Muriel Rukeyser

(December 15, 1913 – February 12, 1980 / New York City)

Despisals - Poem by Muriel Rukeyser

In the human cities, never again to
despise the backside of the city, the ghetto,
or build it again as we build the despised
backsides of houses. Look at your own building
You are the city.'

Among our secrecies, not to despise our Jews
(that is, ourselves) or our darkness, our blacks,
or in our sexuality wherever it takes us
and we now know we are productive
too productive, too reproductive
for our present invention – never to despise
the homosexual who goes building another

with touch with touch (not to despise any touch)
each like himself like herself each.
You are this.

In the body’s ghetto
never to go despising the asshole
nor the useful shit that is our clean clue
to what we need. Never to despise
the clitoris in her least speech.
Never to despise in myself what I have been taught
to despise. Nor to despise the other.
Not to despise the it. To make this relation
with the it : to know that I am it.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, December 15, 2011

Poem Edited: Thursday, December 15, 2011


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