Posted: October 27th, 2022
Please write a 300-500 word response that makes a claim about either the form or content of a portion of text from Audre Lorde, Dorothea Lasky, or Dana Ward. Your response should include a “thesis,” or “controlling idea,” that is supported by evidence from the text. An example of a thesis, or controlling idea might be: “Dana Ward’s essay is more like a poetry than prose because it relies on repetition, figurative language and alliteration.”
Many Literary Mothers, A Violin Case, And A Woman on the Subway
I first started writing poems when I was 7 because I couldn’t sleep and needed
something to do and poems were the things I could write to, to an unnamed friend in the
nighttime (sometimes her name was Molly, sometimes her name was Blue, sometimes
she was people I knew).
But when I was 14 and 15, I gave up on poetry. I don’t think it was that I had lost the
word. It was as if I simply closed the door to the voice that spoke to me. I had severe
depression and had lost the ability to care if I talked to my unnamed friend in the night
anymore. I think she stopped caring about me, too.
When I closed the door as a thing on poetry, it was Sylvia Plath who woke me up. I was
in 10th grade, and my poetry teacher, Marjorie Stelmach (a great poet herself), had us
do a close-reading assignment and I had to write on Plath’s poem, “Purdah.”
When I read her words, they were like a great invitation. Come back to us, Poetry said. I
felt welcomed to the word again and told Mrs. Stelmach that I was a poet, struggling to
find the road to words again. She and Plath opened the way. I never stopped writing
poetry since. Sylvia Plath and Marjorie Stelmach are my Literary Mothers.
Since I was born I have had a relationship to the female generations past who made
me, to the mothers that ebb on in layers in the dark belly of the afterlife. I was named
after my grandmother, Dorothea, on my mother’s side. She died 3 years before I was
born. In so many ways, I have always waited to be and not be her—having her name
especially made her always one of my Literary Mothers.
In her life, one of her great accomplishments was that she was a virtuoso at the violin.
She had much promise as a teenager and had even gotten a scholarship to Juillard, but
was unable to go because she had to take care of her family in the Depression. We had
two of her violins and as a child, I took the violin to mimic her.
I was never allowed to play her instruments, but sometimes my mother would take them
out so that I could look at them. My mother is a wild artist, an art historian, a collector of
objects—she taught me that you make a thing to give it away, but that you collect the
things made by others as sacred talisman.
The inside of a violin case is usually a velvet, sometimes different colors but usually a
dark burgundy wine velvet, lush, a wealthy color. One of her violins was in a case that
was this traditional red. The other was in a case made up on the inside of a golden
velvet. It was the more expensive one and added to its magic was that the velvet on the
inside of its case was rare.
Perhaps I have spent this whole lifetime waiting to be the golden velvet. No, I never
have been, but I wait. I wait to be. My grandmother and my mother and the violin are my
I first read Marina Tsvetaeva seriously nearly 15 years ago. It was Dara Wier, a great
poet, one of the most important poetry teachers of my life, who led the way to being a
poet with an openness and warmth, who showed her to me. It was with Laura Solomon,
a real friend, a great poet, who I studied and taught poetry with years ago, when I was
finding my voice (as we hate to say), that I read her.
When I read Marina Tsvetaeva, I realized I was full of a long lineage of passionate
sisters who could withstand hell. Laura Solomon, Dara Wier, and Marina Tsvetaeva are
my Literary Mothers. They sang to me:
We shall not escape Hell, my passionate
sisters, we shall drink black resins––
The other day I was going to give a poetry reading and I thought of a poem Laura
Solomon put on a recording for me of Alice Notley reading a poem about giving a poetry
reading. It lasted 15 seconds and went like this: All my life/ Since I was 10/ I’ve been
waiting to be in this hell here with you/ All I’ve ever wanted/ And still do
And then, after the mention of hell, Laura put a song on, the recording by Amadou &
Mariam called “Senegal Fast Food,” which to me will always be the feeling you have
when you decide not to die. Alice Notley and Amadou & Mariam, you are my Literary
And the day I read myself in the poetry reading, when I was getting ready to pick out my
colors to wear to the reading, I chose hot pink and black (kind of boring) and then I
thought about a color to wear for my bracelets (I wear lots of bracelets) and I chose
And then I thought of a story of my mother and grandmother wearing pink and yellow
together, even though you weren’t supposed to (who said so, I don’t know), but that
they sometimes defiantly would do so.
