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Some turn away from raw as a matter of principle– “pretty” being thought the only righteous attraction.
Even when rawness covers our hands and we feel its lure
as we crawl through,
there is “pretty” turning for us, inside its many circles.

Some say “beautiful” instead, to keep their eyes open, like it’s better. Or refined.
So do I.
But “beautiful” is “pretty” tied with a bigger bow, heavy
like a chain,
anchoring it to raw
where truth abides
and we call it what we want,
demanding lipstick and muscle and Speedstick and Chanel Number Five along the way,
as if they were medicine.

Our paths cross sometimes on the crawl back, but we rarely speak,
our heads down through the raw and what makes raw,
making our way to the lights teasing in the corners.
Sometimes my eyes look up at you, focusing unsteadily from my streaked face,
to acknowledge your beauty
as we pass.
Call it what you will.


I’ve been listening to “Joy” — sometimes Lucinda Williams helps.


10 thoughts on “Crawling

  1. I love the physical imagery here: covered hands, heavy like a chain, heads down and “lights teasing in the corners” (especially love that phrase). I like the masculine and feminine interplay with the lipstick, muscle, Speedstick, and No 5. I don’t think I fully understand what the beautiful/pretty/raw connection is, but I really like the way this poem plays with my senses and gets me thinking about sparks between people.

    Also: great song.

    • I had noticed a few ridiculously unkind words about Lucinda William’s voice while searching Youtube, and this poem morphed into a sort of reaction to that, and to the fact that so many people turn away from deeply painful (raw) emotions, and things– to the point of either trying to ignore them in progress (and ignoring what they look like) or replying with affirmations of better things to come (prettiness) which sometimes only serves to deepen the pain in the moment. How can anyone crawl through pain and anger, and its resultant madness, without feeling it and articulating it somehow? Does that really work for those who try? I realize that there’s an exquisite beauty in such pain, why else would it so often produce art that pulls us in? But it’s not conventional “beauty” –and pain definitely isn’t pretty. We all need the words, but I’m getting tired of the words, too. All the meanings become painful sometimes.

    • Thanks for the wow, Anna. The reaction to the Black Ice post got me thinking that maybe I actually could write poetry that wasn’t trite or silly. I want to honor people’s faith in me by at least trying.

    • Yeah, I think that’s a lot of it– pretending that those raw, bloody things are too ugly to ever look at. If they are, then we’re all ugly at our cores, and what kind of lives do we have if that’s what we really think?

  2. This is a poem I’m going to have to read multiple times to get it all. Wonderful. I like the first image that comes to mind about covering those raw emotions with that outward paint, the things we choose to hide behind. And how uncomforable some are when the ‘raw’ self is there to hear or see, without any coverings of polite society. And yet how much more honest and brave is the person who can just put it out there without guilt for being non-conforming. I see this as a poem that will speak of many things to many people. And for a laugh, when I first saw the word ‘raw’ I thought, ‘hey! I have friends who eat only raw!’

    • Thanks for taking some time with this one, Lisa. I appreciate your insights. (I like eating raw meals, especially in Summer! But this season fruit is astronomically priced, at least it is here in Chicago. 😦 )

  3. Whoa!
    I am finally getting around to reading this and I love the imagery and the flow. I really like the line
    “Even when rawness covers our hands and we feel its lure as we crawl through”
    That’s some really awesome intenseness coming through. I feel like you’re channeling some kurt cobain artistry there. Keep up the good work.

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