Spinning

It is the witching hour
All must go back to the beginning
of time
time when the cogs & wheels,
nuts & bolts, the true & false
of your existence
drips long magenta sludge
to the bottom of the
holy vortex

You stop to cry out
words form, are heard,
then disappear
Quick like a bunny
down through the hole

It is the desperate hour
your nature unravels
flaxen-haired onto
the resting place
of some unknown head

Who is that man?
What do I owe now?
Bring on the enforcers
fear is so subjective

Death creeps near the doorway
unannounced as shrill-voiced women
accuse, try to define things they
do not understand
Here you go boys, here’s a hand
women against women, now that’s
a barb to the side of the altar
mixed messages, socio-economic differences
Rubber burns in the background
fire in their eyes, singed hair,
a flip flop by the road

Will you ask no questions, have no care
for understanding past histories?
You cannot begin to understand
the hunt for present circumstances
without a compass, without a map
Can you not see?
We shirk all internal combustion
to arrive at an answer we do not heed;
to move in a circle we cannot engage
War is made of such things as sirens sing
off color & tone to the deaf of the world
Who can be given a jest such as this
surviving on vagrant morsels
Kolkata whispers in your ear?

You have come to this place
in the middle of bad returns
Heal me, once again, heal me
If there ever was a need so strong
it has come to these shores at this hour
Feel the weight of vaporization
It is heavier than you think
Light fingers spread fairy dust
birthing another portion of yourself
feather-like, filigreed, feminine
spit out the goddess within
undetermined, unpegged, not a
pigeon hole in sight

You were born in a tin pot
on a back burner
So what of it?
Golden dreams dance

Women Alone

Women alone, tossed in corners unnoticed
Eaten alive by vague disregard
Rubble in living rooms
Destitution in kitchens
Relations devour what’s left of their heart

Women subjected to endless endurance
Garments burned up by male-only rules
No money to save them, no material distractions
Humming lightly to static
hopes dashed on and on

Women in line surrounded by children
Daughter’s hands tremble, miscalculation abides
Brooding eternal, a rope always dangles
Suggesting an outcome all religions despise

Women in prisons of mind and/or body
Ribcages stricken, calves in a bind
Stomachs knotted where throats are located
Moans reduced to grumbling that all will ignore

Women zoned out by babbling networks
Their strength is gone,
Their emotions half-baked
Protestations subsided, lodged in inertia
Denials resourceful, ever ready complaints

Women in men’s clothing thinking freedom may meet them
Finding only frayed pockets where dignity’s lost
Face frozen hard in a mimicking fashion
It brings nothing but echoes
of a scream loud and long

Women baking every sultry concoction
Bitter tales of fresh icing–the calories must rise
Sleight of hand cannot alter
Thin lies they are telling
Oaths for the taking on colorful pies

Women in snowstorms covered in linen
Roofs of their mouths taste metallic and smooth
No matter what unguents
They use on their scabies
Their babies remember the cold clinic floor

Women lost on vast tundra
Hard pustules split open
Cacti can’t soothe them; spiny as sticks
At midday next morning distended bowels vanish
By degrees of repression unknown to us all

Neither TV, nor Internet; no air waves can stop it
Torrential endeavors always fail to restore
Since the mothers and sisters and brothers and fathers
Tie knots of forgetting in the midst of begetting
flayed selves unadorned

Identity does survive, though, regardless of ruckus
Warmth endures unabated
In the trace of true kindness
Trickling long after sunset down cheeks that are failing
Cantatas unheard but never unsung.

Violence Against Women in Art

A blind embossed page from a book on my own rape

A blind embossed page from a book on my own rape

While researching material for my masters thesis, I came across some of the most disturbing images I have ever seen. Oddly enough when I mis-Googled ‘violence against’ instead of VAW, I was connected with images of women across the world who were disfigured in one ghastly way or another. I was particularly struck by women who had their nose and ears cut off by their in-laws of husbands for trying to leave them. While on a particularly hard to digest page of outrageous pain, there was a split second where the look in one of the women’s eyes shook me to the core. I recognized myself in those eyes. The reflection of the brutally raped women that was me in 1996 a few months after I finished a 5-year undergraduate degree in architecture with honors and had one week before received the job of my choice at a large architectural firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I left the page quickly to remove this from my mind. A few days later, I decided that this was, after all, the nature of said thesis and I would get point blank real in an at once luxurious but biting way. Creating work of beauty that I am inclined to do but leaving a hard narrative of truths most people want to ignore became the goal. I used these other women’s incidents because I myself got through a violent attack that almost killed me by putting it on a global scale. When the darkness of pain and isolation directed me toward the bad end of the only two roads possible to take after such a crisis held my head down I was able to lift it back up. By knowing there was larger traumas out in the world that women were surviving so could I.

Interior of book art from exhibition

Interior of book art from exhibition

The exhibition was a success, and in one of the books I made, I left blank pages that unfurled so that viewers could write reactions. it was the most encouraging thing I could have done since I found out first hand that many were moved by the various narratives: my own and that of women in the world. Since I am at a library computer I cannot upload more photos than I have with me and for my next post I want to talk about someone who became a focal point for my exhibition: Aesha Mohammadzai.