On the video's composition:
This remix of poems draws from the verses I loved spanning girlhood, the looney bin of adolescence, and the ongoing project of womanhood. Growing up, I wanted poetry to be a mirror, to see myself in the sad, middle class verse of Theodore Roethke or Sylvia Plath. Or like, The Counting Crows.
As a baby emo, Mark Danielewski spooked me real good with his coded, trippy shit in The Whalestoe Letters. It turned what looked like madness into a fucked up love story.
Then Muriel Rukeyser came at me with not one, but two "cunts" in the first three lines of "The Speed of Darkness." She was one saucy lady—confrontational and brave—and her voice is worth remembering during these bullshit times. As someone who has been afraid to speak out—particularly to men in power—I am "working out the vocabulary of my silence," trying to make good trouble while acknowledging that some of my sisters' voices are hoarse and tired.
"My Papa's Waltz"
by Theodore Roethke
The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small [girl] dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.
We romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.
The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.
You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.
From Mark Z. Danielewski's The Whalestoe Letters
Dearest man-child of mine,
No sign from you. Just days folding endlessly into more days. The cancer of ages. The knots of rain not reason. And no, aspirin won't help. Won't help. Won't.
My hands resemble some ancient tree: the roots that bind up the earth, the rock and the ceaselessly nibbling wordms [sic].
But you are too young for trees to know
anything of their lives. Oh what a crippled
existence 900 years must lead.
I am truly
From Muriel Rukeyser's "The Speed of Darkness"
Resurrection music, silence, and surf
No longer speaking
Listening with the whole body
And with every drop of blood
Overtaken by silence
But this same silence is become speech
With the speed of darkness.
the man : act exact
woman : in curve senses in their maze
frail orbits, green tries, games of stars
shape of the body speaking its evidence
I look across at the real
vulnerable involved naked
devoted to the present of all I care for
the world of its history leading to this moment.
Ends of the earth join tonight
with blazing stars upon their meeting.
Time comes into it.
Say it. Say it.
The universe is made of stories,
not of atoms.
I am working out the vocabulary of my silence.
My night awake
staring at the broad rough jewel
the copper roof across the way
thinking of the poet
yet unborn in this dark
who will be the throat of these hours.
No. Of those hours.
Who will speak those days,
if not I,
if not you?
The poetry that keeps me going now has to have a beat. So because I'm pretty sure nobody will go fuck with Muriel Rukeyser, I'll recommend modern poet Princess Nokia:
People did me they dirt when I sat and did work
They just tryna take my picture, they don't care 'bout my worth
But I'm still gon' pray, enemies every day
'Cause it's really up to God come judgement day
Bailey Morrison does digital marketing for the University of Texas Press, a job which allows her to make Pablo Neruda Mad Libs. She tells stories at tinyletter.com/porch-slurs. Give her a clap or two at firstname.lastname@example.org. All things will be made clear, one day, on baileymorrison.com.