Archive for the ‘Poems’ Category

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Dec 18

December 25, 2018

Zorida Mohammed

Earthworm

I aspire to be like an earthworm.
How else could I survive
the trauma-soaked debris
that my clients place on my plate?
Unbeknownst to them,
they depend on me to digest it,
making it more acceptable for them
like my mother chewing food from her own plate
and feeding it to me in infancy.

With as little affect as possible—
though sometimes a tear will roll out
without my permission–
I welcome the stories
that mar and rule their lives.

An eight-year-old knows
when it is time to hurry to the garage
(for privacy) so her military father
can be serviced.

I must bear witness to a stepfather
raping a daughter as the mother
forces liquor into her five-year-old mouth
with a stick at hand for any resistance.

Fifty years later, a blond little girl
in a 55-year-old body
no longer looks down from the ceiling
on the assault—

When she eventually is able
to allow herself to remember,
she dry-heaves and wretches for days
as she attempts to evict the demon semen
from her body.

I envy the earthworm
because it completes its life
without complaint and never
questions its place or purpose,
and never gives a shit
that its shit is gold.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Dec 11

December 12, 2018

Mark Fogarty

WUTHERING

The best word I’ve come up with to explain myself
Is “wuthering.” And I don’t know what it means.
Out on the wildass moors, the spectral hound,
The ghost of passion, the sweet-natured vets.
Othello, ready for the hard-won Desdemona
To be swiped away by the prodding Iago.
Clueless. Except I wouldn’t kill her.
I’d check the train schedule for her.

Heathcliffe, it’s me, Cathy
I’m coming home now
So co-o-old, let me in your window.

Wasn’t it Heathcliffe out on the moors
And Cathy waiting at the window?
I guess it doesn’t matter. What’s the difference
Between men and women anyway?
An ounce or two of estrogen, testosterone.
A few inches out, a few inches in.

Kate was too dramatically beautiful even for me.
They model-posed her with her legs wide open on the cover.
I figured, if they want me to check out her snatch
Then her voice can’t be any good.

I can sit by the fire, drinking coffee
With no use for the empty moors.
For all my wuthering,
I can’t sit in an empty theater.

Kate’s voice was, though, good. A little mad, maybe.

The Irish came to the Caribbean, too,
Indentured servants, and stayed
For the green water and the lack of fog.
My brother told me about one of them with our name,
A captain in the Royal Navy,
Went down with his ship fighting the Nazis.
Well done, cousin, on those wuthering waves.

—Lyrics from “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush, from The Kick Inside (1978).

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Dec 4

December 6, 2018

Mark Fogarty

HOMAGE TO KOLA BOOF

Kola Boof tried to kill herself.
Her boys didn’t want to come for Thanksgiving,
And that was the last straw.

She has been strong enough to survive anything.
Kola Boof was infibulated, as many girls were
In her native Sudan. The butchering knife cutting the labia,
The remaining skin sutured up, I never
Wanted to see it. I had a horror of it.

Kola had her first periods through a straw.
But she said her cut pussy
Was the only way she was like her mother,
Murdered in her earshot when she was a girl.

She spent the night with her mother’s and father’s dead bodies.
She didn’t die then, somehow.

Kola has been nothing if not determined.
She’s had miles of sex jammed in her,
And it hurt every time, she told me.

I was too timid of the blood berry.
But now I want to kiss Kola’s cut pussy,
Not as an act of sex, but of homage.


Mary Ma

I’m Probably Ruining It

(or Why I Never Assert My Pronouns)

Comobordity is another way of saying

salt on the wound.
All I am is a salt wound.
All I taste is the salt
from the blood
from the biting
of my tongue.
I can’t always say the thing.
Can’t we have one night, one dinner, one moment without —
me, throwing up the main course,
running the faucet so no one can hear
or
me, drawing blood from my skin
or
me, making a scene?
All of those nights are a million years old
and by a million years I mean
at least ten. 
A decade is long enough to forget.

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RWB Workshop Poem Of The Week—Nov 27

November 30, 2018

Mary Ma

Human

Myles, I plan on dying first.
Not soon, just in the scheme of things.

