Tag Archives: fear

“Birthing” and “The Menstrual Lodge”

There are two poems today. Spring is here bringing the annual seasonal time of new birth. The power of birth is undeniable and available to all of us in its many faces. The first poem celebrates the poetic possibilities of fresh emergence while the second poem is much darker.

Birthing                                                                                              Mary Tallmountain

On the dark side I slip

 

like silk through night and chaos

wind splinters my hair

peacocks stalking

wild and sensuous as jewels

I see earth through their eyes

past bursting patterns

milestones

flashing at utmost speed

 

O I hear the light

 

The Menstrual Lodge                                                                       Ursula K. Le Guin

Accepting the heavy destiny of power,
I went to the small house when the time came.
I ate no meat, looked no one in the eye,
and scratched my fleabites with a stick:
to touch myself would close the circle
that must be open so a man can enter.
After five days I came home,
having washed myself and all I touched and wore
in Bear Creek, washed away the sign,
the color, and the smell of power.

It was no use. Nothing,
no ritual or servitude or shame,
unmade my power, or your fear.

You waited in the thickets in the winter rain
as I went alone from the small house.
You beat my head and face and raped me
and went to boast. When my womb swelled,
your friends made a small circle with you:
We all fucked that one.
Who knows who’s the father?

By Bear Creek I gave birth, in Bear Creek
I drowned it. Who knows who’s the mother?
Its father was your fear of me.

I am the dirt beneath your feet.
What are you frightened of? Go fight your wars,
be great in club and lodge and politics.
When you find out what power is, come back.

I am the dirt, and the raincloud, and the rain.
The walls of my house are the steps I walk
from the day of birth around the work I work,
from giving birth to day of death.
The roof of my house is thunder,
the doorway is the wind.
I keep this house, this great house.

When will you come in?

 

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J. Learns the Difference Between Poverty and Having No Money

This is a poem that called forth varied reactions in writing class.  Some found it depressing and it raised confusion;  both made me doubt my reasons for introducing it.  Finally, though someone called it beautiful, which completed the gamut of responses.  I found it to be a poem that unfolded with every reading.  I read it out loud in the beginning of four different groups and it surprised me every time.  My first reason for using it had to do with the idea of money, which is a necessity many creative endeavor-rees struggle with. This poem is also part of an interesting series by the poet. I enjoy the way he’s found to refer to himself!

J. Learns the Difference Between Poverty and Having No Money                    Jeffrey Schultz

After Ernesto Trejo

 

And the morning’s marine layer cloud cover’s just beginning to unhinge,

to let the buttery light of another daybreak slip through

And weigh down the dead lawns and sagging rooftops

of this neighborhood, where Cold War era television antennas

Still cast shadows like B-52s heading offshore, where poverty, this early

is the smell of Malt-O-Meal and the dregs of thin beer

Washed down the sink. Where the shift begins at 7AM,

but consciousness has a way of coming round as slowly

As this old computer monitor flickers its dull sixteen colors into being.

On it, the names and numbers of laundromat and liquor store owners,

Fast food managers and lawn care companies; it’s my job

to cold call them, read from a script on the benefits of membership

In the Executive Dining Club, not take No for an answer.

I’m no good and both the boss and I know it, and he’s hovering

When the scraped-out voice of the woman on my phone answers me with

My husband’s been killed, and then, instead of hanging up,

Throws the receiver down next to something— dishwasher or window AC,

I don’t know— but something close, it sounds, to tearing itself apart,

Something cycling through an awful, screeching noise.

And it’s because I’ve paused that the boss flings a pencil

Into the wall in front of me and edges closer, and because of the fear

of unemployment forms or the sky opening up if I were to walk out,

And because this sound— the un-oiled, flak-fouled crack of it—

has left me standing suddenly at the end of a runway, planes

Screaming low overhead and loaded for the beginning of the end of the world,

that I start back into the script, start back as if I believe each word,

Even though, in the rattle and dust of the jet-wash, no one hears a thing.