to the Unknown
to the Unknown
over and over
we come through
the worst. we
*this poem is a re-working of a quote from Michael Eigen’s The Psychoanalytic Mystic
On a Sunday as I run by a balcony
I run by a balcony and am shaken
Am shaken by six unlit tiki torches
Tiki torches that burned among a mob
Among a mob of brazen men, a fire
Fire: a flame of fury stoked
Fury stoked on lies and fear and hate
Lies and fear and hate: the flimsiest torches
The flimsiest torches, just party supplies
Party supplies meant for a celebration
Celebration of joy and love and life
Love and life defiant in the face of death
Defiant in the face of death: lights
Lights in the darkness
The darkness does not overcome them
Them: six unlit tiki torches on a balcony as I run by
a simple gesture
over and over
the bright needle
in her hand
dipping in and out
of the cream
little nips rucking
thread piling up
the long release
that far off sound
like the seed
each stitch is
-ly bored. pen scritches.
an Excel cell filling. a form
center hiss & clatter—keyboards,
mouth-breathing, vague voices—
we are not trading scripts:
i am <NAME>, a voter in <STATE>.
i am <EMOTION> about <ISSUE>. I desire
to <SUPPORT/OPPOSE> <ISSUE>.
thank you, <NAME>. i will pass
your concern onto <CONGRESSPERSON>.
all day long.
ring. reach. record. repeat.
hiss & clatter. ad infinitum.
outrage dulled by. repetition.
by dulcet tones. by calculated
alarm bells are still
alarms. pull the cord.
keep up the vigilant. ringing.
sweet swimmer in the white
your crema blooms &
dresses. gauzy veils.
those little guppies pursing
in the back row.
what subtle motions the tiger
drum machine spills
cut crystal tumblers
brim. all gloss
what i know of man bodies of my own
body could fit in a small bone bowl
what i know is salt: blood sweat tears semen this pillar
is all i am at times at all times i am
waiting on rain to come wear down wash away
the lot of me
my body is told to me to be
a hard stance of legs wide as shoulders arms
over chest & broad back & flexed hips only never the soft
mystery crying out folding unfolding in secret
never the soft prostrate position
of the dead the prone position of a laid-out body
drenched in its own exertion and breath slowly slowing
alive among many other bodies who know
little of themselves less of any other body
on the skin collecting in the corner of the eye
A short clip of Pádraig Ó Tuama reading his poem Hello (pulled from On Being with Krista Tippett):
this is the antidote. calm-talk. deep-breath. collarbone taptaptap. these ancient rapid-fire parts of me, myelinated slick and screaming bloody murder & fire in the theater in one breath need to ease it on down, baby. gaba it up. gobble it down. boggle a while, you know? pick up the brush. slap some paint on a canvas. don’t worry will it work. soothe to the sound of the brush. that one bright line just right, words spilled out, made flesh or nearly, the hand coming suddenly visible. that’s what we’re lurking here in the shadows for, hunt and peck, bags over our shoulders, noses to the ground. it’ll come we’re confident, even when we’re not. in those moments the breath becomes a second beast, moving in and out, stalking with us. spring-loaded with sleek muscle. lovely. waiting. patient. ready.
At the Women’s March, Seattle
You see us in the streets and say ‘political games’. We protest
because our bodies tell us to move. We are working out
something far deeper than regime change. We are exorcising
trauma’s insidious grip. We put one foot in front of the other,
side by side, to announce we are alive, our bodies are
good, our minds are our own. We march to survive.