CELEBRATING AMERICAN SHE-POETS (32): Linda Chown, “A Poem of How She Thought It Could Be” and other Poems

“Poems are like dreams: in them you put what you don’t know you know.” Adrienne Rich, Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations



A Poem of How She Thought It Could Be

they thought it could be simple

in the beginning there was an in and an out

stiff byways, like zippers where there are too many

as in the names of those writers there

on the desk where they are swimming in paper

(too much paper leeches nubile thought, she thought)

 

when fish die they say the salt sinks, into a pile

there is a woman here with books she says

she knows their names what they meant

to say with the zippers and all that salt.  Maybe

 

Simon and Hagar once ate anchovies in a corner

where they thought it could be simple

simply to hold hands maybe to touch and lick the salt

just to suck the taste in, there without the words

 

like the silent gasp of new pilots at take off

or the pop young birds make in small circles

round and round spring as the air begins to putt

and pulse with Virginia bloom and the world views of  Ellen Glasgow

© 2018, Linda E. Chown

McCarthy’s Girl

On looking how she was. Staring
always, as though there were
depths and hollows to see through
somehow all into. Something to stay with her
little girl hands twisting and then the warts.
She would always try to pull
The world into her fingers.
To play the sounds closer.
She was just oblivious
To her difference.

But behind, they knew her
for the witch they thought they knew she was,
Jude, Commie, sick-to-stick-out little girl,
Pale-wincer-in-the-sun with that heavy coat.
Cassie and Lassie, those twins,
they knew fast just what to do.
lasso a tip of her hanging braid
and soak it slow and silent in the
ink-well behind. Well, she just kept her still.
Her long eyelids shuddering in her quiet.
Little girl on the edges, locked inside in.
No Howdy Doody times, no way to say it.
She just fought to gaze hard to look straight
beyond the puppet land of the 1950s.
She had to come home to hide
behind the tv and the cooking.

All the time life opened up for her
savage saddle markings.

originally published in The BeZine, September 2018

© 2018, Linda E. Chown

Coming Back: Franco not here no more, 1988

I go blind from then I go
here now so into Franco-free light
where I don’t know
how to turn my eyes,
<em>spent scars of second skin</em>,
years of no and fury,
now the clean air breaking in
to be real in this to breathe it
all in and then to die in Madrid.
Tempt it not—I surely do not
Not too. No Franco and his cops
Nor his tiny stamps, unwritten laws
And truncheons at the ready.

I did not come here to die
but to be home here
where I can get lost again free
in a landscape of
words drifting oh words!
Hombre que te pasa
la Republica Zaragoza libertad.

Find the bridge, the path,
to cross over to some-
where the verdict words cannot.
Qué bonitas son
Son las flores
No, not just pretty. Knot not.

When I go blind,
“good I cannot see them”
(as the words once were cords
even to touch their fury)
The pain of sound.
Clackety clack.
Let the air out
of this flat tire.

I’m breaking in
to be real again—
the Guadarrama mountain range
splendid low about the horizon
white-scarred muses
women scarring Fascism.
Late afternoon glory with them in Madrid.
The air so pure it stings to settle.

originally published in The BeZine, September 2018

© 2018, Linda E. Chown

What they said

At the beginning of before.
Here it is: are we in the right
spindle bobbing away?
Are you a fable resting in the sun and wanting?
Tell me how your dreams are.
Tell me what you might mean to yourself in their fury,

Now, skirts forever in a night wind
Yesterday spins yellows around tomorrow
Whatever did your mother tell you about
late at night when you put your book down
on the bed and she came in soundless
with a tight face to sit in the dark with you
while you wheezed and you waited.
Violence in the coal mines.

They always told me
La Pasionaría was brave
no pasarán, she said. With her vision
she was defending Madrid’s mountains
they told me and I heard her when
she spoke with that spike of passion
indomitable: she said no pasarán
and in the foothills there were cheers all dressed in black.

Your father I learned took a gun with him
there at the beginning of before
to protect himself at midnight
on the picket lines in the dark
to protect himself from hit men
who hated his vision out west
in the fog in those long flat parking lots .

Low in his left cheek a muscle quivered
within, at the end of a smile that wasn’t.
He took a gun and she went kitten silent on your bed.
The quiet of her heavy sitting
at the beginning of before
reminds me of an old dream,
her telling you of crossing the street
because of the scar on her skin
because she wanted to hide it from all eyes

Was this a mingled message
to fight with all the passion the rains pour
or to scurry away from feeling?
To hold the front line or to flee into a hole?
Camus who believed in solitude as his struggle
And Aragon whose masses were transcendental
Tell, tell me more please before the end is over.

Isidora Dolores Ibárruri Gómez, aka “La Pasionaria,” a Spanish Republican leader of the Spanish Civil War

originially published in The BeZine, September 2018

© 2018, Linda E. Chown

LInda E. Chown

LINDA E. CHOWN grew up in Berkeley, Ca. in the days of action. Civil Rights arrests at Sheraton Palace and Auto Row.  BA UC Berkeley Intellectual History; MA Creative Writing SFSU; PHd Comparative Literature University of Washington. Four books of poetry. Many poems published on line at Numero Cinq, Empty Mirror, The Bezine, Dura, Poet Head and others. Many articles on Oliver Sachs, Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf, and many others. Twenty years in Spain with friends who lived through the worst of Franco. I was in Spain (Granada, Conil and Cádiz) during Franco’s rule, there the day of his death when people took to the streets in celebration. Interviewed nine major Spanish Women Novelists, including Ana María Matute and Carmen Laforet and Carmen Martín Gaite.

 


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Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”



 The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” Ganga White, teacher and exponent of Yoga and founder of White Lotus, a Yoga center and retreat house in Santa Barbara, CA

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton

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