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Daniela Gioseffi: 4 Poems

THE SEA HAG IN THE CAVE OF SLEEP |
NIPPLED TREES OUTLAST THE AGE OF STEEL
| THE PREGNANT GARDENER | THE OLIVE BRANCH

Daniela Gioseffi
Daniela Gioseffi, Poet/Editor
[Founding editor of Wise Women's Web, Daniela is author of ten books from major presses. Women on War: Intenational Writngs [Simon & Schuster/ Touchstone: NY] won the 1990 American Book Award and was reissued by The Feminist Press, 2003---and was also published by Frauenverlag in Vienna. On Prejudice: A Global Perspective [Anchor/ Doubleday, 1993] won a grant award from The Ploughshares Fund World Peace Foundation. The following poems come from Word Wounds & Water Flowers [Via Folios at Purdue University, 1995] and Eggs in the Lake [Boa Editions, 1980.] Gioseffi has published her work in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, among them The Paris Reveiw, The Nation, Chelsea, Choice, Prairie Schooner, MS. and Kaleidescope: Stories of the American Experience [Oxford University Press, 1993.] She's read her work and lectured widely throughout the USA and Europe. She taught at New York University's Publishing Institute, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, Long Island University and other institutions. She has won grants in poetry and performance poetry from The New York State Council on the Arts and is a singer, song lyricist and painter. Her feminist novel, The Great American Belly... [Doubleday/ Dell/New English Library in 1979] was optioned for a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize Winning playwright, Michael Christopher. Her recent book of stories & novella from Avisson Press, Greensboro, NC. 1997, is titled In Bed with the Exotic Enemy. She has won a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award for her story, "Daffodil Dollars," aired on National Public Radio, "The Sound of Words.". Daniela has broadcast on many radio and television stations, ie. the BBC at Oxford, National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., Pacifica's WBAI, NY. She a member of The National Book Critics Circle.

Scroll Down for sample poems from Eggs in the Lake Boa Editions, Ltd.

THE SEA HAG IN THE CAVE OF SLEEP

For all the bold and bad and bleary
they are blamed, the sea hags. [James Joyce]

Lizards nestle in busheshurting and loving the leaves;
land birds peck at tortoise shells.
I feel how wet the earth is,
nearly all water.
Since the first woman bled,
there's been a passion in everything
finer than lust, as if everything living
is moist with me and I know the language of leaves,
symbiotic with animals


In the trees is a clue to everything
and a happy one, like the genesis
of estrogen. Ever since
the first woman bled, plants cry
when animals are murdered; hands think
as bees emoting sweet sweat;
apples are made for eating;
even mathematics is glandular;
an algebra of feelings.
Only wars are waged
in the guise of pure perception
as though flesh were an alloy of aluminum
or a isolated element.


Words whirled me round in pools.
I clung to my teeth, grinding mountains.
I floated. I screamed and dropped
through an eternity of light.
I float again and fall,
calling for animals to warm me,
pleading with trees to feed me.

Darkness fills me like a carbohydrate.
Ponds ooze; crickets drone in black space.
A snake slides to another rock;
a seed is dragged to another grave.
Human voices hum behind the stones,
a vast, lonely conscience
strains to give itself a name.
The cave of sleep opens as
I spread my legs. The father enters
the iridescent dark from which he came.
Blocks of ice fall from his aging flesh. I turn from him
to marry him and be his mother again. When I turn again,
I'm the daughter who strived to be the son.

The shine of his skin slides down my throat. Seaweed
glides through my legs. Kisses. Kisses.
Land and water come together in the mud of our lips
crawling with tongues which give touch to words.
He swims into me in clouds of semen.
Babies cry in our mouths. We float from the warm well
in aboriginal kisses.

I take off my dress;
I lift off my breasts;
I have a talk with the sparrows
who inhabit my chest.
I'm divided by contrary loves I've taken in.
When I open my legs a river of contradiction
flows from me.

My arms and legs are estuaries rippling toward my stomach.
I drown inside myself longing for a god
to speak to me from my lover's tongue,
as we explode together in whirlpools
of sperm and ova spinning against the silence.

When the baby came down out of me,
it felt thick between my lips,
squeezing out erect life. Its belly passed
my clitoris as it came with its cries
of semen squirting from me. As its toes slid
out, I was female again....

A vast landscape accepts me with silence
as if it were my private garden
to gather stones from my sleep.
The phantom of age descends the staircase!

In the middle of the afternoon, when light
is blinding, I'm looking for a man with arms
like tree trunks and fingers like branches
to turn my nipples green as spring buds.
I'm waiting outside myself
for him to welcome me in
or is it sleep I want from his touch.
I put on feathers like a bird
or a chorus girl. He can't know which.

If he comes to my bed,
I'll be a chorus of birds singing in wet leaves.
The mouth of my dream will be open forever.
I'll burst with a child, time hurled from my throat.
I'll paint a song beneath my eyelids
to sing into his sighs:


Down by the water,
silver hair witches are dancing,
down by the water,
tossing their curls.
Their breasts are eyes
from which the sea rises.
In their mouths the sea cries.
They are kicking the sand
made from our bones.
Silver-haired witches
down by the water,
singing and dancing,
playing with bones.


