Dane Kuttler




Three Seattle bus tunnel guards watch brutal beating in Westlake Station

she thought the men would protect her.
the group followed her from a nearby department store,
and she deliberately stood next to the three guards.
the guards have standing orders to "observe and report."

the group followed her from a nearby department store.
they said she had "nice things" and that she acts "white."
the guards have standing orders to "observe and report."
the victim lost consciousness during the attack.

they said she had "nice things" and that she acts "white."
the police refused to escort her to the bus tunnel.
the victim lost consciousness during the attack.
the police didn't know. the tunnel is just below the department store.

the police refused to escort her to the bus tunnel.
they provided the victim with an opportunity to leave the area via bus.
the police didn't know. the tunnel is just below the department store.
the victim was not hospitalized. she has a potentially fatal heart condition.

they provided the victim with an opportunity to leave the area via bus.
she deliberately stood next to the three guards.
the victim was not hospitalized. she has a potentially fatal heart condition.
she thought the men would protect her.


Rituals

There is ritual in layering,
a wisdom to wool under cotton 
under canvas, when the snowpants
are in another state, and you can't find
the other good mitten, and the ice needs
to be scraped off the car.
There is some piece of long ago
tucked in the way you remember:
mittens first, then jacket, so there isn't
a gap for the snow to reach your wrists,
tie the scarf behind your neck so it doesn't 
unravel in the wind like an untamed sail,
use a broom to get the first foot of powder off the roof,
then use your handbrush, your scraper,
your every ounce of provider,
your man, your yes, I will breathe
through a frosted-over muffler,
stomp through the snow until I feel my toes,
until there is a path to the street,
until the windshield wipers are free
and upright, until the exhaust vent
has been cleared.

There is ritual in layering,
a wisdom to tucking your tender,
your gentle in the palm that holds your knife,
squeezing I need you into your boot soles,
your yes please between sets of long johns,
your touch me under the jacket that promised
to keep out the rain and wind and yes,
snow. When love exists more
in the things you can do
than the things you can say,
when there's no promise it'll survive
on its own – it's cold out there.
You nearly froze last year,
and the thaw—it hurts.
In the later days of April,
the ice cracks before it melts.
Once, in early spring,
I felt my heart do that.

But spring isn't here yet, so
let me be your man in the snow,
in the double borrowed sweaters.
Brush me off before I come inside,
melt my hands between yours
and offer me some tea.  Shake me down
on a towel; have the fire going.
Sit with me and watch the snow,
my cracked, rosy grin.
Help me with my boots,
hang my coat in the bathtub,
pretend not to notice
when my vulnerable falls
to the floor, put those
spring-fed hands of yours
to my reddened face
and say thank you.
Watch as the last of my man
falls away, and I'm just yours,
barefoot in my long johns.
only yours.


The Book of Vashti

Of course, everybody wants to hear about the divorce.
Not the first night, when he sucked pomegranate juice
from my fingers.  My skin: anointed, glazed, golden,
beautiful enough to lick before the wedding started.
He could never keep his mouth from me for long.

When the story begins,
his gorged, limp body has already given out:
an overripe plum of a king, the story's fool

but I married him before his eyes went dull and rheumy.

On our wedding night, the palace women
rubbed me with his favorite oils, protected me
from Shushan's sun, praised my marbled flesh.

They made me bait, a salt lick for his greedy tongue.

The story begins after my name
became a dried juice stain on his chin,

after the first of my servants fled, pregnant,
and boiled with shame.

After my second miscarriage,
a clot of a child born months too early,

I stopped eating.
Wanted nothing of his rich roasted meats,
his olives, drowning in their own spit,
the spices he once licked from my fingers.

I melted away from my bones.
He turned my rattling body from our bed.

He once demanded I sit on his lap and feed him.
He slurped at my palm until my stomach convulsed.

My hand was not my hand.
My hand was his plate; my heart was his trilling songbird.

Don’t ask me why I didn’t leave him sooner.  
Ask yourself who would’ve harbored me
when every house was his house,
every kind villager, his eyes and muscle.
Ask me how far I’d have gotten.

When he called for Vashti to dance for his friends
as I did on the night I was given to him,

It was our twelfth anniversary.
I was grateful he remembered my name.

My body forgave me after I left,
but it was years before I recognized
my own feet.  My womb never spoke to me again.

I heard he took a child bride,
some sweet morsel at the mercy of men.

Lucky for her: the story ends before he begins to spit her name,
then forget it, before she withers into the soured queen
who barely knows her own hunger.

Screw her.

The first thing I did when I left that feast
was eat pomegranate seeds from my own fingers.
I can't remember when I felt so full.





In college, Dane Kuttler became a regular at the Hampshire Slam Collective, and participated in the first-ever Women of the World Poetry Slam in Detroit, MI.  After a long summer tour, and some time in the NYC area, Dane relocated to Seattle in April 2009.   Since her arrival, she has become a Seattle Poetry Slam regular, competed in several national-level slams, become a Write Bloody finalist, completed 365 poems in 365 days as part of the 2010 poem-a-day project, completed a manuscript novel-in-poems and published over a dozen poems. 









                                    

 

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