Monday, September 29, 2014

On Defining Rape to my Sixteen Year Old Daughter

My poetry is simply
one woman's story
There's no doubt
in my mind
when the soul enters
as Goddess of my Universe
I decide
whether by rape, incest
out of wedlock or within
troubled of happy
as Goddess of my Universe
I decide
a choice
I stand to lose
a prisoner of conscience
I may become.

and so I wrote
on defining rape to my 16 year old daughter
not the president
not the police
not the doctor
not the priest
as Goddess of my Univers
I decide.

On Defining Rape to my Sixteen Year Old Daughter

It was the fact that
she didn't spend the night with a girlfriend
as planned
she spent the night with a boyfriend
that made me furious

"But mom, I didn't think anything would happen
or anyone would find our."

Of course not, darling
you were silence
you didn't tell a sour
and he did
first thing after he dropped you off
don't you know how boys talk?

It's not your virginity
it's your integrity
I feared lost
and baby
that's all we've got

You know what it is that mothers fear most?
it's not that you're made sweet love to
it's that he'll know all the right words
and make all the right moves
and that he'll want it
and you won't want to give it to him
and he'll take it anyway.

You know what that's called, darling?
and no one ever goes to jail for it
even though it's just as bad

and it's the fact that
it happens a lot
that makes me furious.

Equal Spread

Birth control is always an issue.  I so welcomed menopause.

Equal Spread

Well I just won’t do it
do sex anymore

but it’s all sex
my daddy said
if you want to keep your man
it’s all sex
you want to keep your man
don’t give him no cause to run around
it’s all sex baby

so I ask myself
what’s a woman to do
castrate, mutilate or self pollute
continue to try discipline and self control
or just don’t do it.

how many times have I laid upon that table
and spread my legs
fifteen times at least for each child
that’s sixty
once a year for twenty fertile years
that’s eighty
four cuts and stitches
pain killing shots and drugs
I even had the contents sucked out twice.

you’d think just once
he’d lay upon that table
spread his legs
and cut that flow.
© 1984

On Feeling Like a Shitty Mother

In 1984 I had just read Adrienne Rich's book "Of Woman Born."  She said that until women start writing the truth about there experience, no matter how painful, no one will know the truth about women.  So I did. 

On Feeling Like a Shitty Mother

Sitting at the kitchen table
my face is on fire

or is it stress?

I can barely write
my writst won’t move

we just took her to the airport
my fourteen year old daughter
she’s been living with her father
for the past nine years

one week just wasn’t enough

I  cried
I never cried before when she left
I tried to hold back the tears
what the fuck, I said
just let them flow

I cried for being such a shitty mother
for leaving her when she was five
for her wanting me to come back
and I never did
for not hearing her sing in the choir
for  not seeing her lead cheers
or play basket ball
for not being there when she came home from school
for not listening to her tell me what’s going on in her life

I cried
and the tears rolled down my face the salt set my skin on fire

What a wreck, I said
what a mess
red circles around puffy eyes
red streaks down each side my nose
and all along my jaw

one week just wasn’t enough

part II

sitting at the kitchen table
my face is on fire

my three year old asks me questions incessantly

what is this?

I keep writing

What is this?

I keep writing
I just don’t want to deal with him right now

What is this?  he asks again

 plunger, for when the toilet gets stopped up

but what is this?

and I snap
I just told you! it is a plunger
enunciating every syllable
wanting to scream

my face is on fire

I’m angry at this father
why is he here?
I want to call him up and demand his appearance
right now!

And when father finally arrives
son wants to play with him constantly
and I want to talk to father
and son and I fight for father’s attention
and father leaves

what’s the use?
of anything?

It’s a gray day
the kitchen’s a mess
as usual

my face is on fire

I have to talk to the IRS tomorrow
I am a delinquent taxpayer
and my bank account is overdrawn

I can’t pay you as much as I said I would
I told the woman on the phone

You mean you defaulted? She asks.

Well, yes, I guess so I answered
thinking how criminal that sounded
been spending too much time
worrying about who my husband was fucking
instead of tending to business
I wanted to tell her

But what did she care

We’re back to the old routine now
he’s not fucking her anymore
I gave him an ultimatum

It’s either her or me
I’m not risking any disease

Part III

mommie,  I’m hungry

I keep writing

mommie, I’m hungry

I keep writing

And he starts tugging at my arm
mommie I’m hungry

and I snap again
alright! What do you want?

a banana

more tears
and the salt burns
my face is on fire

and I cried again
for being such a shitty mother
© 1984

This is my first chapbook published in 1986.  I had to type it up, cut it up, paste it up and take it to Kinkos and make copies for the pages of the book.  The image is a drawing by Madelaine Enochs of a depression era photograph by Dorothea Lange. 


