Other People’s Poetry: “A Litany for Survival” Audre Lorde

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For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
futures
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours;

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid.

So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive.


Source: Lorde, Audre. The Black Unicorn: Poems. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995. Print.

“What Rings But Can’t Be Answered” by Rebecca Lindenberg

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You are beautiful as a telephone, colors
of bone, rocket ship, and cocktail lounge—

Hmm, says the neon sign, starting
an unfinishable thought.

Where do we go from here?

I’m a balloon,
each minute you don’t call is a breath
you blow into me.

I want to be the crackers in your soup,
I want to be your brass compass. Oh, mister,
just thinking about you curls the ends of my hair.

The clock tisk-tisks.

Moon, you old spinster, don’t you mock me
with your pockmarks and your slow, slow travels.

Moon, what would you know, cold as cheese?

Hmm. Tisk-tisk.

Behind a far-off door, a thought about me is being formed
out of nothing but light.

And when that phone does ring—

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from “Love, An Index” by Rebecca Lindenberg

Ingeune

try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least
try to maintain the deception through future good works or at least

Source: Keen, Ernest. Three Faces of Being: Toward an Existential Clinical Psychology. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1970. Print.

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what characters?
what images?
then
what emotions?

& how that 
blankness
projects, flickers
onto the clean 
white wall. where?

where is the heroism?
(cocksure bravado of loss?
the drowning son
saltwater bites his lungs
his inutile hand
breaking the ocean’s lens?

ooh, there
I’ve gone and given it
away—retreat!
peel through the pteridophyta
knee-high, back to skull-island.

they’ll remember you if you tell them
who? what character? 
which image? emotion?

and what will they boil
for tea that morning
after his funeral
— well attended
— tastefully adorned (not too colorful
— a slow silent sob, no one weeps (not even … 

will it be black or green or chamomile
over-steeped or sweetened? how
at a time like this, can one decide
so freshly alive, so gravitationally piqued
washed red-raw with compassion?

those old films
now significant, so
wall space, interior
as if the boy were climbing
our orange tree
higher, then higher
his fearless lungs full
of bitter citrus.

when?
what’s lost?
again, what emotion?

Untitled, draft, 07182013

I don’t give a shit
About the jungle
Or your long trek
To profitable madness

But all my questions
Turned to coin
As I sounded out that place’s strange name
Sweating, mosquito-thick, blood green

Impossible to itch
That place

I would recount this purple story
To my shrink if
I had a shrink, but
I really don’t give a shit.