inaction of rhyme

Buddha thought
    the action of time is wiser than the vat of knowing
    that saddened him
And that is ok

Lao Tsu thought
    the inaction of rhyme is timelier than what-not
    he was not sad
And that too is ok

I think
    the Lordessess gave us time to sort it out
    but there is little time
And that is not ok

nursery rhyme

left copped out coopted by right1
let our children play out the folly of our plight
mindful eyes shut to keep out the light
shall we just play peekaboo with night?

The difference between poetry and rhetoric
is being ready to kill
yourself
instead of your children.

Audre Lorde, Power

1. “Right coopted Left copped out” – Coined by my friend Faraz Hussain while discussing how adept the mainstream is in appropriating all progressive talk and defanging it of radical potential.

two sides in want of a third

When rain falls with conviction
  I ask the woman,
  “would you like to buy the sky?”

“No need as dying is near impossible.”
  makes sense as death is a triangle
  two sides in want of the third –

When there is no rain or when
  when conviction fails, the
  woman is silent, sky is up

For sale & death has no neighbor knocking
  on its door asking, “is there a
  song we can borrow for the night?”

Within each one of us there is some piece of humanness that knows we are not being served by the machine which orchestrates crisis after crisis and is grinding all our futures into dust…In what way do I contribute to the subjugation of any part of those who I define as my people? Insight must illuminate the particulars of our lives: who labors to make the bread we waste, or the energy it takes to make nuclear poisons which will not biodegrade for one thousand years; or who goes blind assembling the microtransistors in our inexpensive calculators?

– Audre Lorde, “Learning from the 60s”.

a nongreen wage

there is nothing tragic in the
  the logic of being moss
  perhaps the mouth goes dry
  maybe your vocabulary

slips, but
  the green is no longer just a color
  your mouth is no longer dry and you spout words as if
  your dictionary is on fire –

what is tragic is the logic of
  the nongreen wage, the math of
  the unfed mouth – what goes
  dry is the unsaid word,

the less than word, the feet that
  knew no ground no wall but wail
  this unfed mouth is word now
  that soots your green with rage –

These historic changes – that peaked in the 19th century with the creation of the full-time housewife – redefined women’s position in society and in relation to men. The sexual division of labor that emerged from it not only fixed women to reproductive work, but increased their dependence on men, enabling the state and employers to use the male wage as a means to command women’s labor. In this way, the separation of commodity production from the reproduction of labor-power also made possible the development of a specifically capitalist use of the wage and of the markets as means for the accumulation of unpaid labor.

– Silvia Federici, “Caliban and the Witch”

Poet as genesis

It took an hour
to make song   another hour
for stone        the river
& stone are conjugate verbs
acting together
       to make the verdict of song
       ring true

“I have always had the sense of Armageddon and it was much stronger in those days, the sense of living on the edge of chaos. Not just personally, but on the world level. That we were dying, that we were killing our world — that sense had always been with me. That whatever I was doing, whatever we were doing that was creative and right, functioned to hold us from going over the edge. That this was the most we could do while we constructed some saner future.” – Audre Lorde recalling when she had heard of Martin Luther King’s killing.

a deliberate earthing

I.
“I am deliberate
and afraid
of nothing.”
An act of will that
    mourns wonder
    weaves magic –

– Quoted words from “New Year’s Day” by Audre Lorde

II.
“Green essence pooled again in my eyes, which paint the grass, which will later bloom in the memories of animals.”
I as earth
    I as animal
    woke as essence of green –

– Quoted words by Alejandra Pizarnik

Open water

do we in our moving
move toward life or death

do we in turn sell, burn & prosper   do we raze our haven   as death?

Stroke by stroke drawing us
Out there?   Father of rhythms,
deep wave, mother,
There is no out there.
All is open.
Open Water.   Open I.

Open hearth   Open stone       crucible of love     crux of I

Women, ships, lost voices.
Whatever has dissolved into our waves.
I a lost voice
moving, calling you
on the edge of the moment that is now the center.
From the open sea.

Whatever has dissolved in our bones
as rust
recalls –
we recall the tender
the edges recall, the stone, the work of the sea as the breaking out of open water.


Lines in bold are from Muriel Rukeyser’s “The Outer Banks”

Poet as difference

Poet as difference
the smellsweet
    wrungtooth, it keeps us in guess
    in

deference to differ
the snuckroot
    earthsweat, as blade wishes blood
    in

rain – the differed
the nailred
    skyrust, as air as parch as wet as pain

that deep inner place where we have been taught to fear all difference—to kill it or ignore it

Audre Lorde

Tao as Lorde

When I speak of the Tao, I know not
but vaguely I

speak of Lorde       the fruit of my wis-
dom is twenty

                  inches too far from soul, twenty
                  years too large, twenty
                  something, perhaps more maybe
                  much less
When I speak of the Tao, I speak of Lorde

for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are — until the poem — nameless and formless, about to be birthed, but already felt

— Audre Lorde, “Poetry is not a luxury”

An unhandsome toil


Here are poetic tangents – mine with Lorde’s and Rukeyser’s – to a podcast I heard last night: a tribute paid to Eqbal Ahmad by his friend, Edward Said. Said contrasted his personal ‘filiation’ with his ‘affiliation’ in relation to Ahmad and the world of idea(l)s, Ahmad’s unceasing commitment to the creative versus mere politics, his fiery exhortations rooted in peace, and the sacrifice one has to make in pursuit of love (justice by any other name).


To engage what is true with what is most
true

It's the moor to an unhandsome
toil
     the imperfect
     the stone
it's the moor to loveless anchor   blanched in
      yellow   in-&
      out of tune

It’s compensation for kin with what is most
akin

"I say across the waves of the air
to you:
     today once more 
     I will try to be 
non-violent one more day this morning, waking the world
     away in the 
     violent day"1

To once more blur imagination with what is most
inconvenient

"Disrobed need shrieks through the nearby
streets...
     a brown sloe-eyed 
     boy picks blotches 
from his face, eyes my purse shivering 
     white dust a holy 
     fire in his blood"2

1. from “Waking This Morning” – Muriel Rukeyser
2. from “The Politics of Addiction” – Audre Lorde
I have taken the liberty of changing the line breaks in the two excerpts above.