Thursday, September 1, 2016


Ngombi - Metropolitan Museum of Art - Photo by Margaret Bednar

Frail in this fall through world -
so merely mortal,
so innocently ignorant -

your evil is endless
and your better angels sleep.
Even the stones weep.

All of the mother's tongues have forked.
Their legs have spread; their eyes 
are rolled back in painted gourd heads

Unheld, you hold a virgin instead -
stroke her neck, ride
her belly on your thighs.

Let the thin string question high,
and the God string grumble low.
Silly Sister of your creator,

it's you who plucks them both.

A rough draft for Margaret's very cool prompt at Real Toads.

Note: I have some new poems in the fall issue of MockingHeart Review.  Check them out here; I'd love to know what you think!


Sherry Blue Sky said...

WOW!,,,,,,,,a powerhouse of a Poem! You are being published so often now, it is wonderful. I most love the wolf poem, of course. Fantastically powerful writing, my friend.

Susan said...

Ouch. So innocent--a dark dark pretense and powerful control. It reminds me of a talk I heard just this morning on why there are so few convictions on drug-related violence in Philly--so many strings to pull, so many threats and fears, well might a matriarch try to protect her family by not cooperating with judicial authorities. Well, that's the lens I read it through, anyway, andd have two words: Brilliant. Horrible.

Stacie Eirich said...

I did love this prompt too, Mama Z. :) Indeed I've spent so much time listening to the instruments that my writing is undone. What seemed undone in this poem was the strings themselves, plucked from a heartbone or pieces of skin, you made the music raw. Love the timbre of the questioning, the grumbling -- sounds of both mind & body. Thanks for sharing!

elsa said...

Sexy, fiery, sinister.

I have so much to say, but I won't.

Buddah Moskowitz said...

This is quite good. I love the ambiguity of this, it adds to the starkness. Congrats on the published poems. good work! - mosk

Gillena Cox said...

Very layered, this poem

much love...

Outlawyer said...

A beautiful and fascinating poem. At first, it seemed a child warrior (or young man warrior) rather heartless but also hurt. I was a little confused by the sister line, as I wasn't sure if it was addressed to the person doing the plucking or the instrument, and not sure it matters, but if you are going back to the poem, that part was a little confusing to me (at least to the image I'd formed.) It really is just wonderful though, MZ--sad and harsh and compassionate all at once. Congrats on the poem in the magazine, will check out. k.

gabrielle said...

This brings to mind the mothers who bind their daughter’s feet, grandmothers who barber the labia of young girls.

In Western culture too there is a clipping, a deadening of the spirit passed on from mother to daughter.
Though maybe not as blatant—at least to us-it is we as women who traditionally sculpt our young to conform to patriarchal distortions.
Out of fear, out of amnesia, out of a perverted sense of duty. Silly Sister indeed. Even the stones weep. Tragic and heartbreaking.

Your writing cuts to the bone.

Kim M. Russell said...

I love the whole poem but the darkness of these lines is just fabulous:
'your evil is endless
and your better angels sleep.
Even the stones weep.'

Debi Swim said...

Let the thin string question high,
and the God string grumble low.... powerful work

Kerry O'Connor said...

This is such a richly evocative poem - the pulse of a primitive instrument seems to tell a tale as old as time.. One's heart bleeds to read the history of human kind.

brudberg said...

I had not thought about that POV... I had a similar thought with my poem, but maybe more with male eyes.. the metaphor of the instrument and gourd works so well..

Jim said...

Breaking a new instrument in, is it similar to breaking in a car to suite he driver's desires, or to break a horse to allow a rider to ride? My dad broke young (or old if it were a wild one or one never ridden before) horses for riding. Sort of like a horse whisperer, none of his brothers nor his dad could do that.

Susie Clevenger said...

"Frail in the fall through world" I love that line. One would think the world would learn a new song. Humans never seem to learn.

Margaret said...

Your way with words truly is mesmerizing. The beginning just delights and sets us up with a warning - "ride her belly on your thighs" is awesome - And "let the thin string question high & the God string grumble low" is just ingenious. Loved it all!