Speak!

speak! as the soul wins
over the tranformative
mixups, the brazen fouls,
the unanticipations; speak!

when the round etches wilt
each hymn around the bell
of winter, when the curbs &
bevels mix unintended; speak!

“Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak. We can sit in our corners mute forever while our sisters and our selves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned; we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles, and we will still be no less afraid.

Each of us is here now because in one way or another we share a commitment to language and to the power of language, and to the reclaiming of that language which has been made to work against us. In the transformation of silence into language and action, it is vitally necessary for each one of us to establish or examine her function in that transformation and to recognize her role as vital within that transformation.”

And I remind myself all the time now that if I were to have been born mute, or had maintained an oath of silence my whole life long for safety, I would still have suffered, and I would still die. It is very good for establishing perspective.”

We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.

for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.”

– Audre Lorde, “The transformation of silence into language and action”

Look, in the world

Hark
The list of the risen sea is fallen
Dough; hark

This moot of all mootships has nulled
Its beak now;

Hark

The Seventh Sense – Audre Lorde
Women
who build nations
learn
to love
men
who build nations
learn
to love
children
building sand castles
by the rising sea.

Look, in the world – Basavanna
Look, the world, in a swell
of waves, is beating upon my face.

Why should it rise to my heart,
tell me.
O tell me, why is it
rising now to my throat?
Lord,
how can I tell you anything
when it is risen high
over my head
lord lord
listen to my cries
O lord of the meeting rivers
listen.

Women in strange situations, trying to be courageous

“Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety” – James Baldwin

The image of change is that of dying
Soft life wants fire

The brush on each woman’s guilt is
Tied to man and woman

Seeks fire; the guild of women strikes
Stone and three wonders

Cry a lone dream to sleep; we wonder
Who dies & whose knife

Cuts through night.

Dreams Bite by Audre Lorde
I
Dreams bite
Dreamer and legend
arm
at the edge of purpose
waking
I see the people of winter
put off their masks
to stain the earth red with blood
and on the outer edges of sleep
the people of sun
are carving their own children
into monuments
of war.

II
When I am absolute
at once
with the black earth
fire
I make my now
and power is spoken
peace
and hungry means never
or alone

I shall love
again

when I am obsolete.

The dream
My dream was full of women in strange situations, trying to be courageous. In one part of the dream there was a wedding in which a girl was wearing a tight sherwani with a dupatta accessory to cover her front which was choking her and her face had to be covered by it, like a sehra. So she was a bride dressed like a man, yet veiled. Even had a turban on her head. So a bunch of her cousins and friends got her to take everything off in a huge tent like traditional Swati smock and go get a coffee away from the wedding madness. One of my friends from grade school was one of them. Then there was trouble. Suddenly a group of plundering men descended on the village and set everything on fire, and one by one the women found themselves in the same spot on a roof, looking around them to find escape but then their dupattas or clothes caught fire. And one by one they all got burnt and disappeared. The last girl was another childhood classmate of mine. And I felt her desperation and confusion and mindlessness as if she were me. And then she/I jumped off, still on fire. And then in my dream I went off into a reverie about whether it was better to die crushed on the ground after falling from a height, or burning to death.

witness across the threshold of sense

You mark this song, this horror
Of syllable as eye

Witness to impalpable harm, ex
Nihilo crucible of

Further waste - turn now, read
The shades of hade

He is forever trapped
who suffers his own waste.
Rain leaching the earth   for lack
of roots to hold it
and children who are murdered
before their lives begin.

– Audre Lorde

Whatever cries and changes, lives and reaches
Across the threshold of sense; I know the piercing name;

– Muriel Rukeyser

Reblog: Degrees of freedom

Here is one I posted five years ago. Munira was reminded by Facebook; she reminded me,  and I met myself once again with a “glad to meet you” and decided to repost. She asked me to dedicate it to Qandeel Baloch, so I do. One of my recent posts is Silence and Freedom which is relevant to both this post and Baloch in two ways: i) the external form and ii) Audre Lorde’s words: when Lorde speaks of oppression, the resonance is deep enough to touch all its fangs: race, gender, class, age, and every which way in which humans otherize the other.

Degrees of Freedom

Silence and freedom

The quotes prefacing my poems below are taken from a 1977 paper delivered by Audre Lorde titled, “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action”.

“What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?”
the bureaucracy of joy
Operationally exigent, the
Skill of my day-to-day is
Contingent, held by the
Noosed nylon that will swing

You to the other side; the door
Is procedure, sentiment; cross that
Tee and knot that eye with thatched
Thistle carving up the parchment

Into friendly spaces, cells and columns,
Political economy of verbs & nouns,
Forms content with fill, ink’s dissent
With fill of space, the dotted eye.

“We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.”
rules of communion
Commit to the arbitrary whim
That seeks plenitude but knows

Not how, and then organize those
Whims, the exigencies of action.

Figure out the ancestry of the
Why of what you have to do, and

Write it down: to commit is to
Want to breathe, sink and greet.

“The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.”
freedom is inherently dangerous

freedom is inherently dangerous; it can
unfetter the slovenly pink and discolor
the unfelt solder, the axed appropriate
mandate, the breaking of swords, triads

of affiliation, tinpots of manged hate;
freedom is thus danger; and why not? it
reeks of past, it seeks the past, flits
of memory crawl out of nowhere nothings