My frayed sleeve / collab w/ Jane Basil

1920Janebasilblog (Jane Paterson Basil) and thefeatheredsleep (Candice Louisa Daquin) collaborated on this beautiful poem of Jane’s called My Frayed Sleeve.

For two decades

(Time parlays reason)

your salt-paste lies piled up

(Resisting calls from outer world’s)

like pancakes on a cracked plate,

(Accumulating as sea birds watch unloaded catch)

while you hammered at my heart,

(The ring around my throat that is you)

delighting in the blood

(Sampling my intention to survive)

which seeped

(Sounds like silence reaching over years)

scarlet

(Capturing your purchase)

through my frayed sleeve

(As I push the hair from your face)

Even if you’d believed

(On a windy day when salt stung air)

I would leave,

(Did you plan then on your meal of me?)

you would not

(Carving trust into lean cuts)

have been kinder to me.

(Pass the condiments, tight wristed and stranger)

I scribed you into history

(With my pen I wrote your existence)

long before

(Predetermined and sharp like forks lost in pockets)

you ceased breathing.

(Holding our breath we exhaled and then)

Each shred of regret morphed into relief,

(Day gave way to scratched music playing in locked rooms)

so there’s nothing to grieve –

(I could not spoon you out of my mouth)

leaving only a thin breeze of pity.

(You stayed, a jam capturing season)

.©Jane Paterson Basil/Candice Louisa Daquin

Check out Jane’s amazing work on her blog: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/29649962

Maternal instinct

Symphony

I am a mother

Though you are dead

I pretend otherwise

You feel me in that place that you are

And I sense you

In the small hands of my neighbor’s boy

In my urge to protect and let

Not one moment of harm befall

As if it were you, the ache inside

Sat next to me eating brunch

The waitress charmed by your precociousness

You don’t remind me a bit of myself

Just as my mother thought me a changeling

Who was the fair child she birthed? She wondered

Closing the door and walking into another universe

Away from the scold of maternity

It suited her to wear boob tubes and dance at 3am

Not wipe snot and vomit from the car seat.

OOO

And I see nothing of me in you

You eclipse a generation

Returning to be her and a little of your father

He had eyes that swallowed me whole

When I moved in his arms and invariably

He took and took and took

He also gave a little something of himself

Unwillingly in that hour before savagery

Even sadists have their moments of foreplay

It’s how they build to a crescendo

It’s how we fall for their slick words and

Hard falls

He filled me with you and underneath the green dress

I could see you swell and rise on the tide of my brine

Before the stairs before the marble

Cool on my burst cheek and the pattern of scarlet

He led me in oxblood to that single moment

We could have all ended there

With the moon ripe and redolent behind us

The smell of candle wax heavy on our hems.

OOO

There is no way to undo the circles

Looping through memory like planets fractured against starlight

There is only the clenched fist and a jump

Free wheeling in air, suspended

He watches with apocalypse eyes as I give birth

To the emptiness afterwards

Because his vision is winking out

Through time as we catapult and swing low

He tells me; you haven’t changed, your skin is still firm

And I splinter there in this path of thorns

The beating is joining bruises like daisy chains

You gave me life and then, bending close

Took it away with a snap of your callused fingers

We lie beneath the elm tree with our name carved

And you drink from my breast a milk of sorrow

I wanted you all to myself is your buttoned apology

It does not last .. it comes with the sharp pull on all fours

More hurt than can be described by sign and movement

Bearing a child and starting over bloodless

In one shattered moment

Leaning towards stairwell

Seeing you waiting

Below

Beckoning me

To fall

Afterbirth

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.