Mary Dezember | 3 poems

Trinity Site: The End of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

An obelisk with a plaque.
This is what they want you to see.

A simple memorial. Historical site plaque.

Here it is so quiet, so peaceful,
As peaceful as a cemetery,
As peaceful as the dead.

So here I am again,
The first time with a few people
In a scheduled tour,
This time,
Open House.
Souls everywhere.

210 miles south of Los Alamos,
A test site,
To the scientists.
A test site.

This was the home and ranch of a family.
And, in the vicinity, were homes.

For New Mexicans, this is not a test site;
This is home.

For whom is your tear shed,
Oppenheimer?

You slap poetry in the face
With giving this place a name inspired by Donne.

You slap God in the face.

I am normally an optimistic person,
But its hard to believe that the arms race
Will save us from this.

Destroyer of worlds.

Ah, yes, Oppenheimer, a sentiment a bit too late.

Why come here? Why see this place?
And yet I have done so, twice.

It is strange to be standing at the spot
That changed tomorrow forever.

For what am I looking?


I suppose there is nothing quite so powerful,
Quite so pensive,
Quite so reflective
As standing on the spot
That detonated our future,

Where everything changed forever.


This truly is ground zero.

This marks the beginning of the end

Bisti Badlands

Shards of petrified time,
Windswept creases of dark mineral —
Jewels in their geologic setting define.

Even rocks split into sandstone gems.

Mica glitter as diamonds
Or slivers of broken sky.

I wander a jeweled paradise.

Fire burned as annihilation here
Providing a charred base for every delight.

Exploded trees transformed in waiting;
Their pieces and chips look fresh
And clean; wood now stone.

The hoodoo clans in large stone flat hats
Salute me with their straight stance.

I rest in wonder
As the persistent and prominent wind
Continues to carve and create
Even now my thoughts:

When you see from a distance
Don’t be fooled by apparent desolation.
Enter and explore.
Life is a treasure land

Poet’s Note: “Still Howling” and “Endnote to Still Howling” are an homage to Allen Ginsberg and to his poems “Howl” and “Footnote to Howl” and a tribute to his publisher, City Lights Publishers, and to Allen’s influences, namely Walt Whitman, but mostly to Allen and what he gave us — the right to howl.

Still Howling

For Galaxy Dancer

I

I see the best souls of my sex thrive despite the madness,
     defiant Aphrodites rising above the sea,
naked in their wakefulness, determined to love in the charge of night
     and the terror of the day,
deciding once again to abandon the search for the soulful man
     after yet another set of promisepromisepromise
     tips the dominos of stated love
     into a dynamic display of arcane art,
     cascading into a fluid falling
     of each word promisepromisepromise caress kiss
     fuck
     from the men
who, for three weeks, call and text and relentlessly
     text and change
     their plans so they can drive across town
     and fly across continents to see us
     only to soon mysteriously forever disappear,
who devote their lives to a higher calling, meditate, pray then
     lash out angrily when we ask a question,
who, while holding our hands and kissing our cheeks verbally twist
     our arms behind our backs and nip our cheeks,
     holding mirrors to our faces and ranting at us
     that we are their relentless demanding debilitated mothers,
who have environmentally-safe companies, off-grid homes,
     and work against proliferation to keep the world a place,
     sitting late into the night with grieving families,
but slam the gavel to the bench in the pronouncement
     that we are selfish and demanding when we ask to be held
     after a day we spent helplessly watching human sacrifices by
     the gods of business and have realized finally that each
     sacrifice was us,
who vow they will be there for us but won’t return calls or texts
     even when our closest family member has just died,
who have children they want us to raise, children whose mothers
     escaped through the vacuum cleaner,
who, with blood perpetually drying under their fingernails,
     doggedly beget war,
     marching our courageous and caring
     sons and daughters
     into the family business and even into its copiers and
     shredders,
who bring prison with them in their assertion they were protecting
     their families from invaders, dealers, and the IRS,
who visit the Dali Lama, chant on mountain tops,
     embrace the dawn of the equinox on the apex of a Sedona
     rock in the midst of a vortex
     by running up their wives’ credit cards then vanish
     into the evening mist,
who profess their love but refuse to hide their dating profiles on
     matchdotcom, okcupid, greensingles, matchmaker,
     loveforever dot org, dot net, dot com, dot com,
     dot we do not communicate,
     claiming these are mere social networking sites,
     they just want to meet new friends,
     and say we are selfish and have no right to expect their
     profiles to be hidden, and, by asking, have now ruined the
     perfect night of sex and spooning we just shared,
who meet us for coffee and after only this once, because we don’t
     want to meet them again, call and text and email inexorably,
     harassing us with venom and nasty,
who hit us in the adolescent classroom, calling us crater face
     because we mature with pimples,
who bully with questions and accusations every time we step outside
     our doors,
who tell us what to do with our homes, yards, jobs, lives, children and
     claim they are just being neighborly,
who boldly ask us to come to Boulder, and we drive to Boulder, and
     after we arrive in Boulder, they no longer want to see us,
     and we sleep alone in a sad motel in Boulder,
who with sweet breath of desire tell us they will count the times we
     make love, then
     we discover they can only count to one,
who patiently date us laugh touch kiss and smile for a few months, no
     sex yet, so we can be sure, then after finally making love say
     this was a mistake,
who on our honeymoons say this was a mistake, no not the trip
     to the tropics or the tower or the falls, we are the mistake,
who, with fatherly, brotherly, uncle-y advice, tell us we are naive and
     stupid to believe what men say,
and we wonder what kind of world this is
     that gives the message to males that it is smart to lie
     but gives the message to females that we are stupid to
     believe men, stupid, stupid, stupid, I believed him —
     how about the message to everyone that your word
     should be true and on your honor so you can be honorable?
who see us as prey when we reach age 10, taking our childhood,
     never do we get to be a non-sexualized person,
who, on occasion, stop leaking faucets, kill people-devouring spiders
     but freely distribute advice, solutions, STDs...and babies —

