Audre Lorde: “Afuera” / “Outside”

ZP_Audrey Lorde poster copyright artist Beeswax Goatskull

Audre Lorde (18 de febrero, 1934 – 1992)

Afuera” (1977)



En el centro de una ciudad cruel y fantasmal
todas las cosas naturales son extrañas.
Crecí en una confusión genuina
entre césped y maleza y flores
y lo que significaba “de color”
excepto la ropa que no se podía blanquear
y nadie me llamó negra de mierda
hasta que tuve trece.
Nadie linchó a mi mamá
pero lo que nunca había sido
había blanqueado su cara de todo
excepto de furias muy privadas
e hizo que los otros chicos
me llamaran agrandada en la escuela.
Y cuántas veces he vuelto a llamarme
a través de mis huesos confusión
como médula queriendo decir carne
y cuántas veces me cortaste
e hiciste correr en las calles
mi propia sangre
quién creés que soy
que estás aterrorizado de transformarte
o qué ves en mi cara
que no hayas descartado ya
en tu propio espejo
qué cara ves en mis ojos
que algún día
vas a
reconocer como la tuya
A quién maldeciré por haber crecido
creyendo en la cara de mi madre
o por haber vivido temiendo la oscuridad potente
usando la forma de mi padre
ambos me marcaron
con su amor ciego y terrible
y ahora estoy lasciva por mi propio nombre.



Entre los cañones de sus terribles silencios
Madre brillante y padre marrón
busco ahora mis propias formas
porque nunca hablaron de mí
excepto como suya
y los pedazos con que tropiezo y me caigo
aún registro como prueba
de que soy hermosa
dos veces
bendecida con las imágenes
de quienes fueron
y quienes pensé alguna vez que eran
de lo que traslado
hacia y a través
y lo que necesito
dejar detrás de mí
más que nada
estoy bendecida en los seres que soy
que han venido a hacer de nuestras caras rotas un todo.

.     .     .

Audre Lorde (born February 18th, 1934, died 1992)


(first published in The American Poetry Review, Vol.6, #1, Jan.-Feb. 1977)



In the centre of a harsh and spectrumed city

all things natural are strange.

I grew up in a genuine confusion

between grass and weeds and flowers

and what “colored” meant

except for clothes you couldn’t bleach

and nobody called me nigger

until I was thirteen.

Nobody lynched my momma

but what she’d never been

had bleached her face of everything

but very private furies

and made the other children

call me yellow snot at school.


And how many times have I called myself back

through my bones confusion


like marrow meaning meat

for my soul’s hunger

and how many times have you cut me

and run in the streets

my own blood

who do you think me to be

that you are terrified of becoming

or what do you see in my face

you have not already discarded

in your own mirror

what face do you see in my eyes

that you will someday

come to

acknowledge your own.


Who shall I curse that I grew up

believing in my mother’s face

or that I lived in fear of the potent darkness

that wore my father’s shape

they have both marked me

with their blind and terrible love

and I am lustful now for my own name.



Between the canyons of my parents’ silences

mother bright and father brown

I seek my own shapes now

for they never spoke of me

except as theirs

and the pieces that I stumble and fall over

I still record as proof

that I am beautiful


blessed with the images

of who they were

and who I thought them to be

of what I move toward

and through

and what I need

to leave behind me

for most of all I am

blessed within my selves

who are come

to make our shattered faces whole.

.     .     .

Otros poemas de Audre Lorde:

.     .     .     .     .

T’ai Freedom Ford: “fourth: a blues”

T'ai Freedom Ford


T’ai Freedom Ford

“fourth: a blues”


…she taste like the colour blue…all beautifully bruised and melancholy on my tongue. like blue glinting golden…bee-stung and swollen in a field of cotton…like blue verging black until all memory’s forgotten…she taste like blues…like muddy waters…like daughters of the dust…like mississippi goddamn…like thrust and thirst…like heartbreak so new it tastes like trust at first…like a wound you must nurse with your own salty tears…she taste like blue…cause that’s the colour of her: fears/fierce…like an azure hue reminiscent of sky breaking wide open…blue like coloured girls who done tried dope when hope wasn’t enough…when that man wasn’t enough…when being tough wasn’t enough…blue like nina’s voice and storm clouds…she rains blue-black…arm, tattooed jack, and sometimes her loyalty is tragic…still she blue like magic…all stardust and confetti and taps of wands…and when the house of cards collapses she responds…with jesus on her breath…eyes watery with devotion…taste like blue: royal and periwinkle and aqua…blue like the fifth chakra vibrating her throat translucent…rocking with holyghost trying to shake loose sin…within her, blues run deep and honeysuckle sweet like grandmama’s hambone on a sunday morn…blue like early morning beckoning sinners toward their reckoning…blue like night sky sucking up light like a magic trick…tragic as guitar strings breaking like my heart…she taste blue like tragedy…all shakespearean and love unfulfilled…but that’s what she do…slips into characters like new skin…ingénue…sparkling blue on silver screens…beautifully blue…making art outta life…all spit-shined and bruised like the blues of the south…a new shade of truth…exploding its name in my mouth…she taste like…

.     .     .

