Monday, 12 July 2021

I speak a private English

by Sharon Lopez Mooney

Poetry is spoken words, mine are foreign,
born to English, I found my own
since kindergarten I have fought for it
            Sister Ryan wanted me to lip sync
            the kindergarten
            graduation song
adulterated it, amputated it
            Sister Grace said
            I sounded like a
            tough Chicago street kid
refined it, softened it,
            my philosophy prof, put me in my place
            when I argued with her, she retorted,
            me thinks the lady doth
            protest too much
raised its volume, expanded its reach
            when women said, enuf!
            we’re done being quiet and
            acting like ladies,
and lately age forcibly lowered its pitch.

I’ve sworn obscene words
sung off key, washed my voice
of any odor of origin,
and written in my own words,
but at this point, this now
I have gathered too many dialects,
styles, words that used to be foreign
and are now my familiars.
Still I don’t know
how to understand nor speak gecko,
cat is a language that holds no interest,
but through the muscle building of poetry and prayer
I am beginning to learn the language of mountain,
can almost understand bird news alerts,
cockroach doesn’t have to make a sound
for me to know exactly what she wants.

Finally I learned the better part of speaking is
especially to the expanse of
resonating with the many varieties
who spoke into the first exhale.

* * * * *

Sharon Lopez Mooney says: words are my heartland. Her intention is to put her shoulder to the wheel of change and hope with all she writes. A retired Interfaith Chaplain, she lives in Mexico, visits family in California.


She received an CAC Grant for rural poetry series; co-published an arts journal; produced poetry readings. Her poems are in various journals and anthologies including: The MacGuffin, The Muddy River Poetry Review, The Voices Project, The Avalon Literary Review, International Adelaide Magazine; Galway Review; The Ricochet Review; Calyx; Songs to the Sun; Cold Water; Words of Power; Smoke & Myrrors (UK), et al.