Killer Bodies and Susan
A woman does not kill by hard body alone
sometimes a soft body is required
plenty pushing the pneumatic electricity
plenty swaying side to side
a horizontal mountain range
with only one treacherous pass
a Grand Canyon
a sunken world
the fecund delta of a sparkling riverbed
a full cup overflowing
as a mother, yet
not a muscle out of place
drop dead at the door
ankled in ocean
A Soft Statue of Liberty
on a planet
How to Live On Love in Summer - (Jay and Jane)
when there’s nothing
left to believe in
you can believe in
Stroll the shadows
of the house at midnightfollow the stream of light
to its source
but, look, this is not a modern moon
this moon startles you
with its wisdom
a father’s face
a father and father face
a beard of molten clouds
grey father white father
tree limbs that frame it
born in 1500
and the window you look through
eight paned by hand
I once saw the moon
framed by streetlight
that moon was technical
it was not bright
it pleaded, sighed
in a parking lot sky
even in day, pale and afraid
I could not change it
so I left it
for this history moon
ancient arms of tree moon
tree arms that are my arms
on this three hundred year old farm
reaching through the windows
We are Atlantis!
We are glorious!
We are not a legend
but a memory realized
a mountain top risen
out of the mighty ocean
where Gods live!
We are Golden!Our sandals are Golden upon Golden Streets!
We are an island
in the mighty ocean
Our Mother cowers
against our Mighty Shores!
Titans, we rule with Peace!
How we wear our Peace!
Shining upon our heads!
Glowing upon our Golden Feet!
How we devour our Peace!
consuming fat sandwiches and pies
dripping with our Peace!
How we inherit our Peace!
Conversing happily from place to place!
Our sandals Golden upon Golden Streets!
How enlightened we are in an Age of Enlightenment!
How we reason with oily argument, burning wit!
Eyes closed in the rapture of our charms!
How we have conquered Space and Time
in our image!
Raping the heavens as a virgin sacrifice!
Biting into the moon and Mars
with our Titan mouths!
Making a billboard of the sky!
Gratifying the clear rivers with our Golden Waste!
How we have made Hunger!
Making her go forth into other nations
and return us slaves, bewildered,
who scramble at our Golden Feet
for bar codes
and are, secretly, branded, Inferior
We are Atlantis!
Kiss our North!
Kiss our South!
Kiss the East, the West!
the Golden Gate, the Golden Arches!
the Golden Grain is forgotten
We alter our Mother!
twist her into a more convenient shape!
We stamp Our Coin
with the Face of God!
He is waiting
at the bottom
of the sea
Have Faith in Popcorn
Do you cocoon?
DO YOU COCOON?
Do you support our troops? for $2.50
you can slap a yellow ribbon on your fender
and wherever you go
people will know
Don’t leave home without it
Do you support our troops?
Each and every lot must supply:
1/6 of a war chariot
2 horses and riders
one pair of chariot horses, a horseman, and a charioteer
2 heavily armed soldiers
3 stone shooters
3 javelin men
4 sailors (for fleet of 1200 ships)
Do you cocoon?Do you bunker down? Do you have your colonial blue, down-filled L.L. Bean Bag you can get into in your jammies and robe and zip up while you watch the war on tv?
the streets are quiet at night
no cars zoom by like they used to
a man ran by on fire, it wasn’t a dream
everyone is counting their blessings at home 4, 3, 2, 1
“I used to live where the doctors and lawyers had their homes
but I was driven out by Saddam. Now, I am back!”
says the Iraqi man on tv
he is sitting on a jeweled and golden throne
from one of Saddam’s palaces
on the same porch where he once sat with his grandmother
he doesn’t know where she went
but he shows you the chains on the walls
of what was once her room
and the bloodstains
and tells you how the neighbors, who never left,
could hear the screams of men all night
even though Saddam
had soundproofed the rooms
long after the Golden Island fellthat which held sway over all the country to the East within the Pillars as far as Egypt and Tyrrhenia
all this was prophesiedby the ancients to occur again and by Faith Popcorn who said mayhem in the streets would keep us from going out she said we would “cocoon” munch on popcorn
hook up to cable and watch ourselves
commit crimes on tv
from our cocoons
from Saddam’s throne
and, deep in the desert,
inside a carpeted tent
hooked up to a rackety generator
munching on candy, women in burkas watch
a pink plastic tv that buzzes with Dynasty
As published in the anthology
Under Her Skin:
How Girls Experience Race in America
This is an excerpt from
"A Child’s Christmas in Revere"
by Patricia Goodwin
Ma stood at the kitchen window, smoking one Tareyton after another, peering out the night window that blinked with Christmas lights like a pinball machine. Whimpering and clawing at her legs was her little terrier, Tareyton, named after her cigarette, and the commercial for the cigarette where all the Tareyton smokers have one black eye, just like the terrier.
