Grade schoolers

two grade schoolers kissing
in a thin soft rain
at a bus stop. public transportation
public displays of private affection.
wet sweetness, hard concrete
street, observers.
it is early and the sky is pale gray
and i can taste the strawberry chapstick
of my childhood, slung on a braided string
around my neck.
the fade of shy gymnasium
romance smoldering in my skin.
i remember a time when i thought
i had to be everyone’s favorite girl.
all the while knowing
i never would be.
the weight of the world
on the wait of my girlhood.
the sharp claws of that. made to think like that
was the only way to think.
like that. because he
likes that, they like that you
don’t say what you really
like. what you are really like
is
whatever it took, whatever I had to do,
to become, to degrade, downsize,
legitimize
to hide.
it takes years.
decades. fire storms. drownings.
to exorcise that sickness.

hellish thing

pretty young
hellish frightened thing.
you hold those dark
whispers in
one on top of another on top of another
until your whole life
erupts into one long
brutal
honest
blood electric
scream.

women are taught

i think women want themselves. we want to be fully ourselves.
to get to know ourselves before the shame, before the charade, before the cruelty, the confusion about whether or not we are allowed to be here.
i gave everything i had to men. my worth, my dignity, my body, my tears, my beauty, my health, my heart, my joy, my loathing, my terror, my most precious gifts, my sanity, my hurt, my insecurity, my creativity, my time, my desire, my mess, all my resurrection, all my death.
just gave it all away constantly because women are taught to repent for sins they did not commit. to pay for a debt they can never repay.
and those men? and all the insides of me i laid on the altar in front of them. they tore it all apart because the men
are taught to destroy all of the things
they do not know
how to feel.

i could see the sky from where i am

and it rained and it rained and it rained for hours on end and i could see the sky
from where i am
as it poured wet from
your hands
you keeper of the secrets
collector of tears no one could hear them cry
what is this you bestow upon us in these hours
when darkness covers the naked land
drifting inside of our hearts
washed and blown out
to sea
i am your little thing
wide as the cloud terrible and trembling as the silvercoin river snakes against the leaves
intimacy a hand in a hand that holds itself
that waits steady
for me

terrible things

all of the most beautiful
and terrible things

i have done

i have done
for love.

and the madman
is mad for love

and the ones you love
are mad for love

and the ones you hate
are mad for love

and the only thing
that keeps us one

is madness & we call
madness love.

and the world begins
to destroy itself.

just like you do.
just like you burn the

bed you sleep in.
just like the bed

and the fire
and your hands

are dangerous.
for love.

mad world

mad world
cruel as it is
beautiful.

how to bend  &
not break;
how to love

like coming apart
doesn’t mind
the pain.

god, whatever she is

there is a spirit which moves within me.
dwells inside me, as me.
i may be standing in the center of a room,
crowded or alone,

and i am suddenly overcome
with the sensation of being spoken to
words without words
as they touch like the passing bend

of an invisible wing.
a movement of a love
so deep the veins respond
quietly, joyfully, reverently.

i can only imagine that god,
whatever she is,
this is the way
of her enchanting echo

a vibration
ever ancient and eternal.
like pale summer evenings
extend their burning fingers

through trees.

the poetry of women

i want to be surrounded by
the poetry of strong beautiful women.
the ones who took the lifebeatings and buried them deep—
wept suns and moons and planets,
the river water of the ages, oceanic tides of grief
salted earth
beneath their precious bruised
fingers—
only to have them grow roots
and bloom again in the buzzing heat of morning.
the fragrance of tragedy
written into hope.

in the palm of my mind (guiding lights)

in the palm of my mind live
guiding lights.
soft summer wings spread, billowing,
sigh beneath the curtains
as they clutch a pale
peach night.

blue eyes reflect, a lake opens wide & falls
reverent
beaming, drawn toward the face of the sky.
a being at the window of an evening
i have yet to know.

it calls for me, my name cupped in the hands of the Word,
moves my body. some trace of what may come.
and i am shown
and i was the one:

closing heaven against your eyelids.
nesting dreams inside your bed sheets.
tasting solace in the mouth
of your sweet heartache.

all poets are mad

Plato warned that poets are powerless to indite a verse or chant an oracle until they are put out of their senses so that their minds are no longer in them, and ever since no one feels entirely comfortable sharing a cab with one. In fact, a cabbie once pulled over and ordered me out when my travelling companion introduced me as a poet. Incredible? Mind you, my friend had just introduced himself as ‘a philosopher’. Normal people don’t want to hear that sort of thing. But I’m sure it wasn’t always as humiliating as it has been in these days of professionalism, promotion and ‘bringing the poetry to the people’, running after them imploring, Come back! It doesn’t have to rhyme!

— from The Shape of the Dance, Michael Donaghy