An Eden of unnecessary
women who worship Lilith,
the goddess of the other place,
where a woman can eat apples,
serpents twined around her arms
like jeweled bands. A matching crown
caresses a brimming head empty of guilt,
full of knowledge, her fist just as filled
as her head, with both autonomy and life.
him all Jack Keroac and shit
his biography an artist’s cliche
oh he told a good anecdote yes
took her to his garrett to see the view
she let him dry her with skin and lips
all happy in the moment he kissed her hair
her all this is only just for now you know
an ephemeral spring so drink up fast
when it ended she hardly noticed lost
so was she in grief for pretty words
mirror shards piled like minnowy regrets
all caught up in the moment she almost knew
“Him all Jack Kerouac and shit” was previously published in I Am South (Virgogray Press).
Once there were women who made many kings
by taking their mates
The tacit memory of them inhabits me
like stones left to mark my way
Blood of northern tribes undeniably runs
through my body
My hair is reddish and my skin pale
with caramel flecks
But I am South
Gravity pulled me from north to south
to find some truer self
South is where I learned to swallow
Pablo Neruda like rum
Where time stretches out like a bus trip
in exotic lands
And South is where I both swear and sweat
There is antiquity here everywhere
and I have become part of it
Inscrutable past etched across desertscapes
like ghost buttes
The scattered detritus of other lives lived
and other loves
Effulgent planes and circles circling out
through time and space
like ephemeral water
The humid kiss of desert stones
I am South
an earlier version of “I am South” was previously published inI Am South (Virgogray Press).
Speak the Language of the Land is the first of what will be an annual showcase of talented poets, presented by the Lummox Press in conjunction with The LUMMOX Poetry Anthology and the Angela Consolo Mankiewicz Poetry Prize(courtesy of the estate of Angela C. Mankiewicz and her husband, Richard Mankiewicz).
Swing clarinet blinks neon in a foggy afternoon. Black wings take to the carmine sky. A cry rises loud enough to be heard on the other side.
Flash of black limbs spread deep into ruddy earth. Another son dead 50 years before his time. Another Mama looking hard for some good to find.
A spontaneous wail stretches from the golden gate to the one made of pearl. Despair travels a highway that ends in unfriendly waves.
Either way, waters cold or warm still drown the same. Every mothers’ sun rises on a world black with pain. Every breath becomes a sob.
Every mothers’ son lucky each day he doesn’t die. Flesh like Black Palm. Skin like Walnut. Every time another son gone
every mother joins in the silent sigh. Nothing as cold as a summertime rain.
Cruising the Alameda
After hearing Douglas Kearney’s “Alameda Street”
Down on Alameda, close to Azcarate, a 1955 Bel Aire. A stretch of chrome splits pink from white, ends in fins. The color of Bazooka, that gum wrapped in a comic, goofy boy’s face covered by a turtleneck.
A bass beat from a purple T-bird rattles storefront windows. Good boys pretend to be bad, white cotton shirt over khakis, almost a uniform. Pack of Lucky Strikes in rolled up sleeve, sleek groomed hair.
Grandmas cross themselves, not sure if the bad boys just pretend. Intimidated bookkeepers on their way to work lock the car doors. Attracted, but not fast or loose, secretaries check their lipstick, touch their hair, flash big I-Love-Lucy smiles.
If I Daddy hears me laugh louder than Bobby Fuller on the radio I get, What did your mama tell you before she let you come along, baby? What she always says, I chime, be a little lady. I look down, imagine white patent leather shoes,
pink flowers on an Easter hat bobbing in time to rock and roll, scalloped anklets embroidered with tulips. I repent laughing too loud, still looking at the boys in the corner crowd. Eyes on my tennie shoes, I hum along with the radio and vow,
When I grow up, I’m going to laugh out loud. When I’m full grown, I’m going to brag of how I cruised the Alameda in a bubblegum car, speaking Spanish to Daddy, English to Mama, and Spanglish to friends. All the time loving the drama of bad, bad boys.
Your smell is a glove
That splash of secret smile, so rare, such sweet victory. That flash caught by fluke in response to something I said The Cramps blasting up to the open sky, wintry and hot. The beat takes over my body and the words happen without premeditation. I need a new wardrobe now. I still feel the flannel gown I had on 20 minutes ago, the snuffled tears dried by the desert air of my bedroom.
You move fast, both behind the wheel of a car and walking through a doorway. Christening my lips with something both sweet and bitter. I caress my face with speckled knuckles. Your smell is like a glove.
focus on Kandinsky’s white dot
let the banality of real disappear
the colors like musical chords
the drama of primary
the black on white of keys
the white dot
it makes everything else black
dark holes envelope the whole
the emptiness of space stretching
from your there to my here
artificial constructs of time and space
memories of colors red and yellow
the impact of light on matter
what matter gives up to the eye
what it keeps for itself is black
black the color of all colors
the white dot in the dark whole
the sound of breath inside your head
imagines you are more than a dream
but your there is only a dream
my here nothing but a dreaM
forget the rules of the academy
there are no rules
forget theory of the iconoclasts
remember Einstein was wrong
there is no theory of everything
everything does not exist
the there and the here
the other there’s and other here’s
this earth spinning in a black void
energy moving through void to place
a truck leaves full of blue Buddhas
music born of an inner necessity
the disappearance of self and other
the meaninglessness of there and here
a white dot in the dark whole
In 2014, Donna Snyder released two books of poetry, Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press) and I Am South (Virgogray Press). NeoPoiesis Press will publish The Tongue Has Its Secrets in 2016. She coordinates free weekly workshops for the Tumblewords Project, which she founded in 1995.