You are not a girl anymore

Girl you are not a girl anymore

you are a woman

woman you are reviled and judged

for being a woman

when you were a girl it was suffice to

have a nice pair of legs and a pretty mouth

do you recall how often you were asked to ‘cheer up and smile love’

when all you were doing was trying to grow-up and be serious?

how men would do your bidding because of your WonderBra and not the sense of your words

now you are a woman

you will inherit

inequality

double-standards

and not be able to find clothes that feel right in stores not meant for your body

because nothing is going to come easy anymore and still

as you sit there in your curves and your burgeoning skin

feeling the surround of yourself lapping at the corners

you will inherit also

the voice of your round bellied ancestors

who have come ringing through time and again

been judged, poked, prodded or worse, flat out ignored

seen how silver haired men get all the fuss like carefully licked jewels

whilst a woman of substance is

lost lost lost

behind the mad din and snuff of youth

for youth it seems needs a distinguished father of any age

but does not require

a mother

a grandmother

a female sage

for women are judged upon their reproductive abilities and

the years they have lived beneath the moon listening to the shore

if too few, they are deemed unintelligent

too many and nobody wants to hear

for women are judged upon

scales created long before

an even playing field was won

if it has, if it has yet

for women it is easier to become lost after the lights have grown less hot

held to a higher standard than the eternal covet of men

who are picked up and dusted off by many worshipful female hands

too eager to say ‘there, there, I will help you, poor thing’

who shall help then, the woman?

Not her own kind, surely, nor men who adore only youngest vintage

Who shall see her? When she is grown and perhaps does not accept her allotted place

or wish to remain invisible or grow old with pressurized grace

who shall listen when she wants to be heard at any age?

or the desires of her are beyond the sanctioned pail

or her damp passion which does not flip and flop and require Viagra

a woman if she is loved

is ten-fold her maiden self

for the wefts and the welts are earned and learned and now they represent

a splendid coat of multicolor

she wears with pride and sometimes regret

but more often silver wisdom and the softening yet

of her edges into rounded corners and eventually

a supple circle come full

the world may dominate her discourse

the youth may clamor for their right to change the channel

she may slip quietly through the bridled noise

with strong thick womanly thighs

and as men chase their tail and young women cast a gaze that seems to say

who the HELL do you think you are, old lady?

woman, you do not bat your eyes or rise to those absurdities left behind

for she is the wake of day and dusted sleep of night

cradling the future in her all-mighty grip

she learns from being kicked

to stand she must let go of the girl within and be

a woman of our time

casting her pearly net wide as she

swallows the sea and sighs

letting the tide tumble out with her exhaled breath

aaahhh yes

aaahhh yes

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Woman

From formless

She

Carries the strength of her foresisters

The weight of her thighs

Weighs rivers swell

In tip and measure

She

Defends the feeding babe

Climbs her own knot of thorns

With quills in her back

And knife wounds smiling

Her breasts leak

Her center of gravity is the iron mantle

Set like a spinning throne in Earth’s center

The very blood of her is metal

And a handful of spring

And a mouth kissing

And a belly birthing

Her entirety

The mound of her sight

Stretching like

Hands clasping hands over time

Here is the unbroken connection

Of women

If they will be kind and not snare

Her sisters, raven haired, red and light as snow

We are the rise and set of day

The future in her oracle

We bring or we deny

Our destiny and reach

Seize your place

Take a hand

Bend to the wind

And cartwheel

Spinning like golden circle

Is both night and day

Coming from shade, ocean, dust

Eternity is

Woman

Shine on

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It is not

ficklety of cat

rubbing leg in faux earnest

nor

those clamored souls with

wine soaked language rolling ebullient

reefer in sardonic prose

It is not

deftness of entreaty wound around

stocking nor thickness of honey consumed bread

turning truth to sticky fingers

pinching air in thought

naming the stars

underneath canvas where tents

suspend redolent arias and

forest creatures lament

shrill bleat of humanities

persisting encroachment

though you

rising from steamy bath

ruddier by your delve

bright as a regained penny

shining like evening pearl

you

silver limbed and black of eye

rival the moon at her dearest rise

you

are velvet lament beneath air

a song of shivering moments

burning like freed embers

from dazzling height

you diminish never

you shine on

spreading your

arms into

hungry night

Odyssey to Audre Lorde (part of the #unsung series)

52164-oFilled with the fervor of first love

with no doctor to check my rapid vitals

I was told there is a same-sex clinic you can go

where moustached men will not begrudge

your lack of desire for their kind

The Audre Lorde Clinic had a woman with

a tattoo on her neck, of a blue bird

she said

all our gynecologists are women like you

putting my feet in stirrups I felt differently from when

men peered between me with their gloved hands

I understood the power of the gaze to

withhold and diminish

who was Audre Lorde? I asked, having not yet

taken poetry, gender studies, minority relations

you don’t know? they raised their unplucked eyebrows

oh girl you need to know Audre

 

that was Audre’s  point all along it seems

she who makes her meaning known

“I am defined as other in every group I’m part of”

nobody can know, nobody can own my voice

The mythical norm of U.S Culture is

white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, Christian, financially secure

