“Speak Up, Down, In-between”

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A random selection of poems from a woman’s heart and psyche. It includes excerpts from my own poetry, Susan Griffin’s, Gloria Anzaldúa’s, Audre Lorde’s, Josefina Báez’s, Nellie Wong’s, Kate Rushin’s, Crystos’, and Cherríe Moraga’s, from the classic book of writings by radical women of color, This Bridge Called my Back, edited by Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga, and other sources.

I lack imagination you say

No. I lack language.

The language to clarify

my resistance to the literate.

Words are a war to me.

They threaten my family.

To gain the word

to describe the loss

I risk losing everything.

I may create a monster

the word’s length and body

swelling up colorful and thrilling

looming over my mother, characterized.

Her voice in the distance

unintelligible illiterate.

These are the monster’s words.

–Cherríe Moraga

“You say my name is ambivalence? Think of me as Shiva, a many-armed and legged body with one foot on brown soil, one on white, one in straight society, one in the gay world, the man’s world, the women’s one limb in the literary world, another in the working class, the socialist, and the occult worlds. A sort of spider woman hanging by one thins strand of web. So, me confused? Ambivalent? Not so. Only your labels split me.”

–Gloria Anzaldúa

 call me 

roach and presumptuous

nightmare on your white pillow

your itch to destroy

the indestructible

part of yourself

–Audre Lorde

Amor de lejos amor de tres amor de cuatro
Un ripiao una línea larga turistas
otra ma’ larga que’r diablo nacionales
Un guardia un maletero
otro maletero
y lo mío?
otro maletero y otro má descuartizan la bienvenida
Sospechosos no conocidos al cuartico. Sospechosos conocidos al salón
diplomático
La que tiene una monga en la mano Mírenla ahí mírenla ahí
I ain’t no fucking Juanita Shit
Divisas divisorias dividiendo
parte integral del GNP
Divisas divisorias dividiendo
remesas igual a turismo
Divisas divisorias dividiendo
falsa paridad del dollar
Divisas divisorias dividiendo
reportando para la nación la que no se cayó en el cajón
El país en venta
se vende esta mejora
se vende este Club Gallístico
For Sale
Por motivos de viaje vendo
pasaporte vencido folio de su acta de nacimiento se dañó con el ciclón
regrese a su pueblo vaya a la central pase primero por la regional
cédula expirada usted está casi trancao pueblo-capital-otro pueblo-capital
Con esta me hago ciudadana con viva emoción
Bienvenidos al país mejor del mundo el tuyo
said What?
y sin esperanzas
“Todo lo que dejas te espera… Damn!
mensaje de la Presidencia

–Josefina Báez

when i was growing up, people would ask if I were Filipino, Polynesian, Portuguese. They named all colors except white, the shell of my soul, but not my dark, rough skin

when I was growing up, I felt dirty. I thought that god made white people clean and no matter how much I bathed, I could not change, I could not shed my skin in the gray water

when I was growing up, I swore I would run away to purple mountains, houses by the sea with nothing over my head, with space to breathe, uncontested with yellow people in an area called Chinatown, in an area I later learned was a ghetto, one of many hearts of Asian America

–Nellie Wong

I will not be the bridge to your womanhood Your manhood Your human-ness

I’m sick of reminding you not to Close off too tight for too long. I’m sick of mediating with your worst self Oh behalf of your better selves

I am sick Of having to remind you To breathe Before you suffocate Your own fool self

Forget it Stretch or drown Evolve or Die

The bridge I must be Is the bridge to my own power I must translate My own fears Mediate My own weaknesses

I must be the bridge to nowhere But my true self And then I will be useful

–Kate Rushin

“As women, we have been taught to either ignore our differences or to view them as causes for separation and suspicion rather than as forces of change. Without community, there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between individual and her oppression. But community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.”

–Audre Lorde

My name is Quisqueya Amada
Taína Anaisa Altagracia Indiga.
You can call me Kay.
El cocolo, mi timacle, calls me
chula. He calls me Chula and his
derriengue. And the rest
Gorda. They call me La Gorda.

Chiquita, gorda, mal tallá.
No soy vacana. Ni matatana
ni un mujerón.
Muy normalota. Molleta.
Una morenota.
Otra prieta mas. Sin na’ atrá.
Bling bling ain’t for me.
But you will not believe lo que yo
gusté en Erre De.
Well, not me, me, me.
But me my USA passport
Me my many gifts
Me paganini
Me my hot hip hop steps
Me mambo violento
mambo rabioso
mi mambo sabroso.

–Josefina Báez

A woman lies buried under me, interred for centuries, presumed dead.

A woman lies buried under me. I hear her soft whisper the rasp of her parchment skin fighting the folds of her shroud. Her eyes are pierced by needles her eyelids, two fluttering moths.

–Gloria Anzaldúa

There are women locked in my joints for refusing to speak to the police

Me red blood full of those arrested, in flight, shot

My tendons stretched brittle with anger do not look like white roots of peace

In my marrow are hungry faces who live on land the whites don’t want

In my marrow women who walk 5 miles every day for water

In my marrow the swollen faces of my people who are not allowed to hunt to move to be

–Chrystos

And if you are there behind your skin and if there are tears behind your tears.

and if there is speaking behind your speaking

Let me hold all these her body

entered her voice and asked

as if holding this truth of another woman was like being held, and feeling the softness of herself enter the air

she put her hand on the bone of her own cheek and was held by the knowledge of her body: how being held is like holding.

–Susan Griffin

Why must woman stand divided? Building the wall that tear them down? Jill-of-all trades

Lover, mother, housewife, find, breadwinner

Heart and spade A woman is a ritual A house that must accommodate A house that must endure Generation and generation

Of wind and torment, of fire and rain A house with echoing rooms Closets with hidden cries Walls with stretch marks Windows with Eyes

–Genny Lim

Images. Voices. Memories. Actions. Our differences cross out borders, fringes, divisions. The “I” and “the Other.” Absorbed, mixed, dispersed, blurred. Sketches of our shadow.

We are breathed, intersected with metaphors of losses and triumphs. The frontier is not a landscape but our female body.

Imprints in our eyes, hands, breasts, hips, shoulders, minds, and labia. Our hymen broken, our territory has no walls, no boundaries.

–Joy Karin Weyland

I have been ripped wide open

by a word, a look, a gesture —

from self, kin, and stranger.

My soul jumps out

scurries into hiding

I hobble here and there

seeking solace

trying to coax it back home

but the me that’s home

has become alien without it.

Wailing, i pull my hair

suck snot back and swallow it

place both hands over the wound

but after all these years

it still bleeds

never realizing that to heal

there must be wounds

to repair there must be damage

for light there must be darkness.

–Gloria Anzaldúa

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Author: writetohealblog

I am a non-fiction, memoir writer and visual artist; born and raised in Buenos Aires Argentina and emigrated to the United States at eighteen to become a tenured university Professor. I taught Sociology and Visual Arts in the East Coast, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic for over twenty years. I’m a published author in the subjects of Spirituality, Migration, and Women’s Studies, in English and Spanish. Writing is my passion. It has helped me to heal my back, grow out of shame and guilt, and reinvent myself. When we heal ourselves, we heal our relationship to others, our families, our communities, and the Earth.

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