No Credit

No Credit
I’ve got no credit

they levied my account today
the IRS
took out all my money
can’t pay my bills
the money’s all gone
and I’m overdrawn

well then lady
you got no credit
can’t lend you no money
‘cause you got no credit

how come you don’t pay your taxes when due?

‘cause they’re too high
when you got babies
they’re too high

didn’t have no food
the day the taxes was due
so I used all the money
fed the babies instead

got no credit
and the baby got sick
took him to the doctor
and the doctor said
need my money today, lady
need my money today . . .


I haven’t got the money today
I said
I need help

You gotta job lady
you gotta W-2
no help for you
gotta be down and out
before the man
who pays the tax man
comes thru for you


business is good now
money comin’ in
pay the taxes every month
and the balance goes up

it’s penalty and interest
they say
I don’t send enough
their way

how do I get out of this mess? I ask
save save save my daddy said
save 10% says the book I read

I will

business is slow now
snowed all day and the day before
gotta pay the rent
gotta pay for the heat

another baby’s comin’
can’t work all day
didn’t want my tubes tied
don’t want to suck it out
there’s gotta be another way

they levied my account again today
the IRS
took out all my money
how’d I get in this mess?

Is it too many babies?

Well I want to say
to the tas man
these babies aren’t
just for me

to the tax man
I want to say
in 25 years
when you’re old and gray
whose gonna change your bedpan?

Punk at three and a half

            Punk at three and a half

            We got a note from his teacher
            I mean, he’s only three and a half

            It’s the sillies, she said
            he’s got the sillies
            he won’t settle down
            and do his work
            he’s just too silly
            having too much fun
            he doesn’t seem to know
            what is socially unacceptable.

            I’ve been wondering what would happen
            all this freedom he’s been having
            I never say no
            it’s morally wrong
            physically damaging.

            So this is how he turned out
            too silly.

            What is socially unacceptable, anyway?
            I ask.

            Playing in his food.

            Interesting, I say, considering
            his favorite friend is an artist
            and she calls food art
            and Hershey’s syrup food paint.

            Maybe he’s making food art?

            And about his hair
            maybe it would be better
            if he didn’t get it cut so short
            it disrupts the class
            the children gather ‘round him
            what did you do to your hair?  
            they ask
            and they all want to touch it.

            Oh my God
            they want to touch him?

            He’s the one who wants it cut so short
            do you think it could be
            he likes to be touched?

            So this is how he turned out
            too silly
            having too much fun
            and he likes to be touched

            What is socially unacceptable
            anyway?  (c) 1984

If you're the child of a writer you can expect that at some point you will be written about.  It's easier when the kids are young.  It gets harder as they get older.  I'm not sure why that is.  Maybe when they are younger it's expected that the parent will have opinions.  When the kids get older those opinions are more open for debate.  And it's not that you don't want to debate them.  Just not with your kids.



Sunday, September 28, 2014

An Answer to a Child’s Cry

How do we answer all our children and grand children's question?  I wrote An Answer to a Child's Cry many years ago.  Recently my daughter, Dana, the mother of my grandson's pictured above, asked for a copy.  "You should make a blog of your poetry," she suggested.
An Answer to a Child’s Cry

You are unique, darlin’
Unique at this very moment
The way you dress
The way you write
The smile you share
You are an original
There are not duplicates
There is no one to compete with
You are unique
And you have a unique
Relationship with God
Your are meant to be eternal
To live forever

So listen
Listen to the distant echo
Calling to your soul
Be yourself and get
That this is it

There are no more tomorrows
Get that this is it
And the journey begins
The race is on
The choice yours
The goal faith
You know
The don’t worry
Everything will be all right faith
Get the faith
Get the don’t worry
And you’re home free

Get the this is it
Give thanks for what you’ve got
Imagine what you want
And you’re home free

Then your real life begins
Your life of growth
‘cause when you’re growing
you are living life to its fullest
and growth is where it’s at, darlin’
so take a chance and grow

there’s no need to worry
you got the faith
you got the
don’t worry
every thing will be all right faith

being here now
the passage to growth

the passage growth
the way it is

the way it
this is it

get that this is it
and the journey begins
the growth begins

. . .and through it all
through all the growth
through all the change
who you are
remains the same
in the presence of change

. . .and the gift you give
is being committed
to doing good
to living love.