I am none

my name is Audre

I am legally blind

seeing more than race and yet some histories are bathed in blood

Audre would not sit down and be a good girl

outside the definition her tongue

like other complicated spirits struck with lightning

as a child, when asked; “how do you feel?”

quoting from a poem Audre said;

I feel like this

because linear thought and prose

doesn’t always cut it for the intersectional

and those

born with a longing for more than conventional norm

or who fit with the intolerant

Audre was asked; “Do you think the black woman of America is invisible?”

she said; “Where you been all your life?”

“I’m a black lesbian I’m every kind of invisible yet my voice subsists”

just as when young Audre tried to get the attention of her mother

who dwelled in the safety of being able to pass

for Anglo

maybe if Audre had not tried so hard

she would not have learned to pen poems so truthful

Audre demanded people know

“there are groups of us branded unacceptable living right next door to you”

her poetry continues in the mouths of  young women who hear her truth

she died as she lived, fighting

it is said all those who die young die too soon, we lose the best ones first

come back in your poems Audre, speak to us

through time, through thunder, you exist beyond yourself

 

“Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference — those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older — know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.” AudreLorde

#unsung – this is part of the hash-tag ‘unsung’ (unsung heroes) series that folks on WP are writing to selflessly promote those lives that did not get sufficient notice.

Stigmata

 

093c3ac60161fdab3e0a048f7e5ccf6cThe day they pricked paint into her back

permanent and violet

she grew a lotus mandala

lending a little stigmata wisdom

to the thin bones of her grow

for she didn’t know that year

whether to follow sharp train tracks and disappear

into the woods not to be discovered

or walk into winter blizzard

feeling her way through to

imposing red bricked hospital

sagging against its frame like

an auburn flame caught in globe

shaken from foothold

placing her wet gloves on chaffing radiator

tell the patient man behind his mahogany desk

littered with prescriptives for disease of the mind

I am not well I am not well I am not well

you must take me from my freedom and tie me up

in a satin bow atop a new gift of hope

somewhere I cannot think or pass

in my mouth the marble and coinage

of my jailer

 

if she had let herself fall then

with his regard whiskering her lament

and plummet like a fire consumed comet

for the first time without control just

the ember of her flaming skirt searing

a series of interrupted tap dances

spanning shortened  life

in the direction of diminishing

sticky mouthfuls of sweet jam taken in dark

tap tap tap tap

braille, wittled cane, white and wooden

hers was the fear of generations

her grandmother, her grandfather

laid to rest in sweet meadow of

Mont-Ventoux, beyond lavender fields

where their metallurgic table of elements

could rest from unquenched desire to end

take your medicine

euthanize the unrest

let the sleep of the dead

usher silence in prayer robe

when he died

holding his dry paintbrush

when she died

clutching her wet scripture

when their loss mixed in formula

writing her DNA prophecy

she learned to lace up her unease

absenting breath needing not to breathe

not today doctor

not ever

these houses for the poor of heart

medicated, inviscerated, shuffle in

do not come out

 

she left her gloves on the radiator

followed her tracks back through virgin snow

easier when you cannot really see where you go

somehow standing amidst the roar

sea on dry land, oceans in desert flowers

it might take defying your legacy to survive

it might take not wishing to be the next pin to escape

bowled over by shared cross-stitched disease

even the empty

even the weak

 

she got a tattoo of a lotus

on the small of her back

where men had whispered hot and slow

you are slender like a branch

I want to bend you in two as green willow

will not snap

supple in bow, play me never

this girl has forged her symphony war

out of rising in morning, ready to give up

she survived percolating tendency

and the ones who thought her lean

pressing her against shiny coffee tables

unbuckling their murmuring distaste

for respect

thinking her a orfice, a receptacle, alabaster secret

and not a girl capable of swallowing fire

 

they did not believe in signs and wonders

nor warriors who wear no armor

she stands in her diluted ink

she is the beginning, the circular, the ending

of ways we are forced to be

a stain lies on her skin

it feels like an angels imprint

lending courage for the quiet

of soul, who gathers the leftovers

surviving beyond her welt

she is merciful to the meek

as a storm gathering in force, swells against

shore, building momentum

turning the raw belly of sky

monochrome

The loveliness of her

girlCoffee percolates

hot gurgle to wake the fog

her long limbs against purple

her abundant hair tracing to her waist

she stirs

I see

in that very little time

the reason we are

slaves