Gender & Sexuality

poem in praise of menstruation

if there is a river
more beautiful than this
bright as the blood
red edge of the moon if

there is a river
more faithful than this
returning each month
to the same delta if there

is a river
braver than this
coming and coming in a surge
of passion, of pain if there is

a river
more ancient than this
daughter of eve
mother of cain and of abel if there is in

wishes for sons

i wish them cramps.
i wish them a strange town
and the last tampon.
i wish them no 7-11.

i wish them one week early
and wearing a white skirt.
i wish them one week late.

later i wish them hot flashes
and clots like you
wouldn't believe. let the
flashes come when they
meet someone special.
let the clots come
when they want to.

let them think they have accepted
arrogance in the universe,
then bring them to gynecologists
not unlike themselves.

The Brassiere Factory

Is the governor falling
From a great height?
Arm in arm we fled the brassiere factory,
The motion-boat stayed on the shore!
I saw how round its bottom was
As you walked into southern France —
Upon the light hair of an arm
Cigar bands lay!
I kissed you then. Oh is my bar
The insect of your will? The water rose,
But will the buffalo on
The nickel yet be still?
For how can windows hold out the light
In your eyes!
Darling, we fled the brassiere factory
In forty-eight states,
Arm in arm,

Intensity as Violist

That she was not pretty she knew.

The flowers delivered into her hands post-concert by the young girl, pretty, would be acknowledged only. To display was to invite comparison.

Skilled at withholding, she withheld; it was a kind of giving. As when meditation is a kind of action,

a way of leaning into music the way one leans into winter wind, the way a mule leans into a harness,

the way a lover leans into the point of deepest penetration.

After a ship’ s prow cuts the water, the water rushes back twice as hard.

Shock and Awe

Tightened jaw, I did not love.
Flashback of myself  jerked about,
legs high above my head, men
laughing, I came to sea drifts,
movement and crashing. I found I am
not so far from God exploding.
Gifting, a friend once said, is why we live.
Seven storks still and white on a gold lake.
My lazy eye glances back to that original
split, myself  high above myself.
Whiplashed into forgetting, I didn’ t know
hours from minutes. I was hypervigilant for
catastrophes. My head raging then numb.

Medusa on Sansome and Pine

The woman is daft.
Invented her own sect.
Has upside-down sex.
With alternate species.

You see her on the street.
Corner of   Sansome and Pine:
Morning rev up of sf financial types.
Instead, there she is, beneath a gigantic hat.

Hair wild, in coils, like a rattle-
Snake. Smiles like she’ s got the shakes.
Every cell in her seems to vibrate.
Psst! Could you turn that to low?

100 Bells

My sister died. He raped me. They beat me. I fell
to the floor. I didn’ t. I knew children,
their smallness. Her corpse. My fingernails.
The softness of my belly, how it could
double over. It was puckered, like children,
ugly when they cry. My sister died
and was revived. Her brain burst
into blood. Father was driving. He fell
asleep. They beat me. I didn’ t flinch. I did.
It was the only dance I knew.
It was the kathak. My ankles sang
with 100 bells. The stranger
raped me on the fitted sheet.

Cantata for Lynette Roberts

Lynette, the stars are kerned so far apart —
Through a herniated zodiac I almost see your waled skylanes, your shocked Capricorn and Cancer.
In the hundred and two years since you were born, and the sixteen since your heart failed, and the nearly sixty since you gave up poetry, it seems we can’ t navigate by the same star chart.
I’ d like to think we were fated to work the same coracle: you steering with one hand, grasping your corner of the seine while I grasp mine; together sweeping the weirs.

The Thorn

“There is a Thorn — it looks so old,
In truth, you’ d find it hard to say
How it could ever have been young,
It looks so old and grey.
Not higher than a two years' child
It stands erect, this aged Thorn;
No leaves it has, no prickly points;
It is a mass of knotted joints,
A wretched thing forlorn.
It stands erect, and like a stone
With lichens is it overgrown.