Madison Griffiths – Three Poems

ON WOMEN

I.

HOW WILFULLY CRUEL ONE MUST BE

TO MARK DOWN ‘NO’ ONTO BALLOT PAPER—

AND YET STILL, BY WAY OF SEARCH BARS,

LOOK FOR ‘YES’ IN THE SHAPE OF

SEARCH?SEARCH=GIRL+ON+GIRL.

 

II.

TELL A WOMAN THAT HER SOFT, PULPY BRAIN IS NOT HER GREATEST ASSET, AND SHE’LL LEARN TO TRUST HER SOFT, PULPY BODY INSTEAD.

TELL HER THAT SHE IS ANIMAL INSTINCT, FLESH AND SEX, AND SHE’LL SWALLOW YOU WHOLE WITH HER FELINE INTUITION.

TELL A WOMAN THAT SHE IS NO MORE THAN CARNAL FLAVOUR, AND SHE’LL EXPOSE YOU TO HER LEONINE FLOCK.

SEE, WHEN WOMEN GATHER, MEN ARE (ALWAYS) THE FIRST TO GO: USHERED OUT AND INTO THE SUN BY SHE WHO SNARLS.

 

III.

AS TIME MARCHES ON, SO DO WOMEN.

SOME ON HARD GROUND, THEIR SLEEVES CUFFED AND THEIR LACES TIED.

SOME ON THE SHOULDERS AND LAPS OF OTHER WOMEN,

DEMANDING LIBERATION AS THEIR FOOTPRINTS LEAVE BRUISES SHAPED LIKE INEQUALITY AND PITY ON THE TIRED SKIN OF OTHERS:

OF THE WOMEN THEY FEAR AND TAUNT.

WHOSE BLOOD AND SWEAT IS WEDGED INTO THE GROOVES OF YOUR SNEAKERS?

 


 WITH WOMEN

I.

we kissed by a river

where a plastic fork on the greasy shore was our only witness

and later, in the honey light of your bedroom, you asked me about my fears

 

HEIGHTS, i told you

like any new lover would

 

HEIGHTS, my darling

the ESCALATORS at parliament station

a NEEDLE, bleached and ready to embellish my naked arm

the sort of FOG that swallows up roads and sheep

distant

            like tiny, white boulders

with tiny, white legs

unseeingly stumbling into some farmer’s backyard BUTCHERY

or worse! SMOG

cloudy, human acid

            (proof that we are failing)

 

II.

open WATER

where sea skeletons bear their stony teeth, hungry for toes

and the current

            the way it curls and cries and guzzles, summoning plastic and flesh into its ocean garden

 

we collapse into cotton sheets and

what I do not tell you is that in five years, it will be

YOU, my darling

 

i will see a pink body lathered in morning sweat by a lone traffic light, yawning

and for a moment, i will mistake him for YOU

                                    (don’t look)

and he will mistake me for a contour of a woman, trembling in second-hand trousers

as you always did

 

in the purple cosmos of my sleep, you spit/kick/curse/strike/ at/in/on me

every day is a burial, my darling

deep seas

lamb that weep and march

your thumbs lodged into my shoulders, like meaty threats

heights, my darling

how much i have grown

 

III.

some people are easy to love—

“water once a fortnight” easy

easy to stick to walls, like blue tak

easy-like-sunday-morning easy

like zips and elastic
sleeping pills and dried flowers
easy like crosswords, and GPS directions
and takeaway cups, and one-size-fits-all ‘easy’
and then there is you—
like ivy in the winter
and buttons
and stacks of spotted dishes
and shrunken wool
but you mustn’t forget
that the plates and cutlery came from
dinner parties
and card games
and second-servings
and come spring, you’ll climb every wall
and your leaves will thread their way
around every fence post—
every family of bricks
with such marvellous,
lovely,
undeniable
ease

 


NO

practice saying no.

rub it over your joints.

set it as your alarm.

hang it from the towel rack.

iron it onto fabric.

dog ear its pages.

tighten its straps.

tag it in the photographs.

store it under your pillow.

tuck it behind your ear.

pull it over your hips.

memorise how it tastes.

 

Bio

Madison Griffiths is a writer, artist, poet and an online editor at Voiceworks, whose work has been published in VICE, SBS, Overland, Daily Life, Meanjin, The Suburban Review, Kill Your Darlings, Pedestrian, Catalogue Magazine, Catapult, Writers Bloc and Going Down Swinging. Earlier this year she was the Victorian Women’s Trust resident writer and last year was shortlisted for the 2017 Overland Fair Australia Prize in the fiction category. She has been involved in events such as the Digital Writers’ Festival, the NGV Triennial and the Emerging Writers’ Festival. You can find more of her work at www.madisongriffiths.tumblr.com.