Poems

The following are some of my more popular performance poems, offered here for your enjoyment.  Instead of scrolling down forever, feel free to click on the links to find a particular piece.

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Love Cage

When you can’t keep what you love
you grow up twisted
Your heart sprouts at an angle
partially escaped
from the ribcage

Sometimes it leaves your body
and wanders around the world
in the guise of music
a soulmate
a cherished homeland at last
expanding your puny spirit
into a vast, supportive web
of joyful relevance
blissful belonging
suddenly severed
by parental cruelty
irrational denial
the soulmate’s deception, abandonment
the harsh limitations of miles by the kilo
and feeble dollars

Heart slaps rudely back into your chest
like a mildly rotted
rough cut of meat
tether pulled abruptly short
breathing painful
shallow and labored
ribcage cracked

When you can’t keep what you love
you grow up twisted
Love means loss
and you avoid loss
at all costs
but you violate your word again
falling weak again
cursing malevolence
dishonoring what was always yours
love
until you come to mistrust
its musky scent
muscles taut again
in pre-emptive wincing

When you can’t keep what you love
you grow up starving
a brittle skeleton
eternally thirsty
unsatiated
a steady stream of nourishing liquid
falling straight through
your parched jawbone and dehydrated pelvis
to the cracked earth beneath
your bleached metatarsals

Until one day
wisdom
and green, persistent breath
allow your dry bones
to moisten and stick
grow flesh, give form
to tissues
relaxing
gently guiding the heart back into place
steady rhythm
unmangled and strong
fierce protected
ribs closing like tender petals at night
just in time

‘cause when you can’t keep what you love
you grow up
twisting others.

© S. Rinderle, 2013
(also published in Catching Calliope, Spring 2014)

On Anger

I’m angry
because my parents didn’t want me
like all children should be dreamed and coveted
I was the fruit of duty
conceived one spring evening
after church
I was born
on Sunday

I’m angry
because my mother didn’t love me
like all girls should be
adored and mentored
because her mother didn’t love her
the latest in a long matriline
of hollow faceless dolls
filling their withered daughters
with dry, empty breath

I’m angry
because I couldn’t run free
always the good one
trimmed of messy edges
neat and symmetrical
a patch in the family quilt
weakly sewn together
pulled in all directions

I’m angry
because no one could comfort me
and my self-soothing
dramatic pleas for help
sudden welts
closed-up bronchi
spasmed colon
and fits of self-mutilation
inspired rejection
instead of redemption

I’m angry
because my father didn’t
straighten his back for me didn’t
widen his shoulders for me
never taught me
to stand up protected
my boundaries too permeable
for safety or resilience
letting in all manner of
pestilence
virus, bacteria
free radicals
and human plague

I’m angry
because the world taught me
I’m a girl
I’m not allowed
beauty and brilliance
I’m not afforded
affection and respect
I’m second to any mediocrity in the room
if it has a penis
and a deep voice

I’m angry
because circumstance
was not the way it should have been
happenstance
rarely just or logical
so much imperfection and harm
easily avoided
or remedied

But as I reflect
relax my tightened triceps
accept
everything
was exactly
as it had to be
and I’m okay

I’m free

because
I’m no longer
angry.

© S.Rinderle, 2013

Polyphemus

You gesture for me to pass
as if I’d been waiting
for your permission
I wasn’t looking at you
but at the traffic
you couldn’t see
judging my safety for myself

I’ve seen you before
sprawling your briefcase
notes, folders, phones, Starbucks
arms and legs
over the territory of the board room table
that extends well into mine
without even noticing
your border violation

Just like you
step in front of me to see
the street performance or
to check your muscular form
in the sweaty mirror
of the weightlifting room
startled and confused
when I materialize through my voice
or nearly head-on collide
when I refuse to step aside
first and yield
to your supposed
right-of-way

Privilege means
you get to take up space
without considering
whether it’s already occupied

Privilege means
you get to grant permission
that’s not yours to give

Privilege means
you get to take up words
and time
volume and decisions
while I budget mine
frugally
slip them in narrowly
with moderated manner and
modulated tone

Privilege means
you don’t even have to realize
you have privilege
that you’re breathing others’ air
and standing on our ground
The air around me is not a vacuum
my ground isn’t vacant
frontier
just waiting, barren, for you

True, even my body is built
to accommodate yours
but
I will not be
small and apologetic
scarce and invisible
fast and minimal
just to make room for you.

I don’t hate you
I don’t even hate your privilege
I hate its unexamined injustice
unearned rewards
I hate
your invested ignorance
since privilege means
you get to be  BIG
and abundant
and
blind.

© S. Rinderle, 2013

The Weaning

Your fragility
is burdensome to me
for you feel little more
than your own suffering
the terror of your inevitable death
makes you a vampyr
sucking the very life from me
since your own blood runs cold
and thin.
Your suicidal ideations and
self-professed cowardice
of follow through
provoked my alarm and pity
as a child

not anymore

My empathy and kindness
have made me strong, but
made you weak
helped keep
you an awkward man-child
with inappropriate boundaries
but it’s no surprise since
you chose yourself
to flee or comply
when someone stepped into yours
you hide behind
allowing others to take your childhood
because instead of standing up
you understood.
But I chose differently and
choose to keep all of me and
my forgiveness is not a package deal
complete with a bonus dose of amnesia
and insta-healing.

I gave up all hope
of having had a better past
and I truly know
you did your very best
and I let go
of expectations past and present
but your good intentions
don’t make it so
the cuts still bleed
and the scars endure
and now my healing
is my duty
for I am no vampyr
and this is my blood
not yours
and there will be no more transfusions
since I stepped into the sun
which does not burn my skin
and graduated
from raising any more
grown-ass men
no more daughters
parenting their own dads.

