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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
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

Yes as thievery, except if saved for
a fantasy in which I in a backless
dress encounter

you on a typical balcony
overlooking Vltava, gripping the latticework,
metal, a barrier to leaping

into an esoteric night, fixed and ornate
enough, like my penchant for the infinite

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