Thursday, January 12, 2017

Poems of Resistance, Power & Resilience – Jelle Cauwenberghs

Close up image of a microphone on a stage. The audience that is facing the microphone is blurred, appearing as a myriad of colors (red, white, green, yellow, etc.)
As the incoming administration builds its agenda of attack on marginalized people, on freedom of speech, on the earth itself, poetry will continue to be an essential voice of resistance. Poets will speak out in solidarity, united against hatred, systemic oppression, and violence and for justice, beauty, and community.

In this spirit, Split This Rock is offering its blog as a Virtual Open Mic. For the rest of this frightening month, January of 2017, we invite you to send us poems of resistance, power, and resilience.

We will post every poem we receive unless it is offensive (containing language that is derogatory toward marginalized groups, that belittles, uses hurtful stereotypes, etc.). After the Virtual Open Mic closes, we hope to print out and mail all of the poems to the White House.

For guidelines on how to submit poems for this call, visit the Call for Poems of Resistance, Power & Resilience blog post


Dark Is Not Your Absence
by Jelle Cauwenberghs

Only resistance. My silence.
I was a monk fish;
I dwelled on the fringe, my basking rock.
But on the bus I could not stop
staring at you, either broad or dented, no less real,
slanted across the ocean, your west side story
flapping in the wind, cropped coral
ghosting the sea, scalp
furied raw with worry, nag you said hag.
A bolt to the brain, stem intact and curtain-call.
You dazzled me. Your rosetta stone of cursives
drained me dry, drip-filtered;
I watched you, frothing roe, a frenzy
of floating bellies and torn fins splayed frondlike
against the nimbus of light.
ravage of a language walled up; trapped fire
with no escape and all these open windows
lashed orange. I felt the pull
of the undisturbed deep yet I could not look away.
I never could.
What could not be pared would not
peel and rot
and go to rest in glass canyons.
You will rise up until you speak blue
breathe and choke blue. Blue is the color of your oddysseys
and blue is the unspoken
flipside of your blind passion.
Blue is unstoppable and unidentified.
Blue is an ink cloud when it mingles with water
soaks the blouse you wear like a bruise.
Thunder singes
when it finds your spine and heals no more
like bone, or cauterizes so easily.
Blue gushes on the page so I have to.
The painter of your portrait but unvarnished
because it seems I care for you, femur and vowel,
act femme for you. Sing your blue boys and girls.
Blot your gaping wound, pour salt on your split
disloyal tongue, bridge the distance,
cringe, for your sake clasp the asp to my vipered breast; the dead
broken letters, scrolls and pillars, your shorn mane.
All marble can do is lie dormant
while we gasp
gasp gasp, care for flintsick earth, spin and bathe
in the living, and keen for the grassland
rebels in their snowy tents, the soggy pile of teddy bears
in Cleveland, the tides
with their strange slackjawed flotsam,
hurt like only a widow at night can feel the blood
shame of her cavalry sons –
her explosive belt of fallen stars, collapse and lisp
spit or pill wide-eyed fits or lose it completely but we won’t.
You won’t.
You are on active duty.
If you let it and you let it come close
with stinger and fang and clenched fists; then.
You will sit here and wait for loud brass,
heels clacking, our own music
all words that speak to us be
cause trumpets can softly scream
these shrill, scratchy clawing truths – remember? Only at night
at gunpoint, it seems, honey, we swarm
in rage and deliver scraps of dawn, dole it out – hope
promise, cross my heart I will eat the sour grapes of your love.  But please.
Gently approach, gray city friend.
Leave your guns and your safe cypresfenced towns,
I want to sit with you in the dark.
Walk me there.
Teach me again to pick shiver
ing butterflies by their frail wings. Not to pull
when nobody else is watching
because you know you can?
The surprise pain of elbow shock is the sentence
I ask for, again 
and again; because our union is vulnerable,
but this too can be pleasure, if you know when to release me;
this trust is my purple, bruised throat.
I undress for you. That is poetry.
To hope, if you will,
I must  lay my body on the line, my all 
and everything.
For you, I will break my vow, my silence,
lock arms and wade into the future, however frightening;
however unreal. 

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