Saturday, January 10, 2015

Matter

Matter.
I roll the word over and over on my tongue until it attains a foreignness.
Matter.
Matter.
Matter.
I repeat: They --harsh people, harsh words-- do not matter.
I test the healing words: "You do not matter."
I create a mantra on my bed: "She does not matter."
Matter. What does it mean that they do not matter?

When my friend Rain was small
a little Arab-American kid
walking to and from her Catholic elementary school
on the streets of Brooklyn
voices of neighborhood kids
would jeer at her:
Arabian Nights, Arabian Nights
they would sing.

It was the 1950's
and she was dark then
she has lightened over the years
But her then darkness
her Arabianness
her smallness
was perfect fodder for the cruel.

For many days she endured
Then one day --
even at so young an age --
the wisdom came:
"They do not matter."

She repeated the insight
allowed the epiphany to seep into her
and soon she stopped crying at their cruelty.

At last they noticed:
"Rosemary, why don't you cry or argue with us anymore?"
She answered,
"Because you don't matter."

They laughed.
But never again did their words hurt her.
And now she advises me to think:
"They do not matter."
I'm trying to see this present cruelty as not mattering.

Matter. Mattering. :-) Muttering. Mutter.

But if I were to manage to mutter to that cruel one: You do not matter....
what would that mean?
Would it mean that I see her unmattered, non-existent, dead?

Matter.
To be of importance?
Matter to me:
To be of importance to my life?
Matter to the world:
To be of importance to the world.

You do not matter.
Your cruel words about me do not matter.
You do not matter to me.
Your cruel words about me do not matter to me.
You do not matter to the world.
Your cruel words about me do not matter to the world.

That last one:
the world.
Yes, your cruel untrue unkind words about me
do matter to the world.
For they brought down grief on my head
a feeding frenzy of cruelty
And they cannot be unsaid.

Matter.
The words do not matter.
You do not matter.
Could I say that?
No, I am not so cruel.

But you. . .
you were.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Poem: I saw them as well

Those crows you spoke of --
I saw them.

Winging agitatedly
across the graying mackerel sky.

I did not see the wounded raven
or the family of rabbits.

Because I had no dog with me
as you had
pulling and scenting and chasing.

So I have seen what you saw.

I wonder why the crows
cawed so loudly
why the darkening day
sent them
flying back and forth
their shadows dotting the winter sky.

I do not wish to see them again.
Whatever their purpose
I do not want to know.

Nor do have I cause to find the dead raven.
Nor do I want to see the limping hare
hobbling toward its family in its hutch.

But I wanted to tell you
so you would know
that I'd heard you
and your sleeptalk of the crows.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Poem: Watching Lee Jun Ki dance


So then...
if we stand outside of an ugly emotion

and peruse it

without guilt,
without self-recriminations
without moralizing

We can see the need
that birthed it.

So then...
this bitterness, this envy 
-- and do not tell me
that suffering makes the soul purer.
It does not!--

this bitterness, this envy
rose and continue to rise
from a pure need.

Again, I will not judge myself.
I only wish to be well.

Today I saw a body move effortlessly
across the dance floor
a beautiful body full of life and joy.

I fought against envy.
Being old, I fought against despair.
Being sickly, I fought against envy and anger.

I sat and watched
and managed to rejoice
in that one's lightness and youth.

I couldn't quite hope.
But I didn't hate either.
And I managed to smile.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Poem: Ten poems on Lee Soo Hyuk (my ICB)

Yesterday, early-early, I opened my computer:
you were there.
A glimpse, merely
But later, all my thoughts were of you.

II
Men should not be so beautiful
Or old women so lustful.

III
As a teenager, I loved David Cassidy,
Edward Albert Jr, Martin Sheen, Jan-Michael Vincent
Forty years later, I'm scouring websites
for stories of you
If I had a grand-daughter, I would steer her to you

IV

I want to be a vowel in your mouth: caressed

V
In the teaser,
You walked across your studio,
eyes moist from welling tears
On the window pane raindrops trailed;
Teaser indeed:
I wished you were not for me.

VI
You make me smile
Jae-rim makes me laugh;
why should i love you so much
you who only make me smile?

VII
A fragile delicate beauty
milk-white skin
some hidden unspoken pain
eyes that become narrow slits when you smile
and I am suddenly lost.

VIII
I did not like suits
until you wore them
you've made me shallow.

IX
Surrounded by your friends
all as young as you
all as beautiful
but even there you stand out:
why has my heart chosen you?

X
My friend asked me what "ICB" meant:
I gave her the literal definition
"Imaginary Celebrity Boyfriend"
The metaphorical meaning
only old women understand.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Poem: Crying for myself

This morning I cried for my life
and how the body betrays --
that the soul wants so much to wander
but the physical body cages.

Once I envied the sprinter
the casual ascender of many stairs
the dancer
the mother who chases her errant child
down rows and rows of city blocks without apparent fear

while i dreaded to rise from bed
fearful my heart would fail

I am so tired now, frail
but no envy
just grief, grief, and regret
that thirty years have been spent in illness.

Thirty years too soon.
Sixty years too soon.
I should not have gotten so old
at such a young age.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Poem: Fall comes suddenly

In the five years since you've moved here
your steps have gotten slower.

All evening, I kept looking at you.
There must've been pity in my eyes.
You walked so slow.

I turned to look at you last night
in the parking lot.
The air was so crisp last night
the leaves swirling about in eddies around our feet

Twenty years we've known each other;
Please live another twenty.
I want my friend always at my side.
In twenty years time, will I be as frail as you?

Remembering how you turned the steering wheel
I think of how relentlessly time turns.

I want to shout to your children:
Be careful with her, she's getting old.
But I can't do that.
You might hear. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Poem: The Princess and the frog

Some frogs do not become princes
no matter how long the kiss
how deep the love.

We must tell our daughters this
especially if they are kind-hearted
especially if they are loyal.

Some fairy godmothers
must challenge us
and lock us in chains
to prevent us from attending the prince's ball.

We old women must acknowledge this.

This is not something that can be told to princes
They don't listen
And they rarely believe that they were truly frogs.
And they tend to believe in their supposed transformation.

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