Friday 7 October 2016

". . . this howl of ages" – today's  poem: "Subterranean Rage" by Mary Saracino.


by Mary Saracino

Deeper than bone
deeper than muscle or sinew
or tenacious tendon
this howl of ages
rivers through bloodlines, ancient as oceans
salty as the primeval seas
this is what happens to women who
out-step their bounds
dare to be bold, brazen
speak up, name the subterfuge
women who grit their warriors’ teeth
fight on, for their children
their lovers, their nation
their homes, their hearts’ desires
branded as heretics: witch, bitch, cunt, whore
they race through forests and fields
trying to outrun the acrid scent of their own sweat
running from the hellish hounds
the priestly proclamations
the wrenching bite of the strappado*
running for their lives
caught between sinner or saint
rarely allowed sovereignty over Self
over mind & womb, over laws meant to undo them

Thousands of strangled cats launched the Plague
tender necks swinging from tree limbs
flaccid, cold paws an omen: the rats will have their day

Crucibles of change, cauldrons
of sorrow, voices stymied for eons by the threat of extinction
womb-wisdom silenced by public outcry
burned at the stake of cultural conditioning
the subterranean outrage
seeps out, sharp as knives
sharp as memory
sharp as justice denied
sharp as the bloodied knives
eviscerating their midnight powers

Deep is this grief
Deep this anger
A dirge of rage lost to the winds of time.
The weeping memory wails, still.
Hear it the moonless night sky,
touch it in the hot light of noon
smell it in the poisoned soil
taste it on your remembering tongue
see it in the burning irises
that bear witness to this unyielding genocide.

*Strappado is a form of torture, employed by the Inquisitional tribunals against women accused of witchcraft. Victims were suspended in the air by means of a rope attached to their hands which were tied behind their backs, causing their arms to be dislocated.

* * * * *

“Subterranean Rage” was originally published on on May 23, 2008; it was reprinted at:

Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet, and memoir-writer who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her most recent novel, Heretics: A Love Story, was published in 2014 by Pearlsong Press. She Is Everywhere! Volume 3, the anthology she co-edited with Mary Beth Moser, was awarded the 2013 Enheduanna Award for Excellence in Women-Centered Literature from Sofia University, Palo Alto, CA. Mary’s novel, The Singing of Swans (Pearlsong Press 2006) was a 2007 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. Her short story, "Vicky's Secret" earned the 2007 Glass Woman Prize.

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