So, I thought of them and I wore pink and yellow, and then when I went on the subway
this woman sat next to me who said that, “Sorry, if this sounds weird, but I am going to
Central Park today to marry myself and I think I was meant to sit next to you because
those are my soul colors.”
Marry herself? I don’t know, but that’s kind of rad. So give me another day and I will
wear the soul colors of a woman who is that way. Woman on the subway, you are my
Right before I started writing poems, I would pray to all of the great spirits in the
afterworld. Their essence seemed the ultimate benevolence, blue and otherworldly.
Hopkins’ spring or the blue that is all in a rush. If I were sad, I would cry in my bed, and
then I would feel their kind watery presence washing over me and I would feel better.
The great spirits of the afterworld are my Literary Mothers.
The spirit of the golden velvet is a perfect cloud of water, the generations of female
poets who know we are the kin. The golden velvet: She is my greatest Literary Mother.
It is said that Anne Sexton kept living and writing as long as she could so as to make a
path of violent voice for the ones yet to be who felt as she did. I think of her and I keep
Voice who calls to me, who says I should be brave and still be here. Voice of
everything, you are my Literary Mother.
• Mary Jo Bang, Louise in Love
• Dodie Bellamy, The TV Sutras
• Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion
• Octavia Butler, Wild Seed
• Kate Durbin, E! Entertainment
• Fanny Howe, Come and See
• Chris Kraus, Torpor
• Audre Lorde, The Black Unicorn
• Mina Loy, The Last Lunar Baedeker
• Bernadette Mayer, The Bernadette Mayer Reader
• Eileen Myles, Inferno (a poet’s novel)
• Maggie Nelson, Bluets
• Ariana Reines, Mercury
• Anne Sexton, Live or Die
• Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans
Dorothea Lasky is the author of ROME (Liveright/W.W. Norton, 2014), as well as
Thunderbird, Black Life, and AWE, all out from Wave Books. She is also the co-editor of
Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry (McSweeney’s, 2013).
Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Poetry at Columbia University’s School of the
Arts and can be found online at www.dorothealasky.com.
A Kentucky of Mothers
Derek what’s Kentucky for you?
An orange rubber globe? A jagged blue shoe, Paducah-toed, & heeled somewhere near eastern
Tennessee? A place with dirt in mouth & blood on hands & prettiness all over in its undulance &
peaking. Where Marshall Allen’s lips & lungs began to kiss & breathe. Where, through Wes
Unseld’s divinity of play, physical reality was altered by his Balanchine. Where the laureateship of
Cassius Clay began, in the poem of changing his name to Muhammad Ali. His tonal university of
butterflies that sting as those similes collapsed the float of puncture into me.
“I’m so bad I make medicine sick.” he once said. Really that’s as well as one can write.
But Derek, since you’re from there too, what is that place for you, Kentucky?
I know that you can’t answer me this morning though the golden-Sharpie’d Peyton you made me
keeps watch here while I type this down in our world. It’s coke’d up nose still bleeds. So there’s
always some wilder night in the memory of the picture, an invisible tincture of bumps for me,
awakening the implants in the archive of my body.
Fill its search field with some bluegrass. Press return.
Kentucky is mainly a myth I abide because I learned to love inside its stories.
For me it’s a maternal place but not the mother-land.
It’s where my heart when it was young & small & lacked impressions
took its wealthy shape in songful opulence
Who were they? All these mothers who seem mothers to me still?
My father, who mothered the concessions of mortality by dying in my childhood, giving birth to
me in hospice care, two floors above the maternity ward where my mom, eight years before, saw
me into the world.
So her of course. But she is where this poem’s going.
June, who was someone to watch over me, desirous of children but childless, she & I lived in a
mutual surrogacy. She died with my mother as her daughter, & I as her grandson, recipient of
doting forgiveness, flawed inheritor of her one conceptual novel, consisting of the Golden Rule
repeated to infinity. Her being was the hotel in The Shining had it been enlivened by impossible
benevolence instead. By which I mean she was so nice that it was weird.
One year older than me, next door, there was Jessica, by whom I was both brutalized & cherished.
She showed me how I was mere thing in the world, another doll absorbing storms of affect. The
porcelain heart my other codlings yielded was for her an invitation to explore just how much
cruelty could be managed before I ran off sobbing to more empathetic mothers. Her tough love
was econ 101.
