Saturday, January 21, 2017

January 21, 2017 .... 10,000 people march and gather in Ithaca, NY

Today I had the honor of marching in downtown Ithaca, with HORDES OF BEAUTIFUL HUMANS, followed by speaking/reading at the magnificent rally on the Commons. For all my friends who could not be there in person, if you want to know what I said . . . read on.

Hello all you beautiful people. I'm Zee Zahava and I've been invited to read a poem to you, as the current Poet Laureate for Tompkins County.

First I'd like to share a quote by a woman who was known as the Warrior Poet, the lesbian activist Elsa Gidlow. She said: “We must envision the world we want, make it so real in our hearts that it already exists.... "

People all over the country are doing that today, right now, envisioning the world we want. A world where we stand with our sisters and brothers, with respect and compassion, with fire in our hearts and in our bellies. THIS is real.

When I came into the women's movement, the feminist movement, in the early 1970s, books were a life-line for us. Words we read on the page provided context, they shaped us. Over the years, poets like Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Marge Piercy, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Judy Grahn, Pat Parker, Sonia Sanchez, and so many others, offered a new vocabulary, a way of thinking about ourselves in the world. And there was the book Our Bodies, Ourselves — life-affirming, life-changing. When women talk about our bodies, when we claim the right to own our own bodies …. that is radical.

A while ago I wrote a poem, it's really just a long list, a collection of associations that popped up at a particular time. If I wrote it today, it would have different words. If YOU wrote a poem like this, YOU would choose different words. It is a good thing, I think, to consider not only what our bodies are, but also what they are not.  

My Body, My Self

my body is not    a tree   an old sock   an accordion

it is not  a railroad track   a second-hand car
or a shiny new penny

my body is not    burnt toast   a splinter   a false alarm

it is not     a loose button   a loose tooth  or a loose cannon

it is not     a see-saw    a tornado    a thimble  

my body is not a lie

my body is not     a barbie doll   or   a heavy metal band 

it is not     a girl scout troop   a pocket knife   a silk kimono

my body is not X-rated

it is not    a puppet   a ripe melon   a map    or a metaphor

it does not  sky dive  play hide and seek  or jump rope

my body is not     pink, petite, polite, or punctual

it is not     on call    checked-out    over-due    assigned
resigned   or re-designed

my body is not     abandoned or under construction

my body is not     grammatical    it is not well-punctuated

my body is not     poetic

my body is not     over