A few more poems from June Jordan, easing the end of a rough week where so much had to be done, almost all of it cold-derailed. I love her poetry, love how Jordan always holds in precarious shining balance joy and suffering, life itself as we are bound within it. Part of nature, never apart, and nothing is wholly innocent.
Queen Anne’s Lace
(From Things I Do in the Dark – 1977)
Unseemly as a marvelous an astral renegade
now luminous and startling (rakish)
at the top of its thin/ordinary stem
the flower overpowers and outstares me
as I walk by thinking weeds and poison
ivy, bush and fern or runaway grass:
You (where are you, really?) never leave me
to my boredom: numb as I might like to be.
you do revive
a suffering. (211)
Her words take my breath away sometimes.
Sunflower Sonnet Number Two
Supposing we could just go on as two
voracious in the days apart as well as when
we side by side (the many ways we do
that) well! I would consider then
perfection possible, or else worthwhile
to think about. Which is to say
I guess the costs of long term tend to pile
up, block and complicate, erase away
the accidental, temporary, near
thing/pulsebeat promises one makes
because the chance, the easy new, is there
in front of you. But still, perfection takes
some sacrifice of falling stars for rare.
And there are stars, but none of you, to spare.
Always they fill me with release, reading in these perfect words the wordless furies I know, resistance I feel.
From Sea to Shining Sea
From Living Room – 1985
This was not a good time to be married
The Pope has issued directives concerning
lust that make for difficult interaction
between otherwise interested parties
This was not a good time to be married.
This was not a good time to buy a house
at 18% interest.
This was not a good time to rent housing
on a completely decontrolled
This was not a good time to be a Jew
when the national Klan agenda targets
Jews as well as Blacks among its
enemies of the purity of the people
This was not a good time to be a tree
This was not a good time to be a river
This was not a good time to be found with a gun
This was not a good time to be found without one
This was not a good time to be gay
This was not a good time to be Black
This was not a good time to be a pomegranate
or an orange
This was not a good time to be against
the natural order
—Wait a minute—
Sucked by the tongue and the lips
while the teeth release the succulence
of all voluptuous disintegration
I am turning under the trees
I am trailing blood into the rivers
I am walking loud along the streets
I am digging my nails and my heels into the land
I am opening my mouth
I am just about to touch the pomegranates
piled up precarious
This is a good time
This is the best time
This is the only time to come together
Exploding like the seeds of a natural disorder. (330-331)
What better way to respond to such a week, such a world, than this. Together with a dream of growing a much much thicker skin.