Kali Ma

No Womanís Land

Makeover Woman

Sleeping Beauty

Womanís Ladder




Kali Ma

Do you know Her?
destroyer whose footsteps
leave earthquake and flame
once flowers piled upon soil
past stripped
petals to pioneer
the birth of new color

a strand of heads drapes from her neck
lifetimes strung together
soul by umbilical soul
her night skin drips with snakes
naked but for a circle of arms
dangling from her waist
idle hands, yours and mine
detached for their freedom

Could you know Her?
youth emptied to winter
fruit molded to humus
dark womb of time
feet weighed, crushing the cosmic union
man woman with eyes closed in creation
in Lila
embracing instead
the right job, an endowed body, paper

Her willing sword slung high
She slays every illusion
lifts machete to clarify dreams
taunts with a head severed from story
offers the lotus to those who dare
lay upon her sacred guillotine

r aging in Her age
Kali Yuga
transformer of now
beating, burning, killing into life
welcome Her
Mother Death
Mother Change



No Womanís Land

I live in a world where women have operations
where Frankensteinís armies give us
what we think we want
collagenated lips and
hard blisters in our chest
tombstones betraying the mounds
our grandmothers fed time with

a world where doctors tell women
itís our fault, our uteruses are wrong
our emotions too unstable for lasting health
where women say
I donít use it anymore anyway
as if times had changed
and it was routine
to have our insides gutted
that the terror we felt
when Hitlerís men did it
wasnít our nightmare

where we have our viscera vacuumed
clean out fat
like chocolate stains
left behind by idle fingers
our thighs and bellies sucked barren
by gambling hoses
again and again
each time deciding an aneurysm
is a trivial price
for yet another shot
at willpower

a world where women buy magazines
populated by perfect little dolls
pages of un-ripened arms and asses
hips too narrow for children
airbrushes defying the gravity
we see in the mirror
leaving us to compete
against ourselves
against credit cards
wielded as our only defense

where our hair is plucked
waxed and shaved
and a Halloween mask
plasters our skin
shadowing our eyes
tarring our lashes
dying us blonde
because corporations
of not-so-gentle men
--of both sexes--prefer it

a world where beauty is pain
and surgeons are sadists
paid to break our noses
use knives to cut away
the echoes of our laughter
as if tucking the memories
could turn the clock
back to more victorious times
those years when women were afraid
and men listened
even if only to hear us in bed

where breasts are scaffolded
feet are spiked, nails pressed on
where we discount our flesh
for the deed to a five bedroom house
a six-figure checking account
a seven dollar blow job
our smells douched and flowered
sneaking just enough pheromones
to lure him away from his desk
his secretary, his wife

a world where women cook
feed others so we can binge or starve
slip mindlessly into the calorie mantra
haunt grocery isles and bakery counters
losing hours to the fat content of Haagen Dazs
skin our chicken bones
till there is nothing
worth fighting for
nobody fit enough for battle

where women have forgotten
forgotten we are lifeís urn
the instrument of every song
these temples desecrated
their dreams turned wicked
leaving only dead, plastic bodies
our once-watchful moon
shrouded by Prozac
and the lunacy
of motherless milk, ghettos
and war and war and war

I live in a world where women
are hushed, flattered
beaten into service
one by one
their visions
their strength
mocked by cigarette billboards
uninvited hands

This is a world where women donít belong



Makeover Woman

There are days when I want to be a Woman
to know others like myself
without the trespasses
of culture, of competition
betraying our birth
where the mention of our name, our sex
is a baptism.

Days like today, in writing class
considering Celinaís memories
as I watch her fingers curl in starless hair
noticing how light travels from her eyes
to cast perfect shadows on her checkbones
how her ample lips kiss and rub each line.

