Saw you walking barefoot
taking a long look
at the new moon’s eyelid

later spread
sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
asleep but not oblivious
of the unslept unsleeping
elsewhere

Tonight I think
no poetry
will serve

Syntax of rendition:

verb pilots the plane
adverb modifies action

verb force – feeds noun
submerges the subject
noun is choking
verb   disgraced   goes on doing

now diagram the sentence

Adrienne Rich

Writing is re-naming

February 11, 2020

You have to be free to play around with the notion that day might be night, love might be hate; nothing can be too sacred for the imagination to turn into its opposite or to call experimentally by another name. For writing is re-naming.

Adrienne Rich
When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision

all those poems about women, written by men: it seemed to be a given that men wrote poems and women…inhabited them. These women were almost always beautiful, but threatened with the loss of beauty, the loss of youth…Or they were beautiful and died young, like Lucy and Lenore. Or…cruel…and the poem reproached her because she had refused to become a luxury for the poet…the girl or woman who tries to write… is peculiarly susceptible to language. She goes to poetry or fiction looking for her way of being in the world…she is looking eagerly for guides, maps, possibilities; and over and over…she comes up against something that negates everything she is about… She finds a terror and a dream…a Belle Dame Sans Merci…but precisely what she does not find is that absorbed, drudging, puzzled, sometimes inspiring creature, herself.

Adrienne Rich
When We Dead Awake: Writing as Re-vision

A dream of wine

all those poems about women, written by men: it seemed to be a given that men wrote poems and women…inhabited them. These women were almost always beautiful, but threatened with the loss of beauty, the loss of youth…Or they were beautiful and died young, like Lucy and Lenore. Or…cruel…and the poem reproached her because she had refused to become a luxury for the poet…the girl or woman who tries to write…is peculiarly susceptible to language. She goes to poetry or fiction looking for her way of being in the world…she is looking eagerly for guides, maps, possibilities; and over and over…she comes up against something that negates everything she is about…She finds a terror and a dream…La Belle Dame Sans Merci…but precisely what she does not find is that absorbed, drudging, puzzled, sometimes inspiring creature, herself.

Adrienne Rich
When we dead awaken: Writing as re-vision

Planetarium

October 11, 2017

 

Thinking of Caroline Herschel (1750—1848)
astronomer, sister of William; and others.

 

A woman in the shape of a monster   

a monster in the shape of a woman   

the skies are full of them

a woman      ‘in the snow

among the Clocks and instruments   

or measuring the ground with poles’

in her 98 years to discover   

8 comets

she whom the moon ruled   

like us

levitating into the night sky   

riding the polished lenses

Galaxies of women, there

doing penance for impetuousness   

ribs chilled   

in those spaces    of the mind

An eye,

          ‘virile, precise and absolutely certain’

          from the mad webs of Uranusborg

                                                            encountering the NOVA   

every impulse of light exploding

from the core

as life flies out of us

             Tycho whispering at last

             ‘Let me not seem to have lived in vain’

What we see, we see   

and seeing is changing

the light that shrivels a mountain   

and leaves a man alive

Heartbeat of the pulsar

heart sweating through my body

The radio impulse   

pouring in from Taurus

         I am bombarded yet         I stand

I have been standing all my life in the   

direct path of a battery of signals

the most accurately transmitted most   

untranslatable language in the universe

I am a galactic cloud so deep      so invo-

luted that a light wave could take 15   

years to travel through me       And has   

taken      I am an instrument in the shape   

of a woman trying to translate pulsations   

into images    for the relief of the body   

and the reconstruction of the mind.

Adrienne Rich

 

Living in Sin

February 5, 2016

kissing in the moonlight

She had thought the studio would keep itself;
no dust upon the furniture of love.
Half heresy, to wish the taps less vocal,
the panes relieved of grime. A plate of pears,
a piano with a Persian shawl, a cat
stalking the picturesque amusing mouse
had risen at his urging.
Not that at five each separate stair would writhe
under the milkman’s tramp; that morning light
so coldly would delineate the scraps
of last night’s cheese and three sepulchral bottles;
that on the kitchen shelf among the saucers
a pair of beetle-eyes would fix her own –
envoy from some village in the moldings . . .
Meanwhile, he, with a yawn,
sounded a dozen notes upon the keyboard,
declared it out of tune, shrugged at the mirror,
rubbed at his beard, went out for cigarettes;
while she, jeered by the minor demons,
pulled back the sheets and made the bed and found
a towel to dust the table-top,
and let the coffee-pot boil over on the stove.
By evening she was back in love again,
though not so wholly but throughout the night
she woke sometimes to feel the daylight coming
like a relentless milkman up the stairs.

Adrienne Rich

Leaflets

January 22, 2016

Fox

Birds and periodic blood.
Old recapitulations.
The fox, panting, fire-eyed,
gone to earth in my chest.
How beautiful we are,
he and I, with our auburn
pelts, our trails of blood,
our miracle escapes,
our whiplash panic flogging us on
to new miracles!
They’ve supplied us with pills
for bleeding, pills for panic.
Wash them down the sink.
This is truth, then:
dull needle groping for the spinal fluid,
weak acid in the bottom of the cup,
foreboding, foreboding.
No one tells the truth about truth,
that it’s what the fox
sees from his scuffled burrow:
dull-jawed, onrushing
killer, being that
inanely single-minded
will have our skins at last.

Adrienne Rich

Rape

December 13, 2015

Rape

There is a cop who is both prowler and father:
he comes from your block, grew up with your brothers,
had certain ideals.
You hardly know him in his boots and silver badge,
on horseback, one hand touching his gun.
You hardly know him but you have to get to know him:
he has access to machinery that could kill you.
He and his stallion clop like warlords among the trash,
his ideals stand in the air, a frozen cloud
from between his unsmiling lips.
And so, when the time comes, you have to turn to him,
the maniac’s sperm still greasing your thighs,
your mind whirling like crazy. You have to confess
to him, you are guilty of the crime
of having been forced.
And you see his blue eyes, the blue eyes of all the family
whom you used to know, grow narrow and glisten,
his hand types out the details
and he wants them all
but the hysteria in your voice pleases him best.
You hardly know him but now he thinks he knows you:
he has taken down your worst moment
on a machine and filed it in a file.
He knows, or thinks he knows, how much you imagined;
he knows, or thinks he knows, what you secretly wanted.
He has access to machinery that could get you put away;
and if, in the sickening light of the precinct,
and if, in the sickening light of the precinct,
your details sound like a portrait of your confessor,
will you swallow, will you deny them, will you lie your way home?

Adrienne Rich

Diving into the Wreck

August 26, 2015

girlunderwater

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.

Otherwise
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

Adrienne Rich

(Adrienne Rich needs no introduction. She was “one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century”. Enough said)

Poetry….

May 15, 2015

inflight

“Poetry is above all a concentration of the power of language, which is the power of our ultimate relationship to everything in the universe. It is as if forces we can lay claim to in no other way, become present to us in sensuous form. The knowledge and use of this magic goes back very far: the rune; the chant; the incantation; the spell; the kenning; sacred words; forbidden words; the naming of the child, the plant, the insect, the ocean, the configuration of stars, the snow, the sensation in the body. The ritual telling of the dream. The physical reality of the human voice; of words gouged or incised in stone or wood, woven in silk or wool, painted on vellum, or traced in sand.”

Adrienne Rich
Power and Danger: Works of a Common Woman