“Jesus!” Ma growled through her teeth, clamped down on the cigarette as she bent down to pick up the wiggly little rat. “She’s killing me! My legs!”
Ma resumed her gaze out the window, sending bullets of radar into the car lights rushing toward her.
“Christ All Mighty, where the hell is he?”
I didn’t pay too much attention to her. I was running into the kitchen to get my fiftieth low-calorie snack of the evening, an apple, maybe, or a piece of cheese, sliced clandestinely from the large chunk in the refrigerator, getting smaller, a tiny mouse nibbling it away.
I ran back to my all-consuming life in the living room, the details of which I have forgotten, though not completely. And I also haven’t forgotten how seriously I took those fantasies and fables to heart. Maybe it was The Addams Family--after all, Ma called me Morticia because of my long hair; maybe Robin Hood, to whom I played Maid Marian in my mind; maybe Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, which we got in wonderful black and white. Jakey and I used to argue about what the colors might be. If you knew one, like Santa’s red suit, for instance, you could almost guess what the others might be. Always, I was sure I was right; it’s a lost skill, or maybe, I was always wrong.
How deeply we lost ourselves in the darkness and the blue light flickering. It erased the floor, the ceiling, the walls, and everyone around me. Only TV Land existed.
That night I was intent on getting back to whatever drama was playing itself out on the screen, but as I rushed past her, Ma’s torment pulled at my careless mind and body. I didn’t have any idea how much she needed Daddy to set up the Christmas presents under the tree, that Christmas might not happen without him. I was old enough to question the existence of Santa Claus, and young enough to forget I questioned it.
Besides, she was always waiting for him, always standing right there at that window, smoking, begging the horizon to produce his car lovingly zooming toward her. I’ll never wait for a man! I vowed as I ran by her, convinced she was an idiot; yet, half my heart remained with her, standing at that window, hugging her with that squirmy, maggoty dog.
Deep in TV Land, once more floating in the virtual world, I can still hear the front door open, with its peculiar ssquee-runch! It stuck in damp and swollen weather.
“There he is!” Ma’s heart sighed audibly, while her dog burst into the frenzied howling of a terrier.
Daddy’s cheerful, proud-of-himself face came in, beaming full, catching the streetlight from outside. But what was that with him? Against the black night behind Daddy’s shoulders was a black shape following him, then eyes, shiny bits of white, staring eyes. Eyes, flipping from side to side. Tall eyes at first, then short eyes, flipping even faster, two little pairs of them.
What were colored people doing in our house?
Terrified little children, a boy and a girl, about four and five years old, standing close to their mother, tall, pretty, eyes cautious, staring. Next to her a colored man, taller than Daddy, angry, chin set hard, eyes furious as a man in chains.
The children inched backward into their mother, her eyes round and determined. She held her kids by their shoulders as they shivered with fear, then gently, pushed them forward; patient, she was. Slowly, the children came into the living room, where three white kids sat gape-mouthed and cross-legged on the floor. The man, angry as hell, and Daddy, a beacon of hospitality, stood in the doorway. Daddy introduced his kids.
He got our names right, but not our ages, not that anyone cared. I didn’t know then how drunk he was, only that he was bringing in colored people.
Ma ran in from the kitchen. Now that I’m older, I can see her in my mind stubbing out her cigarette, tossing her barking, clawing dog into the pantry and quickly shutting the door, getting her brain in order: My husband has brought colored people home with him, there are colored people in my house--what to do?
Rush to the door and welcome them.
“Their car broke down on the parkway,” Daddy explained to Ma. “I said, ‘It’s Christmas Eve! Come home with me; don’t stand out here in the cold, come home with me! The little lady will make us some coffee, get warm! Eh, we’ll go back for the car later!’ Make us some coffee, Rosie, will you?”
The two trembling kids were deposited with us in the dark living room, while the adults went into the kitchen. Kids were always just dumped with kids; adults went with adults.
It was Jakey who spoke to them. He was used to colored people, though I don’t know how--maybe from the carnies on the beach, or it might have been from the track people, though neither of these groups seemed especially colored to me.
“You ever watch this show?” Jakey asked the little boy.
He nodded vigorously. All five of us kids returned to TV Land and floated together. We didn’t say another word to each other.
Which was why we could hear every word from the kitchen.
For more, please read Under Her Skin: How Girls Experience Race in America