erect and regal
they call to me
they whisper things
to each other
erect and regal
they call to me
they whisper things
to each other
what’s the harm in
letting your toes wriggle
away from your shoes
& over the sudden edge
of a waterfall? painting
the town not in red but
in earth tones? saying no?
August 24, 2020
Why do you write about menstrual blood, clitorises, and multiple orgasms?
Because the body is beautiful, our anatomy is beautiful. I want to celebrate its power and its limitations. Because these are experiences inherent and integral to womanhood, that are yet shamed, politicized and fetishized simultaneously. How many people out there are ashamed of the way their labium is shaped? Ashamed of their size, the slope of their breast, the stretch marks on their skin? Who out there has experienced sexual trauma? Puritan repression? Molestation, assault, rape? Who’s been told that their sexual preferences or gender are unnatural? Who is unable to orgasm? Who orgasms too quickly? Who’s been told they are ugly? Who’s been told they are too sexy? So much silence and pain. How many girls are terrified to go to school because of their cycle, told their blood is gross and stinks? How many were taught that marriage would save them? Told to be more attractive but remain pure virgins? Did you know the ‘father of gynecology’ was a slave owner who experimented on black women because he believed they didn’t feel pain? A father of gynecology. Can you swallow the irony? Did you know midwives and healers were deemed witches and cast out of society? Look up the rate of this country’s infant mortality. Did you know priests are still abusing young boys in silence and circumcision is rooted in sexual oppression? Our bodies are our temples, the only thing we truly own. Why can’t I talk about my nipples the same way I talk about my feet? I fed and nourished my son with my nipples. I bled to create and birth him. How is this not poetry? I name body parts because they need a voice. I name body parts so that I might heal, so that we might heal. I believe we have all been traumatized by the structural values of the patriarchy—and language can call it out, name the thing, heal the thing. Language can destroy, yes, but it can empower, too. Language can be a lie, but it can also be true. It can shine light into the shadow. The shadow is the reason I write. To talk to demons. To excavate the inside so that I might see, understand, know the outside more clearly. Our personal and collective traumas are asking us for a throat, a tongue, a song, an utterance, something, anything. I write about menstrual blood, clitorises, and multiple orgasms because I do not choose my themes, they choose me.
Aren’t we all looking for a way out of the owl’s talons?
A way not to remember
the honeybee’s sting, the shape of a boot on your back,
all the nights your breasts would leak, a child,
the sucking, the screaming.
Aren’t we all looking for a way not to remember
the poems that cry us to sleep, the little ghosts
we carry in our hands, dare we tell?
Forget the Ativan, the razor, your car in Little River.
You wrote in blood, and for your sacrifice, I thank you,
dear Poetess, dear Mother, you took care of your children
the best you could. I’ve heard the stories.
i’m stooping scooping
ants out of their home
where grass meets path
The Good Humor ice cream stick
catapults them into the air
to drop and scurry crazily about
i dig with a vengeance
faster and deeper
to get to the bottom of things
August 17, 2020
“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
How do you synthesize what feels like nine lives, consolidate them into one?
Giant-sized puzzles take time to assemble, especially jigsaws with four different
I do plots. Raised in Barbie-Cinderella era, unrealistic narratives
skewed your sense of reality. Grateful for your upbringing, girlhood was cushioned
with advantage: stylish clothing, summer travel, pricey dinners at fancy restaurants.
As if your early story had been written in purple prose. After your father died,
During the quarantine, we were all in the living room,
the four of us, playing a game,
an unremarkable afternoon in April,
National Poetry Month,
and a small bird flew in through the dog’s foot-wide opening
in the sliding glass door to the backyard,
and the dog, Berkeley,
sprang up and barked and ran to the dining room
where the bird was fluttering against the glass and falling—
I could hear it, it was painful—
and before we could protest enough he had killed the small
gray-feathered bird with a swift, vicious bite.
She says, Mama, I feel two beats on each side of me, so I think I have two hearts. I answer, When I was a little girl I read about the earth and the way it spins. Then at night when I lay in bed beside the big window in my room, and the crickets and cicadas sung to me through the dark while the scent of honeysuckle crawled past the window’s sash, I’d have moments where I felt myself spun too, whirling very fast, as if I’d returned to that playground ride where the older kids kept running the carousel faster and faster, and eventually I whipped into the air, a little flag of blonde hair and corduroy snapping to and fro, my scream lost in the wind. I thought I was going to die. I’d recall that chaos, that lost control, later when I’d been tucked into my sheet and my hair smoothed and my mother sang goodnight. When she left the room I became the axis on which the world spun, whirling with it and growing dizzy from insect song and the scent of flowers opening in the humid dark. It is amazing what the mind draws forth. I tell her, I like your two hearts. I imagine they are birds, though I will tell you about your blood and the way it carries a word, repeated, through the pathways of your body. I want you to believe me. And yet, I want for you those summer nights, too, when you lie awake and imagine all the ways you don’t.
The sky has never forgiven you
for your blackness
when you fly
inside the backdrop of night
I am the only one who sees you
you claw your way
into my dreams
but I cannot
find you in the morning
Art by Mark Shuttleworth, Words by Luigi Coppola
Video-poem can be viewed here
He yearns for molten mounds of flesh,
a writhing, licking thing;
his mass sinks into palette, pores –
a thrashing, lashing sting.
The year Mother arrived on Ellis Island, the heavyweight fighter,
Jack Johnson, began serving a one-year sentence in Leavenworth
for violating the Mann Act, but everybody knew
Jack was doing time for loving a whole lot of white women
and each and every one of them every which-way.
Mother, fresh from hibiscus and the Caribbean Sea,
knew nothing of it; didn’t know that some who thought
if you’re light, well alright, would look at her and wonder
is she a white girl…?
The tuner bird now nests,
in its cage of bone.
Plays harp of cat gut strings
by the red light
that dictates my resonant streams.
at the first breath’s strum.
That sought to home
that homed to seek
from its first beat—
under the weight of words
and through that escape room of language
that forever unhomes.
Delitas, (n., Spanish) crimes.
Escuela Superior Mecánica de la Armada,
Buenos Aires, August 8, 2018.
Hard to resist the word’s resemblance
to “delights,” but knowing it can’t be,
I look it up after reading it over
and over on plaques stationed here
and there in this naval base turned
detention center. Bare except for the faces
stenciled across walls, blurbs about
terror, death flights, bodies
washing up in the Rio de la Plata.
July 02, 2020
trying to fit my feelings
into these words
is like I’m stuffing
twenty-eight green balloons
into a picture frame
first I would hold one down
with a flick of my pen
its pop and hiss
Mueller Report: long wait, no orgasm.
Barr says Biden probe unlikely. Liar.
Supreme Court takes case. Uh oh.
Tell me again how Bernie won.
Florida man sees opening. Dick stuck.
Faye’s inner battle: which Cheez-Its. Buffalo.
My face in your mirror: handsome.
I am your lover. I think.
Deuteragonist means second. Is that me?
Poem bursts out of rock: pleasure.