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The Poem Cat by Erica Jong

August 20th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Sometimes the poem
doesn’t want to come;
it hides from the poet
like a playful cat
who has run
under the house
& lurks among slugs,
roots, spiders’ eyes,
ledge so long out of the sun
that it is dank
with the breath of the Troll King.

Sometimes the poem
darts away
like a coy lover
who is afraid of being possessed,
of feeling too much,
of losing his essential
loneliness-which he calls

Sometimes the poem
can’t requite
the poet’s passion.

The poem is a dance
between poet & poem,
but sometimes the poem
just won’t dance
and lurks on the sidelines
tapping its feet-
iambs, trochees-
out of step with the music
of your mariachi band.

If the poem won’t come,
I say: sneak up on it.
Pretend you don’t care.
Sit in your chair
reading Shakespeare, Neruda,
immortal Emily
and let yourself flow
into their music.

Go to the kitchen
and start peeling onions
for homemade sugo.

Before you know it,
the poem will be crying
as your ripe tomatoes
bubble away
with inspiration.

When the whole house is filled
with the tender tomato aroma,
start kneading the pasta.

As you rock
over the damp sensuous dough,
making it bend to your will,
as you make love to this manna
of flour and water,
the poem will get hungry
and come
just like a cat
coming home
when you least
expect her.

29 June // World Cup // Women Artists

June 29th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Greece, Sappho, Goddess of everything

sapphoSappho, fragment 3

excerpt from To Constantia, Singing
by Percy Shelley

My brain is wild, my breath comes quick,—
The blood is listening in my frame,
And thronging shadows, fast and thick,
Fall on my overflowing eyes:
My heart is quivering like a flame;
As morning dew, that in the sunbeam dies,
I am dissolved in these consuming ecstasies.

Mexico, Silvia Tomasa Rivera, poet

silvia_tomasa_riveraQué diera yo por saber

qué hago aquí

sobre este raído sofá masturbándome,

con un amante ausente

que me pega –y que amo.

En la calle es lo mismo.

Me duelen los hombres que me dicen

alguna palabra creyendo que es obscena ,

son como pájaros heridos que se estrellan

en una ventana sin cristal.

Soy mujer fuera de época.

Justo cuando deseaba ser locamente amada

por un estibador, o revolcarme con un asesino

sobre un costal de papas, decido guardar mi sexo,

mis pechos, mis cabellos, en un cuarto a medialuna,

y salir con la pura alma a corretear gorriones.


16 June // World Cup // Women Artists

June 16th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Even though Ghana played a better game, had more possession, USA beat them. Of course the USA & its concomitant brands didn’t fail to show brand power, racism, negligence & a patriotism that trumps all of Europe’s nastiest threads.

GHANA, Ama Ata Aidoo, poet, scholar, playwright


This afternoon,
I bolted from
the fishmarket:

my eyes smarting with shame
at how too willingly and sheepishly
my memory had slipped up
after the loss of my taste buds.

– Just like an insecure politician creaming up
to his boss.

Familiarly in an unfamiliar land,
so strong and so sweetly strong,
the smells of the fish of
my childhood hit hard and soft,
wickedly musky.

All else fall into focus
except the names of the fish.

While from distant places in my head
The Atlantic booms and roars or
calmly creeps swishing foam on the hot sand.

But I could not remember their Fantse names.

They were labeled clearly enough
– in English –
brought no echoes…

One terrifying truth
unveiled in one short afternoon:

exile brings losses like
forgetting to remember
ordinary things.

when next we meet,
I shall first bring you
your truthspeaker’s stone:

the names and tastes of fish are also
simple keys to unlock
secret sacred doors.

And I wail to foreign far away winds:

Daughter of My Mother and My Father’s Orphan,
what is to become of me?

And Those like me?


