Daily Archives: March 9, 2010

Persona I (repost)

Repost for connection to the recent poem, “Persona II.”


Part of me steps aside
and another part of me
steps forward
to make a name for itself.

It says:
I am the ocean,
I cover everything that is deep
and swallow everything
that dares me…no, wait:
I’m the harbor, the destination,
the notch in the edge of the ocean.
No, sorry:
I’m the slave ship arriving,
carrying stolen anguish.  No,
that’s wrong: I’m the trader
waiting to sell the pain of others.
Again, sorry: I’m the new owner
of what shouldn’t be owned at all.
Ugh, wrong, wrong again: I’m
the cargo, the village of origin,
the buyer’s tag, the auction block,
the chain, the whip,
the eyes leaning on the crutch
of the North Star…

A part of me tosses in bed for hours
listening to this until
another part of me steps up
to elbow that first liar aside
and say:

I’m the feather on the plains,
the oil full of ghost trees,
blood on sand I’ve never seen,
the dirty songster in an alley
glimpsed once from a cab window
and then reimagined
to find room for my moral
at the end of his song.

No, says another part of me,
then tosses pennies at the others
to drive them back long enough
for a chance to say:

I am sponge enough
to have sopped up
everything all my lovers
ever told me.

I’m the mask
that gives me the freedom
to let them call themselves “cunt”
as I misquote them.
I am above reproach
when I put myself
in their mouths.

says the sleeping part of me,
admitting that he’s indeed been listening
to all of this.

That part of me
becomes awake enough then
to say:

I’m stupid
and exhausted
from division.
I’m groggy
at this hour
but trying to figure out
who deputized me
to speak on behalf
of what has been screaming unheard
for eons. Why wasn’t it ever enough
that they could speak for themselves?
It’s like everyone and everything
is asleep and I’m an alarm clock
banging out “I, I, I, I, I, I, I…”
on behalf of full-on daylight
that ought to be enough but isn’t,
until I’m shut off
with a backhand slap
to the panic button.

Yes, that’s it,
that’s the answer,
I tell myself.

The part of me that has been
so fitfully drowsing
for so long
rolls back over,
while another part of me
smooths my hair, tucks me back in,
lullabies me into distant dreams.

When the breathing slows
and becomes regular,
that part of me looks up and says,

I am
the dummy on an insistent knee
with a hand up my back
and a substitute voice.

Look as close as you want,
you’ll never see those other lips move.

That part of me
will accept your applause
while the rest of me is put back in my box
to sleep.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Persona II

In the way a house where a murder happened
is sometimes hated and left empty for months
after, though the wood and walls

were not guilty of anything
and merely contained it, though the house
is not a murderer or a murder,

I let a person
step into me after careful consideration
and listening to them for a long while,

let them use my body and voice to speak
since I had an audience
and they did not, but might

once they stepped back out,
when people saw what I had done
they called me a liar and shunned me,

for ritual demands a sacrifice
and confusion
leads to black magic,

but that is what a shaman does
or a poet sometimes does, this comes
with the title, this dislike

is honorable, who told you
you were supposed to be beloved
all the time, it was never something

I was promised, nothing I expected,
and while there’s pain, in the end
a voice was well-heard though it was not mine,

and is the hearing not enough
to make the sacrifice worthwhile?
The Spirit wants only hearing, after all.

Blogged with the Flock Browser