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Natasha Teller Apr 2015
I want eyes that
cut like a fjord; I want sharp
geography, mountain-peak cheekbones,
I want God's calligraphy, two thick eyebrows,
shadowed sky-soot,
I want lunar eyelashes
tuned to the singing of the moon.

I want fingers
that shimmer like the aurora borealis,
I want to be your palace on fire-- I want
to vanish into the storm at your core,
the whirlwind blizzard of
thousands of cold caresses.

I want lips like glaciers--
like campfires, lips that chill doubt,
that burn my resolve,
that etch hymns into my bones;
I want a voice like a gray wolf,
a growl to tremble my blood,
a low song of protection.

I want a room: a vault of ice,
a glass-topped pod beneath a canopy of stars,
a wood-walled retreat embraced by trees,
with your wave-sharp eyes, your
sky-mountain bones, your celestial
fingers, your fire-bright lips, your--

I want things
I never thought
I'd want
from you.
Natasha Teller Apr 2015

I wear the stern face of my ancestors,
the apron-clad Scandinavian matriarchs
who built me from rock and bone.

My husband, my good friends, my family, my colleagues
all affectionately name me "intimidating."

They say:
"You're the strong one."
"We'll send you to win the battle."
"They should have known not to cross you."

They name me fighter,
and stand like tin men in legions at my back.

I am obliged to march on;
I cannot remember a time
when my feet have rested.

My banner waves in the northwest wind
and I hold it, dutifully,
fearing its inevitable fall
as my arms shake.


My arms

Wind camouflages
this constant trembling: the
fabric of my
whips and ripples and any
in its course
is blamed on the wind, but

veins shrink - skin
shrivels - muscles
shake - I am no Atlas,
breath slows
stops -


I am a dry sand-castle:
one touch will obliterate me.

I am the brittle leaf on concrete:
one shoe will shred me.

I am dandelion spores on a plain:
one gust will erase me.


In my chest beats the soft heart of my ancestors,
the ruddy-cheeked Scandinavian matriarchs
who built me from soft earth and azaleas.

So name me weakling,
give voice to all of me.

Lift this banner,
and give rest to my weary shoulders.
Hold me in your arms
when I need to collapse.


At times,
even a general must be carried by her soldiers.
Title is a play on a line from A Midsummer Night's Dream-- "Though she be but little, she is fierce"
Natasha Teller Mar 2015
i burned hot this weekend:
one unblinking flame
in a toxic green sea.

thousands of mouths
tossing out the word "women"
as if it's the worst insult
their forked tongues can spit.

when i cut up their faces
with the rings on my fists
they'll learn "hit like a girl"
isn't an insult after all.
Natasha Teller Mar 2015
I. first

a whisper of thunder woke the forest.
one low caress of sound pulled warm dew to trembling grass,
sowed a symphony into the soil
and coaxed the flowers to

fingers of lightning banished the penumbra,
wrapping their soft fire around trunks and twigs,
achingly singeing thin bark to ash
and licking the trees into flame.

II. then

roots unraveled underfoot,
damp soil shivering like cello strings;
buds collapsed in showers of green dust,
choked by young smoke--

III. and

ancient roots
the dirt,
tangling clusters with
webs of lightning

thick branches crack and
the gentlest creatures,
sparks of life consumed
by hotter

but the wind straps you on her back
and carries you away,
leaving the forest to die and burn.

IV. finally

suffering fireflies reflect the inferno
and, when the final flames extinguish,
illuminate the palimpsest of scorched soil
left behind for the next lover.
Natasha Teller Mar 2015
To sleep, to dream: both goals I cannot seek,
While columns built of flame attend my bed;
They dance like alfer, singing 'til I'm weak,
Could **** me-- but devour me instead.

Your fingers strike like matches on my skin,
My blood the only fuel you'll ever need--
We'll stoke the flames with gasoline and gin
'Til Hypnos drops his poppies and concedes.

Hold fast to me and cast away repose
We'll torch the night with breath and whispered fire;
Too tenuous are dreams and, like Zyll's rose,
They'll burn upon a fragrant funeral pyre.

And as our veins combust, we cast off rest,
Both cradled by the sweet inferno's breast.
Shakespearean sonnet-- because why not? Allusions to Hamlet, Greek mythology, Danish folk tales, and the sacred (to me) A Swiftly Tilting Planet.
Natasha Teller Feb 2015
They whittle us down
until we are nothing more than a whisper;
a croak.

My flesh is balsa wood—
“pliable,” said the boss.
“Easy,” said the judge.

Men are born with knives.

Behind closed doors,
they carve.

Their chests swell as they set satisfied knives
on solid walnut desks, glossy with
the oil of money,
spit of secretaries,
greasy fingers.

No one
musters the courage
to knock.
Natasha Teller Feb 2015
I regret
that I cannot write this
I'm bleeding out at the shoulder
and I'm not left-handed-- I can't
write this poem
because I'm short-
circuiting and
stunned. I
can't write
poem because
there are no words
for this thing
I never thought I'd
fall victim to--

   the pen in my hand
   feels like a gun and
   I'm going to shoot this page to ****--

this ******-up therapy,

dear Poetry, I QUIT--

there's not enough
left to fill my
Sometimes, I do the same writing exercises I give to my students.
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