real leadership would be cyanide pills in cups of Flavor Aid for the government and opposition so I can throw a party in a soft white room I will lay down all my kitchen knives at the Australian War Memorial open the borders and the sea levels will rise and joy will flood in close down our suicide factories and free the refugees the only war I will declare will be on sunburn and you’ll say baby this complexion looks good on you I bought you this lipstick called happiness it has a grenade pin this time we will keep dying until we don’t have to die any more
Calypso drums tickle me and The Knife sing "I’m in love with your brother, what’s his name". God, you made him in your image for me. His clavicle in black and white, his bloody fingers under the swell of my breasts, feeling absence of rib. I tasted the apple of his throat, he won’t forbid me.
The earth is dry and they live wanting. Each with a small reservoir Of furious music heavy in the throat. They drag it out and with nails in their feet Coax the night into being. Brief believing. A skirt shimmering with sequins and lies. And in this night that is not night, Each word is a wish, each phrase A shape their bodies ache to fill—
I’m going to braid my hair Braid many colors into my hair I’ll put a long braid in my hair And write your name there
They defy gravity to feel tugged back. The clatter, the mad slap of landing.
And not just them. Not just The ramshackle family, the tios, Primitos, not just the bailaor Whose heels have notched And hammered time So the hours flow in place Like a tin river, marking Only what once was. Not just the voices scraping Against the river, nor the hands nudging them farther, fingers like blind birds, palms empty, echoing. Not just the women with sober faces and flowers in their hair, the ones who dance as though they’re burying memory—one last time— beneath them. And I hate to do it here. To set myself heavily beside them. Not now that they’ve proven The body a myth, parable For what not even language Moves quickly enough to name. If I call it pain, and try to touch it With my hands, my own life, It lies still and the music thins, A pulse felt for through garments. If I lean into the desire it starts from— If I lean unbuttoned into the blow Of loss after loss, love tossed Into the ecstatic void— It carries me with it farther, To chords that stretch and bend Like light through colored glass. But it races on, toward shadows Where the world I know And the world I fear Threaten to meet.
There is always a road, The sea, dark hair, dolor.
Always a question Bigger than itself—
They say you’re leaving Monday Why can’t you leave on Tuesday?
So I go on, tediously on and on… We are separated, finally, not by death but life. We cling to the dead, but the living break away.
On my birthday, the waxwings arrive in the garden, Strip the trees bare as my barren heart. I put out suet and bread for December birds: Hung from evergreen branches, greasy gray Ornaments for the rites of the winter solstice.
How can you and I meet face to face After our triumphant love? After our failure?
Since this isolation, it is always cold. My clothes don’t fit. My hair refuses to obey. And, for the first time, I permit These little anarchies of flesh and object. Together, they flick me toward some final defeat.
Thinking of you, I am suddenly old… A mute spectator as the months wind by. I have tried to put you out of my mind forever.
Home isn’t here. It went away with you, Disappearing in the space of a breath, In the time one takes to open a foreknown letter. My fists are bruised from beating on the ground. There are clouds between me and the watery light.
Truly, I try to flourish, to find pleasure Without an endless reference to you Who made the days and years seem worth enduring.
I sleep, I sleep too long, sheer hours hound me, out of bed and into clothes, I wake still later, breathless, heart racing, sleep peeling off like a hairless glutton, momentarily slaked. Cold
water shocks me back from the dream. I see lovebites like fossils: something that did exist
dreamlike, though dreams have the perfect alibi, no fingerprints, evidence that a mirror could float back in your own face, gleaming its silver eye. Lovebites like fossils. Evidence. strewn
round my neck like a ceremonial necklace, suddenly snapped apart.
Blood. Tears. The vital salt of our body. Each other’s mouth. Dreamlike the taste of you sharpens my tongue like a thousand shells, bitter, metallic. I know
as I sleep that my blood runs clear as salt in your mouth, my eyes.
City-center, mid- traffic, I wake to your public kiss. Your name is Judith, your kiss a sign
to the shocked pedestrians, gathered beneath the light that means stop in our culture where red is a warning, and men threaten each other with final violence. I will drink your blood. Your kiss is for them
a sign of betrayal, your red lips suspect, unspeakable liberties as we cross the street, kissing against the light, singing, This is the woman I woke from sleep, the woman that woke me sleeping.
A black biplane crashes through the window of the luncheonette. The pilot climbs down, removing his leather hood. He hands me my grandmother’s jade ring. No, it is two robin’s eggs and a telephone number: yours.