Woman in Front of Poster of Herself

Alice Notley

Said I shouldn't.
         Fingering me.
Everything I did.
A litter of chewed knucklebones
I've spread them out over the
rectangular floor as regularly as
I can; so I can account for them.
Her hands are crossed over
her breasts and each holds
a feather; her face has no features
Have I come to beg
What do I wish — to be
Is it an accumulation
of what I've said, that
counts, that I'm counting
is it all alphabet and abacus
everything rhymed?
You still don't have a face.
Suddenly she has the face of a
         No that's a different
I tell you this
jaguar . . .
I haven't any idea what my word is, I
mean fault.  Is it a word or an act.  The
whole thrill is ripping me apart
  Inside these
words there's nothing but a pumping
bloodsoaked . . .
but clearly, everything I said, did,
was a long shot
We didn't hear a word
What have you ever heard?
Now I'm here — black-caped in a
chair.  Animal staring at me
I sink into your disaffected
ambiance to name.
What emotional
have been laid on me from
earliest times
and my own
resulting in the bone strewn carpet
I had to grow the dice
of accounting to your love; for
you made me speak to you
lovingly; or did I do that naturally
oh just, bloodthirsty face
who doesn't have to understand.
I don't know who I'm speaking to
is pushing me
Judgment maybe it's when being
fragile I
hallucinate you best
I don't want to use my name!
"Where I was born we girls ran
free.  and named ourselves,"
Justice says.
She may kill me,
it depends on whether she's hungry
From Songs and Stories of the Ghouls, published by Wesleyan University Press. Copyright © 2011 by Alice Notley. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

The Descent of Alette ["A car" "awash with blood"] by Alice Notley
"A car" "awash with blood"
The Descent of Alette ["I stood waiting"] by Alice Notley
"I stood waiting" "for some minutes" "in this very" "alive darkness—"
The Descent of Alette ["I walked into"] by Alice Notley
"I walked into" "the forest;" "for the woods were lit" "by yellow
The Descent of Alette ["Presently"] by Alice Notley
"Presently" "we neared a pale beach," "narrow"
The Descent of Alette ["The water" "of the river"] by Alice Notley
"The water" "of the river" "was mild-
At Night the States by Alice Notley
At night the states
Hematite Heirloom Lives On (Maybe December 1980) by Alice Notley
Individual Time by Alice Notley
I'm calling out from pictures to your vision creating it
No world is intact by Alice Notley
No world is intact
Poem by Alice Notley
St. Mark's Place caught at night in hot summer
Poem by Alice Notley
You hear that heroic big land music
Poem by Alice Notley
Why do I want to tell it
World's Bliss by Alice Notley
The men & women sang & played

Further Reading

Related Poems
Obscurity and Selfhood
by C. D. Wright
Poems about Faces
About Face
by Alice Fulton
Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face
by Jack Prelutsky
by Kate Northrop
Shaving Your Father's Face
by Michael Dickman
The Face Without Makeup
by Victor Hernández Cruz
When We Look Up
by Denise Levertov
Poems about Identity
A Legacy
by Prageeta Sharma
Black Laws
by Roger Reeves
Dream In Which I Meet Myself
by Lynn Emanuel
by Elinor Wylie
For Crying Out Loud
by Terrance Hayes
Happy first anniversary (in anticipation of your thirty ninth)
by Bob Hicok
Imaginary June
by C. D. Wright
Instructions on Damaging the Monster's Cloak of Invisibility
by Bradley Paul
by Tada Chimako
Mrs. Cavendish and the Dancer
by Stephen Dunn
mulberry fields
by Lucille Clifton
My Teacup
by Alli Warren
On Anti-Biography
by Will Alexander
On Disappearing
by Major Jackson
Self-portrait as Thousandfurs
by Stacy Gnall
by Edith Franklin Wyatt
The Fare-well Letters [excerpt]
by Evie Shockley
The Purpose of Ritual
by Melissa Broder
Poems about Objects
Tender Buttons [Objects]
by Gertrude Stein
A blurry photograph
by Martha Ronk
Amethyst Beads
by Eavan Boland
Before You Came
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Blue Hanuman
by Joan Larkin
Compendium of Lost Objects
by Nicole Cooley
No mode of excitement is absolutely colorless
by Mónica de la Torre
Orkney Interior
by Ian Hamilton Finlay
by E. Ethelbert Miller
Private Beach
by Jane Kenyon
The Hammers
by Jericho Brown
The Things
by Donald Hall
What the Angels Left
by Marie Howe
White Box (notes)
by Laura Mullen