Saturday, September 16, 2017

Mutton Dressed As Lamb

Inspired by Hillary Clinton in April 2016, and dedicated today to all those fighting misogyny around the world.

for the last two million years we've walked together
shared all the experiences all the emotions
joy sorrow pain ecstasy
a griping hunger that eats at your bones
a satisfaction that covers bones with flesh

for the last two thousand years we've drifted apart
divided by rule and expectation, unspoken law and published edict

be gentle and nurturing
be deferential and accept direction
remember your virtue is your husband's honor
remember your body is your husband's property
  be strong and protective
  be assertive and control others
  publicly repent of your sins and you will be forgiven
  only the alpha male succeeds

for the last two hundred years we've divided ourselves
creating labels and categories, sorting abilities and potentials
by chromosome and color instead of inclination and desire
allotting resources assigning responsibilities assuming restrictions
according to the roles and rules now set in stone
(according to those who benefit from this division)

for the last two decades we've watched the world
change slowly, as generations grow and shape
the world around them, the ivy of ideas finding cracks
in the mortared walls of ideology
and tearing them down; change quickly
within the spotlight of global attention
(leadership, scientific innovation, athletic achievement, creativity
when the dust settles their horizons will be boundless)


for the last two years I've watched this country
point the spotlight of interrogation in one direction
put the blame for shine and shadow alike on one person

will she run if she doesn't she's letting us down if she does she's mad for power
if she announces her candidacy now it makes her look too eager
if she doesn't announce her candidacy now she's playing coy
did she change her hairstyle to look more approachable doesn't she ever change her hairstyle
she sounded so strident in her speech the other day why is she so angry
she was too quiet in that debate she let them walk all over her why isn't she more assertive

remember the context, the toxic atmosphere we have been breathing for so long
the lungs become accustomed, the senses no longer register its stench its rot
remember that women with the same skills earn less than men at the same jobs;
older men are virile and experienced, older women are mutton dressed as lamb;
young men are rambunctious just boys being boys, young women are irresponsible
(to put it mildly)
remember all the things that led to this point in time

for the last two weeks I've watched this pyramid scheme
being hammered point down on the head of a woman whose
shoulders stay squared under all of the burdens she already bears
some of the weight willingly accepted, some put on her whether she wills or not
(and no, they will never forgive her his sins, confessed or not
and no, they will never believe she has not sinned, professed or not)
but even were she blameless spotless lily white with virtuous purity
the pyramid would still be there, poised above her head
waiting for the first perceived mistakes

because that's all it takes
when you're a woman

photo: Chemin des Charois, Saint-Pée d'en Bas, Oloron-Sainte-Marie, France, April 2014

This is #16 in a series of poems being written for National Poetry Month 2016. All work is my own, as are the photographs.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

(We Are) The Color Of A Bruise

inundation to the east (we drown)
conflagration to the west (we burn)
an army of fire ants marches north—
no wall will stop them—
through dust where crops no longer grow
(we killed the buffalo)
tornado heat rises from the south
turning every valley into death
red with anger white with fear
blue with despair beyond all sadness
the sea the sky the color of a bruise
torn apart by what we think is news
a discontented continent now so divisible
this physical and psychic continental divide
will only serve to sort out how we died

- "(We Are) The Color of a Bruise" (4 September 2017)

Photo: Arianna Frye / Willamette Week

Monday, March 20, 2017

Injust Spring

in this
spring when the sky is mud-
colored the raindrops
mute the shrill of

dogwhistles far and wide

where Patsy and Dick go
running to cheer for acts of
piracy perpetrated on their unwitting selves
by one who has lost his marbles
and this spring

when the world is muddled and awful

the queer
are hiding in the middle of the crowds
of women who have gathered to protect them
their children dancing

and hopping and hoping but

this spring
a club-horned goat foots it
across the hushed and verdant plains
between sea and lake
bleating terse epistles


"Injust Spring," March 20, 2017

Thanks to the Nasjonalgalleriet in Oslo for my 2012 photo of "Spring Flood" by Gustav Adolf Fjaestad (Sweden, 1909). Apologies to e.e. cummings for my 2017 poem.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

These Be Thy Gods

They worship a god that they created
Choosing their holy words with care
Stitched together from scraps of scripture
The form of Christianity, but not the function
The message lost beneath the messaging

When he is dead his hands
Will grow ten thousand bones
A golden reliquary in each town square
Where workers kneel beneath the choking sky
And mumble half-forgotten prayers

blessed are the rich
misery me
hollow be thy name

If only they had waited a little longer
To hear the wisdom they had walked so far to find
Impatient for the promised land
They cast their gold into the fire instead
And called for wine, and danced, and sang

Now we will never know what might have been
A paradise found and lost again
In Armageddon

"These Be Thy Gods," February 19, 2017

"I go [to church] as much as I can, always on Christmas, always on Easter, always when there's a major occasion, and during the - during the Sundays, I'm a Sunday church person."
"When we go in church, and when I drink my little wine — which is about the only wine I drink — and have my little cracker, I guess that's a form of asking for forgiveness."
"And I, I asked Jerry [Falwell Jr.] and I asked some of the folks because I hear this is a major theme right here, but Two Corinthians, right? Two Corinthians 3:17, that's the whole ball game!"

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: from which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm ... [T]hey that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
- 1 Timothy 1:5-7, 6:9-10

image source: Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Signs Of The Times

I shall earnestly and persistently continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old Revolutionary maxim. “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.” - Susan B. Anthony, in Federal Court being tried for voting (June 18, 1873)

Resistance is feasible even for those who are not heroes by nature, and it is an obligation, I believe, for those who fear the consequences and detest the reality of the attempt to impose American hegemony. - Noam Chomsky, In American Power and the New Mandarins (1969)

Resistance to tyranny is man’s highest ideal. - Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, 3rd rev. ed., ch. 3 (1917)

You may either win your peace or buy it: win it, by resistance to evil; buy it, by compromise with evil. - John Ruskin, The Two Paths, lecture 5 (1859)

The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it. - Woodrow Wilson, Address to the New York Press Club, New York City (September 9, 1912) 01/29/2017

Women's March, 21 January 2017, Portland, Oregon