Micropoetry Monday: Feminine Wave

1973 (4)

She had shattered the glass ceiling,
ending up scarred.
She had not done it for herself
but for those who would come after her.
She had sacrificed her desires to make history—
a history that would not give her the future she wanted.

Her education had taught her the art of self-expression,
her church,
the science of self-suppression,
but it was her parents who taught her
how to do both in a way that bridged good citizenship
with authenticity.

She lived a life of authenticity & restraint,
for she knew when & how to express herself
& when & how not to.
She knew when she had met her limitations,
when she could exceed them,
& whether or not she wanted to exceed them.

From Within

God was there between them,
sturdy,
holding both their shaky hands.
Crumbling was that faith
that marriage was forever,
but when they looked at one another,
seeing one another the way they did,
they saw from their reflections
in the windows of their souls
that God was the fulcrum,
and she, the power suit in her marriage
and he,
in his birthday suit,
was a kept man.
But for this practice of self-reflection,
of seeing themselves obstructed in the beam
they saw in one another’s eyes,
they also saw that he needed her
as much as she wanted him.

Life is Loving Things, Hating Things

I love men clean-cut & clean-shaven;
I hate man-buns & gauges.
(Less hair, more flesh, please.)

I love older men,
not old men (in “that way”).

I love mint-green MINI Coopers;
I hate smart cars.
(They look dumb.)

I love my womanly curves;
I hate that one of those curves isn’t concave.

I love epidurals;
I hate contractions.
(Except when I’m trying to reduce my word count.)

I love the Bible;
I hate some of the things in it.
(God as Bad Cop, Jesus, Good Cop.)

I love humanism;
I hate feminism.
(But femininity rules.)

I’d love to write for Harlequin;
I hate reading Harlequin romances.
(But such is called research.)

I love linguistics,
I hate statistics.
(One is a carton of pretty lies,
the other can be a pack of damn lies.)

I love it when people make an educated argument;
I hate it when they copy-and-paste.

I love conducting interviews;
I hate cold quoting.
(I am not a “Woman on the Street” type.)

I love Valentine’s Day now that I’m married;
I hated it when I was single.
(Still think it’s stupid, only I get stuff now.)

I hate things about this life,
but I love my life,
& live without regrets,
for to change the smallest thing
might have changed everything.

Makeup on Empty Space: Poetry Reading Night

“Poetry can be a transmission to help you notice things.”
–Anne Waldman, 22 April 2017, Pensacola State College, at The Lyceum

Last night, I attended a poetry reading by poet, Anne Waldman, whose workshop I attended Friday.  I don’t write about these things so much to report, but rather to highlight the impact the event had on me.

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Anne’s son, Ambrose Bye, played the piano, which added to the ambiance, and behind them, flashed images of what she called a “family album”, or “honorary album”–pictures of poets, brain diagrams (which the medical student in me appreciated), indigenous peoples, nature (and perhaps environmental devastation–I’m not sure), so one could say that Anne had the three “poeias” down (words, music, images). 

One of the lines that captured me was “her century needed her to see above the height of the grass” which conjured up images of antitheses to anti-Christs (the latter who may always come in the form of a man).

Her poetry was written (and performed, rather than recited) in a woman’s spirit.  It wasn’t even her words so much that moved me, but the musicality of her words.  At heart, I am a storyteller; I like characters, and so many of my poems read like stories, so I saw, or rather heard, the expression of poetry in a new way.

The only thing that wasn’t for me were the chants, because it reminded me of speaking in tongues (except hers weren’t creepy).

She opened with singing the “Anthropocene Blues,” which sounded like an old-time religion church hymn.  (Btw, anthropocene is the name for the geological time we’re living in, where mankind has a significant impact on the environment.)

She also spoke on the theme of “archive,” which she defined as “an antithesis to a war on memory.”  We are living in a technological age where our words will be out there forever, which makes me very happy as a writer, but probably wouldn’t if I were a politician.  Politicians often wage a “war on memory” by trying to con their constituents/employers, saying they never said (insert inflammatory statement) if they did, as there is usually video to back it up.

Her poem on suffering was recited in a way that made me think of bullets being shot or bombs being dropped in rapid succession.  No, we don’t want to be seen as the age when people were killing each other or destroying the planet, though every age since the beginning of time can claim the mantle of the former.  We just have the power now to execute the latter.

One of Anne’s refrains was “pushing against the darkness”; I think of poetry as a way of illuminating the world.  It is the color where there is only black-and-white.  (The movie Pleasantville comes to mind.)

She recited what she called a “feminist love poem” about the g-spot (reminiscent of an apostrophe poem), which she described as a “genie trapped in a bottle.”

