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BETWEEN BODY AND KNOWING poetry by erin bosenberg


CONTENTS On Story And Its Falling contemplation of the anonymous turned into tattered history kisses are better than blood a protest I went to A as in A nationhood part II words to be framed smoke remnants of a day passed a word to this encounter and the story it has held On Love And Its Weight transference night spills to taste dust I will try when language broke up God On Being A Lady boxes for tearing nameless in death through bent sound, through whispered word for a lady and her practical things

8 10 12 15 17 19 20 21 23 26 30 31 32 34 37 42 45 47 49


you told me my experience means nothing and the ache in my chest is not real


On Story And Its Falling


contemplation of the anonymous her story was locked up and away and only the stuff of storybooks good leisure reading set in a time that makes all intervention too late and a modern day story of lady or girl destined for inked up pages of tragic tales lessons to be learned to be remembered forgotten learned, remembered, forgotten learned, remembered, forgotten her story is unreachable shackles fused onto each limb she walks forward in small steps the shift of each body side like that of a sea slug shackles to be named her own her shackles an identifier beyond all others a large wide coat to cover to wrap impervious a fooler for the books of history a fooler for the books of history

8


her story underneath melts the heat is too much her stories underneath melt the coat bound and hot the underbelly speaks not much and fiction tells the most beautiful tales and fiction tells the most beautiful tales and fiction gives humanity in its wondrous state in its ripples in its tip-toed lines a shape traced for careful cutting a shape traced for careful making and what significance has been made from her truth told from her sound brushed over throat chords rushing through air churned into beautiful fiction because with real account her blame must find its breath her blame must find its breath she must lie and wait she must build up boxes to occupy to remember place she must lie and wait

9


turned into tattered history I am aware of what skin projects but I do not pay homage to bloodlines in blood-ties lies danger (un-assumed) it is not a thread I choose to connect family is not romantic through tainted drops I don’t see family through word, mouth, taste and arms wrapped I shape ‘family’ so through image power is given so this note I shall hold hanging from my temple to the back of my brain image equals power image and power image and power this note held hanging what now? should I live as me or through some pretence of history or both and whose history would be followed I demand to see the list every authors name stained on a scroll that reaches from here all the way around the globe and back to me

10


tattered end in one hand first folded page in the other this scroll wraps over dirt and sea and where there is water to dampen and tear men in boats stand tall their hands outstretched act as a shelf for stained architects of history no one can move now they become sculptures with arms to ache and my hands are stuck my hands are frozen and throb with pain from this stillness if I let go the scroll will be lost no one can move now

11


kisses are better than blood I am a product from which hatred came in its past back when at that time when ships would glide high with sails spread out to suffocate to knock birds from the sky to twist people into bits of rock and stone my veins remember their past their heavy feet hot still from fresh wounds I cannot know I do not know much of hate not much if my heart was bigger than this earth within it I would cradle offerings of wounds and others past lives knives and swords and guns and sharp words and sharp sharp and sharp words would comfort each other entangling themselves until exhaustion wounds could make love in this heart as big as the earth passion would choke up in song

12


all blood could not run so thick memory of the lives of my past tumble through these veins like red ants I scream as they scurry along in a circular trance through the heart where four windows stand and into lungs where new air gives energy I am a product from which hatred in the past came do not let it sink into the back of my throat where tears and yearning belong I do not want hate I do not want hate as simple as this statement may sound we are from the blood from which we came and that is all and this is all and can I not kiss you on the cheek this one time this one time I long for it cause my lips are as soft as the sun and hate I squash in thin air I do not want the stuff of bitter dreams and sunken longing

13


it is too hard at this point in time you may say I have a drifters mind but these are words of a tired heart muscles too slow tears squeezed from veins we are just at that point now at which all organs have lost memory of fight they find it easier to sink into the puddle at the pit of your stomach gathering a group embrace

14


a protest I went to from the comfort of my own home I watch as tear gas streams through colonial streets concrete and polished stone meet cloud angels emerge, running from billowing beauty and a sting in throat, eyes and on tongue they know in their bodies a continent far removed from their own does not emerge unscathed from philanthropic missions they know as youth they want to hold an entire planet through embrace and carry through embrace but often they want too much but often they cannot conceive of that body with toe hooked and fingers clenched that body as a link to ideology pulling on a planet and tightening its belt that was their protest song and it continues on‌today with bodies that scream through streets behind bedroom doors and in front of stage doors with muscles that tense up into concrete ready for their fight their line of defense