Then the Barry Manilow mother-hood records in the living room which bore my dependence on
preposterous emotion & show. His nurturing colluded with the neediness of children as it lived &
lives in me. It nursed some pleading chintz my art relies on even now. Julie Andrews mom of me
as well when I go big & sweet to get my way.
Also the Ella Fitzgerald cassette in the Honda, the mother one reveres. Pristine her voices feel for
how ebullience to gutter grief & every nuance in between was waiting to be coaxed from the
material of life (I mean its music) if intelligence & discipline were paid. To her I would remain a
disappointment, & she remained remote in all her generous perfections.
Ft. Thomas where we lived, a nursery of whiteness, so plain in being racist it was clear. You could
see the white & hateful core through every opaque surface. These orders of transparency were
births in their malignancy, of what to be against in one’s becoming. A feel for the structures of
division how we’re cut by race & class & sex so then The Father in his local form of hoarding.
Chapman, Rex, who I loved with the fervor of a Bieber-ite, who bore what’s called the ‘girl-ish
heart aflutter’ in my body. It beat its wings in frenzy as I idolized him so. I wanted to cry like
Beatlemania when he dropped 25 on U of L his freshman year. No one told me my performance
of idolatry was femme.
The boys who were my friends found me so weird in this I wonder now if they thought making fun
of me redundant. Some of those boys were my mothers as well.
Blake so pretty, shy & duty bound. Jacob von Gunten. He mothered sanity & keel, & too their
limits, revealing the harm of normed wellness in the bedtime stories we told one another, 9 or 10
in bed together, mother & child & child & mother.
Geoff, the mother I would bury in his youth, though then, in the time of his maternity, he gave me
life as if he’d stolen it from god on my behalf. His delight & his approval were my joy &
aspiration. His charms surpassed the mesmerism Orpheus possessed, deployed in service of
whatever’s endless lulz. He had some Mary Poppins & the rarest bedside manner, Lake District
with his bandages & ornery soups for spirit. I loved him past the tragedy of Oedipus in puppy
ways & chastity still later, sitting shiva with the future we were going to spend together. His
mother love was funeral & teen. Now there’s nothing left to know of its exhaustion.
Some mothers only last a season. Or a day. Or the life of the party. There were only two more
mothers in Kentucky left for me.
The first was Allen Ginsberg, who arrived by way of that cultural line I had followed from the
Beatles, on to Dylan where I found him, this sort of interesting guy at Bob’s side, sensing he’s the
guru but not being quite sure how. Already invested in what I took to be the outlaw canon, Allen
was skeleton key, giving not only his art, poetics clear in DIY articulation, & too the queer in
factuality, modernity, it’s cosmopolitan glory, experimental & demanding no more fealty to its
aspects than what could be accessed for our survival, & the suddenness of vision & of pleasure.
Blood & shit were on the table near a leaky Hebrew Bible. The incense stick puffed Leaves of Grass
in scented smoke around the angel head of someone who would soon be in his bed & plainly
naked as the ethics of the muse should govern flesh. His motherhood awakened all my senses.
He asks a wild question of himself there in Kaddish, musing over whether he should try & do it
with his mother, right there in the infirmary, just to see how that would feel. You laugh because it’s
funny then you laugh like woah, it’s heavy. He seems really free inside his mind! It’s excessive yet
from him it sounds so healthy. It’s why so many people have him as a mother they remember. So
many inhibitions shattered—for the fervor & the humor of the quest.
Geoff & I went to see him give a reading in Kentucky, in Lexington, in 1993. Geoff was no longer
my mother by then. We were both still Allen’s children en extremis. He read & sang & chanted.
We were joyous gathered round him, beamed & smiled in our nearness to the body of our
mother, needy, anxious to go even closer still.
So Geoff & I stood there, in the long line with our books, waiting for his dedication’s kiss upon
our pages, swooning sons with steadfast City Lights. I went first, & Allen asked my name, but
barely met my gaze. He lingered though with Geoff, meandered in his beauty, these two mothers of
mine, flirting in a way that felt like watching boyish pulp of the initial batted eyes behind my
body’s constitution. They seemed to wink & dare & coo for several hours.
Geoff rejoined me & he showed me his inscription. Allen had addressed him as angel boy &
done a little drawing. What’s more he’d invited Geoff to his hotel! We were seventeen. We hadn’t
been this far away from home, not by ourselves, ever before in our whole lives. 90 minutes by car
from our parent’s front doors. We were fucking Sam & Frodo in the morning of the ring, two
bumpkins all mixed up in grander magic.
