Monday, August 21, 2017

Woke

The rooster was dead.
My bible was blank.
The sun went down and I opened my eyes.
Stars, you don't fool me;
I'm not some country fool headed down the cellar steps.

The Moon is the only one I can trust--
Don't you think I know that?
Roads go both directions, no use to set out on them at all.

Rain made the river drunk,
and the fields lay back like whores for it.
Here I come, after dark.
Here I come, half a teacher with a lesson long as willow branches.

I wasn't always like this.
I was a bauble on a string, thinking myself rare. 
Then you wrote your name on my skin in fingernail blood,
and after that I was rare, a horse apple in a blind man's hand.

The rooster is dead;
He won't be traveling anymore.
My bible is blank and open on the berm.
Stars, you don't fool me--
I'm woke as fuck
and have forgotten more mercy than you'll ever deserve.
______

28 comments:

Sherry Blue Sky said...

"...with a lesson long as willow branches", and the writing on the skin with fingernails in blood especially stick out for me. Your poems always amaze me. Seven years now, not a "lesser" poem in the bunch. All pure gold.

Thotpurge said...

Loved it..

Rain made the river drunk,
and the fields lay back like whores for it.
Here I come, after dark.
Here I come, half a teacher with a lesson long as willow branches.

so many beautiful lines!

brudberg said...

What a stunning poetry of love and devotion... especially love the fingernails... passion is like that, including the void it leave after it is gone.

Dani H said...

stunning! your poetry is like a waterfall for a woman dying of thirst -- it quenches the need but is so powerful it drops her to her knees.

one of your best, SP!

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

The Moon is the only one I can trust--
Don't you think I know that?

This kinda went 'thump!' on my chest, and I felt that I know it too, deeply.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

My goodness this is good!! "Then you wrote your name on my skin in fingernail blood, and after that I was rare, a horse apple in a blind man's hand".. sigh.. Beautifully haunting!!

said...

This is one of the best poems I've ever read. It's keeping me awake. And the last thing I see it as is a love poem. It's political and social science. It's angry and wise and hard and growling. It's coming after you in your sleep. It's pinning back your eyelids so that no matter what it takes, you'll see too. It's the truth. It doesn't believe in hope or change or reform. It just knows. It's both rape and raped. Raw violation.

Whatever it takes, keep writing like this.

said...

This poem is not a victim. Not anymore. I think the rooster has been slain. As I see it, the girl killed her abductor and tormentor and walked out of the cellar a different person, pissed at the stars for being accomplices. She'll take them all out too, if she has to.

said...

I love that she's not going anywhere. Not running away scared or screaming. Just fucking woke, and staring the world in the eye, daring it to mess with her again.

said...

I'm shaking over this, Shay. Physically shaking.

said...

I think perhaps the whole idea of coming out of the dark (cellar) into the dark night, being able to see, is a metaphor for achieving political clarity.

Or more likely, you'll say that I think too much.

Marcoantonio Arellano said...

Wow! Wonderful and gracias!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Shay--Those last two lines... Wow.

Old Egg said...

What a strong poem this is, beautifully descriptive and assertive and an inspiring read.

Marian said...

Ah... thinking myself rare, but yet to learn just how. Really good.

Sarah Russell said...

Absolutely captivating! Lines I love!! "Rain made the river drunk, / and the fields lay back like whores for it." Perfect!

hyperCRYPTICal said...

A stunning write - I love it to death!
"Rain made the river drunk,
and the fields lay back like whores for it." Jeez - I am drunk on these words!
As said, stunning!
Anna :o]

hedgewitch said...

Not all are doomed to repeat history; for some that rooster will never crow again. Exceptional work with the metaphor here, Shay, and a poem bursting with strength and conviction--not to mention superlative language and image. I love the perfect cadence of the first three lines, and the beating heart of the piece--for me the third and fourth stanzas, which set up perfectly the unequivocal finish. This is what poetry should be, every word.

Mama Zen said...

This is fantastic through and through, but that third stanza . . . holy fuck!

Timoteo said...

I'm always seething with delirious anticipation before I even open your poem.

Debi Swim said...

I'm not some country fool headed down the cellar steps.
Here I come, half a teacher with a lesson long as willow branches.
and have forgotten more mercy than you'll ever deserve.

Outstanding lines... strong

Susie Clevenger said...

Stellar poetry as always...There is passionate strength in your poem. "Here I come, half a teacher with a lesson long as willow branches." Love that line.

angieinspired said...

I'd like to see the "unclean" version. lol. You're so good at clearing out the crap.

Toni Spencer said...

and have forgotten more mercy than you'll ever deserve...wow. Good strong woman poem!

wkkortas said...

Narrative raised to the power of myth. Helluva piece.

Kim Russell said...

Great lines:
'Rain made the river drunk,
and the fields lay back like whores for it.
Here I come, after dark.
Here I come, half a teacher with a lesson long as willow branches.'

Kerry O'Connor said...

I'm woke as fuck
and have forgotten more mercy than you'll ever deserve.

Wow! Wow!

What an amazing poem, Shay. Every line is a blow to the jaw.

Margaret said...

Third stanza is amazing and the whole poem is tough as nails - she's not going anywhere "Roads go both directions, no use to set out on them at all."' ... And the reference to the bible being blank - I wonder if that refers to the title page where you write down the family names - it's almost like she's disowning them/beginning fresh...