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Vanessa Raney (email)


See Yourself in Him

I cross my heart

I will not die

for valor.


What is honor

if it means I kill

for love?


I am someoneís

daughter; he is my

brother crying


in the ground,

bleeding all around

we are.


Will you forsake

me now

for freedom?


Do you see

yourself in him?

Please stop.


I can forgive you.

Can you forget

for duty?


If we kill anyone -

them or us -

we die.


What happens then

if we keep killing ignore

our faces?



I am forgotten:
stabbed from head to foot,
my waters probed in depths,
I was tormented; crying out
you cursed me
thinking never to control me.

You built your dials
trying to predict my storms.
You cut through arteries,
crushed my bones,
held symposia in my name,
but what of Armageddon?

You will not war with devils
and your gods will not protect you;
I am the only Mother,
wounded but immortal.
You, in contrast, are a virus:
virulent and weak.

I Take My Center
I step into the room
indifferent, not thinking
of the rain; you were
hopeful Iíd forget.

Thunder sounded inside
while the lightning
flashed against the pane.
I saw you flinch

then, wondered at your
heavy breathing, the
harsh wind swaying.
Do you mean to

confess it? Your hands
tremble at the treble
of the hail as I take
my center level to

you. Do you wonder
what fury might
unleash if the waters
rise too high tonight?

For now, let us take
this rainbow as a sign
that tomorrow will
be calm; we can renew



Heady on the Current
- To Ozan Sula, my first love -

There are few things I would say
But I know at least one thing for sure
That I love you without question
For the smile that plays on your face
Like a waterfall strong
There's an edge to you though
But what I see is the rush of
Your blood like water that
Pulses beneath the veins
Of a structure so wide and
Solid only the hand of God could kill

I can feel it standing next to you
Sometimes it's more than I can
Take because when a current
Moves fast there's no way
To gauge how far you will go
Before you're sucked in
The water pushing you down
The air sucked out and the darkness
Of the water is worse than the light
Of a smile that I want to touch
Without reservation without fear

An impulse I feel each day;
Each time I risk the closer I am
To you because what I want
Is to let myself drop but love
Without trust is to swim without
Knowing that at certain times
The undertow will sink you
While you're heady on the
Current that gently pulls you
I love you there's no doubt
But I don't know who you are

Being human isn't enough
Because what I feel is more
Than the love I feel for man
As a whole but the love I feel
For one person the kind heated
with desire - I glimpsed your
Mind and I was on fire
I saw your heart and I was pulled
In but I forgot the safety net
And love without trust is a death-knell;

I can only swim so far.



To Ignore Me
We started yelling
our voices struggling
for attention, neither of us
slowing down the rush
of pain, fear - silence only.

When we stop shouting
our faces flush, feeling
blue pulses (emotion),
staring past our eyes
vindication, humiliation.

Do we reconcile?
Do we take each other
at our word?
I cannot forget
if easily I forgive.

You could swallow it
trying to resist,
but to ignore me -
to refuse acknowledgement -
that I do not understand.



Soon Enough
If the moon is bright
keep away from me
when the sun is full
itís time; let me go
I can find my way
just stop the hounding
calling out with
words you insist
Iím going to fail
call me stupid
but your words are
less than fierce
Soon enough
Iíll make it on my own
and thereís nothing
you can do to stop it.

Out Now
Follow the dog
out past the trees;
snap around now:
catch the fleas,
they want to bite

your flesh, draw
out the black blood:
babyís crying now.
Hold her tight;
soon sheíll be tall.

She gonna die
out: see the red,
just stop now,
take your breath;
itís not time yet.

Hold it down,
out from your body.
Feel light now:
see this spirit
free (hide the ghosts).


Beside Me
In dreams, I was the mother to your kids.
You stood beside me, faithful husband.

One night the doorbell rang.
A man looking for your brother,
who had his own room,
woke me from our sofa;
you were also sleeping there.
You had your arms around me.

Sitting on a different couch,
with you cuddled next to me,
our girl came up sly and grinning.
Seeing her in that padded bra
made me start and frown.
You just smiled and held me tighter.

On the way to our bedroom,
I queried after eardrops,
but you shook your head,
saying, ďI want your titties.Ē
Laughing, I kissed you on the ear,
and you propped me on the wall.

In dreams, I was your wife and lover.
You stood beside me, loving me, too.


From Human Reach
I am a fish that never fits
in waters small or wide
whether brackish or clear
though seeming something alike
when the fish grow big
I hide in fissures of rock
drifting in shallow spaces
swimming out from human reach
I flit across oceans
squeeze through these channels
find my way fresh, but now
I'm too far to relate.


Try Me
Try me waking up Iím
half-asleep, snapping
quick without regard
for moods and throwing
fits; by two this morning
Iím caffeine frying,
in little mood
for chatter. Catch me
six p.m. I might be
sleeping off the day,
waiting for this night;
you walk in here with
disruptive disposition.
No, I donít think I can
be less than moody.

Try me on a bad day
when the stress is flying:
I punch in one potato,
two, until theyíre soft;
and you want to talk
now when Iím feasting
on roasted corn in
creamy mayo, salivating
over meat and smells
of eggs and bacon. Iím
fried from studying, weary
from the weight of words.
As a poet, if I canít release
the waste inside I die.

Try me any way you want;
itís all the same to me.
Youíre one more distraction,
one more needless interruption
from the clawing of my hand.
Keep away from me;
I canít be bothered: itís my soul
that needs to breathe from this
lethargic press of bones and body
pieced together by bits and ropes,
crying out from pain and love.



If it pleases
If you could speak,
what words would
move from your lips
into breathy spaces

shivery and hollow.
Tell me how far you'll
go before your lies
break apart my heart,

crumbling me hither.
But, if it pleases, help me
to stand on the ground.
I don't need your gun;

you've shot right through.
My brain is rift from
bullets inside your
throat. I know they go deep

boring between windmills
spinning out of control.
Do you intend for me to die here;
if so, who will speak for me?