Thursday, March 29, 2007

Letter from a Demoiselle, 1907

We are the women of the night,
we who stand, unashamed as Eve
before the Fall of naked bodies,
staring deep into those who watch.
We stretch angular and proud
bodies to distract from hard and dark
eyes. Ours is the oldest profession,
but we are the youngest and best,
the lovely little ladies of Avignon,
Spain's daughters gone to seed,
the ones who will not obey,
the ones without another way.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Pablo Picasso, 1907

Author's Note:
It was my good fortune to visit this painting at NYC's MoMA last week, and I've been haunted by the sheer size of it ever since. This poem doesn't begin to do it justice.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


it is the study of being
at the summit, of knowing
from a distance the real
truth of things. it is

the way a teacher's hands
don't grip a podium. instead
they trace a line down
lecture notes, or drum

idly songs no student
has ever heard. it is
the spankings parents wish
they didn't have to give,

this hurts me more
than it hurts you. it is
the way we forget what
we were the very second

we become something else.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

for those who wonder why the red man is

"...[communism] makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic." -Karl Marx, The German Ideology.

so long since the scare, now, and still
when my fiancé praises Marx
my parents think he is a madman.

Marx, they say, and shake
their bourgeois heads. to think
a man so smart could go

the way of weakness,
turn his back on Adam Smith,
and dance his way to poverty

and death beneath a dictator
and the hammer and sickle.
all he wants, I say to them,

is to live many lives at once
and still have enough in his pocket
to buy breakfast at a small cafe.