a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

Photo by Saad Chaudhry on Unsplash

“This is a crime story in a large and violent place. Too large for subject and object. Only a few of her captors have names. Nearly all of their names are wrong. Anyway, by 1676 most of them are gone.” — Susan Howe, from “The Birth-mark” on the kidnapping by Native Americans of Mary Rowlandson, a Massachussetts Bay colonist

In the official grammar of this nation
One performs the action
& the Other receives it

but

heavy water ancestors
breath beneath this
ship hull of injury
pull us into new life with them

I keep thinking of the schooner named…


a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

Photo by T. Bartlett on Unsplash

“We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. … We seek to restore the government of the republic to the hands of the ‘plain people’ with whom it originated… The interests of rural and urban labor are the same; their enemies are identical.” — Ignatius L. Donnelly at the 1892 Farmer’s Alliance Convention

“The Populist platform called for collective bargaining, federal regulation of railroad rates, an expansionary monetary policy, and a Sub-Treasury Plan that required the establishment of federally controlled warehouses to aid farmers…These measures were collectively designed to curb…


a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

“The caress of love. One has just been born. A monist conception.” — Susan Howe, “The Birth-mark”

waking
on sunday

my kisses
confined to skin

(lips cannot
reach further)

i linger
too long

on each texture
of you

studying grades
of softness

delighting with
my whole face & hands

so long that you
grow hungry

and stretch from
such intimacy

smiling, you shimmy
from beneath me

break the pleasure of
our immanence

& ask for pancakes

This piece is one in a series, Climacteric: On the Turning Point, a poetic collaboration for National Poetry Writing Month (#NaPoWriMo) by Samantha Wallen


a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

“But the attack on women comes above all from capital’s need to destroy what it cannot control and degrade what it most needs for its reproduction. This is the body of women, for even in this age of super-automation, no work and no production would exist except for what is the result of our gestation.” — Silvia Federici, “Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women”

“She and her children are commodities between two hostile armies. What is their legality? What are they worth? Other to other we are all functions in a system of War.” — Susan Howe, “The Birth-mark”

the 25th birthday…


a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

Letters from the day, April 21, 2021

i.

9:00 am walk on the farm
3 fluffy inches of snow cover
trees already pink with blossom

ii.

robins, cardinals, woodpeckers
so visible against the last snow of the season
—& it melts in a flash!

iii.

her poem, his verdict
both just living & dying
in cold
spring snow

iv.

second dose in our arms
we eat chipotle in the parking lot
then home to nap beneath cool blue skies

v.

that he was found guilty,
that we defeated the maniac’s re-election
none of this is justice yet

vi.

heard L.A.’s…


a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

on September 7, 1864

my 4th great grandfather,
Reddick, wrote a letter
to his son, Hiram,
with a remedy

— 40 drops of turpentine
& the white of one egg
shaken in “a big mouth vile” —

to be taken by teaspoon
every 3 hours
day and night

something had taken ahold
of his son’s body and there’s
a fragility that shows through
in his letter

he wrote it one month
before he, himself, would die
of typhoid fever,
just a day after his wife died of the same

he was already ill when he wrote it

“If I doant…


a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

i was born with

a keen eye
a pilfered heart
& bothered hands

just as my mother had
and her mother before

This piece is one in a series, Climacteric: On the Turning Point, a poetic collaboration for National Poetry Writing Month (#NaPoWriMo) by Samantha Wallen and Michelle Puckett. To read the previous poem in the series, click here. To read the next poem in the series, click here.

Michelle Puckett, MFA is a poet, doula, permaculturalist, coach and Co-Founder of Creating Freedom Movements, a social justice school for activists. All of her work aims to nourish the sacred and make it plain in every day life.


a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

By Joel Dorman Steele and Esther Baker Steele — A Brief History of the United States by Joel Dorman Steele and Esther Baker Steele, 1885, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2979358

“Wives who were seen as witches, shrews, and scolds were also forced to wear [scold’s bridles] locked onto their heads…With such a frame locking their heads and mouths, those accused could be led through town in a cruel public humiliation that must have terrified all women, showing what one could expect if she did not remain subservient. Significantly, in the United States, it was used to control slaves in Virginia until the eighteenth century.”
— Silvia Federici, “Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women”

spiked iron
in tongue

where spittle
running down
does touch

this tendency toward submission

bodily compression magnetic sound of…


a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

Photo by British Library on Unsplash

“What has remained unacknowledged is that, like the slave trade and the extermination of the indigenous populations of the ‘New World,’ the witch hunt stands at a crossroad of a cluster of social processes that paved the way for the rise of the modern capitalist world.” — Silvia Federici, “Wiches, Witch-Hunting, and Women”

because i am reeling in the bright of these revelations

because i keep getting the same headache

because children’s names are listed in the wills of my ancestors

because receipts really can be followed all the way back

because inherited property

because overseers are seen as low-class…


a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

Photo by Pablo Martinez on Unsplash

“At the stakes not only were the bodies of the ‘witches’ destroyed, so was a whole world of social relations that had been the basis of women’s social power and vast body of knowledge that women had transmitted from mother to daughter over the generations — knowledge of herbs, of the means of contraception or abortion...This is what was consumed on every village square with the execution of the women accused, who would be exhibited in the most abject state: tied up with iron chains and given to the fire.” — Silvia Federici, “Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women”

:impossible list of…

Michelle Puckett

poet. doula. queer. seed-grower. love-maker. creatrix-worshipper. ancestor-reverent {r}evolutionary.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store