Now, which mother were we going to run to?
It’s easy to forget what blameless ignorance can be because our culture calls it innocence
instead. That heaps too much untrammeled snow & later says it’s sullied though the dirt was there
from jump, & time refines it. Thusly unrefined I’m just not sure we understood. I know we didn’t
understand what little sex we’d had, our bodies or the bodies of our lovers, young women lost in
their way too, though smarter. All we knew was hard-sold dude lore told through locker room &
porn. “Big Titties” or whatever. Baseball diamond of erotic pilgrim’s progress.
But we believed good heartedness would certify desire in eternity. The plebiscite of seekers was the
carnival of night. The orgy a fait accompli. Now one of our moms maybe wanted to fuck! She was
making good on bodied promise. Here was the gift in the flesh. We were incandescent with the
truth of her, & shared her honor there between us. Precious drug.
First let me say we just went home. I don’t think we knew, in the end, at least not for sure, what
the invitation meant for Geoff. If he’d gone to find out then where was I supposed to go? All we
did we had to do together. Mom’s response to Geoff’s allure had made it true as cosmic fact. So we
departed with our intuitions written in the stars. We needed nothing else for our fond adventure
But now? I think it’s a shame. We did it wrong. Geoff should have offered up his pretty body to
our mother. We should have offered her one body. Ours.
Because us having two of them was waste of healthy matter. What I should have done was gone &
donated my organs, then poured my excess ooze inside of Geoff; hold your nose & open up you fucking
corpse my heart’s obsessed with, then made my way as slime into the womb-less space where I began as
embryo of who I was that day. Then he could have carried me in utero to Allen, & whatever he
wanted would be his. Maybe lots of soulful talk for hours of suspense, & then to be joined in soft,
passionate kisses, tingling caresses, dissolutions of the flesh at heights, mysteries, pleasures,
trembling heavens, nerves made crushed velvet of pre-cum & spit. Pillows then, & slumbers, & a
cigarette to meet our raptured soreness in the dawn.
The reproductive algebra of “Veracruz” obtained. A child emerged from the absence of encounter.
A darling little thing no more than myth in its material. As real as baby Allen was the day that he
was born. Like the make-believe the commonwealth Kentucky is a passion play of mists & bloods
& poverty & mountains. A baby like a state of love & nothing in its mother.
The three of us, by never fucking in Kentucky, made a child. Sometimes I always wonder where
She’s in my ear as Cymbeline to listen for her nothing ghost whose youth has soaked the alphabet
But what’s the alphabet to music if it’s not a dead imaginary child people think they’re so in touch
one another. What’s the internet, the people all keyed up on boards which really are a boneyard of
such offspring of our fantasies efficiently arranged from Q to M.
Because this isn’t writing. This is typing.
& my mother’s an extraordinary typist by the way. The one who held me in her body, near her
body, kept me fed.
I’ll say more about her soon. What’s deep & simple?
But now I’ll say I’d nearly left the nest. My last Kentucky mom would see me off into the poem. &
though I met her long before I met Allen, the realization didn’t come until much later. That she,
more than anyone else, was the matriarch that opened writing’s world.
O Veronica Sawyer, my mother. I was watching Heathers all the time. O Veronica you cared for me
so well. Your affected monocle, the way you dove into your journal, an avenging angel coming
back from hell at 3pm, flown into acerbic pique by spiritual distress.
You were young to have been caring for a son three years your junior. You were little more than 17
Lord I tried to mirror you. I failed. Yet there you were. As reliable as emptiness of metric on the
testing day. As sharp as #2’s are for the throat.
I loved the way your pen was always pregnant with your sword. All that social cruelty that your soul
could not abide. All that degrading service you’d performed in employ of those tyrants who like
school days come & go with common agonizing sameness.
You could see the beauty of the omelet life could be! Soon you’d be persuaded to the side of
breaking eggs. But tactical revolt was not enough for your dumb boyfriend. He was charming
though, & sexy, so your heart kept coming back. With reservations. Although things kept getting
hotter. Sex & crime make up the Reece’s cup for teens who hate the world. Everyone should eat
up all they can!
But you opened up a breach old suave JD did more like blow. He was snorting up the Less Than
Zero void & killing children. His moralizing started sounding hollow. You knew that you had to
get out. When you faked your own suicide I’d never been more proud. I’d never seen my mother
hang & smile.
