Saturday, April 24, 2010

Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, but for me it's been a poetry year. Or poetry three years. I've dabbled in poetry for a while, even taken a poetry-writing class in college (which I thoroughly enjoyed but I hope to never read those poems ever again). When I became friends with Nicole and Jaja in Davis a few years ago, Nicole suggested we start a Poetry Club of sorts where we all sit around and read poetry to one another and sip tea and drink wine and eat dessert. It was just as wonderful as it sounds, and though I'm far away from those precious friends, reading poetry always makes me feel close to them.

Recently, Nicole has been recording a weekly poetry podcast (which is to die for), and hearing her voice makes me so happy. And Jaja often includes poetry in her blog postings, accompanied by her own incredible photos. Jaja also recently gifted me this (so incredible), and it goes onto the stack that also includes some recently-purchased Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

So in honor of this month, I give you . . . . a poem. Not written by me. Of the many poetry books I've accumulated this year, the book "Loose Woman," by Sandra Cisneros has spoken to me the most. She mixes words in such an incredible and meaty way, rhyming when she feels like it. In her poems you can feel her vulnerability and her strength at the same time. She lays herself open. This is the title poem of the book and it really sold me. It's long, but it's worth it.

"Loose Woman"

They say I'm a beast
And feast on it. When all along
I thought that's what a woman was.

They say I'm a bitch.
Or witch. I've claimed
the same and never winced.

They say I'm a macha, hell on wheels,
viva-la-vulva, fire and brimstone,
man-hating, devastating,
boogey-woman lesbian.
Not necessarily,
but I like the compliment.

The mob arrives with stones and sticks
to maim and lame and do me in.
All the same, when I open my mouth,
they wobble like gin.

Diamonds and pearls
tumble from my tongue.
Or toads and serpents.
Depending on the mood I'm in.

I like the itch I provoke,
The rustle of rumor
like crinoline.

I am the woman of myth and bullshit.
(True. I authored some of it.)
I built my little house of ill repute.
Brick by brick. Labored,
loved and masoned it.

I live like so.
Heart as sail, ballast, rudder, bow.
Rowdy. Indulgent to excess.
My sin and success -
I think of me to gluttony.

By all accounts I am
a danger to society.
I'm Pancha Villa.
I break laws,
upset the natural order,
anguish the Pope and make fathers cry.
I am beyond the jaw of law.
I'm la desperada, most-wanted public enemy.
My happy picture grinning from the wall.

I strike terror among the men.
I can't be bothered what they think.
Que se vayan a la ching chang chong!
For this, the cross, the Calvary.
In other words, I'm anarchy.

I'm an aim-well,
loose woman.
Beware, honey.

I'm Bitch. Beast. Macha.
Ping! Ping! Ping!
I break things.

- Sandra Cisneros


J.W. said...

gaaaaaaaaah that last long list part BEGS to be read out loud...

gaggito n. a flock of italian geese

Nicole said...

OH YES the energy is amazing in this poem! I love the rhyme too--so interesting! This poem really wants to be read out loud! I'll have to check for that book at the library.
Thanks for mentioning my podcasts! Happy poetry day!