T’ai Freedom Ford is an American “slam poet” who performs at spoken-word events.  Of performance she has playfully said:  “Most poets would say it’s about sharing their message or rallying a cause, but let’s be honest:  it’s about ego.  Signifyin’ and looking cute.”

.     .     .     .     .

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’.

.     .     .     .     .

“Mujer” y “De la Casa de Iemanjá” por Audre Lorde / “Woman” and “From the House of Yemanjá” by Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde

(Poeta, activista feminista, lesbiana, caribeña-americana, 1934-1992)



Sueño con un lugar entre tus pechos

para construir mi casa como un refugio

donde siembro

en tu cuerpo

una cosecha infinita

donde la roca más común

es piedra de la luna y ópalo ébano

que da leche a todos mis deseos

y tu noche cae sobre mí

como una lluvia que nutre.

*     *     *

Audre Lorde

(1934-1992, poet, feminist activist, lesbian, Caribbean-American)



I dream of a place between your breasts

to build my house like a haven

where I plant crops

in your body

an endless harvest

where the commonest rock

is moonstone and ebony opal

giving milk to all of my hungers

and your night comes down upon me

like a nurturing rain.




Translation into Spanish:  Anonymous

Traducción al español:   Anónima


Audre Lorde

De la Casa de Iemanjá


Mi madre tenía dos caras y una cacerola

donde cocinó dos hijas y las

hizo hembras

antes de cocinar nuestra cena.

Mi madre tenía dos caras

y una cacerola rota

donde escondió una hija perfecta

que no era yo

yo soy el sol y la luna y por siempre

hambrienta de su mirada.


Yo llevo dos mujeres en mi espalda

una oscura y rica y oculta

en el marfil sedienta de la otra


pálida como una bruja

pero constante y familiar

me trae pan y terror

en mi sueño

sus pechos son inmensos y  fascinantes

anclas en la tormenta nocturna.


Todo esto ha existido


en la cama de mi madre

el tiempo no tiene sentido

no tengo hermanos

y mis hermanas son crueles.


Madre necesito

madre necesito

madre necesito tu negritud ahora

como la tierra augusta necesita la lluvia.


Yo soy

el sol y la luna y por siempre hambrienta

la afilada orilla

donde el día y la noche se encuentran

y no ser




Traducción del inglés al español:  Lidia García Garay

*     *     *

Audre Lorde

From the House of Yemanjá


My mother had two faces and a frying pot

where she cooked up her daughters

into girls

before she fixed our dinner.

My mother had two faces

and a broken pot

where she hid out a perfect daughter

who was not me

I am the sun and moon and forever hungry

for her eyes.


I bear two women upon my back

one dark and rich and hidden

in the ivory hungers of the other


pale as a witch

yet steady and familiar

brings me bread and terror

in my sleep

her breasts are huge exciting anchors

in the midnight storm.


All this has been


in my mother’s bed

time has no sense

I have no brothers

and my sisters are cruel.


Mother I need

mother I need

mother I need your blackness now

as the august earth needs rain.

I am


the sun and moon and forever hungry

the sharpened edge

where day and night shall meet

and not be



A Tenacious Light: poems by Dionne Brand


I saw this woman once in another poem, sitting,

throwing water over her head on the rind of a country

beach as she turned toward her century.  Seeing her

no part of me was comfortable with itself.  I envied her,

so old and set aside, a certain habit washed from her

eyes.  I must have recognized her.  I know I watched

her along the rim of the surf promising myself, an old

woman is free.  In my nerves something there

unraveling, and she was a place to go, believe me,

against gales of masculinity but in that then, she was

masculine, old woman, old bird squinting at the

water’s wing above her head, swearing under her

breath.  I had a mind that she would be graceful in me

and she might have been if I had not heard you

laughing in another tense and lifted my head from her

dry charm.




You ripped the world open for me.  Someone said this

is your first lover you will never want to leave her.  My

lips cannot say old woman darkening anymore, she

is the peace of another life that didn’t happen and

couldn’t happen in my flesh and wasn’t peace but

flight into old woman, prayer, to the saints of my

ancestry, the gourd and bucket carrying women who

stroke their breast into stone shedding offspring and

smile.  I know since that an old woman, darkening,

cuts herself away limb from limb, sucks herself white,

running, skin torn and raw like a ball of bright light,

flying, into old woman.  I only know now that my

longing for this old woman was longing to leave the

prisoned gaze of men.





Dionne Brand was born in Trinidad in 1953

and graduated from University of Toronto in 1975.

She is Black, Lesbian, Feminist – three powerful things.

Toronto’s Poet Laureate,  she is also the 2011 winner of

The Griffin Poetry Prize for her long poem Ossuaries.

The companion poems above are excerpted from

Brand’s series  “Hard against the Soul”, part of

her collection  No Language is Neutral.

© 1990, Dionne Brand



This is a ZP post originally dated August 31st, 2011.

We re-post it today,  July 1st, 2012, as part of our survey of gay and lesbian poets.