ah, Galaxy, we are not safe, but we are resilient, in ways that our
     mothers from forever
     past must have also known,
as they forgave while being burned at the stake, their flesh
     searing,
     prayed before putting their heads to the block, bracing
     before being slammed and ripped with the furious steel rod
     weapon,
     which made the ripping and hand-muffled
     screaming beyond the limits of what should be known,
     escaping into a mental abyss before thuds and blows to the
     faces,
     blows to the stomachs, blows to the breasts,
     blowblowblow
and too much of that still happens to our sisters.


II

And what of our daughters?

The Machinery of Balls, soccer balls, baseballs, volleyballs,
     golf balls, tennis balls, rugby balls, racket balls,
     balls balls balls and of hockey pucks, of fucks
     and of cock
     built of titanium and diamond, built in the basement labs
     of Los Alamos and sometimes in homes,
     is nearly invisible — it takes eyes beyond the spiritual to see
     it; it is easier to feel it,
and now that our daughters are allowed to run on courts and fields,
     they sense this Machinery with a mixture of caution and
     familiarity
     and even guardianship,
     and we, the mothers, sisters and aunts,
     want to warn, inform and protect them and to protect men, too,
because men, too, are caught in this Machinery,
     and we have sons and grandsons and brothers and fathers and
     grandfathers and nephews and cousins and uncles and
     friends whom we love,
and it occurs to me that we are all of this Machinery, I am of it, too;
     it is the world of balls, for the world is a ball, too, in a
     universe of balls,
     some are hot, searing, rotating, some appear cold and static,
     but a Machinery of Balls like
     the pitching machine, and we must
     be prepared, as our daughters are prepared, to swing to
     survive the blows when the
Pitching Machine starts pitching softballs slowly, in the fragrance
     of the morning air, dew still freshening the space around the
     cage, we still slender in our short white shorts,
     we are ready to learn the game,
Pitching Machine quickens as balls spin toward us, we batting at
     them, deflecting some and dodging most, and the Machine’s
     arm shoots, then shoots, then shoots
     more rapidly, balls shoot at us ballsballsballs
     ballsballsballs and what has happened to this fucking machine
     it is broken and relentless in throwing balls at us
     and these are hard balls, balls of iron, of steel, of stone, of
     titanium and muscle, rarely of diamond,
thud thud thud thud thud to the head and we are locked in the cage
     and bruised by balls but we are still standing
thud to the breast, thud thud thud to the heart, thud again to the
     heart,
thud to the thighs, thud to the pubics, and now red
     stains our white shorts and we start to howl,
     and I am still howling as the
Pitching Machine pitches more hardballs, then it starts pitching
     soccer balls, tennis balls, racquet balls, golf balls,
     and everything spherical —
     marbles, oranges, furiously at us comes balls of yarn,
     snow balls, and a planet called Cockland, pitched at us,
     and we take it, the world we know,
     the whole planet of Cockland,
     absorbing Cockland into our blood,

and my daughter says there are too many balls in my poem,
     and she’s right, that is exactly the point,
     there are too many balls in my poem.


