Portrait by Joanna Rusinek
Listening to Anne Sexton in the Dark
All cities are alike, they never sleep, this one wraps about my feet
up my legs, tightens ’round my chest, a cold snake coiled ’round an apple—
but am no Adam, I know– Taste me, I am the apple of your despair
fruit of our anguish: I hardly know where I am, how they did it, ruined the earth.
Fuck those who did it, fuck those doing it now—God, I wish there were going back.
Do you hear? What, you’re on holiday and don’t care? What’s new?
My love, we are a symbiosis
You, a teller of pain you knew
more than a ghost
voice of a mad lady genius on CD–
A wound that will not heal
Loneliness, I know it too,
no way to turn, no path to take
there are so many,
But there’s a slip of a moon in the window
a silver slipper hung on a star
oh starry night
be enough, hold me here, I fear
I will float out of body out of mind into the night.
The stories must be told, the poetry old
old as the serpent’s wisdom
the memory of God, the secrets and the lies told.
In a room in deafening stillness
a digital clock glows as if to say
“I cannot be denied.” and you, Anne, lost soul
Are you rowing between heaven and hell
asking where where is my island?
Peace, gentle fury, voice among stars
It was always right front of you, your island of God.
Rayn Roberts 2017
A story, a story!
(Let it go. Let it come.)
I was stamped out like a Plymouth fender
into this world.
First came the crib
with its glacial bars.
and the devotion to their plactic mouths.
Then there was school,
the little straight rows of chairs,
blotting my name over and over,
but undersea all the time,
a stranger whose elbows wouldn’t work.
Then there was life
with its cruel houses
and people who seldom touched-
though touch is all-
but I grew,
like a pig in a trenchcoat I grew,
and then there were many strange apparitions,
the nagging rain, the sun turning into poison
and all of that, saws working through my heart,
but I grew, I grew,
and God was there like an island I had not rowed to,
still ignorant of Him, my arms, and my legs worked,
and I grew, I grew,
I wore rubies and bought tomatoes
and now, in my middle age,
about nineteen in the head I’d say,
I am rowing, I am rowing
though the oarlocks stick and are rusty
and the sea blinks and rolls
like a worried eyebal,
but I am rowing, I am rowing,
though the wind pushes me back
and I know that that island will not be perfect,
it will have the flaws of life,
the absurdities of the dinner table,
but there will be a door
and I will open it
and I will get rid of the rat insdie me,
the gnawing pestilential rat.
God will take it with his two hands
and embrace it.
As the African says:
This is my tale which I have told,
if it be sweet, if it be not sweet,
take somewhere else and let some return to me.
This story ends with me still rowing.