Sunday, January 24, 2010


Sometimes I get poems stuck in my head... like when a song starts bouncing around in there, but it'll be a phrase from a poem that I heard one time. It happens with novels too. It doesn't necessarily have to do with the quality of the whole work, but with the certain phrase or image. Ayn Rand's "our days are numbered" calendar in Atlas Shrugged is one of them, as are China Mieville's black windows, Carolyn Chute's soft whitebellied heroines, Annie Dillard's dead like sheaves of falling wheat, Dorothy Allison's scrambled eggs and tomatoes, Muriel Rukeyser's useful shit, Yeats' cloths of heaven, the anonymous "westron wynde"...

Sometimes what my brain coughs up is a message for me, and sometimes not. I have been lately pondering domesticity, and this is one of today's--those last two lines stuffing up my thoughts. I highly recommend the collection that this came from. May the copyright gods forgive me.

Affections Must Not
by Denise Riley

This is an old fiction of reliability

is a weather presence, is a righteousness
is arms in cotton

this is what stands up in kitchens
is a true storm shelter
& is taken straight out of colonial history, master and slave

arms that I will not love folded nor admire for their 'strength'
linens that I will not love folded but will see flop open
tables that will rise heavily in the new wind & lift away, bearing their precious burdens

of mothers who never were, not white nor black
mothers who were always a set of equipment and a fragile balance
mothers who looked over a gulf through the cloud of an act & at times speechlessly saw it

inside a designation there are people permanently started to bear it, the not-me against sociology
inside the kitchens there is a realizing of tightropes
Milk, if I do not continue to love you as deeply and truly as you want and need
that is us in the mythical streets again

support, support

the houses are murmuring with many small pockets of emotion
on which spongy grounds adults' lives are being erected and paid for daily
while their feet and their childrens' feet are tangled around like those of fen larks
in the fine steely wires which run to and fro between love and economics

affections must not support the rent

I. neglect. the house

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