Little Red Cap

December 24, 2019

At childhood’s end, the houses petered out
Into playing fields, the factory, allotments
Kept, like mistresses, by kneeling married men
The silent railway line, the hermit’s caravan
Till you came at last to the edge of the woods
It was there that I first clapped eyes on the wolf

He stood in a clearing, reading his verse out loud
In his wolfy drawl, a paperback in his hairy paw
Red wine staining his bearded jaw. What big ears
He had! What big eyes he had! What teeth!
In the interval, I made quite sure he spotted me
Sweet sixteen, never been, babe, waif, and bought me a drink

My first. You might ask why. Here’s why. Poetry
The wolf, I knew, would lead me deep into the woods
Away from home, to a dark tangled thorny place
Lit by the eyes of owls. I crawled in his wake
My stockings ripped to shreds, scraps of red from my blazer
Snagged on twig and branch, murder clues. I lost both shoes

But got there, wolf’s lair, better beware. Lesson one that night
Breath of the wolf in my ear, was the love poem
I clung till dawn to his thrashing fur, for
What little girl doesn’t dearly love a wolf?1
Then I slid from between his heavy matted paws
And went in search of a living bird – white dove –

Which flew, straight, from my hands to his open mouth
One bite, dead. How nice, breakfast in bed, he said
Licking his chops. As soon as he slept, I crept to the back
Of the lair, where a whole wall was crimson, gold, aglow with books
Words, words were truly alive on the tongue, in the head
Warm, beating, frantic, winged; music and blood

But then I was young – and it took ten years
In the woods to tell that a mushroom
Stoppers the mouth of a buried corpse, that birds
Are the uttered thought of trees, that a greying wolf
Howls the same old song at the moon, year in, year out
Season after season, same rhyme, same reason. I took an axe

To a willow to see how it wept. I took an axe to a salmon
To see how it leapt. I took an axe to the wolf
As he slept, one chop, scrotum to throat, and saw
The glistening, virgin white of my grandmother’s bones
I filled his old belly with stones. I stitched him up
Out of the forest I come with my flowers, singing, all alone

Carol Ann Duffy

The Word ‘Cunt’

December 24, 2019

The word cunt and humble beginnings
do not go hand in hand:
the first gal, way before Eve, Sheela,
stooped down into the birthing position
and spread her lips like sunshine on snow,
like sand on the ocean bottom,
like honey around a spoon,
like truth fluttering like wings to escape the cave.
The word cunt, once a proud word used by many,
once an old Norse term, Kunta, simply meaning vulva,
has been forced into the shadows of shame,
shoved to the trenches of indecency.
Once, many an Old Norse woman shuffled over to the village medicine doctor,
said, hey, doc, I need an herb or two to soothe this kunta of mine,
what with the fifth born,
what with my tribal husband leaving,
beating his hairy knuckles against the enemies’ doors, eventually
losing his crusade against the Angles, the Saxons, the Jutes,
and then
did we have hell to pay. What with St. Augustine and his cronies discrediting our language, our strength, all because he was afraid of St. Teresa in a g-string.
Never do we hear this most venerable of words
uttered on the holiest of pastimes,
the TV.
To do so
would be immoral,
indecent,
insensitive,
enticing,
afraid we might get strong again,
vilify the cock and ball, back into submission.
We wear the mask you gave us.
Call it burka; call it Cover Girl;
Call it Maybelline;
it’s all the same when you scrape
the blameless pea, button, pearl, either with knives or pantyhose.
So, next time, girls,
some guy spits his forked tongue at you
because you don’t warm up to his advances,
sidle up to his lewd expectations, and hisses
cunt, remind him where he came from.
Tell him.
“Oh yes,
remember me – I am the woman
god warned you about.”

Michelle A. Ladwig

live in the world of dreams

December 24, 2019

I dream. Sometimes I think that’s the only right thing to do. To dream, to live in the world of dreams. But it doesn’t last forever. Wakefulness always comes to take me back.

Haruki Murakami
Sputnik Sweetheart

A sensitive and honest-minded man, if he’s concerned about evil and injustice in the world, will naturally begin his campaign against them by eliminating them at their nearest source: his own person. This task will take his entire life.

Fernando Pessoa
The Book of Disquiet

the dead

December 24, 2019

The ancient Greeks believed that when you read aloud, it was actually the dead, borrowing your tongue, in order to speak again.

Ruth Ozeki
A Tale for the Time Being

equal the experience

December 24, 2019

Poetry is an orphan of silence. The words never quite equal the experience behind them.

Charles Simic
The Uncertain Certainty: Interviews, Essays, and Notes on Poetry

On the doorstep, Corbyn went down like a bucket of cold sick. I voted for him, I like him, the electorate do not – we needed to realise and act sooner – not by creating more factionalism and division, but by Corbyn himself backing a unity candidate to take over.

Things may have turned out differently had this happened sooner, it needs to happen now.

Sarah Williams
London-centrism and a manifesto the size of a novel: a Labour candidate on what went wrong
Left Foot Forward