We take for each other
the place of absent gods.
We bargain for the eyes of fish
to swim in an underground stream
longing for no death.

These are our plum pits,
petrified and strung.
These are our beetles gleaming in the coal.
We have come shining in ice from the mud
trailing seaweed in our wings of bone.
We read and write books
from the deep spring of orgasm flowing in the flesh,
we erupt in cataleptic fits
as faith from the insane.
We will invent love until the sea closes in.

The phantom of age ascends my staircase;
a vast landscape accepts me with silence;
I gather stones from my sleep.
I've knitted him a shawl and come to
the frayed ends of history.
His fingers are no longer primal myths
kneading me. Sea and shore mix
in one aged sex.

In the index of my womb, I find my face.
I'm no spider queen after all,
but a green beast with arms of sorrow.
My whole body was a phallus.
I came out from my own legs
into this world.

NIPPLED TREES OUTLAST THE AGE OF STEEL

Electric lawn mowers and can openers will be hammered
into cradles for bread because You, old Sea Hag,
made the Tower lean after they built it.

Blizzards, gale winds, tidal waves, floods, sleet,
hail, tornadoes, fish frozen in the lake of Your mouth!
And they thought to tame You, to hold Niagara
by the waist. To keep You from eating King's eyes,
they built pyramids against sand storms.
To span Your rivers, they threw legs of steel
over Your thighs, gathered Your fury like roses,
scoffed at the vulturism of the sea, took
what they wanted from Your Bounty, and refused
to give back what they threw away, wasted.
They dreamed of holding you, a wife in a pumpkin shell,
but no cage holds the sea. When they tied down your hair
with steel cables, You sent up a hurricane, smashing
concrete. Your necessity is our peace,
your mystery our gospel, Holy Ghost. Mother
of All, we shall climb mountains to search
for Your wild berries. We shall walk through forests
to suck Your breasts, cling as children at Your skirts.

For every leg of a bridge thrown over You, You changed
the course of a river, exploded volcanoes, carved
mountains with cracking rock and molten lava, fire
and ice.
We shall build our houses
where You choose, in the midst of wild grasses again,
symbiotic creatures clinging to the green flesh of leaves
which lovingly convert the sun to energy and flesh again,
or perish from warring competition
over Your flowering bosom of mud.

From Your food comes all that lives upon the Earth.
All is food and to food it shall return.
Food is the only Goddess among the living.
We are blessed with food who worship the earth,
goddess among the living, all are born of Her food
and by Her food they grow. The Goddess is Earth
and food Her
panacea. All are born of
Her food
and to food they shall return.
All eat
Her
and She
eats all.

Food thou art and into food thou shalt return.

That is why She is called Sugar, Blossom, Honey!
The Great Mother gave milk in the beginning.
She arose as a dream
from mud
but from Her comes food and from food:
breath,
spirit,
truth,
worlds
and in works
immortality.

THE PREGNANT GARDENER

A pregnant woman gardens, naked in her glass greenhouse.
Plants she tends and water grow from her fingers,
green silhouettes against her full belly;
round in the moonlight, a rapture
flows through her breasts to the mouth of a child to come,
containing all melody,
while father-starved boys
in dark cellars of crowded cities
slam-dance to anti-music made of nuclear explosions.

Earth hemorrhages Her plush wealth, bloody bombs
phallic shaped from wheatless silos,
prisoners of peace
accurately aimed
hate fail-safe or fail-deadly force
opposite to love, to eyes kissed,
bread baking in warm kitchens,
babies at nippled breasts,
suckled on green leaves which rise serene
from muddy earth, wet with animal dreams
as our human hands
in these dark times
touch bliss.

THE OLIVE BRANCH

falls from the wet mouth of the old dove
and sinks into a river of fire rushing toward the delta
where the oceans will catch flame and evaporate with lust
and the children's lungs will be sucked of oxygen,
but the president doesn't notice. His polished desk
blinds him with veneer.

And on the street the crowds rush to glimpse the television
screen alight with the fire of electricity
like the body politic
as it broadcasts the baseball scores.

It's the final playoff of the World Serious
and we are here, all of us with flesh eyeballs alight
with the wings of the dove as they flutter on beyond
the red and blue sunset
which continues to outdo itself year after year
since the mastodons crept from the sea of blood
baring mammalian breasts full of warm white milk
for all the many colored faces of earth,
children as they suck life from leaves of grass
withering now in the threat of fire or ice,
eternal winter which comes to each, one by one,
but need not be passed in one blast of heat to all the young
buds of being wafting perfumes as they burn
from bright autumn rust, beauty so enough
that it kills the caring heart with its own ceasing.

See GOING ON: Poems 2000, by Daniela Gioseffi

See SYMBIOISIS: Poems 2002, Rattapallax Press

Copyright © 1990-2004 by Daniela Gioseffi. All rights reserved.

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