15


these arms want to carry so much even while muscles grow weary and visual delusions appear through lack of sleep, food or comfort wherever one is wherever one is wherever one is we don’t know what to do except to scream until they throw us into their mad house with the beauty of flower bombs, gaseous flowers coloured and willing to twist open one bodily function or another this is to the protest song in all its grace in all its beauty because that is what can lift us up to calm that is what can arrest the soul with the ache it makes at the back of throat my hips sit and stand and they can move in line with others my arms lift bent at elbow with flattened hands that stretch this could be a new physical metaphor towards the right thing to stand for I hope it’s the right thing I hope this body knows what to do through crumpled chants and bent gesture

16


A as in A they talk of a country I feel I have touched on my tongue held onto in my mouth A as in apple I as in ice D as in dandelion S as in service I do not say these letters as they would be told unified into word for fear of implication of a dry clichÊ without resonance A as in ant I as in ice D as in deep S as in snake A as in ant I as in ice D as in deep S as in snake for to say this in words maybe for the sake of repeating a small child’s face on your tv screen we are there you know the image has told you so this space

17


as close as I will come for fear of its glorification in song and in famous peoples faces

18


nationhood part II this is a currency that is held dear between breath does it hold your tears? your ‘markets’ dissolve do you hold tears? it crumbles hearts one rand at a time it is not the dollar it is not the euro it does not symbolically represent a place where economic systems have crumbled the world its inked beauty is held within hearts made to crumble it is soft and gathers dust between each ritual for that this is my record this is my nothing

19


words to be framed it feels like home and these precious little things should be captured in glass words to be framed words that will fade their edges touchable through finger sized holes a rush of colour a rush of sea only words can find only letters will tumble into ground to feel like home

20


smoke a curtain between the world and you a cloaked comfort filled in lungs soft on skin where the antagonist has no eyes for seeing a slow lull to sleep smoke is to dismantle with beauty a cushion under the blow under realization from tragedy smoked screens fill spaces in walls made for coffin building they make you beautiful through death a body waiting for ceremony sitting in imagined cloud with campfire smell settled into your final dress this is where comfort lies while ceder turns sweet over flame boughs of ceder on offer and a pipe passing through mouths is like a small lullaby into the path that leads somewhere close to heart forget wax figure

21


and cold lips but remember his smell through sweet ceder boughs and smoke

22


remnants of a day passed this place a new one droplets of strewn laundry you are watching somebody else’s story but you are unaware of the ingredients or of any conclusions there were times to teach me loneliness and times to notice the repetition in life these times were marked by numbers, schedules and the attitude in another’s voice the pace at which their sound went from high to low to high to low this moment was marked by the edge of my hair and forehead as it sat in the sky this moment was marked by the edge of my hair and forehead as it sat in the sky and artistic fumblings I will never forget these spaces in time because they are stolen and placed as art into a bucket for consideration the turquoise of this table

23


and statuesque presence of this apple core may not, however, be enough to convince the experts or the public of its importance these times I have pressed into the folds of a day passed by and the jingling of that key cannot be helped it is evident once placed on the world wide web it is prove-able beyond my immediate space and the breath that raises my tummy will have meant nothing because the keys jingled, my pants were green and a car drove by it is later now towards evening and the lulling of rolling laundry comforts me but the quietness of my room does not I sit still in the same spot it has been a slow afternoon with nobody and I worry that I will be stuck with myself the entire summer I enjoy loneliness in the sun but in an unfamiliar bedroom with vacancy sitting next to me it is eerie

24


and I feel someone’s hands digging out a cave of sadness into my belly I almost forgot to capture the light on the boardwalk shameless tears were on the forefront of my conscience I did not wash my face that night but I wore freshly cleaned pyjamas maybe these times are worth keeping still and warmed under the glow of a tungsten light bulb or wrapped in the darkness of a heavy blanket to be absorbed I step into spaces filled with still air and loud voices that almost inscribe their text onto walls I once saw white out of my window and captured steam from a cup I wound it tightly inside my video camera steam is so common but every time it is magical this time could be inscribed into youth it is familiar and not unlike many experiences

25


a word to this encounter and the story it has held sometimes I wish I hadn’t met you in certain frames of life I will not tell you who you are and what I know of you your shoulders disentangle with the ease of the unhinged in life your shoulders disentangle unnoticed and slip out of sight your shoulders work their edges into mine and sometimes I wish I hadn’t met you for the fear of thinking of it too much with words my tongue is not quick enough to impress in an awkward moment with words I will not tell you what I know of you and I know much I’m grateful to have met you but not always in this way this way requires navigation of the best kind a navigation that rolls in my belly before it sits well I hide these secrets in these words laid down because poetry provides the best type of abstraction

