Avoiding History - Poem by Jesse Weiner
avoiding history is a family tradition,
draft dodging, missing wars, as far
back as my fathers go, I find
no soldiers, no warriors and also
no lovers. we don't write
in my family, we withdraw
our stories on objection, stop
telling them. we keep secrets.
I keep my own secrets and rarely
tell them, keep my truth
from coming back to hurt me.
I learn slowly but I learn well,
to keep my secrets, avoid history.
I avoided history by protesting war
and by refusing to marry.
I learned late, but I learned well.
your eyes tell your history, your belly,
in its soft geography, hints at mine.
I don't enlist, I avoid being drafted,
my bridges burn behind me.
I read history in the slope of her breasts,
her silence uses me in my telling.
I have many ways to lie,
using a sharp knife to separate
flesh from nerve, bone and tendon.
how many times have I undressed you,
hearing you tell me that I don't care
about anything, until you turn
away from me, turn on me, turn
to stone. I turn you over, exploring
history in the cleft of your ass,
touching with my hands but never
touching you, feeling alone finally,
shedding uniforms and telling stories.
lies return in the secrets I keep, hints
I cover with long explanations.
you come to me, naked, asking questions
and feel betrayed, telling me finally
that I don't matter and never
was real to you. I tell you
I was a soldier, that I fought,
and you lie to me by undressing yourself,
nakedness concealing your aims.
I read history in the curve of your thighs,
my tongue seeking your skin, seeking
you in your skin, tasting
beneath your skin. I find
your secrets, I tell your history
and turn my back to you. in sleep,
you back away, waking,
you dismiss me and I write a secret
history, full of lies and silences.
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