III

Galaxy Dancer! I’m with you in Cockland
     where you’ve stayed saner than I have
I’m with you in Cockland
     where we love men yes we do
     and we love their bodies geometric hard muscular
     the safety of chests and the thrill of erections
I’m with you in Cockland
     where I spend one more night in bed
     with my computer and my cat and with Allen and with Walt
     and his loving bedfellow God
I’m with you in Cockland
     where I thank Allen and Allen knows
     that I am grateful that he gave us this form to express
     ourselves and my bra’s off to you Allen and this is an
     homage for I am alive serious and I know you will cheer
     for me from Heaven where this poem is published with
     yours and many others because you gave us the form
     that I at this moment christen
     The Howl Form
     and you gave us the right the freedom to howl so that we
     too can howl

And don’t you reader or listener in the audience
     have at least one thing to Howl about? Let’s hear it! So let’s sing
     our praises of thanksgiving
     to Allen by howling which I am doing by Still Howling
I’m with you in Cockland
     where I thank Walt and Walt knows
     don’t you Walt that I am thankful for the free long-legged
     long-winded long-armed lines circling and hugging our
     waists and embracing the expansive freedom to express
     freely and expansively in repetitious verse
I’m with you in Cockland
     where the system and its people and our
     fathers husbands brothers uncles co-workers supervisors
     bosses lovers and friends still have 525,600 ways
     to tell us to shut up which is one way for each minute of
     each day of each new year
I’m with you in Cockland
     where men and women have given and continue to give
     their lives in courtrooms and prisons and to death so that
     we can be free
     to write and speak and howl even if
     the words are about Cockland
I’m with you in Cockland
     where we love men love men love men
     love them love men we do
     but just because we love them so much doesn’t mean
     we need to be quiet
I’m with you in Cockland
     where once a famous male poet
     after hearing me read poems now in my debut book of
     poetry said You are writing a new kind of female poetry:
     It is obvious you’ve been hurt by men, but you love them.
     You are not writing angry poetry
     and it is true: I am not angry
     I am just saying
I’m with you in Cockland
     where I am just saying where you are just saying
     where he is just saying where she is just saying where we all
     can just say though I once was quiet and still as a little
     mouse while inside I was howling but because of
     Allen and the City Lights that are the brightest I am now
     howling and I am no longer still for I am loud howling and
     with this I am Still Howling
I’m with you in Cockland
     because for now this is the only place
     to live our lives and life is amazing incredible beautiful
     regenerative exciting shining and glorious
     and even in Cockland this is my moment
     this is your moment and no one can take the glory of that
     unless we give it to them
I’m with you in Cockland
     where I will die and I am not afraid to die
     I just prefer to live
I’m with you in Cockland
     my sister
     where you persevere
     come what may
     without real health care with few opportunities
     with no more than minimum wage yes still working harder
     than our male counterparts for less
     recognition and less pay
     we survive on crumbs falling from the master’s table but we
     are not lap dogs and we are making our way
     to speak at the banquet and to remake
     the table so that it is round
I’m with you in Cockland
     where we hug and kiss and caress our men
     in the beds they’ve made
     the men who snore all night and won’t let us sleep

Men, keep your underpants on, we’re free! We’ve had enough of
     Cockland. Try giving us something new and find within you a
     nakedness and love that manifests in ways beyond the body,
     way beyond the cock.

My soul-full infinite sister,

I’m with you in Cockland,
     where I see you dancing above me through the galaxies,
     weaving barefoot tracks in the cosmos
     and in the celestial sand
     as you continue your universal global coastal dance
     to my skiff, moored on the shore
     of the un-navigable ocean of hegemonous men.



Endnote to Still Howling

Forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive,
     forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive.

The body needs forgiveness, the mind needs forgiveness, even
     the good ole soul in all its devoted goodness, lamenting
     and loneliness needs forgiveness, and the spirit,
     crazy journeyer, needs
     forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a different Realm.
     We are here to populate that Realm.

