Category Archives: poetry

Demeter – a solstice poem

sadness and turning away
Demeter losing
all she loves
does she know what it is?
who will come and love her when she’s grieving
not giving
ugly tears
the sisters will come and dance but they also are

the underworld is pushing up,
claiming something
and she fights desperately to hold on
to not let the lights go out
should she give in?
when she does for a moment, when she yields to the song it
takes her over completely
for a while
until her mind remembers
and still
picks over the bones

only her love restored, only the proper place of all its in place,
child at home
at her knee, will restore
she wonders if she is too possessive
too unimaginative to love otherwise
she broods
then leaves
up in a rush of feathers
she gets up flies off the nest
goes somewhere
like Lilith to the hoopoe tree
she flies over the world like Inanna checking on her lands
she can’t stop being a mother

she is wondering,
do they miss me?
the crown of winter is upon the earth
and it’s fitful,
not a peaceful blanketing of time
really it is a disruption, the arctic freezes wildly rocking
poles shifting under her, her own
magnetism unsettled
heya hey, she’s becoming
a wisewoman planet*

where are we now
sisters of the sacred, are we holding space for this?
are our drums and dancing feet
enough to keep this going?

are we laughing sacred laughter and dreaming
sacred dreams
through this, is the ancient
wolf cry
the howl of all the suffering alone and in company,
do we believe in evil?

in ourselves the horror to be faced
needs to be remedied,

this time
is sacred to find
every day
the thread to the next or the one before or
my heart

a lake to contemplate
is this peace?
so much sadness and absence and rejection, refusal,
to leave home
to leave my bed and my fire

what made me do it was
a need like Inanna’s maybe?
an itch,
something not right, need to be dissolved
and reborn

and if I fail?
can’t think that but every time
there’s a sense of resolution,
peace or acceptance, the two sides of myself meeting or just all of myself
meeting myself and saying yes

and then a goddess peace and love answer coming to me through sisters
overwhelming me and calling into question
my self-sufficiency

frustration then not knowing where this takes me, if it is coming to me
what does it mean?
how do i move with it in my life, pursue it
or just let it be or
let it go and regret

that is what set me in motion to begin with

and i’m no closer to an answer
though Diana** has gotten free time to do stuff at home which she wanted
that makes me glum my absence a gift to her

and wondering
am I ever going to find love and peace in the world, or
accept the world without it,
absence and pain no different here but anesthetized
with difference, motion

not helping
only giving me time and space alone

and I did want the movement towards warmth
but i don’t really find it, not summer in the northern hemisphere as far south as i might go
it’s still cold and dark

the light starts to return today,
am i ready?

I can only hope no matter what,
my impurities,
my low vibrations,
something will lift me
the energy of the goddess regenerating herself
will find itself in me

will know how to move when I don’t
will energize my mind and spirit and body and heart, emotions and gut and sex

and eventually I will accept, I will understand and live
peacefully with my sisters
my rebellious nature somehow moved or shifted

put aside
let be and let grieve

let alone

if Demeter is a lioness she takes her courage
and moves
her life through the world
accepting her cycle with the rage as sea and storm
eruptions of fire-earth and
these are her cycles
she does not apologize and her sisters if afraid take their own courage and join
her in the dance,
singing heya hey

she moves in her own sacred way
keeping strength with
what she knows to be real

no matter who moves against her
she is rock and magma,
waterfall and lakes, springs and salt and marsh
the world does not end, the stars revolve

*referring to Paula Gunn Allen’s essay ‘The Woman I Love is a Planet, the Planet I Love is a Tree’.
**referring to the poet’s wife Diana Signe Kline. the poem interweaves personal life with archetypal and cosmic concerns.


my sense of self is
so far from
these Brooklyn kitchens with their smell
of grease and fighting
low rumble in the air
what are we being saved from?

Prospect Park outside my school
the pines
I went and sat under among the needles
my first stillness
walk and walk to hear the hum
of my own thoughts

now I don't need to walk
the stillness within and without
but I do
to take up the invitation to beauty
to be in the world
and to not be caught staying still
vulnerable to being taken over by time

earth climacteric

and money
and strength
capitalizing on itself to mow down whatever
can be made grass
i needed something to rise
as whole and shining moving through the dark
it’s a time of flouishing within a hard
vigil that hurts as it goes
bumping and ripping our fingernails on the walls we try
to keep ourselves safe from knowing
the lives we share
in this world between we are midwifing
we’re weaving a dream we can’t see
on these screens and these waves and wires
in the skies the energy we draw and circulate back to earth in our bodies
and souls
we are keepers of what can’t be known,
what is a birthing to be made whole like a woman screaming herself
into being
for the first time
*This poem came after a gathering with about 25 lesbian radical feminists, sharing intensity for a short time that felt cataclysmic and transformational.  Part of what is always on our minds now (all of us) is the Earth's changes and our grief over human (euro-cultures, patriarchy, capitalist) destructiveness towards her and life.  Paula Gunn Allen, in her 1991 essay 'The Woman I Love is a Planet, The Planet I Love is a Tree,' used the terms 'menopause' and 'climacteric' for these changes, and said:

'Our planet, my beloved, is in crisis; this, of course, we all know. We, many of us, think that her crisis is caused by men, or White people, or capitalism, or industrialism, or loss of spiritual vision, or social turmoil, or war, or psychic disease. For the most part, we do not recognize that the reason for her state is that she is entering upon a great initiation-she is becoming someone else. Our planet, my darling, is gone coyote, heyoka, and it is our great honor to attend her passage rites. She is giving birth to her new consciousness of herself and her relationship to the other vast intelligences, other holy beings in her universe. Her travail is not easy, and it occasions her intensity, her conflict, her turmoil-the turmoil, conflict, and intensity that human and other creaturely life mirror. And as she moves, growing and learning ever closer to the sacred moment of her realization, her turmoil, intensity, agony, and conflict increase.

