Sunday, September 24, 2017

bell hooks ~

"Silence is present everywhere under patriarchy, though it requires
different silences from men than from women. You can imagine
the policing of gender as the creation of reciprocal silences, and
you can begin to recognize male silence as a tradeoff for power and
membership. No one ever put it better than bell hooks, who said:

The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not
violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males
that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill
off the emotional parts of themselves. If an individual is not suc-
cessful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count on part-
icular  men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.

That is, patriarchy requires that men silence themselves first (and
perhaps it's worth noting again that, though patriarchy is a system
that privileges men and masculinity, many women are complicit in it,
some men rebel against it, and some people are undoing the rules of
gender that props it up). This means learning not only to be silent to
others but also to themselves, about aspects of their inner life and self.

Reading hook's passage, I was chilled, as though I suddenly
understood that this is the plot of a horror movie or a zombie
movie. The deadened seek out the living to exterminate feeling,
either by making their targets join them in numbness or by intim-
idating or assaulting them into silence. In the landscape of silence,
the three realms might be silence imposed from within; silence
imposed from without; and silence that exists around what has not
yet been named, reorganized, described, or admitted. But they are
not distinct; they feed each other; and what is unsayable becomes
unknowable and vice versa, until something breaks."

— Rebecca Solnit

(Happy Birthday bell hooks, 25 September 1952)

Friday, September 22, 2017


The Prayer Book

For years I've wanted to write a prayer book.

Why? Because I've learned

that the solid hangs upon nothingness.

Because I've found that the sentence is a kind of petition.

And because I've found that in all that I've said

in all that I've said I've said only thank you.

So, little by little,

                       in fact I've written that book

and today it weighs some two hundred pounds

and soon it will celebrate its fiftieth birthday

and yesterday I bought it shoes.

Aharon Shabtai (translated by Peter Cole)

Kharja / Closure

 "Oh, I'll

love you alright;


   long as you

manage to bend

   both of my


back to the

   thin silver

earrings you gave me."

(Anonymous, Mozarabic, 12th century
 translate by Peter Cole)

Palestine: A Sestina

Hackles are raised at the mere mention of Palestine,
let alone  The Question of — who owns the pain?
Often it seems the real victims here are the hills —
those pulsing ridges, whose folds are tender fuzz of green
kill with softness. On earth, it's true, we're only guests,
but people live in places, and stake out claims to land.

From Moab Moses saw, long ago — a land
far off, and once I stood there facing Palestine
with Hassan, whose family lives in Amman. (We were his guests
at the Wahdat refugee camp.) Wonder shot with pain
came into his eyes as he gazed across the green
valley between Nebo and Lydda beyond the hills.

Help would come, says the Psalmist, from one of those hills,
though scholars still don't know for certain whether the land
in question was Zion, or the high places of Baal. The green
olives ripened, and ripen, either way in Palestine,
and the memory of groves cut down rings on pain
for those whose people worked them, for themselves or guests.

"I have been made a stranger in my home by guests,"
says Job, in Hebrew that evolved along these hills,
though he himself was foreign to them. His famous pain
is also that of those who call the Promised Land
home in  another tongue. Could what was pledged be Palestine?
Is Scripture's fence intended to guard this mountain's green?

Many have roamed its slopes and fields, dressed in green
fatigues, unable to fathom what they mean, as guests.
And armies patrol still, throughout Palestine,
as ministers mandate women and men to carve up its hills
to keep them from ever again becoming enemy land.
The search, meanwhile, goes on—for a balm to end the pain,

though it seems only to widen the rippling circles of pain,
as though the land itself became the ripples, and its green
a kind of sigh. So spring comes round again to the land,
as echoes cry: "It's mine!" —and the planes will bring in guests,
so long as water and longing run through these hills,
which some (and coins) call Israel, and others Palestine.

The pundits' talk of Palestine doesn't account for the pain—
or the bone-white hills, breaking the heart as they go green
before the souls of guests-on-earth who've known this land.

Peter Cole
Hymns & Qualms
new & selected poems & translations
Farrar, 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017


The University of Alabama Press 


Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Nicolas Guillén, Cuban Poet


Monday, September 18, 2017


Wood For Water

How come this night
You wash in a pan
A shallow draw of stream water
Spilled down from wild apples
Of the mountain, where deer
Browse, make trail
Leave droppings

Hand over hand, you may
Think of it this way, or
Water that simply flows
Spreading into a sound of peepers
Where I’ve entered
Truck low geared
Flushing every redwing
From trees we were to clear

Blackberries grew then
Tickling stone walls
While working in the heat, high boots
Rolled pants
Many came apart wet in my hands —
Couldn’t save any, not even for you

That was a half year ago —
Now dead wood dropped, hauled, split
Chickadees perch closely, fluttering pine
There is firewood to stack dry
Someplace through winter

At night you bathe cold, cold water
Heated warm —
When you dress you forget underwear
And the thin white blouse —

Just a dress, sleeveless and red

Rope Of Bells

It is the

Rope of bells

You have put behind the door

That let me know

Whenever one of us goes

To the privy

The woodshed

The outdoors



It is Spring

Already you relax in a cotton skirt

Passing through mountains is a strong feeling

Fields plowed, new wood split, the hawk floating

Puffs of softwood in the gray hills

A river runs with snow melting

A small bridge neatly built to get by

There is a pleasure in such places

An old woman and her huge straw hat

Raking the far corner of a hay field

These Of The Morning

There is the wondrous that begins here

So easily, the pail that you put out in the rain

That fills

Walk a meadow

Hold a hand with your two hands

Be with your closest

Sunlight is never far away

We’ve crossed the small water into our surroundings

Hiked and became tired and loved

And what we didn’t bring with us

We found

In the smell of each other, the little movings


I'm In Love With You
Who Is In Love With Me
Longhouse 2012