A phrase released can never be unsaid –
it radiates beyond the mouth and mind,
and particles of sense display, instead,
the bits the sayer might have left behind,
if thought and strategy preceded tongue,
and magic were respected in the word.
For language is the light we loose among
ourselves, no sooner voiced than blared or blurred.
The speaker says “I take it back” in vain,
and must accept the shape the message made.
And this when most reaction isn’t plain,
but tends to angle off from what conveyed
the impetus for speaking out at all,
the words the speaker rarely can recall.
My daughter doesn’t want a poem to rhyme,
and meter makes her chant the words she reads.
She’d rather voice atonally, and time
her syllables to sanguinary needs.
She’s eager for the shock of the profane,
the punch perverse, the twist of shifted signs,
and little cares if content can explain,
as long as sound and fury fill the lines.
Her mother’s poetry can never please her
regardless of its purpose and intent,
its code as disciplined as any Morse.
It can’t do more than irritate and tease her
when it avoids a blurt for excrement,
or slang for metaphor for intercourse.
You’re beautiful, although you do your best
to broadcast unattractive with your style:
the glaring hair, attire always messed,
and indignation overruling smile.
My parents sang to me the same old song,
and I contested angrily like you,
and even though I knew my folks were wrong,
I caught a bit of wisdom from their view.
Now I don’t think your image summons those
with whom I wish you’d never socialize –
it’s your own hair, and sure you can compose
yourself – but if you choose to cross your eyes,
my mom says “Watch it! You might freeze that way”
(for habits of expression tend to stay).
The man-child misbehaves again at school;
his sister strives to look a little worse.
December is too busy, festive, cruel –
until the solstice self must be immersed
in working and performing for a role
I challenge and resent with all my heart.
I wobble nearly out of self-control.
It feels like I can’t savor any part.
So here am I, full-occupied today
with shopping, entertaining, office chores.
I sprayed the dog and then she ran away.
My glasses lost their temple screw once more.
I feel so overloaded I could shout,
so stress and feet and syllables pour out.
You walk to work each morning, in a way –
a mile to the train and then a ride –
and often that’s the best part of your day:
a gentle trek when you can look inside
yourself, articulate and plow the air
as fresh as rain with purpose and with pride.
You feel as if you cleave the atmosphere,
like Moses come to separate the tide.
Impelled by anger, joy or other frame
of mind, you travel on the fullest length
of both your legs – you’re striding and you’re game
for any path that demonstrates your strength.
Around you harried drivers thumb controls
of wont, and hunch within their cars like moles.
When I was young I wanted to be male.
How genital equipment could create
profound discrepancy I’d weekly fail
to comprehend. But it appeared my fate
would be to linger kitchenbound like Mom
at parties, talking babies, food and health;
applying makeup, dreaming of the prom;
while all the men had news, prestige, and wealth.
I learned then what it’s like to be perceived
as weak and sweet and passive, classified
a maiden, my directness disbelieved,
my strength distrusted, dirtied, or denied.
I found out how unfair assumptions are
(like those of each religion organized
by men) and more, I understood they’re far
from being true, and worthless as devised.
When I was young I wanted to be male –
Perhaps I intersected history,
when women walk outside without a veil,
and girls are manifesting destiny.
A woken woman’s walking up the street
too early on a winter working day.
She’s hauled along by eager canine feet,
as ever up for exercise-is-play.
The woman carries coffee in a cup
that keeps it warm and won’t allow a spill.
She sips the brew intending to wake up,
in pauses as she climbs the gentle hill.
And then she arcs the tennis ball away,
beholds the flash of bounding muscled mass,
and marvels at the sparkle in the spray,
as dashing dewdrops splash above the grass.
Returning home, while yet the woman yawns,
her dog is grazing water from the lawns.