Two Poems

Adrienne Rich



Orientation of the word toward its addressee has an extremely high significance. In point of fact, word is a two-sided act. It is determined equally by whose word it is and for whom it is meant. Each and every word expresses the "one" in relation to the "other." A word is territory shared by both addressor and addressee, by the speaker and his interlocutor.

                                                       V.N. Voloshinov, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language

If all we would speak is ideology
believable walking past pent-up Christmas trees
in a California parking lot   day before Thanksgiving    hot sun on faint
scent of spruce    in the supermarket
mixed metaphors of food
faces expectant, baffled, angered, distracted
wandering aisles or like me and the man ahead of me, buying only milk
my car door grabbed open by a woman
thinking it her husband's car honking for her somewhere else

--and I think it true indeed I know
I who came just for milk am speaking it     :  though
wanting to stand somewhere beyond
this civic nausea

: desiring not to stand apart
like Jeffers giving up on his kind    loving only inhuman creatures
because they transcend ideology   in eternity as he thought
but he wasn't writing to them
nor today's gull perched on the traffic light

Nor can this be about remorse that merely
stands staring over its shopping cart
feeling its vague ideological thoughts

nor about lines of credit
blanketing shame and fear

nor being conscripted for violence
from without   beckoning at rage within

I know what it cannot be

But who   at the checkout this one day
do I address    who is addressing me
what's the approach whose the manners
whose dignity whose truth
when the change-purse is tipped into the palm
for an exact amount without which

2002 Adrienne Rich



A deluxe blending machine
A chair with truth's coat-of-arms
A murderous code of manners
A silver cocktail reflecting a tiny severed hand
A small bird stuffed with print and roasted
A microwaved foie gras
A row of lucite chessmen filled with shaving lotion
A bloodred valentine to power
A watered-silk innocence
A dry-ice carrier for conscience donations
A used set of satin sheets folded to go
A box at the opera of suffering
A season at the tropical villa, all expenses
A Caterpillar's tracks gashing the environment
A bad day for students of the environment
A breakdown of the blending machine
A rush to put it in order
A song in the chapel a speech a press release

2002 Adrienne Rich

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Logos 2.1 - winter 2003
Logosonline 2003