I concur.

I learned that the manatee is related to the elephant, and what human doesn’t love a herbivorous animal and one that won’t kill you for the hell of it?  She made a good point about man having no use for the manatee, which I took as an allegory for how humans judge one another’s worth–by their perceived usefulness or productivity (even to them).

Because racehorses have use for man, men breed them.

There was a question-and-answer session at the end, and, as Jamey Jones, the local Poet Laureate put it, “Anne really cares.”  She believes in her work, and that poets can change the world.

I will say that it already has, for is not the Bible a book of poetry?  Does that mean something has to be packaged as religion, or absolute truth, to change the world?

Something to think about.

The Integumentary System

Integument

From ivory to ebony,
it is what the world sees first.
Symbolic of heritage and health,
it advances with age—
the more lines,
the longer the timeline.

Twenty-two square feet of a durable, elastic material,
sometimes marred with scars,
freckles,
or other marks.
It drapes our muscles,
our bones—
a cutaneous covering
that masks the workings underneath.

In shades of white-blond
to tar-black,
it is a glorious crown;
sometimes it’s sensitive
and has a bad day.
Some is fine and straight,
others, kinky,
both enduring color and heat
in the name of beauty.
It frames the eyes like fans,
adding ten years to young men’s faces,
or falls out,
adding ten years to old men’s heads.

It was the glory of Samson,
Rapunzel’s ladder,
Jo March’s independent currency.
It is shaved in protest and
in camaraderie for others with cancer;
it is refrained from clipping for salvation’s sake,
even as it is sold for its preciousness.

The weapons of mass seduction,
painted in assorted colors,
and sometimes the indigestible chew
of a nervous habit.
Whether weapons in defense of rape,
or the branding tools of mates during orgasm,
they are the crescent moons
that grow from our fingers.

It is the cover we wear—
our identity—
easily changed through chemicals,
contacts,
or surgery.

It encompasses the cup fillings
that nourish the children,
that make children of men—
these soft globes
that must not move
in polite society.

For some women,
it must all be covered,
for it offends the men
who believe in a God
that created such heavenly creatures.

Originally published in The Kilgore Review, Pensacola State College, 2018

Book Review: Little Women

 

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I was around ten years old the first time I tried reading “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott.  I was at my grandparents’ house for the summer, and they had a set of “Reader’s Digest Condensed Books”.  I remember reading a bit, and quickly losing interest.  Then, when I was in my early twenties, I tried again, having just watched the June Allyson version of “Little Women” (1949), but after reading maybe a chapter or two, put it down again.  The story seemed to lack vitality then, and I finally forced myself to read 33% of the book (according to Kindle), though I had wanted to give up at 25%.  I’ve been wanting to write a modern version of the story, and felt I needed to read the actual book, get the big picture, rather than just the details on Wikipedia, SparkNotes, etc.

I am craving a good book right now.  “Little Women” doesn’t have anything going for it in terms of plot, characterization, or even locale (which is why I read Elin Hilderbrand’s books).  Even though we are told (rather than shown) how unique each girl is, they are bland as vanilla pudding, and the moralizing is a bit heavy-handed.  Marmee (what the girls call their mother) seems to have more “teachable” moments with her girls than candid ones.

What killed the book for me completely was all the inanity.  We are barely introduced to the girls before they have one of what one calls their “dressing-up frolics”, and we are subjected to some play young Jo wrote about characters named Roderigo, Hugo, Don Pedro, etc., which we come back to a second time, complete with some odd poem.  I have never been a fan of a “story within a story”—it comes across as padding and is never as interesting as the actual story (and that isn’t saying much).  This goes on for pages!  (Okay, maybe I didn’t quite read 33%, because I skipped through all of this.)

Then we get to “The Pickwick Club”—the girls’ secret society—in which a periodical of some sort, “The Pickwick Portfolio”, is read.  Pages and pages of awful prose.  I tried, but skipped almost all of it.  Every time an author inserts one of these “padding devices”, as I call them, it draws one out of the story—it’s like getting a flat tire on a long trip and having to pass the time by playing “Eye Spy”.

The last straw for me was at the picnic (chapter named “Camp Laurence”) when the guests play “Rig-marole” (where “one person begins a story, any nonsense you like, and tells as long as he pleases, only taking care to stop short at some exciting point, when the next takes it up and does the same”).  Again, pages and pages of painful drivel.  I forced myself to read more after this, but I felt, having read at least a third (probably closer to a quarter because of the portions I skipped), I could write a legitimate review.  After all, if a food critic cannot finish a dish because it tastes so bad, why can’t a book reviewer review a book she at least took several bites (or read several chapters) of?