26


I am honest of your presence while my words dress up into symbolic lessons and dancing syllables poetry requires me to mask you through magnificence it is too quite on its own the bark of a palm tree sits thick out my window while I write this a chunk has been ripped out to form a perfect rectangle to reveal its centre it doesn’t know of you and what you do in another part of the city it just sits strong to reveal its wound

27


On Love And Its Weight


transference if I were to lay next to you my arms would curl around your face in the shape of a half moon my legs around you snug one graces the top of your stomach one is squished under the nape of your back then the air collapses beneath the warmth of all of you and my limbs with it they rest on cold sheets withered by the tossing of invisible bodies light as the air that travels up and down my nostrils if I were to lay next to you my warmth would travel through yours and back again and my past summers in the sun would have meant something I absorb sun and store it in my stomach for the empty space in my bed and the twisted sheets that try to stretch themselves out at night I absorb sun for transference sometimes the heat is sucked out of an open window if I were to lay next to you it would stay still between us until the draft outside settled down

30


night spills I could dip my hand into the hollow space that exists beneath your bed as if to grasp onto bits of spirit as they seep out of sleep and dreams it’s because you are there and still that I wrap myself around these pieces of colour I imagine that this is what it would be like to hold you under my breath beneath my chest a piece of you neck arm leg tummy the more you sleep the more you lose yourself spirits drip through bed springs and yours is almost dry bits of spirit stretch their limbs and stain old floorboards red is the colour of spirit it is not inconspicuous it reminds us of life and our contents spilled over

31


to taste dust when I walk I fold between places my body bends at the corners of language and tongue where the flicker of the unrecognizable melds into place melds into what is known and solid in ground this is where dirt meets all feet it sits in all country and sticks to all sole of flat naked foot I can do this I can do this I can find what is same in all that is different because your creases wrap around my body parts in places that have dust that I have never seen until now it is red and it climbs trees like lost orphans waiting for the sky their eyes closed with hands that search and find all knowledge of place with every palm print towards their final destination this is what it could be to find your ground your body is never precarious in mine but your land flickers under my feet and I must not be afraid to drop

32


but I am because I don’t want to be the only lonely woman in town with a strangeness that does not meet expectation I selfishly pray in secret corners at night I selfishly pray that your feet and tongue will move towards mine and that I can just wait for our permanence you are deep in me like never before like nothing else could be and I cling to all the dust because that is what stings in all memory in all photographs that and your kindness your soft eyes and way of being where are you and must I follow like a woman should do or will you show your way to mine a cool breeze traces beneath us even between this heat and wet air a cool breeze traces beneath us maybe that is what will move us that is what will find us with endless invisible fingertips that stretch between your body and mine

33


I will try I am not as good as I present myself to be to you, my lover because under all skin tosses turmoil all secrets are hidden or kept in trusted mouths whose lips are expected not to part but they do so I must tell you in advance I am not as good as I present myself to be to you, my lover from what still lies underneath you must forgive me or if not or if not, forgiveness my body and all that goes with it will collapse beneath marching feet beneath solidarity protest trampled - my body and I I am not as good as I present myself to be to you, my lover my secrets are supposed to remain my own because words are heavier with hurt than reality in and of its own existence words cut through everything you got while action happened floats above a beautiful fine blanket of glass that shifts its weight with each lift of heel and foot

34


that becomes smoother over time gentle in its shame that wraps its thin film over this relevant body and is barely traceable even through squinted eyes imagined transparent and always hidden below the glory of each present moment below the glory of each present celebration celebration of lives together I am not as good as I present myself to be to you, my lover but you must know you have a secret you haven’t told me and our words will cradle each other through their pain with hands that lift each thread of bone laced in us fusing us in formation through smoked screens limitless congregation and dances that are stepped in effortless time breezy moments of joy we make through these brief times of obfuscation and I am good in your arms and you are good in mine and these moments of joy bind strong these moments bind strong and time is but passing

35


and time counters no weight held when our hearts sink into one another from pendulums swung high our hearts crash and bind like magnets that ache for another chance at connection while, still our secrets stay safe and hidden and I am not as good as I present myself to be to you, my lover but this is strong and walls will crumble through our imagined names

