“cutting greens” by lucille clifton

Made some sauerkraut today with green cabbages, beets, carrots, scallions, and cumin. It’s getting acquainted with itself in 2 crocks on the bookshelf.

& then I remembered this poem. (& then I also found out that lucille clifton has written many books for children (!) and put the first one on my “birthday presents for baby” list.)


cutting greens

curling them around
i hold their bodies in obscene embrace
thinking of everything but kinship.
collards and kale
strain against each strange other
away from my kissmaking hand and
the iron bedpot.
the pot is black,
the cutting board is black,
my hand,
and just for a minute
the greens roll black under the knife,
and the kitchen twists dark on its spine
and I taste in my natural appetite
the bond of live things everywhere.

— Lucille Clifton

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Poem: “During the Middle Ages” by Camille Guthrie

Went to a Literary North event w/ a friend on Saturday featuring the poet Camille Guthrie and the short fiction writer Peter Orner, both of whom are smart lovely people who shared memorable sentences with us (a small audience/thirsty for their thoughts and works/ready with our questions).

As usual I almost enjoyed the talk about the writing as much as the writing itself. And then on the way home I read this poem out loud to my friend as she drove and we LAUGHED and we SNORTED and we LAUGHED and cried “Genius!” and LAUGHED.


During the Middle Ages

O God I am so fat
I cry all the time
A kitten scrubbed with a toothbrush online makes me sob
I’m so heartless seven species of bees
Are now endangered and I didn’t do a thing
Didn’t even send any money
To anybody doing any good
And I can’t lose any weight I skipped yoga
I’m so hot all the time so broke
So pathetic no wise investments
Should’ve bought a 7-Eleven on a busy corner
When I was seven or eleven
Nobody wants to lick my neck
Nobody wants to hold my hand at the doctor’s office
Nobody to grow old with me I’m so crabby
To pluck my beard feed the cat I don’t have
And read me endless Russian novels at night
All the ones I still haven’t got to so greatly depressing
Where are you handsome? Are you
Driving in your car to come visit me
Bringing a bottle of wine & a present so gallant?
A new translation of Akhmatova? I love it!
No? Well, I guess it’s better than living
In the real Middle Ages when
Some shithead priest threatens you with hell
To pocket your last coin and there’s no Tylenol
So you have to suck on some skullcap seeds
And knights race around knocking you down
To take your maidenhood with pointy lances
And you have to work as a midwife with no birthing tub
Nobody washes their hands or votes
Nobody knows about DNA or PMS
There’s nothing to read even if you can read
Except boring doctrines or Spiritual Exercises
By Gertrude the Great, I’m not even kidding
Yes, there’s Dante Chaucer and some sagas
But it’s not like you’d get near those books
You’d be lucky to have some jerk recite the latest
By Wulfstan the Cantor by campfire
Before he beheads your uncles
And forces you to rub salve on his abs
You know you’d be sweating in a field at twenty-two
Dying from your tenth pregnancy by the bailiff
Courtly love? Not a lot of it I bet
Some doctor would drill a hole in my head
To let the demons out because I’d be full
Of black bile as I am today
It would be a very hard time
When the sun revolves around the earth
And kings are just unbelievably selfish
And it’ll be a really long time before Pop Art
And meerkat videos and cotton candy
And Kurosawa and fish tacos and girl bands
Everything’s just so bad and you have buboes
Hopefully I’d get shoved into a nunnery
To have some ecstatic experience with mystical Jesus
Or better I could be a hardcore samurai
Laying down justice on the heads of corrupt lords
But that was tough work, dirty work
You’re working for nobility who at any period
In history are the worst people in the world
And to be an unemployed ronin was lonely
Even if all the brothel ladies offer to scrub your back
Sometimes you just want a nice nap
And some Neosporin on your wounds
If only I could be like the divine Sei Shōnagon
Resplendent in silks with seven-layered sleeves
Writing in my room about politics and my lovers
I wish okay I could be her servant
Dusting the ink stone and fluffing her pillow
But even she found many hateful things
About living in the middle ages
Like crying babies messy guests and mansplainers
So irritating even way back then
You better shut up and take your medicine

— Camille Guthrie

“What Kind of Times Are These” (poem by Adrienne Rich)

What Kind of Times Are These

There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it’s necessary
to talk about trees.

— Adrienne Rich

Freelance poem (mine).

I work from home now

and I’m jamming to this song today

because Margot recommended it

and Margot knows what to pay

attention to. No, I don’t know Margot

but I know other women

who create television and funny mugs

plus my cousin-in-law

is the dude in the vest.

I’ve written a lot about vests;

haikus mostly, and desperate texts.

A vest is like a hug

for your chest, I’ve been known

to sigh, my core warm, my style fly.

 

Springtime poem (mine).

It’s springtime,

fling yourself
into the green
time, in the
meantime,
while there’s still
time, it’s clean
time, out with
what we don’t need
time, you know
what I mean:
let’s deem ourselves
better than fine,
let’s drink the last
sip of winter’s
wine.

gossamer dandelion

photo by Misha M. Johnson

Solstice Morning Poem (mine).

Monday morning. Lipstick, dirty hair. Reading articles about books
I already love and want to return to disguised as another woman.

Glowy gray winter sky glinting off the car parked outside, giant
spools of electric cord hidden behind. Christmas songs on the radio,

the rape-y ones (“I really can’t stay” “But baby it’s cold outside”)
interspersed with the others. Yellow coffee cup with one cold sip

remaining and the impending refill. Holiday cards taped to the wall
in a collage of those who love us for our purchasing patterns. Ten AM

on the winter solstice and the postal service workers are hustling
to make it in time for Christmas. I’ve been wearing this blue shirtdress

for three days and it’s time for a wash. All astrological signs pointed
to career success this month but where’s the proof. Holiday treats

thrust at me from everywhere; I accept. Flip my greasy hair
to the other side of my head; I let it lie where it lands.

“Wish for a Thursday” (poem) (mine).

Wish for a Thursday

In a soulmate we find not company, but a completed solitude. -Robert Brault

What I would’ve give to be settling in to eat breakfast
at Eaton’s Sugarhouse with you. The sky would offer
no commentary as we stripped off our scarves, unlatched
our jackets. We’d slouch a little in the chairs designed
for hunters on opening day of rifle season, for families
who’ve fed their cows hay from their own fields
for generations. We’re not those people; we’d only be
ourselves on a Thursday, a little sleepy still from summer’s
hot swipe of mayhem which we survived with long porch
lunches, sweaty bandanas, tulsi-scented winds. The windows
which appear cloudy from the road would be adorned
with hand-sewn curtains as if the diner were a living room
where anyone’s languor was welcome. Plates full of food
would arrive and greet our noses with their names.
We’d eat eggs and hot sauce over toast and split an order
of buckwheat waffles. It wouldn’t be the best meal
we’d ever eaten, not even the second best, but we’d be
unhurried and together: buttering toast, passing ketchup.