Then after all the shit went down, & you blew off his finger, & he blew his body to bits on the
steps, you came home bathed in soot & charring ashes of his body, that red ribbon spider cracked
your eyes they were so blood shot, & your gaze was like the feel of someplace years of war had
changed, there were ruins in it, smoke & haze, cadavers. We watched Breakfast Club with Martha
Dunnstock twice that night. I’d never seen so many human tears.
But really as my mother…it’s this writing thing you did, this fall & swoop into your journal, your
motion made me think the heart’s confession’s were more real because they fronted, in their
littleness, designs against the world as it is premised on unerring domination.
The ruling cliques, the system’s ribbon gathering their locks & every two or four Novembers it’s
some other fucking Heathers, other warlords, other bankers, mainly dudes.
But it’s that way you said ‘dear diary’, like nausea was pining in intelligent exhaustion for the
words that thrummed against them in the body of your mind.
That sound was how I felt those years.
It’s kicked me out of the house. The house of one feeling for developmental shelter. I started
writing a novel. So I became the mother of a character, Veronica essentially, although I had named
her Amanda. In my novel she murdered a teacher she hated. Then ran away from home to live in
gladness in the basement of a woman she befriended. The woman was a poet who was making love
for fun, stealing wine that she could pay for just because, & terrorizing her small town with that
illegal mixture of the female & Rimbaud.
The book was called Never Go Home.
I wrote the thing on legal paper, longhand, during class, & then at night in bed, Sweet Valley
High. I laugh but this was pre-Columbine. Sometimes I think if I were in school now & writing
that? Shit. That kid might really be arrested!
God my poor real mom she would have died.
But people say her eyes contain a twinkle they believe in. When they see it they don’t need a leap
of faith. Although I was surrounded by hate, as the common disasters claimed our town as most
are claimed, my mother barred that city with a pivotal insistence so the heart could turn away to
meet new thought. My life is when critique feeds from the auras of her care, a violet glow that begs
negation as a sharpening to yellow, or a deepening to red that means ‘the Real’ is not so cool that
it is spared a mother’s love in its redoubt. The way these colors drink me is my sight. I have been
inspirited to tessellate their spectrograph by singing so the 4th dimension flutters in their plane,
the 3rd may bell the heart & move the blood to hear a ring, to honor lights in eyes that shine
against imprisoned worlds & for her merry life of grief that rudder’d mine.
For her my admiration & my love just can’t be typed.
These are my Kentucky mothers then. The mothers of my heart.
& I’ve been reading that Yepez book on Olson, The Empire of Neomemory, & good lord it is
astonishing. He talks about how Olson attempts to construct an alter-patriarchy on the ruins of an
already false one. Part of his martial, nationalist project of mythos. Stacking universe & state &
self on Pound-carved Plymouth Rock of cock & balls.
Yepez says, in essence, Olson’s thing is an elaborate psycho-social misprision. No less interesting
because of that, & perhaps a great deal more. It’s quite revealing.
I thought about that some while I was writing this, & wondered, how might we construct a
matriarchy of the world instead? God knows for truth & world’s sake that we should.
But what of this. What I’ve been writing. How to think it?
Many gendered micro-lineage,
the matriarchs of my Kentucky heart?
To narrate one huge part of one’s small life in one small state in one dead country so besotted by
oblivion, through mothers.
But is ‘mother of’ precise?
Should I say ‘singers of’ instead?
The heart wants what it wants I guess
those metaphoric light years of itself are all it has—its flesh & blood
its Moulin Rouge
its basic make-up
doctored St. Theresa reputation & a problem like Maria for the discourse it keeps
photo bombing like the sound of music.
in some pretty dead hills.
O god save all the many gendered-mothers of my heart, & all the other mothers, who do not need
god or savior,
our hearts persist in excess of the justice they’re refused.
& yo. I have nothing like Olson’s ambitions. But my source in varied care is something real in my
song’s story. The way we have our source in locks & open endings, still
there was this thing I meant to say
way back at the beginning
of how the heart is dreamed by idiom
then seeps from out of speech & song to wet the feeling’s thought
Bullfinch’s water on the brain
of love & when the floodplain dries
the myths have drowned alive in their reality of being
to haunt our body’s opera as the stories of our life.
