Take the word of my pulse

Stunning and severe. I would expect nothing less of the influential poet and essayist Adrienne Rich (1929-) who turned down the 1997 National Medal of the Arts because she believed ”the very meaning of art, as I understand it, is incompatible with the cynical politics of this Administration.”

“Art, she said, ”means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner-table of power which holds it hostage.”


The world’s
not wanton
only wild and wavering

I wanted to choose words that even you
would have to be changed by

Take the word
of my pulse, loving and ordinary
Send out your signals, hoist
your dark scribbled flags
but take
my hand

All wars are useless to the dead

My hands are knotted in the rope
and I cannot sound the bell
My hands are frozen to the switch
and I cannot throw it
The foot is in the wheel

When all is over and we’re lying
in a stubble of blistered flowers
eyes gaping, mouths staring
dusted with crushed arterial blues
barred with tiger-lily reds

I’ll have done nothing
even for you