Loving the Ladies: the poems of Pat Parker

ZP_Pat Parker in 1989_photograph © Robert GiardZP_Pat Parker in 1989_photograph © Robert Giard

Pat Parker



If it were possible

to place you in my brain

to let you roam around

in and out

my thought waves

you would never

have to ask

why do you love me?


This morning as you slept

I wanted to kiss you awake

say I love you till your brain

smiled and nodded yes

this woman does love me.


Each day the list grows

filled with the things that are you

things that make my heart jump

yet words would sound strange

become corny in utterance.


In the morning when I wake

I don’t look out my window

to see if the sun is shining.

I turn to you instead.

.     .     .

I have”


i have known

many women

and the you of you

puzzles me.


it is not beauty

i have known

beautiful women.


it is not brains

i have known

intelligent women.


it is not goodness

i have known

good women.


it is not selflessness

i have known

giving women.


yet you touch me

in new




i become sand

on a beach

washed anew with

each wave of you.


with each touch of you

i am fresh bread

warm and rising.


i become a newborn kitten

ready to be licked

and nuzzled into life.


you are my last love

and my first love

you make me a virgin

and I want to give myself to you.

.     .     .



It has been said that

sleep is a short death.

I watch you, still,

your breath moving –

soft summer breeze.

Your face is velvet

the tension of our love,


No, false death is not here

in our bed

just you – asleep

and me – wanting

to make love to you,

writing words instead.

.     .     .



you take these fingers

bid them soft

a velvet touch

to your loins


you take these arms

bid them pliant

a warm cocoon

to shield you


you take this shell

bid it full

a sensual cup

to lay with you


you take this voice

bid it sing

an uncaged bird

to warble your praise


you take me, love,

a sea skeleton

fill me with you

and I become

pregnant with love

give birth

to revolution.

.     .     .

For Willyce”




When i make love to you


i try


with each stroke of my tongue


to say


i love you


to tease


i love you


to hammer


i love you


to melt


i love you


and your sounds drift down


oh god!


oh jesus!


and i think


here it is, some dude’s


getting credit for what


a woman


has done




.     .     .

Pat Parker (1944-1989) was a Black-American lesbian and feminist.  She was born in Houston, Texas, and lived and worked (at a women’s health centre) in Oakland, California, from 1978 almost up until her death from breast cancer. Racism, misogyny, homophobia – Parker “kept it real” about such facts at numerous poetry readings throughout the 1970s.  She had had two marriages – and raised two children from them – but when her second marriage ended in divorce she journeyed down a different road, stating: “After my first relationship with a woman, I knew where I as going.”  Known for her “hard truths” in poems such as “Exodus”, “Brother”, “Questions” and “Womanslaughter”, Parker also had a whole other lesser-known side to her as a poet who made love poems – several of which we present here.  Some are tender and euphoric and one – “For Willyce” – has Parker’s characteristic ‘edge’.

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