Friday, January 25, 2008


This is what was waiting on me when I grew up enough to go look for it. Judy Grahn's poetry saved many lives. All of these poems are currently in print in The Work of a Common Woman, a collection of Judy's poetry, but were individually printed in the volumes mentioned. Copyright belongs to Judy Grahn.

(from Edward the Dyke and Other Poems, 1964-1970)


How they came into the world,
the women-loving-women
came in three by three
and four by four
the women-loving-women
came in ten by ten
and ten by ten again
until there were more
than you could count

they took care of each other
the best they knew how
and of each other's children
if they had any.

How they lived in the world,
the women-loving-women
learned as much as they were allowed
and walked and wore their clothes
the way they liked
whenever they could. They did whatever
they knew to be happy or free
and worked and worked and worked.
The women-loved-women
in America were called dykes
and some liked it
and some did not.

they made love to each other
the best they knew how
and for the best reasons

How they went out of the world,
the women-loving-women
went out one by one
having withstood greater and lesser
trials, and much hatred
from other people, they went out
one by one, each having tried
in her own way to overthrow
the rule of men over women,
they tried it one by one
and hundred by hundred,
until each came in her own way
to the end of her life
and died.

The subject of lesbianism
is very ordinary; it's the question
of male domination that makes everybody

(Gail Grassi and Kate Kaufman repairing a car, East Bay 1970s, photo and copyright by Cathy Cade)

(from She Who, 1971-1972)


The first four leaders had broken knees
The four old dams had broken knees
The flock would start to run, then freeze
The first four leaders had broken knees

"Why is the flock so docile?" asked the hawk
"Yes, why is the flock so docile" laughed the dog,

"The shepherd's mallet is in his hand,
The shepherd's hand is on the land,
The flock will start to run, then freeze --
The four old dams have broken knees,"
The dog explained.

The hawk exclaimed:
"The shepherd leads an easy life!"

"I know, I know," cried the shepherd's wife,
"He dresses me out in a narrow skirt
and leaves me home to clean his dirt.
Whenever I try to run, I freeze --
All the old dams have broken knees."

"Well, I'm so glad he doesnt dare
to bring his breaking power to bear
on me," said the hawk, flying into the sun;
while the dog warned, in his dog run:
"Hawk -- the shepherd has brought a gun!"

"Why is the hawk so docile?" asked the flock,

"He fell to the ground in a feathery breeze;
He lies in a dumb lump under the trees.
We believe we'd rather have broken knees
Than lose our blood and suddenly freeze --
like him."

But the oldest dam gave her leg a lick,
And said "Some die slow and some die quick,
A few run away and the rest crawl,
But the shepherd never dies at all --
Damn his soul.
I'd will my wool to the shepherd's wife
If she could change the shepherd's life,
But I myself would bring him low
If only, only I knew how."

(Tianeman Square kiss, January 2006)


I am the wall at the lip of the water
I am the rock that refused to be battered
I am the dyke in the matter, the other
I am the wall with the womanly swagger
I am the dragon, the dangerous dagger
I am the bulldyke, the bulldagger

and I have been many a wicked grandmother
and I shall be many a wicked daughter.

(from Confrontations with the Devil in the Form of Love, 1977-?, an unfinished set of poems, inspired after seeing an incredible stage production of Ntozake Shange's poetry: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf.)


after the boss took over
Love had millions of babies
she didnt want --
and loved them anyway,
as the earth loves
even the fruits forced out of her
though she never forgives them


liza cowan said...

I love the new blue background. It's very easy on the eyes.

Heart said...

Oh, Maggie, I love this poem by Judy Grahn! I love ALL her poems.

Also like the new blue background. :)