Forgiveness helps everyone, the world, each cell of our being
     human,
For what are we without forgiveness?
     Yes, what are we without forgiveness?

Beasts that tear at one another, digging for the heart with our
     incisors, digging to destroy the heart of the other, digging
     and tearing
     into our own hearts?

And in spite of being trained to believe otherwise,
     humans do not have to be beasts —
     we are not animals; we are human, meaning humane.
     Break training: Forgive.

We hurt one another; in spite of our best attempts to do otherwise,
     it happens — we hurt one another, so

Forgive and create a space for connection and for breathing
     and for not walking on a planet of broken shells;
     instead,
     let’s walk on oceans.

Humans, let humans be human.
     Man, Woman, the human step is compassion.
     The superhuman step is forgiveness,
     And then, Superman, Superwoman, we fly.
     We’re closer to the divine than we know.

Forgive and forgive.

Forgive everyone, and everything, that makes you want to
     howl.

Forgive everyone, and everything, that makes you howl.
     Forgive Cockland in all of its self-made glory.
     Cockland, forgive.

Forgiveness is the vehicle to the Land of Miracles —
     Forgive and be
     the alchemy.

Ask to be forgiven.
     Yes, ask others to forgive you.

Forgive life and what life gives you.

Forgive God.

Forgiveness releases you
     and gives you song.

Practice forgiveness with every breath
     so that at the moment preceding death
     you will be forgiving.

Mostly,
     look into the mirror and say,
     I forgive you; I love you,

Then live in the miracle
     of love’s reflection.


[“Still Howling” and “Endnote to Still Howling” were first published 
by Cacti Fur]

mary_dezember
Mary Dezember

Mary Dezember earned her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Indiana University, with an emphasis on poetry and with Ph.D. minors in Performance Studies and Art History. She believes poetry should be written to accentuate the musicality of language, and when it is read or recited, it should be a performance that highlights the compositional beauty of the poem.

Her poems, many of which explore the quest to identity, sensuality and spirituality, and the relationship to others, have appeared in several literary journals and anthologies, including Adobe Walls; Fixed and Free Anthology; Cacti Fur; divide: journal of literature, arts, and ideas; The Ledge; The New York Quarterly; The Pedestal Magazine; Santa Fe Poetry Broadside; Weber Studies; Wind; WordWrights!; the 1997 Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of American Poetry, and have aired on radio programs in New Mexico and Indiana and on Area Arts Television in Bloomington, Indiana. A CD of her poetry, Nakedness: Poems of Sensuality and Spirituality, was released by Cader Idris Productions in 1997.

Her first book, Earth-Marked Like You, was published by Sunstone Press in 2011. “The poetry of my first book, Earth-Marked Like You, recognizes the body as a temporal and spatial version of the soul,” Dezember says. “I believe our passion as human beings is to transcend our ordinary lives, to feel the excitement of the life force: often we use our physicality, our bodies, to do this. Ultimately, the poetry in my first book is one person’s heart quest for the integration of human intellect, physicality and spirituality.”

In 2016, Dezember released her second book, Still Howling, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and “Footnote to Howl” in Howl and Other Poems [amazon]. Still Howling explores the importance of creative expression and of finding a voice in hurtful or oppressive situations and to question hegemony – with the realization that the embracing of life happens through the alchemy of forgiveness. Graced with cover art painted by her nephew, Steve Dezember II, using his wheelchair, the book includes poems about or in tribute to courageous life-embracing innovators, such as Steve and his wife, Hope, Allen Ginsberg, Rosalind Franklin, and Georgia O’Keeffe. “Still Howling” and “Endnote to Still Howling” are the First Place Winner of the Best Beat Poem Contest, 2016, sponsored by Beatlick Press. They were first published by the journal Cacti Fur.

She performs her poetry nationally and internationally at arts festivals, bookstores, conferences, and in coffee house poetry programs. For three years, she directed a coffee house poetry series that featured internationally-renowned poets and writers and provided a reading forum for emerging poets and writers. She will be launching the website poetryaboutart.com in 2017.

Dezember believes in freedom of expression, inclusivity, pluralism, and creating awareness that catalyzes healing. Professor of English, she teaches creative writing, art history and literature at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, where she also served as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Chair of the Communication, Liberal Arts, Social Sciences department.

 

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