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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 8, 2017.
About this Poem 

“‘Violence, I know you’ is written after Alice Notley’s book In the Pines. It is part of a new series I’m working on, where the speaker is a ghost—an ancestor navigating the legacy of her secrets while communicating the importance of voice, intuition, and self-knowledge to her descendants.”
—Khadijah Queen

Violence, I know you

so well it’s like you’re my real
lover, the reason I can’t stay
attached to anyone, making a heaven
out of beginning again & you
knock at my voice
as if I could speak you back in
as mine & I had time enough to learn
the secret of cruelty
as if that made it lose
its power over me, its antics
failing notice,

but it lives in us all like a question
we can’t answer but keep trying
because it feels good to & the secret
is it can’t last, 
& that is when it hurts—
we
who can’t bear to lose &
stitch to any nothing
that acts like a landing place but turns
out to be a fissure, we pretend
voices tell us it’s music
& familiar or alien
we listen, it’s only a dance
 

Copyright © 2017 by Khadijah Queen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 8, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Khadijah Queen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 8, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Khadijah Queen

Khadijah Queen

Khadijah Queen is the author of I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On (YesYes Books, 2017).

by this poet

poem
Gear adrift I say—a phrasal anchor in me
& here at the summit no one I know
knows what it means. I stay neat & ask
 
What did I imagine better before work
before that last time breaking
One Tuesday I volunteered & never again
 
The drumbeat softens & I still decline to
admit how cowardly &
2
poem
after Clare Rojas
(I have a diamond house
with men. I have pierced
men and diamond shoes.
I have shoed horses and
a tilted head. I have a tilted
cart and a flowered scarf.
I have a gray dress and a
hell of a guitar. I play the
guitar and the jukebox jack-
in-the-box gutted brown
poem

Bamboo shoots on my grandmother's side path
grow denser every year they’re harvested for nuisance.
Breezes peel blush and white petals from her magnolia,
lacing unruly roots in the spring grass. For nine decades
she has seen every season stretch out of shape, this past
Connecticut winter