i am running into a new year
and the old years blow back
like a wind
that i catch in my hair
like strong fingers like
all my old promises and
it will be hard to let go
of what i said to myself
when i was sixteen and
twenty-six and thirty-six
even forty-six but
i am running into a new year
and i beg what i love and
i leave to forgive me.
From Good Woman: Poems and A Memoir 1969-1980
Via @emdanforth on twitter
Physics says: go to sleep. Of course
you’re tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They’ll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.
Geology says: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren’t alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren’t alone. Go to sleep.
Astronomy says: the sun will rise tomorrow,
Zoology says: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle,
Psychology says: but first it has to be night, so
Biology says: the body-clocks are stopped all over town
History says: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.
A person protests to fate:
“The things you have caused
me most to want
are those that furthest elude me.”
Fate is sympathetic.
Things are getting ready
out of sight.
Stars and moths.
And rinds slanting around fruit.
But not yet.
One tree is black.
One window is yellow as butter.
A woman leans down to catch a child
who has run into her arms
Apples sweeten in the dark.
From In a Time of Violence (1994)
This week we’ve seen a lot of feminist discussion about issues of speech, silence and oppression, so I decided that now would be a good time to post some thoughts on the poetry of Judy Grahn.
Grahn is a lesbian feminist poet and activist whose work is very much concerned with speaking back to power. Her project is one of radical redefinition rooted in a centering of the lives of ordinary women. The Work of a Common Woman brings together poems published between 1964 and 1977, a period when feminists were fighting to break free of patriarchal modes of representation and wrestle back control of the narratives through which women’s experiences had been mediated by culture. This was a time when one of the top feminist priorities was to get women’s voices out there, which obviously meant finding ways to bypass the gatekeepers of publishing and the media. Grahn was an important figure in this effort, co-founding the Gay Woman’s Liberation Movement and The Women’s Press Collective, as well as making her own work available in an accessible pamphlet form that could be easily circulated by women’s groups.
The brave spears of the garlic
rustle in the damp hair of the wind
off the marsh brushing them:
a sound you will never again hear.
The maple is waving little russet
hands. Long brown scaled buds
line the beech twigs. Spring
explodes into hundreds of daffodils
on the hillside that was yours.
Tulips strut their brilliance bowing
to the sun where you will no
longer pass. My tears are
brief years after you died. Still
my thoughts are bouquets like
the red tulips I can never lay
on your invisible grave.
Lifted from the greatpoets lj community
Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look (while
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and
changing everything carefully
spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
and fro moving New and
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and
without breaking anything.