Friday, November 25, 2005

Across Another Border

Here is a poem written in a walking workshop I gave. We used Santa Fe as our backdrop and inspiration. I took the poets to various places around town, the Capital, Witter Bynner's home, an old print shop, the plaza and we wrote poems based on the locations. This poem came out of visiting a photography gallery. The exercise was to use one of the photos as a basis for your poem. Thanks to Pam for allowing me to post it here. Happy Thanksgiving, xox Gary

Across Another Border
Pamela Bentley
from Carl Mydan’s photograph “Collaborationist (French woman accused of sleeping with German is shaved)”

The clippers in Fernand’s hands dull
before the task of desecrating my mass of hair,
the act meant to shame me,
to destroy my femininity so I will
not be desired by men,
German or otherwise.
Mariette and her sister-in-law Josée laugh,
a joke made at my expense
but that’s nothing new.
Plus ça change …

What difference
if I seek passion in the arms of a man
from across a border?
I did not make these borders;
the lines drawn
have nothing to do with feelings.
Other men’s borders
have brought us to this place
where whom we sleep with is a crime.
And what have these people
who surround me,
taunt me,
delight in my punishment,
done to resist the Germans?
No more than I have.
My act may have even more effect.
Perhaps the satiation of lust,
the giving of love,

dulls the war appetite for battle
for killing –
(though for some it is never there at all,
I learned from the German boy
each night he came to me).

I have no fear of Fernand’s sure touch
as he shaves the back of my neck.
Fernand (who is really Fernando)
and his brother, Martín
(I will see years later when
I come across this photo of us in a gallery)
is almost smiling,
looking directly into the camera.
Martín, who that very night
ran his hands across my shaved head
touched my lips
with his fingers, then his mouth,
said I was still beautiful.

His long slicked-back hair,
when ruffled and released by my fingers through it,
was enough for both of us;
his body and the color of his skin
so like that of my “collaborator”
the “German” boy, blond,
who spoke French and Italian with the same accent
as Martín,
whose language, though like ours,
is from across another border.


Anonymous said...

gorgeous. moving. visceral. i could taste it. i became (happily) lost in the world this poet created and did not want to leave. lovely. thank you for the gift...

(wonderful also was the encouraging affirmation that there are others awake at 3:44 a.m., doing the Nocturnal Waltz alongside me, like Mr. Glazner.)

thank you, gary and pam.

may your journeys continue to unfold joyously...

Tabitha Dial said...

Mr. Glazner! I do NOT believe it!!!!

Well, I suppose I do...

This morning, while fighting off a sore throat, I've had an amazing amount of energy. Though I should be sleeping, I couldn't help wanting to update my blogspot and add a new section-- Books at my bedside: What I'm reading sporadically on weekends.

People love that, you know. They eat it right up. And I needed links to satisfy them.

How to Make a Living as a Poet is one such book. I picked it up on Wednesday at my local independent bookseller.... OH MAN!!!

I was there to shop for OTHER people... but I really wanted your book...

Then I needed the link... and...

::deep breath::

I found your site!!!


I will return later... for there is much posting and updating to be done, and WOW...

Thank you for having a blog!!!

And for writing your book. I've not started it just yet, but I look forward to digging in.

debby florence said...

I am just chiming in to say i had the same experience as tabitha.. i went to my local bookstore to buy gifts and selfishly bought your book for myself instead. I have been reading it for a few days now, and just got to the page where it gives the URL to your blog.

I am a poet, mother, student, and cook in Montana. I make artist books and self publish, and usually manage to break even on my projects, and sometimes i make enough profit to fund the next one. I have started something akin to an artist collective, but we are focused on books: publishing, self publishing, printmaking, artist books, etc. I am always looking for creative ways to make money and do community service with my passions...and your book has so many great ideas and examples in it, i feel really encouraged to keep working on my dream. I have to brag to you about one of our fun and sucessful projects: a bicycle powered book-mobile. It has been redesigned a bit since the last photos were posted, but you can see it at Thanks!