Just Hands:
Photos by Griffiths in this issue




Two Elizas


Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Two Elizas

(After 'The Two Fridas', 1939)


Be near me & tell

where the blood is going.


Too often bull-bellied clouds slow

drag our hips, fracturing

both girl & woman.


Barbed ideals conjoin

& coil their righteous dreams through

arteries, thick as autumn vines


that keep light out.  And I must take

my own hand, must hold my own

hand, as if it were a stave of notes


scattered from a razed moon: brokenly beating

the rhythm of a thousand-throated

hummingbirds beneath a dress of tulle.


Listen to us: these women

say to ourselves:  Eliza:  Eliza.


The men have left & in a dusky corner

the women you have been

are piled like a beige heap of slips

to be ironed & mended, hung.


All mothers have left you

& in their shadows blood

drips from the chandelier

to the floor where your body

rocks in its cradle.


Eliza: you: Eliza: me.


Which if I'm answering

all of you

there's light in my lungs

like a pale bough of cricket lanterns.


I wear golden lamps

that open after midnight.


Our hands in blue water.  Our thighs

a chord beyond the last sonata. 

Four lips of light opening towards

testament & earth.  Our imagination

& plague.


The things that hold.

Hold me now

 before I am no more

 of a fragment

than the clouds behind me.


The body expands

its luminous stain.


Melancholic now, one Eliza.

Inconsolable: you: the Others.


Be near me & tell

us where the blood is going.


Be near me & tell Beauty

I was once unbearable.





Passing the Window

Some colorless breath blows mulatto snow past this window.

Opened or shut? Accident or not? There's a one-drop ghost

haunting the frame of this window.


What happened, they ask me again later.  Did Clare Kendry fall?

Or did she lean back into a white shawl of cool gems?

I might have touched her. Can't say. Can't remember. Ask the window.


In a pale shroud of cool flakes, the gold wick

smolders.  Clare's laughter coiling its elegy through the sky:

constellation of an asp & siren.  Fallen sting of height

from that window.


No more Nig.  No further worry about the colorful secret.

Bellew would've done worse.  Black curtains over windows. 

Remember voiceless Whites Only signs in the window.


I might have pushed Sorry off the ledge too.  Might have bared

my teeth as my fingertips tapped the flame near the window.

Why, I knew my place well enough.  Why didn't she? 


The tall French casements will keep this secret.  The window

in my heart will need its glass replaced.  Shattered, splattered

with blood, pride, race.  Continue to control my manners and my Brian. 


On either side I exist.  A suspect-scale upon the sill of the window.

Too dark outside.  Too light within.  Or flip it

like a coin falling from a window.





Elegy: Breath: Eyes: Memory

Near my body

a choir of voices


Eyes like mouths of blushed light

Breath spiraling stained leaves


Memory be near me

You captive admirer –

You terrorist –

You circus acrobat –

            twirling in a hundred costumes.


Eyes be near me

You who fill the spirit with tears

You water my desires with blind vows

            of loss

You blink in disbelief

at each delight: surreal shadows

            imposed upon the pink-scrolled twins

of my closed eyelids


One day you'll be buried

& birds will sing while leaves fall

over my closed mind


I can't remember this now

I can't remember this



But be near me

as a song is near me

& soothes the melancholy

flint of memory


A choir of flames

spiraling a crown

around my heart


wordlessly I love

until I can't remember

when I stopped






Funnyhouse Haiku




Patrice Lumumba

piles of hair fall from my crown

            a beast stares into mirrors



I want not to be

            how dare the dead things return?

Black hair falls from crown




Creature of torment

Jesus in this jungle

            Darkest one near light




White mother Black beast

Frankopenny trees bleed now

                        Forgive my father


Queen Victoria tells me

A stallion raped us

I must bear this race



They killed Lumumba

                                                                                    Blaze of Christian kerosene

                                                                                                Brightest of them all



Duchess & Jesus

weeping near the funny cross

Sarah hung by hair                                          




Darkest of them all

                                                            My bald heart nears mirrors

                                                                        Whose hair belongs where?