Two Poems by Vanessa Huang – The Feminist Wire

Two Poems by Vanessa Huang

voice of hunger
Dear Adrienne,
The moment of change
.            you honor          ripples me
.                   in bittersweet wonder— the great dark birds
the uncertain moment                           of history screamed and plunged
.                          year after year                           on the mass grave
.                                                                                               of revolt         
each moment of choice          into our personal weather
.                           as I honor the we I long and listen for—       
.                           the lives today’s we has lost and stolen—
.            the taste we’re left with—
our imperfect
.                                        kinship—
.             Among these poembody waves They were headed somewhere else but
In your gift of burning                       
.                                     their beaks and pinions drove
the search for our free verses
.              along the shore—
.                    you choked on the taste of bread in North America, through rages of fog
.                            stressed the taste of hunger seizing your own.
.                                           I wonder how you repossessed the fibrous I'm alive
.              to want more than life body of our outlawed                        
.                                                     and invisible flame and fury, inhabited aliveness
.                            enough to write
.                                                        through the poison and joy
.                                                                                    in each huddling hunger
.                            for liberation—
.              there are so many prisons, so many silences—
.              I wonder how your want it for others starving and unborn
.                                                       longed and feared the repossession
.                            to name the deprivations by all women
.                                          of this passion to be
.                                                       inscribes her body, so many deaths forbidding
.                                                                      fabric of a crossfire resistance
.                                                       breaking terror’s isolation—
How did our angry desire .                       Swathed in exhaustion
of your shadowmemory hollow, trampled—
.       quiver alone beneath cisgender .                 wo-
                                                                                  men shields,
the bitter, dead child from the camera— .          wordless—     
where we stood, saying I—    What kept this starved song hostage?
.                                         And you remind us—
Until we find each other, we are alone.

After Adrienne Rich’s “Hunger” for Audre Lorde, with language borrowed from
Adrienne Rich’s poetry, interviews, and translation of Francisco Alarcon’s poetry.

Queen of All Churches
 .    for Marsha P
you a bodhisattva       

spirit never laughs at me
patron saint of the sidewalk   
Valentine of Village street queens

and Paloma’s childhood kitchen
you bodhisattva                     
catch and weave sleep at the movies
lost flowers into priestess       
you crown us wonderful
mornings.   teach us to spare change
and glimmer brooches
currency of living without
agenda.   the world your art form
house of stars you make
with Sylvia       daily offerings to Neptune’s
river.   still nurse our spirit
open the police chief’s heart
disarm all
the insults in the liberated glory
you’ve bequeathed us.     bodhisattva
how do you magic
the rage of childhood
rape.   and scalding water
into love.     bodhisattva
how do you ritual the changing of linens
genius sickness
to loving
closer and closer
fragile queen
queen of dignity
Saint Marsha
singing us alive
in divine wreath of stage mirrors
teach us your sacred generosity
how you shower us with love
perform religious rites
even at the river of time
even after how many years
even at this river who sorrows
we find you again
and again we find you.    river
queen of daffodils who
.              swim
.                                      swim
we carry you to your river Hudson
while the river cop gives
us the street saying
Marsha was a good queen
we carry your tomorrow
give you back to us river
we who whisper your river
we who hear your whisper
we whose eardrums river
back to the river
fragile queen who free us
queen of dignity
holding court    you river queen
water who feed our dying
queen of lamé
we dress you
in love.       even as you river and
.                             float
.                                           float
you hymn freedom
dreams sewn in velvet and glitter
you dress us in life


HuangVanessa Huang weaves poemsongs with moments of creative aliveness and transformative encounter, color, and texture in call and response with kindred spirits who dream and make worlds where each and all of us are free. A finalist for Poets & Writers’ 2010 California Writers Exchange Award, Vanessa’s poetry and practice inherit teachings from the prison abolition, migrant justice, gender liberation, transformative justice, disability justice, and reproductive justice movements.