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  • Courage

    When you stand at the altar, screaming of lust and death,
    I am the one before you, under the knife your words.
    Look into my eyes. I summon your first dreams, sweet

    and light as a child’s laughter. Recalled from a great distance,
    they step away from the empty shell you’ve become
    and reach for my dreams. They hug each other,

    your embodied dreams and mine, kiss on both cheeks,
    do a little dos-a-dos of pleasure. Like most joys,
    they leak melancholy, already seeing the end

    of themselves the way we all see our deaths
    looming behind us even when we look carefully
    the other way. You and I stare at each other, surprised to see

    not only our hidden dreams exposed, but also our blood.
    My blood courses through your veins, yours through mine,
    in an ethereal transfusion of selves. The little corpuscles,

    thinly red in their transparent veins, bump and jostle
    each other in a restless dance. The clear fingerlings
    of our vessels, like the arms of hydra, explore the room,

    lengthen, branch and web out, create highways for our blood
    to pulse into the walls and floor, into the very air
    we breath, which tastes suddenly of iron and fear.

    When you raise a knife over your head, our dreams flee.
    This lament sings of heartbreak, of longing
    made visible only by the patterns of our shared blood.

    Look at me, if you have the courage. In the flame
    of your gaze, I am transparent as tears.

    Mary Stebbins Taitt
    for Rob Halpern
    As a rape victim and survivor, I was frightened and intimidated by the appalling weight and accumulation of the utter obsessiveness of your obsessions.

  • About this poem: I went to a reading Thursday night, January 18, 2013. There were three featured poets. Two were excellent and one, Rob Halpern, read on and on, terrible poems about rape and death. I was in the front row center. I would have liked to have left, but could not. My husband called him "boring" and "a lost soul." I found him terrifying.

    Here is a link to Rob Halpern reading some of his poems. These are not as difficult as the ones he read that night, but reminiscent.
  • About the image: I painted three small cards for a friend who is severely depressed. I hope these don't make him MORE depressed! They are painted with red ochre, which makes me think of blood. I painted them the night after the reading and after I'd written the first draft of this poem.
  • I am working on a Fellowship Proposal for a Kresge Fellowship of the Arts in Poetry. I'm not holding out a lot of hope.
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