Soon is in the time
I’ll spend coming home to you.
I call out “Human!”
and hear you answer, “Yes?”
when I open our door.
We joke that if we ever get a dog
we’ll name them Animal
so that at the end of our day
we can always come home and say,
“Human?”
“Animal?”

Have I ever worn you out?
We talk about how
you grow in the same shape but I
change shapes faster
than I grow.
Okay, I added the judgment there.
You never seem to bring any.

What does it say that my first non-abusive partner
is the partner I married?

I think it says nothing. Maybe it’s just a numbers game—
no shortage of hurt in the world.
But for us, it means nothing.

I wish I could show my child self my now self,
my happy self. Maybe I would’ve had
an easier time surviving, but then again,
fuck it. I’ve already survived.
Maybe we should save these moments for our
future selves– we have so much surviving
left to do.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Nov 20

November 27, 2018

Arthur Russell

We Won’t Come This Way Again

We won’t come again to this grimace,
to this wax-covered place
where we fought ourselves and each other to a cold draw.
We won’t return to the bed we prayed to bring us together
or the workshop where I made shoes and you left food.
We won’t be married.
We’ll be deflated lawn Santas.

We won’t come this way again.
We bit our lips to cover our teeth;
we stared each other down,
yet the sap rose to the same signal
hidden in the February air. I scraped my knuckles
on the side of the well. You drove the scooter
to Newark in search of a ravine.
Our love was tuned
to a gray hair’s curl on a black sweater,
to a fear with a field so magnetic
it made tree rings
on the papers that you handed me.
We won’t come this way again.

Half of half of half of half of half,
the chain saw does its work.
How sad the roots will be when they find the trunk
is gone. Oh, the water that we drank!
And we thought only love could nurture duty.

Shoulder to shoulder, we saw the world
like a television show, but not each other.
One for the pain, another for the waste,
a third for the lockout, a fourth for the forgotten bliss.
Like stammering Egyptians spilling wine
in the rich silt of the Nile,
we won’t come this way again.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Nov 13

November 14, 2018

Claudia Serea

Windy nights are like alcohol

They both bring back the past
in sips and blows,
both make me dizzy,
drifting.

And, of course, the wind doesn’t speak to me,
and the leaves don’t gossip
in a foreign language,
but still—

On this windy night, I walked out of the bar
where we went for drinks for my colleague Steve
who’s leaving the office,
and where I found myself telling Sam
the story of my life, over Heineken,
from Romania to the United States
(short version, because he asked,
and you should know that Sam and Steve
are half my age,
and charming).

So I realized I drifted through life
sometimes with eyes closed,
other times, wide open,
and, in rare moments, seeing it from above,
understanding it
with a dizzying clarity.

I left the bar with the distinct feeling
I’m drifting again,
eyes open.

Left and right, people rushed, laughing,
chatting on the phone,
looking,
not seeing,
engrossed in their own screens.

The night was windy
and charged.

A Chinese woman passed by
with a blanket over her head,
pushing a loaded cart
with two big sacks of cans
hanging on its sides,
contorted wings.

And her small eyes met mine.

I’ve seen
what you’ve seen,
they said.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week: Nov 6

November 9, 2018

Arthur Russell

April Was Fatal For Jesus, But Not For Me

The seasons are not my metaphorical daddy.

The wine-dark leaves of cut leaf maples
spread like a king’s robe on the wet lawn
are not a sign the end is near to me.

I give not the slightest shit
that hardened winter buds
on the slender branches
of a sapling oak
are promises to some sad soul
that spring’s rebirth
is ’round a few months’ corner.

I do not believe
in cherry blossoms clustered
in the climate-varied air of April,
or that any kind of thaw
implies any other kind of thaw.

We are not babies.
We are disappointed people
like to die.

I don’t need summer days
on Vineyard beaches
swimming through my lover’s legs
in sunlit surf
to make me see the truth.

The caveats are ample as a bedspread
without the sweetened lemon suffrage
of an August afternoon.

March is wet and cold,
and so’s your mom.

Go ahead, I dare you to correlate
the weather that eleventh
of September with the outcome.

Seasons are the guy who swears
he didn’t fuck the maid.

And whatever I say about the seasons
goes double for the daffy crap
imputed by the lovelorn mass
to morning, noon, and night.

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