Don’t you see?

Your loveability
is not dependent on your competence
or state of faultlessness
yet you must face your own
consequence
‘cuz your inability
to separate mistake
from Self
keeps you from growing
keeps you
feeble, miniature
stunted and starving.

You’re like a parasitic bonsai tree
and I am not your gardener

Your fragility
is no longer my
responsibility
so I hand you back your burden
and hope its carrying
will make your tiny branches
mighty
and wild
for this
is the weaning.

© S. Rinderle, 2012

This too…

Sun set long ago
indigo twilight
rain falling like conversation
precise, round, insistent
solitary me
in the solitude of a song
patient under a tree
minutes like hours

If you wait long enough
the rain will pass.

Compacted dust softens to mud
mud yields and liquefies
unexpected deluge
landscapes shifting
rock faces crumbling
identities changed forever by the flood

If you wait long enough
the rain will pass.

Sobbing heart finally cracks
its sour juice oozes up
into throat
metallic and guarded
squeezing out of tearducts
in waterfalls of grief
certain their source is infinite
this ache permanent
this loss unsurvivable

If you wait long enough
the rain will pass.

© S. Rinderle, 2013

Ode to my Tropical Fro

Shut up and sit down!
No one is talking to you!
Keep quiet unless spoken to!
Just who do you think you are?!
Talkin’ smack
and coiling up
and mouthin’ back
unruly, ungrateful
and inappropriate!
I know how you are
and how you get
but we already had this conversation.
I thought we had a deal
and a pact
I thought after all this time
you finally knew how to act.
Maybe I’m to blame
for trying to tame
your wild, indomitable spirit.
The truth is
I’m tired of trying
and I don’t like to yell
so at this point
all I have left to say is
thank the Goddess
for hair gel!

© S. Rinderle, 2013

Nothing to do

Damn
what the fuck am I supposed to do now?
You’re even more gorgeous than I remember
it’s not just your frame
the way you carry yourself and
the beauty of your face
in and of itself
but the way you glance at me
I can tell it’s mutual
and there’s chemistry
a definite meeting of the minds
from the deep oceans
of our respective feelings
commitment to our causes to
the superficial ease
of laughter and
I get yous.

I’d been looking forward to this all day
more than I should
or wanted to say
and now I can’t shake
the buzz
I don’t know what to do because
there’s nothing to do
no hope because you’re taken
and I’m not that kind
of woman.

In the past, just
knowing a fine man was coupled
mercifully took him off my radar
but now it seems to be
broken
Damn
and we want to work together
could be so powerful, yet
I want to put my hands on you
feel your lips and tongue
on the back of my neck
that sweet spot
that melts me and makes me
gooey and warm
like oven fresh cake
moist all over
opened and steaming
your teeth nibbling
grazing my abdomen
blazing a trail to ecstasy
and I explode
in the release of waiting.

I want to retreat
into the comfort of female stereotypes
surrender
myself and all responsibility
without requesting any accountability
relieve your masculine tension
and mine
so you can go back to her
guilty but satisfied.

Maybe there’s more
to this story
but right now I’m on fire
0% contained
with no way
to douse my flames
save the cool water
in a glass just out of reach
the balm of two lips I can’t have
and the salve
of a heart
that isn’t mine.

© S. Rinderle, 2012

Mystery in my Skin

There is a mystery in my skin
of colors and truth and unknown kin
I walk around looking like half of me
always confusing The Other.
My own relations don’t understand my name
they think their version is real
but it’s story, just the same
since everyone who knew the truth
is dead:

My grandmother
a Scots-irish sixth daughter
stubborn as a nail in an old board
and just as sharp

My grandfather
dark and stoic in his bolo ties
raven-haired and lactose intolerant
sticking out among his many siblings like a lump of coal
nestled in an egg carton next to
pearly Whiteness
a lump of black coal from someplace hidden
secret, underground, misplaced
he even died from lung cancer
as if he’d been breathing coal dust
all his life
in the pure mountain air

And my mother
brown as the earth
a gorgeous Indian princess
hair and eyes like her father
a chip off the ol’ lump of coal
emerging from a White womb
an only daughter, her mother
made sure she was always dressed
in the fifties’ Sunday best
her smile and dimples hiding her misery
loneliness in the family

What else could have been her suffering
in a earthquake-prone town divided along fault lines
of class and color
where her grandfather raised chickens
she looked more like the Mexicans
than her own brothers
walking through the same hallways
of San Fernando, post W W II L.A.
where brown La Bamba Ritchie serenaded his White MaDonna.
I met Donna 35 years later and she said
things were different back then
brown and White didn’t always mix well, no
café con leche
only coffee — and milk.

I know now of my mother’s secret shame
a violation she could never claim
one even her husband never knew.
But what else did those ebony eyes see
and shed tears?
Eyes like ripe black olives that faded to young green ones
over time
like mine
ojos de miel
a sign of the mestizo
mixed-blood, hazel-eyed, half-breed

My relations think their version is real
but it’s no less story than mine
since everyone who knew the truth
is dead
or ain’t talkin’
but I doubt my uncles know
since so few really knew
her
or anything —
and few really saw
her
anyway.

So I claim my unnamed ancestors
the father of Ada Leah, bastard child, and
the secrets my matriarchs kept
in their lady parts
and silent hearts

I am the only one left

and I stand now with all my kin
and honor this mystery in my skin.

© S. Rinderle, 2012 — dedicated to Jane Huber Rinderle 10/22/12

 

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2 thoughts on “Poems

  1. Pingback: Waiting for Race (part II) | Susana Rinderle Consulting, LLC

  2. Pingback: Waiting for Race (part II) - Susana Rinderle Consulting, LLC

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