36


when language broke up God I want to break up this language tear it apart and believe God was there simply because the word has a resonance a weight an inert sense of lightness where air can wash over it to have its way through where air can trust its way and God I don’t even believe in the word but I believe in its power and purpose I could have let you go at some point in time but someone told me God made it possible and I didn’t even believe them but I hold on as your word drops into a drifted dance your voice is sunk and mine is of memory a voice to twist into yours and so we hold on while from a distance

37


your body wants through digital glass and your thick air and the song of neighbourhood sounds seeps into my place where cool air wanders because it doesn’t know how to rise and fall but it never needed ‘God’ to prove anything it just thought of your weight pushing it towards dust and a smile was made and language was broken

38


On Being A Lady


boxes for tearing as years step by and I know more of what I see I feel more taste more grasp more my heart is heavier with its weight and I long for naivety because in this world ideology is a dream whatever the form, manipulation or present day trend a man has sat before me and will sit again his mind opening up hundreds of matchstick boxes just for me just for me his mind opened and closed and searched hundreds of matchstick boxes each with an individual shape each hand painted and all for my body to fold down into ‘careful not to crease the sides’ he said ‘boxes are not meant for tearing’ he said ‘you may choose from these hundreds of shapes to contain but what I know is that the future holds you

42


in this and that and those’ and like a magician he picked up each relevant box with speed and light fingertips each spun and each glowed like a glorious crystal he tried to feed me those boxes he tried to feed me that bitter taste he said ‘whether you be light woman this be your box’ he said ‘whether you be brown woman this be your box’ he said ‘whether you be dark woman this be your box’ and I yelled ‘but there’s a woman in the city screaming she’s tired of your worship she wants her humanity back.’ and we yelled ‘but there’s a girl down the street two arms tied down legs bent up she will kick because she doesn’t need you.’ and he replied his face red from blood running rampant ‘and you reject my advances and you dare you with weak frame and you with weak frame

43


oppress me you with weak frame oppress me I am the righteous one and now I will preach my body was meant to tell your future, your past and your present I am fallen at your knees woman I am blowing kisses from the ground to your lips woman and now I will guide you through your past, your present, your future woman’ this he spoke all this he spoke this he yelled in anger and my tongue had no moment’s air to interrupt and so when all tall tales were told and his breath was too hard to find I leaned forward and I lean with whisper ‘what scares you magic man what lies beneath that growling throat is only a hundred little boxes’

44


nameless in death identity has been watered down for me in these names they have called for me like a thousand yellow birds that have been laid down on the sea a white sheet shifts over top every wing holds another every wing sways to a dancing weight of body and bone and my blood knows my name and my blood knows your name and my blood dances like weight and my name sinks under earth and my name vanishes in air it will not meet the throats of many my name has country, body, blood, time I want them to stumble over and see I cannot get over this I cannot let this sit forever it is thrashing in the stomach let my body fall

45


and let that body be beautiful through fall and when limp the most beautiful will you gather to hear my name whispered past dead lips will hundreds kneel, their hair a silken blanket will hundreds crawl, knees bloodied waiting for a name past lips lost

46


through bent sound, through whispered word his hand as cold as cut glass crumbled from winters air his hand cut glass have you ever felt violence in word and sound have you ever felt violence in word and sound and on school bus paired with the cackle of kids when accent doesn’t matter and when whisper makes everything worse and when eyes paired with whisper accentuates crowd cackle and when chatter turns into condescension when whisper feels the most violent tone makes all the difference and sound is incidental as trees outside bus window become a blur of stick figures stretching for the sky following winters bitter touch winters bitter end and when winters bitter touch is paired with a strangers hand on your thigh a squeeze of your thigh a violent whisper

47


have you ever felt violence in word and sound a lean towards window a grip of metal window ledge all you could wish for at that moment is the silent walk home in woods and gravel road where home is log house on the edge of cool lake

48


for a lady and her practical things I have left love in men’s hands I could not but be fooled by their poetry they could never love me in truth… their impracticality was too great as it pushed love out of its edges and I was left to draw practical things over and over our lives and I can’t hold all practicality up high to make love and so I dropped love into men’s hands to watch it melt and walked away in kindness and for my own sake love is left wafting love is left wafting but it should always have truth and never impracticality else empty hands are left open and acheing my mind is made up love is waiting

49


how is a lady supposed to sit you’ve told me once but it seems to have slipped from memory


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Between Body and Knowing