That is no exaggeration
it’s just a penny on the ground
it’s just the repertoire in flight toward ever newer immolations, disembowelments
holding hands beside the carousel again
then grab your bag
how much alike & not it is the others there gone round & round
how much it’s like a plastic pastel steed
the way its piping up & down
distinguished from the other inauthentic breathing
ponies by the magic’s fact that circulates between us
like an organ sound.
It doesn’t fit beneath our wounded breast
inside the mega-church bewitched
It’s just a penny in the busker’s cup
& since you’ve heard it all before
she’ll sing her flawless analects unmoored in static changes.
She writes the songs
she writes the songs she is the heart like all of us are driving nowhere
spending someone else’s hard earned pay.
But there’s this thing I meant to say
way back at the beginning
that Kentucky is the place I found my heart’s real princess soul.
I don’t know.
Does that sound strange?
pretty easy to
My heart’s eyes are closed when I am walking in the sun, & they dream the way I look in my
delight. I’m a princess then & I have every thought inside my head, as well as none. I am neither
regal nor belong to special blood, & I am simple in my costume of a levitating pink, cheap in
clothes a royal wouldn’t dress a beggar’s wound in, smiling ear to ear as if I’d nursed on Purple Rain
& smack, then set out for my walk of painless warmth. There’s liquidity of sex moving in between
my legs. In desire I’m for anyone & I belong to nothing. I commune with bluebirds in the
customary way because my singing is so kind & perspicacious. I am free, never once having seen
my own image, existing in my mind’s eye as a portrait of forgivenesses received & that’s my
calculous of body. Effervescence wanders in my system as the animating spa of matter lacking
prime directive, bathing all sensation for an amplifying mildness my being is reliant on as empty,
tender joke. The world is all this is in its exquisiteness & filter, the details I receive are simply
dialect, & murmuring, a tease made of fulfillment & release. I am beaming absolution in my tulle
& my satin, as light means only light has been for pointlessly rejoicing. Shade is little more than
night that sun sings for completeness through the liberated objects near my motion. I waltz to
meet the billowed bell my shadow is, for sleeping, as sun sings Honolulu nights of me, & endless
births. & what was harm? & what was loss? As if ‘to love’ meant never knowing either one.
But my heart’s eyes are open when I’m walking in the sun, & I see me as I am here in
estrangement from the facts of all who have in our conditions lost & sang, less known than not &
social, for my truth of constitution as it’s made.
But still. What is that princess soul so real in heart’s release?
It’s the absolute mirage that private happiness is seeking in its adequate contrivance of a figment.
It is happiness more actual than blood & making good on its reality by offering myself to me in
this authentic picture.
Perhaps it’s all my mothers in their elegance & heavens.
Perhaps it is my mother when she smiles in my mind & her contentment comes to life beyond its
Perhaps it is my daughter’s joy when I have mothered well.
Perhaps it’s institution in a pretty dissipation.
Perhaps she is an emissary born past all of this, & come to tell through feeling how the locks will
die in swells of interpenetrating being not yet thought.
Perhaps the heart’s the princess in its picture so impoverished it is fine to pump in rhythms that
the blood holds out for that
redistribution & no center in our nourishment of motions.
Then the world goes all pre-code so free & post to seethe with titillation.
Of course auto-correct sees ‘total ruin’
as if to even speak of freed arousal were an error in the language
mythic imperfection that my princess is in speech.
Our love is god.
It’s really touching.
Sometimes I think that I’m just in the way.
what do you say?
Is it good to call these others as my moms the way I have? Is it care, & if it is, have I gave honor
in my song?
My heart tells me surely they’re the mothers of its fact.
So many others & in our world with its infinite oppressions
who can know what honor is
Perhaps it’s like Kentucky in the way the state contains so many cities of the world, having stolen,
for its country places, several famous names.
Look at a map of the state:
There’ s Florence.
In Kentucky here’s what people say: “Versails.” The twang distorts the reference to the opulence &
splendor. It makes it into someplace else that’s also just as real. Mother
when the heart announces cities of its birth
in twangs which mean it’s from such
The way a child of Versails may seem a gremlin of Versailles
or a princess-man who’d die
to sing his heart out.
A princess of Versails may be a child of Versailles of care
a princess-man alive
to sing his heart out.
& he may live to see the world’s Versailles be crushed & freed & him
& him with them
& him with them
In Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Trumansburg, NY: Crossing Press, 1984).
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