5.10 / October 2010

The Dorothy Allison Poem

For I shall praise Dorothy Allison

For Dorothy Allison is fearless and angry, the pull of that anger, the pull and the fire

For I do not like to be angry and I am most often afraid

For while Dorothy Allison’s anger could plow down a mountain, Dorothy Allison’s jokes could make the Pope laugh so hard that communion wine sprayed out of his nose

For Dorothy Allison had once had a contest with a gay male poet to see which of them could shove the most buttered baby carrots up the ass

For Dorothy Allison’s story did not tell us who won, for Dorothy Allison is modest in her triumph

For Dorothy Allison is in truth immodest but seeks to write herself beyond shame,
for Dorothy Allison, the discomfort and rage and rocking triumph of hard sex, and laughter

For my dead sister who comes to me sometimes not a ghost but a thought

And my sister big and loud, an angry dyke who shot herself in the head

For yea though I have met a lot of big angry dykes Dorothy Allison is bigger and badder, more hilarious and brave

For my sister and her upbringing, if she spoke to you on your ouija board she might tell you how it killed her

For white trash and drunken fathers, an uncle named Speedy an uncle named Buddy, an aunt named Red an aunt named Dot, baby sister it was my upbringing, too

For let us not compare our childhood to anyone else’s pot-holed road,
for buckle up your seatbelts it’s going to be a bumpy night

For the heat and howl of Dorothy Allison, for whiskey shots, the fluids of sex, the yes goddamnit yes oh mama baby daddy'”girl, nobody ever came so goddamn hard on the page

For I shall mourn my sister, she told me in the last year of her life
that she didn’t think she’d ever had an orgasm

For something broken and something sad, stupid ass world, it would not fix her

And I would tell her and tell her that yea all of us are broken

And Dorothy Allison with a limp and Dorothy Allison with a drawl rolls up her sleeves, pushes her hair up off her face, says fuck it, and commences to make herself some biscuits and gravy

For we must love one another, and oh if my sister like Dorothy Allison could live, and oh if my sister like Dorothy Allison might live, and how am I broken let me count the ways

For our father is not the villain in this story

And our childhood was not as remarkable as all that

For Dorothy Allison shakes the truth in her mouth
like a dog shakes a toy

For Dorothy Allison takes the truth out of the dog’s mouth and sets it on the ground not a toy but a rabbit and rejoice oh ye watchers as that sweet wounded bunny shakes itself sober and sweet jesus runs free

For read Bastard Out of Carolina and then sit down with me and let’s talk about childhood and what is remembered

For the fragility of our mother as she walked up the front porch to get into the car, for the sudden whiteness of her thin hair, for the sound in my throat when I saw her stooped and aged like that, we were leaving for your funeral
sister oh sister I do not forgive you

Yet still I wish and lo I wish

Yet Dorothy Allison is brave enough to brave her stories; for Dorothy Allison the laughter and the howl and the fire

For tell your little sisters do not die, for tell your little sisters: dismantle your guns

For I shall praise Dorothy Allison for the glorious rock, and the pull, the rock and pull and sweat of her language, for the force and butter and hard liquor of her words

For she lives, and she lives, and I heard the awesome growl of sex in her words

And my sister is dead, her name was Kathleen, she called herself Mick.

For how long did she drive around with the gun in her pocket

Her name was Mick and she was once a little girl, we called her Kathleen.

The crime oh my sister and my shame oh my sister and why will you not speak to me even in my dreams

And lo we fail and we fail and we fail those we love

For Dorothy, and Oz, and there is no place like home, and where is the home in Homosexual, and never oh never was there ever such a place

Oh my sister with her heart and my sister with her brains and her lion’s roar, yet my sister that final cowardly act

For I wish she’d been the baddest dyke I wish she been the bitch unconquered I wish she’d seduced one hundred loose and eager girls

For she did not know the power of an anger tinged with joy

For she did not let her muscles thrum with electric rage and then stretch and square her shoulders, and put herself to work

For I think that Dorothy Allison knows

For the daunting, for the sacred task of saying the unsaid

For saying the unsayable for this our daily bread

And mother fuck it, six tears in a bucket

For Dorothy Allison could kick my ass from here to California

Oh Dorothy Allison I will not let you go unless thou bless me

For I will tell the world and tell the world that all of us are broken

For Dorothy Allison shall make me brave

For I am alive god damn it, alive and triumphant and failing and broken

And I shall not go by my own hand, you can bet your buck-toothed Aunt Hazel on that

For I am alive and angry and failed and shaken.

And the joy, and the fire, a fire that burns under the crust of the world, and sister, believe me, the world will always find a way to break your heart

For my sister on the gurney in that terrible room

For my dead sister on the gurney in that terrible cold room

For I saw her face and I can still see her face and my sister looked angry and yes I said yes I said yes that is her

Sister, sister, the word a caress

For Dorothy Allison, I saw her read what she had written and raise the crowd to its feet

For Dorothy Allison says we have to tell our stories.

For I can’t go on. For I will go on.

For my sister is dead, her name was Kathleen, she called herself Mick.

For some stories weigh one hundred pounds

Forgive me. The world will always find a way
to break the heart. Forgive me, then

forgive yourself. I will lift up this story, I will tie it to my back.

Like a pack mule descending down in

the Grand Canyon (I have a photo of you, happy on the lip
of that break in the earth.)

I will lift up your torn story: I will carry it, carry it.