I was a mountain by Melita White


One day, when I was six, I became a mountain
It was the day I yelled and screamed with righteousness into thick air, the air my only witness, while I sat on my bed’s soft bedrock
And with my pillow I swiped at that air, at the bed, at the enemy sitting next to me — her name was Injustice
And the rage burst out like lava from a fissure that needed so much to crack open and Injustice was afraid of me and though the lesson did not teach her anything I learnt there was power in truth and in my anger
I was a mountain

To freeze is not to escape but is to survive by staying still
A fawn is a baby deer but it also means to play along so someone doesn’t kill you
To flee is to run away from danger and escape
And to be able to fight and win — what a dream and privilege that would be

The quake I felt once I’d escaped, its aftershocks I felt again
My heart was coming loud with aches
Thrashed heavy like the pillow you used to suffocate
The murmurs that catch upon my breath
Are the beating wings of the bird trapped in my chest
While she’s learning to fly she remembers to sing
And the frozen fawn she flees the scene

My six year old awoke this morning, her rage amplified so hard by life that the walls pulsed, the glass throbbed and the wood thumped in sympathy
I will give you a thumping my father said to my brother
It was a threat to behave better like your hands on my throat were a suggestion of death
The fawn froze
Half-dead half-here half-there
Brain bisected violently, hurtling towards life and death simultaneously
You refuse to give life, to grow branches and shoot out twigs and new leaves
Your roots stay stuck in your concrete pot, demand that others tend without taking
A puppet ruler, a tin-pot dictator — you fail to give even air

And yet we write — our words don’t flee, they stand and fight
Poems infiltrate the water supply like truth serum
Liars are exposed
The ghosts of those you murdered stand outside your house banging loudly on pots and pans
Charivari, the rough music of justice, the just music of shame
Groundwater toxins vibrate in time, buckle epidermis of earth which pops with stochastic rhythm driven nonsensical by algorithms forming sharp little mountains everywhere the music is heard
The anvil of avoidance presses down firmly, suppressing pain and signals that should be voiced
The pressure exerted here will form a mountain over there
The rough music of justice will be heard and it will make tall mountains

I remember the facile pointless lessons repeated to you yet not learnt
Like discussing morality with a naughty child in an alien dialect
Your tongue so close to my own, the timbre alike but the words made no sense
The dissonance so loud that the difference tones buzzed my eardrums and filled my brain with hot fuzz like lava
And the mountains swelled and popped up randomly on the surface of my mind
And I became one — again
I became a mountain

Melita White is founder and writer of the blog Feminist Confessional, a space that features feminist poetry, essays and personal pieces in a confessional style, with a focus on the MeToo movement. She is a composer and musician and loves making all kinds of things. https://feministconfessional.wordpress.com

If We Were Lobsters by Nate Leland


[One of my favorite poems by Nate Leland. Contact him at linked address for a copy of his poetry book.]

How many times had you asked me what it would be like if we were lobsters?
And you meant the question to be funny,
and I meant my answer in kind.
I said, “If we were lobsters
we’d feel differently about grocery stores.”
And you smiled crinkle-kindness
as though your eyes were gathering the drapes to let in a sunny Monday,
and I tried to smile back a dappled hazy
brilliance of lingering weekend to fill your vacant living rooms.
You said, “If grocery stores were circuses,
and you and I were lobsters,
then who would ever pay attention to the clowns?”
and I said,
“Fuck the clowns!
If they wanted positive attention they should try,
oh, I don’t know,
not killing people!”
You’d never liked clowns or Christmas ornaments,
so I always smashed one with a hammer,
avoided the other entirely,
and really tried to keep the two straight…
and that was love,

You asked me what it would be like if we were lobsters.
And you meant the question to be funny,
and I meant my answer in kind.
But I said, “If we were lobsters
then we wouldn’t be able to afford each other.”
And you winced,
your windblown hairs between your lips
like purse strings fumbling for your excuses,
and I tried to recall June fireflies
and how many dollars they were worth as they randomly
backlit your curves in the grass.
You said, “If we couldn’t afford each other,
would it still matter that our rubber bands match?”
And I said nothing,
because in that moment,
I didn’t know.
But it was still love


You haven’t asked me about being lobsters since,
but if you do, I know the answer now:
I’d say,
“If we were lobsters,
we would be able to take our arms off
if there was danger
or if the other one needed them.”
I’d say,
“If we were lobsters,
we would deal with infinitely fewer traps
than we keep setting for each other.”
I’d say,
“If we were lobsters,
then we would be sweetest
when our skin is thinnest.”

But we’re not lobsters.
If we were,
We’d be…
bottom feeders,
in the dark,
cold and alone,
so we can’t be lobsters,
because this
is love.