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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

First, I was twenty-five with no sleep       (                    )

&         my body said    feel this                     And I didn’t

want to     (             ) then       It turned into a constant &        (         )

burned to be felt        I couldn’t harden

away from it

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

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