A sudden puffing in my checks
my lips thinning, my eyes less alluring
I follow as she finds Calcutta again
relaxing when her young stabs
disappoint the India I remember
subtleties of magic missing
from her obvious streets
nothing of sunset mounds
rising from walkways
in hues of cumin, marsala, nutmeg
or brown bones barefoot atop brown dirt
moving still in air unpaced by time.

But this is her spotlight
not mine
and a sky-felt knowing begs me
to step aside and listen
release the contest
ride on her breath
admire her gangly words
the way she stops and barely fills her lungs before speeding on.

Wanting, I shake off my training
my image, and, for a moment
barely a moment
her perfection and imperfection weigh equally
and I become that mama chicken
sleeping under her bed in that village
running out in clucks
to the rising of her daylight face.

I see a goddess alone
then a cauldron of us
wise women boiling up from the earth
watering our dreams with tears of blood
young voices, old voices
loud shards pulled above ground
cracked and unidentified
yet witness to a sisterhood
who honors her cities with speech
mothers and daughters life has not forgotten
still living together
without fear, lack or measurement
equality not just among men
but among women.

I want it forever
a vision bold enough
to wrinkle the hillsides
with the ripening of all Women
quiet my panic
as the roses touch her hands
crown graces her head
her with the youth, the men
the magazine covers
me wasting in age and wisdom

Today, she is winning
only to learn how to lose.
I am too.
And again, I want to be a Woman.




Sleeping Beauty

I look forward to the moment beauty is my own
conceived easily like yellow dipped trees, a lazy dog
the afternoon pillow of a loverís chest
when beauty is memorized and not a plea
taken at the face value of Hollywood

What is beauty anyway, but a shoulder to count on
when others canít see me in visual context
it is perfect complexity, me entirely rather than
in pieces of cheekbone, lip, eyelash, and flesh
me without the ebb and flow of mirrors

I want beauty that canít be consumed
by a box of cookies nor moon shadowed eyes
beauty that doesnít care what beauty says or does
no matter whoís watching, beauty that is but
blood in my veins, my breath, my forgiveness

When I remember beauty, I hold the balance
between heaven and earth, woman and man
I become a sky full of constellations
and the space where light
looks into the window of each day.

When I accept myself, I become as I am.



A Womanís Ladder

When she dances
she moves freedom
her bones
drape infinity
across the coiled sky
as she opens her flesh
to the doorway
of its infinite colors.

Here is, she dances
earth engorged
a slice of moon to hold on to.

But watch
watch how easily she falls
the seduction of herself shinning
crowds drawn around her
ready to witness
to feel their hearts
expanding with her chest
run their fingers along her scars
so beautifully trestled
and grown over with life.

Because when she notices
the noticing
attaches herself
to each fixed gaze
the music dulls
and the dance is over

arms and torso
only pretending to carve air
hips echoing a beat outside.
Caught by their whispers
she lingers
" how great"
she is
"what an inspiration"
she is
"her beauty, her joy"
" her eyes"...

praise spreading
its wild fire
through her body
igniting a mind
hungry and frail
longing to possess
what it cannot know
saying her name
over and over and over
until she begs to die
swaying from
the gallows of her breath.



Sephira is
where wisdom rests in questions
asking, seeking
searching to hollow the cord
that carries her towards
more of herself, searching
to reveal more of the love
rising through her feet

she is the stem
who doesnít rob her rose of thorns
who knows beauty lives in
drops of blood fallen among friends
isnít afraid to open both hands
to touch the alter of herself
sculpt her pain into soft velvet

she is the wind
who brings fire to water
earth to humanity
and she remembers
where no one will
lingering between moon and midnight
her caw is the quaking of return
the memory where Phoenix fly


she shows herself God, Not God
she becomes one with maya
with enlightenment
with the ever awakening of starlight and flesh

wanting life as family again
she gathers the threads of her self
sews a palace out of rags
offers wheat and wine to the hungry

Sephira, mother of wonder
always ready to reveal more
of the limitlessness
of the bottomless
of the nothingness
of the angels hiding inside


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