Judith Laura


Sounding the Sixties

i lay on my bed
like i did back then
pillows piled up
beneath my shaggy
head
cig stuck in my mouth
as if i were
a big deal
and i turn on
the phono
lps maybe if you were lucky
otherwise still 45s
singles
before the beatles
even maybe before
kumbayah
come by here
and hear
who plays on the terrace
of all things a guitar
calling on michael to row him
out of a segregated barber shop
to help him find someone in this
godforsaken middle america town
who knows how to cut his hair
and the next day
sounding the sixties
we shout
get those goddam racial questions
off the college applications
then more gently
pass me a joint
and let's love
the night
away.

 

Judith Laura



Bayou Two-Step

Some of the dancers
do this like a jitterbug
with even sliding steps.
But because you've long
walked this uneven
land, you know the left
foot sinks
as if the beat bumps it
deeper into the earth,
whether it be moist or muddy,
whether the levees protect

or betray, the water
rushing up to our knees
so we slosh, up to our
waists so we swim,
above our heads so we go
fetch a boat or step over
to a place those liars called
a safe harbor, so we wait
on the roof or in the stinking
center and we wave, yell,
sign, sigh, sing

Katrina, won't you dance with me,
swirl with me, rock with me,
Katrina, you bad time girl, your memory
can't drown this dance as we roar
laissez le bon temps roulez encore!

 

Judith Laura



Bulgarian Women's  Dance

I dance with my sisters,
the men gathered
at the periphery
to watch. But after
the first few steps
we are hardly aware of them.
Who cares whether they stare or smile?
Who cares if they judge or ignore?

Hands joined, arms bent at the elbows
to form a W,
we women whose hands and arms
wash clothes and dishes,
mend socks and shirts,
carry buckets and babies,
soothe feverish brow and ill tempers
dance this dance for ourselves.
.
When the music denotes, we drop
hands and place them on our hips, moving
in and out of  the circle
on our own, yet with kindred steps.
Shoulders leading, some of us sway
to tease the men we've almost forgotten,
while others move assertively, as if
to shrug them off.

Hands once again joined,
our arms, now straight, taut,
bring us closer, as their strong swinging
augers triumph.

Dancing, hands still clasped,
we raise our arms high.
Dancing, we trill our glee.
Dancing, for one sweet
instant, we sense our
ascendancy.

 

Judith Laura

 

Csardas

To dance the csardas
with your hands and feet
bound
is impossible,
they say.

Yet there are boundaries.

Partners meet on equal footing,
boot to boot,
eye to eye.
Then in the music's thrall
she must let go
of one shoulder
to free his arm to wave unencumbered.
As feet stomp
and heels click
she follows his improvised steps, hanging on
to his other shoulder
with one hand
keeping the balance of their red-whirled twirl
knowing
that if her clasp is too tight
the dance
will die
and if her hold is too loose she will
fall.

In this stasis do they spin,
on the wings of cimbalom and violin
soaring to true freedom.

 

Judith Laura

 

Judith Laura's poetry has been published in an assortment of print and online journals including Pudding Magazine, Metropolitan, Facets, The Pedestal Magazine, and Poemeleon, and in the anthologies Prayers to Protest (Pudding House 1998) A Pagan's Muse (Kensington/Citadel 2003), and Not What I Expected (Paycock 2007). She is also author of 2 novels and 2 books on Goddess spirituality. She lives in the Washington DC area and has a website at http://www.judithlaura.com/