At a time such as this, what indeed can we do? We can sing Heya- hey in honoring all that has come to pass, all that is passing. Sing, honoring, Heya-hey to all the beings gathering on all the planes to witness this great event. From every quadrant of the universe they are coming. They are standing gathered around, waiting for the emergence, the piercing moment when she is counted among those who are counted among the wise. We can sing Heya-hey to the familiar and the estranged, to the recognized and the disowned, to each shrub and tree, to each flower and vine, to each pebble and stone, to each mountain and hill. We can sing Heya-hey honoring the stars and the clouds, the winds and the rains, the seasons and the temperature. We can think with our hearts, as the old ones do, and put our brains and muscles in the service of the heart, our Mother and Grandmother Earth, who is coming into being in another way. We can sing Heya-hey, honoring.

What can we do, rejoicing and honoring, to show our respect? We can heal. We can cherish our bodies and honor them, sing Heya-hey to our flesh. We can cherish our being-our petulances and rages, our anguishes and griefs, our disabilities and strengths, our desires and passions, our pleasures and delights. We can, willingly and recognizing the fullness of her abundance, which includes scarcity and muchness, enter inside ourselves to seek and find her, who is our own dear body, our own dear flesh. For the body is not the dwelling place of
the spirit-it is the spirit. It is not a tomb, it is life itself. And even as it withers and dies, it is born; even as it is renewed and reborn, it dies.'
The above image, of many swirling and vibrating colors with different energies, including two focal points of red and many downward-moving energy spirals, was drawn by me in a workshop my wife Diana Signe Kline gave at our gathering.  It feels to me like a a good fit with the poem and with Paula Gunn Allen's theme of listening to our hearts and bodies in all their disturbances which are more than our own individually, and acting from that space.

hold on

hold on, the space of this life
like a spider stepping out lightly into air and brilliant sun

no one has freed me
the dark leaves shadow a shiver of creation
where we dream what could be if the tragedies common to all of us
had not happened
if we had only the sun and not the shadow

we became love
and food with each other

our transformations where one goes away out of pain that cannot be withstood,
and then reminds herself
light and dark and pain
and hunger and cold and thirst and laughter
still rile us,

life with the skin sensitive as fire we
curl and protect 
then open
and close again

the nursemaid’s tale

the nursemaid stands at the door wringing her hands
who is she?
what does she need, will anybody go to help her?
she doesn’t know enough
never knows enough
patient is cranky
she is not allowed to call attention to what she doesn’t know,
how she is afraid
how she’d like to run away
but the patient would come after her in her dreams

she sits outside on the stoop
nobody might really see her at all
maybe the whole house is a figment
maybe the patient is the only reality
burning candle or fever
that she can’t contain

there was a patient, maybe she is dead
maybe the cadaver keeps faint flesh because of the nursemaid’s attention
why can’t she let go?

who can’t tell her, sweet woman put down your burden
they will never thank you
you will never nurse her back to health
they’ll never pay or repay you
they’ll never give you back the energy or lost time
never look in your eyes and say i’m sorry, whisper i’m sorry, i ate your life for nothing

have you ever looked in my eyes
have you ever wondered what you would see there?
will you be whole
there is a fire of love burning
and i am all alone

i get up from the bed
i walk past her on the stoop
she is not seeing me
i brush her faintly with my spirit and disappear

what is this,
what is the meaning of this

a tide rolls in and out

a smile moves on top of the waves

one of us is free


(c) Tina Minkowitz 2017


you are not our kind of person
you have wild hair
you don’t shave
you smell
you are too short, too fat, you don’t wear a bra
you wear t-shirts with things on them i don’t understand
you sit with your feet up in meetings
you talk loud
you argue
you shake your fingers in the air and it makes me afraid

you are not our kind
my children will be frightened
their father was like that
i don’t want you to be around us

you are not our kind
you are not our
we bar the door against you
chutz lilit

i nod my head, understand
this has happened before

people don’t want their illogic exposed
their little penis
their little ego
their little world that
is guarded against breaking

they don’t want to know what broken looks like and surviving without denial
without comfort or affirmation
breaking through the water unexpected and triumphant and scaring the bejeezus out of everybody

they want perfection or obedience, especially in a woman
even women want this

i have been the chutz lilt also maybe, i can’t remember
we aren’t separate

your world might scare me


ass trailing reluctant acknowledgement of rejection
turning out of a room
leaving where she’s not wanted

waking up
echoes of my own snares

when is desire fertile
when is it cold blooded eggs seeping from a crevice
making lizards
or pearls
of dew and spiders

when does it make dragons

when is a woman not a woman
when she is not a man

do you find something here?
looking under the pillow
what never was

adam v/chava chutz lilit chutz lilit adam always the power behind the throne
even if a woman makes the incantation

is there no place
for fertile dragon eggs

no place for eyes
that swim up from the bottom

wanting as much as you do
the warmth of fire
making the fire with my own sticks
my own dry skin

on the dry skin of others like me
tinder and flesh
setting the leaves to flame

(c) Tina Minkowitz 2017

(lilit/lilith is part of jewish mythology and ancient sumerian mythology, a demonized goddess. ‘adam v/chava, chutz lilt’ = adam and eve, out lilith. not even going to try and explain that, lot of material out there. in my world lilith is a lesbian and this poem ends her up there, female connection and female autonomy.)