It’s Thoughtful Thursday! On the last Thursday of International Women’s Month, we celebrate with the work of some wonderful women poets writing about women. From Lucille Clifton we have “Won’t You Celebrate with Me”, Nikki Giovanni gives us “Legacies”, and finally, Marge Piercy sends us a “Memo” to remind us to never give up. Enjoy.
Won’t You Celebrate with Me
won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.
her grandmother called her from the playground
“i want chu to learn how to make rolls” said the old
but the little girl didn’t want
to learn how because she knew
even if she couldn’t say it that
that would mean when the old one died she would be less
dependent on her spirit so
“i don’t want to know how to make no rolls”
with her lips poked out
and the old woman wiped her hands on
her apron saying “lord
and neither of them ever
said what they meant
and i guess nobody ever does
Memo to: Alta, Margaret Atwood, Olga Broumas, Diane DiPrima, Miriam Dyak, Judy Grahn, Susan Griffin, June Jordan, Faye Kicknosway, Maxine Kumin, Denise Levertov, Karen Lindsey, Audre Lorde, Mary Mackey, Honor Moore, Robin Morgan, Adrienne Rich, Sonia Sanchez, Kathleen Spivak, Alice Walker, and all the rest of us female poets.
Subject: Alternatives to what has become expected
When living resembles airport food;
when the morning paper hands you Chile
with the throat slit; the black children of South
Africa wounded thrashing like fish in a basket,
blood on asphalt the sun dries; when your last lover
announces her conversion to the Reverend Moon
explaining how your impure body impeded her pure mind;
when the second to last lover publishes
his novel in which you sprawl with your legs
spread saying all those things he always
wanted you to say, garish scenes you will have
to live with as if you had lived them
like a candid snap of you
on the toilet for the next twenty years;
when your daughter elopes with an FBI accountant
stealing your only credit card; when your son
shoots sugar and shit; when disdain
mounts you on a colored toothpick
like a smoked clam; when your friends misunderstand
your books and your enemies
understand them far too well;
when you lie alone on the sharp stones of unspoken
retorts fallen in the ravine of garrulous night
in the canyon of echoes where the dead
whisper reproaches; when you are empty of words,
a worm in your own apple,
ignore, ignore that death murmuring at your ear
like a lover far too pretty for you, whose attentions
flatter you, and how people will talk,
you will show them yet if you
but turn your head. Ignore those soft
shapes from the stone cold fog
welling from the back of the throat.He is not pretty, that boy, only well
advertised. Give your enemies nothing.
Let our tears freeze to stones
we can throw from catapults.
Death is their mercenary, their agent.
He seduces you for hire.
After your death he will pander
your books and explain you.I know we can’t make promises.
Every work pushed out through the jagged
bottleneck sewer of the industry
is a defeat, mutilated before it’s born.
My faucets drip at night too. I wake
tired. From the ceiling over my bed
troubles spin down on growing threads.
Only promise if you do get too weary,
take a bank president to lunch,
take a Rockefeller with you. Write
your own epitaph and say it loud.
This life is a war we are not yet
winning for our daughters’ children.
Don’t do your enemies’ work for them.
Finish your own.
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