GERMANY, Sarah Kirsch, poet

In the Country (tr. Peter Lach-Newinsky)

Mornings I feed the swans evenings the cats in between
I walk over grass pass by the ruined orchards
Pear trees grow in rusty ovens, peach trees
Collapse into grass, the fences have long surrendered, iron and wood
Everything rotten and the woods embrace the garden in a lilac bush

There I stand with wet feet close to the bushes
It has rained a long time, and I see the ink blue umbels, the sky
Is spotty like blotting paper
I’m dizzy with colour and smells but the bees
Stay in the hive even the gaping mouths of the nettle blossoms
Don’t pull them over, perhaps the queen
Suddenly died this morning the oaks

Breed gall wasps, thick red balls will probably soon burst
I’d love to lighten the trees but there are too many little apples
They effortlessly reach the crowns and cleevers
Grab me, I distinguish reeds and sedges so much nature

The birds and black snails and everywhere grass grass that
Moistens my feet fat-green it squanders itself
Even on the tip it hides glass grows in broken mattresses I flee
onto the artificial cinder path and will presumably soon
return to my concrete city here you’re not in the world
spring doesn’t let up in its bottomless greed, stuffs
eyes and ears with grass the newspapers are empty
before they arrive here the wood is in full leaf and knows
nothing about fire


World Cup // women artists

June 15th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

We (yes, I’m implicating you!) watch soccer on the backs of others. World Cup. Of course not all of us, but many of us. Many of us who acknowledge soccer tournaments as examples of capitalism par excellence make scoresheets and download calendars to keep track of upcoming matches. My critique of the world cup, the euro cup, olympics, organized sports, is long, but there’s already enough researched work on it. I have decided that, instead, I will post up pieces from women writers/artists of the countries that win or lose starting today. #readwomen2014

ARGENTINA, Alejandra Pizarnik, poet

Alejandra Pizarnik, from Uncollected Poems (1962-1972) tr. Cole Heinowitz

Wanted: Dead or Alive

I forced myself

kicking and screaming

into language

SWITZERLAND: Alice Rivaz, feminist, writer

Schlossman, Beryl. (2001). Alice Rivaz and the Subject of Lost Time MLN 116(5), 1025-1044.

From Jette ton Pain (1997): “After reading a book, she is left with a taste, a fragrance, colors, images, beings, a kind of aura, or a feeling of horror, beauty, or pity (or all of them at the same time), an immense desire to create a universe by herself. A renewed love of others, the ravishment and the anguish of being alive. (…) The most important thing . . . is intangible. (…) something unknown that looks like the multicolored dust of butterfly wings. A source that remains hidden.”

HONDURAS: Blanca Guifarro, poet

I don’t see any English translations of her poetry, which is all in Spanish. I only know this book, unavailable at my library, Poetry by Contemporary Honduran WomenIf you know of any of her work translated, please send it to me… or if you know Spanish, perhaps you’d be willing to translate some of it?

Writing creates experience.

June 9th, 2014 § 4 comments § permalink

I’ve stopped writing here because I write best one-to-one, usually early in the morning or late at night. Moments of anticipating emails waving to me & then replying to several of them, 1000 words each, are moments of triumph. I receive so many thoughtful emails & hardly anyone responds to blog posts, despite my reader list climbing in numbers. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who loves to read blogs.

Rates of engagement.1

I’m also focused on my numerous Twitter accounts & most importantly affective imaginary, a series of vignettes, moments of affect & perhaps a kind of cruel optimism.

Yesterday I joined an online INSURGENT ALCHEMY workshop with, one of my idols, Anne Boyer. All the participants agreed with our distaste of the word workshop and instead are trying to come up with a more appropriate term of what we are becoming and un/doing — a sawmill of fire/moon/serpent-worship. We were asked why we joined the workshop & what we want to get out of it & my immediate response was “To conceive through immaculate conception”.2 Anne sent along some instructions later & seemed eager to help me. A collective bourgeoning of my womb through poetry. I won’t write too much about it here, publicly, for now, because it’s in a notebook & I want to be in it for a while. One thing Anne did say that I keep repeating in my head (which has become, now I realize, part of the ontology of my affective imaginary project):

“Writing creates experience, as well as describes experience.”

  1. please say hello?
  2. I told j about this afterward, and how maybe it is possible for me to conceive through immaculate conception because I’m (Mary) Magdalene. Of course I had my stories wrong & it wasn’t Mary Magdalene that gave birth to Jesus but Mary of Nazareth. Mary Magdalene was his lover. J reassured me that my err is, anyway, much more in line with myth & I should hold onto it.

Maya Angelou

June 2nd, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

Courageous and badass poet visionary Maya Angelou has written things like this:

 “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” 

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” 

“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances. ” 

“I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.” 


Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.


Birthday, oh scorpio woman, you wounded brightness…

November 13th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

It’s my birthday on November 16.

This birthday—nothing makes sense, smashed to bits, devastated, whatever — but there will be a party! There’s always a #dancecats party with me around.

Maybe I don’t deserve an uncomplicated life listening to J Dilla with a husband collaborator academic artist, children, cats & matching bicycles. Or maybe it’s because those who want me I’ve outlived? That’s probably why I haven’t written anything interesting in this blog other than academic updates in so long. But am I doing a clever job covering up the pain? does it seem like I’m getting shit done? Because I don’t feel it at all. But maybe you read my memory project and read things like this:

Longing for our fumbling fingers the first time our hands met each other.


Mexico, te extraño mucho de menos. Muestra señales de vida, querida.


Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 103809024 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 261900 bytes) in /nfs/c02/h08/mnt/20797/domains/raisecain.net/html/ndxzstudio/common.php on line 304


I watch him sleep between the layers of white bed sheets and trace the world on his exposed shoulders down to his left arm up to mine. It is all I can do as goodbye.


He walks in with a careful step. His hug envelopes me completely. First it’s the ribs, then the arms, then the face. “My M—, oh, you need some energy.”
His girlfriend nods in agreement.
I can feel his fingers over my emaciated flesh as they push between my ribs.
“You look sickly, I am worried.”
I think I should be but I’m not. I stand proud with bags holding up my eyes.


I stood still in the rain waiting for him. A wounded brightness among his doubt.

Affections turned into experiences.

But, for real, are you out there G-d? Can I just have some peace? A little bit? Like even for a year or two? Just slow & steady happiness? I was putting in so much effort. Why did no one warn me that it was in all the wrong ways? I’m learning, I’m learning, I scream, but I’m reminded I’ve outlived the efforts.

I’m the most productive when in love and having sex all the time. Everything comes easy. I don’t need much sleep. I wake up happy & ready. My mind is sharp & my eyes are clear.

Since I can’t have what I really want, bring me poems. I just want poetry, poems, poems, never ending poetry for my birthday. I want Erica Jong, Anne Sexton, Warsan Shire, Wislawa Szymborska, George Eliot Clark, Mary Oliver, Czesław Miłosz, Rumi, Hafiz, Adrienne Rich, Anne Boyer, Margaret Atwood, Sara Teasdale, Keats, Saul Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, Sanyu Kisaka, Sharon Olds, bell hooks, new poets, new poems, your poems, your words … give me the words of all the pain and desire in the world and let me live.

PS. This is my work lately…

(Why) do we care about sharpness and quality? (2013)

Self-portrait (2011/2013)

Save for Web “0” quality, 15 times.

JPG | 10.73K | 3 sec @56.6Kbps


November 3rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Elle est debout sur mes paupières

Et ses cheveux sont dans les miens,
Elle a la forme de mes mains,
Elle a la couleur de mes yeux,
Elle s’engloutit dans mon ombre
Comme une pierre sur le ciel.

Elle a toujours les yeux ouverts
Et ne me laisse pas dormir.
Ses rêves en pleine lumière
Font s’évaporer les soleils,
Me font rire, pleurer et rire,
Parler sans avoir rien à dire.

— Paul ELUARD, Mourir ne pas mourir (1924)

i will not tell you

October 30th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

My friend Safia writes/composes/dreams up these incredible worlds of perception and sensation.

(i will not tell you)

my skin rips
at the mention of your name
find your scent
across cities
see red
for days after
we touch
arms bruised
from carrying

we are water

i imagine my body as the ocean
hips propel movement
waves gather
rise up
climb rib cage extend
foam hands that
colonize throat
heart bobs like a stubborn ship
avoiding whirlpool fate

as my entire being is
pulled like a marionette
by the loving moon

just ask a woman


the secrets women hold
they are in her hands
the black of her eye
they travel down her spine


A Voice by Tadeusz Rozewicz

May 26th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

They mutilate they torment each other
with silences with words
as if they had another
life to live

they do so
as if they had forgotten
that their bodies
are inclined to death
that the insides of (wo)men
easily break down

ruthless with each other
they are weaker
than plants and animals
they can be killed by a word
by a smile by a look

(Translated by Czeslaw Milosz)

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