JERSEYWORKS--POETRY
Marylisa DeDomenicis


1970

What I have seen I can be so far
is a wife, a nun, a teacher or
Miss America. There are no
female police officers
or politicians in the valley or on
television. Maybe I can be
a professional skater. Maybe
I can be an actress. If I had
half a voice I could sing but I don't
have a voice so I won't be a singer -
and plies bore me so I will never
be a ballerina. There are no
female doctors but I could be
a nurse. There are no female
managers managing departments
in downtown department stores
and not one woman owns a bakery,
a pizzeria or a corner grocery store,
but always it is a woman pounding
the cash register keys to sell me
French fries, Pepsi, and chocolate
pudding in Kresge's cafeteria
and always it is a woman minding
someone else's baby all day -
but I don't consider these options
will work for me.

Still I must be something.

Maybe I will just say what
the news is.

There are no female poets
that I know of yet except for Emily
Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett
Browning, both dead.

There are no women giving
their opinions on
what news is on the news
except for when they gather
where they won't be
listened in on. None
at any podium telling poetry.

So maybe I will just
walk up, stand up one day
behind one stand for something
say exactly what
the news is.

I don't want to yell
but I will if I have to.



Prick

Mosquito, green-head, bee, gnat, tick. Infected
we identify the insect by its prick: how long
the sting lasts. Our skin is that sensitive
to what has nicked it. All along our surface
what makes contact leaves a mark - our eyes

for instance - how they flare the instant wind
throws pollen into them - powdered glass
against the eyeball spewing fluid to dissolve
or wash away what foreign matter presses in.
That sensitive. But oh, all right.

I will remember your hands and mine
are almost unbelievably empty atoms.
I will remind my body - touch is resistance,
repelling electrons, more science than
religion - touch is never really touching.

I will convince myself. I will say it. Repeat it.
The shoreline of my body that my skin is
is no different now than when it did not know
your touch upon it. I will write it on the paper
in my head til I believe what I am saying.

I am unaffected. We have made no contact.
You have left no mark upon the shoreline
of my body that my skin is and the vibrating
wave motion of the ocean inside our mouths
never happened and there is no God.


Not Afraid

He thinks I am not afraid.
He wants to grow up fast but doesn't know
fear goes with you, growing, moving on to more
important matters. It doesn't go.

What makes him believe I am rock? I am water.
I have always been water
except for when I have been stone.

What makes him think I am strong?
I am strong. Foundation? Yes. Channel? Yes.
Look now

I am fire. I have always been fire
except for when I was two sticks.
I have always been two sticks just this close
to igniting.

And I have always been afraid.
Ash is a tiny thing to be
after being.


Monogamy

Because I knew her well -- that greedy self
who would have slipped into the dark outside
to feed upon your salt - I had to kill her.

Cunning. Criminal. She'd have murdered
my new love with her shenanigans, slipped
her tongue behind your ear, lapped you

up like liquid even knowing once would never
be enough to fill her up - that she'd be back -
not much unlike a thirsty animal or an addict,

or a married man cheating on his wife again
on Tuesday for the twenty-seventh week
in a row. For me to keep my promise to

myself and so resist your kisses - the girl
you fell in love with had to go. You thrill.
You lure. Vibration. Song stuck in its riff, you

dying cricket hidden in the wall screaming
into my ear, you alien out there
in another's world - life goes on without you

and as mother said I would I've half-way
healed. You hook beneath the bait,
well-hidden, bait I took and took and tore

away from then returned to take again, just as
the trout swims back, lacerates its mouth.
Does the trout feel itís starving? I wonder when

my bones press against my skin. When inside
I ache for something other than the underside
of myself. Does the moth throb for light?

I wonder when, half-coming out of my skin,
I despise my longing. More than the absence
of you here to touch me. I hate the truth

late at night when denied I know desire
owns me as fire owns the moth. As death
owns the body from the moment the body begins.

As angels own God. Or a dog
owns the hand of who feeds it. These bodies
are not ours to own. The lesson

is always the lesson. I must fight to belong
to myself. I must harden myself to be saved,
maybe starve. Kill the starry-eyed girl. I know.

I know. I must forget your face brought to joy.
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