The Knife

Upon being unable to fold up the weapon,
he tells me that I’m “such a girl”.
I forget that his insult is my compliment,

dousing him in ice-cold water,
and only hours later, giving him thanks.

The true insult would be his approval.
The true tragedy would be all of us,
all the time,
well-practiced in instruments
of death and mutilation.

His disregard for my sharp grace
is just a symptom of his blindness.

I am Other Girls.

The Reader

I live in words. I live on words.
I am a reader, an editor.
I weigh all your syllables judiciously-
eyes narrowed at the insincerity of your adverbs,
the impossibility of your adjectives.

Knife in hand, I am ready to make you
and your narrative,
bleed.

I don’t want a writer- those politicians.
I’m not interested in the cheap peddlers of words-
swindlers at the mercy of the crowd.
Keep your cliches, your easy tribute
to the lowest common denominator.

Antony, you changed their minds,
but I read you as I read the crowd that day,
and I was not impressed.

I do not come cheap,
and I have never been easily persuaded.
I’m through with explanations,
sick of defense.

I want a visionary.
I want a reader,

I have been reading you from the beginning.
Can you read me?

Women with Strange Hearts

Nothing stops your heart. Not even
deep dives into freezing regions of despair
that would kill the rest of us-
you find ways to survive,
coming back to your family, time and again.
*
*
Those who call you flightless,
watching you from shore,
have never seen you swim rescue-
never witnessed your speed and grace beneath the waves.
*
Those who thought they sized you up-
your quiet waddle over icy tundra-
have long since given up at trying to take you down.
*
The whisper of your daughters and grandchildren
might have warned them:
*
“She has the strongest heart in the whole world.”
*
Never underestimate the Empress.
*
-Kathi, The Emperor Penguin

IMG_0966

Photo via National Geographic

The Bottomless Well of Empty Space

I fell in love with a new poet today.
New to me, that is.

 

 

THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
(When the lecturer’s shirt matches the painting on the wall)

He stands there speaking without love
Of theories where, in the democracy
Of this universe, or that,
There could be legislators
Who ordain trajectories for falling bodies,
Where all things must be dreamed with indifference,
And purpose is a momentary silhouette
Backlit by a blue anthropic flash,
A storm on the horizon.

But even the painting on the wall behind,
Itself an accident of shattered symmetries,
Is only half eclipsed by his transparencies
Of hierarchy and order,
And the history of thought.

And what he cannot see is this:
Himself projected next to his projections
Where the colours from the painting
Have spilled onto his shirt,
Their motion stilled into a rigorous
Design of lines and light.

-Rebecca Elson

 

You can read more about her life and work here.

 

Now that you are without me,
what do you dream about?

Last night I dreamt that you and I
locked eyes across a bloody battlefield.
We had to fight our way through
every kind of violent death
to be together.

When I reached you,
sweaty, blood-drenched, exhausted,
you kissed my lips and
I felt the strength to stand.

Under the full moon,
I lit candles and sent a dream your way.
Now, thoughts of me flash through your mind
Before you drop away in sleep,
falling through the tangles 
of my hair.
You hear me whisper, “Come back to me.”

And you are.
You are on your way.

-The Warrior

Some nights I wanna get up here
and sing about your nonsense.
But I know my voice ain’ t good enough for bad lyrics-

(You’re doing it wrong-
dissecting the bird,
trying to find the song.)

 

Advice

The thing-
the quintessential thing-
is this:

I love you;
I loved you.
*
The thing-
the quintessential thing-
is this:

*
I loved you;
I am letting go of you.

*
It’s very difficult, isn’t it,
to love a person
while remaining aware
of all their flaws?
*
It’s very difficult, isn’t it,
to hold a person up
for scrutiny
in the harsh light
of reality?
*
Only a witch could love her now.
*
Only a witch would be aware
from the beginning-
*
she has flaws
she is flawed
she is a collection of flaws,
*
and her flaws make her
even more worthy
of being loved.