Poems for Pussy Riot: Dance of the Seven Veils by Alison Croggon

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On 13 September, English PEN launched ‘Poems for Pussy Riot‘ in support of three members of the Russian punk band –  Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich – who are currently serving a  two year prison sentence. We will be posting poems dedicated to Nadezdha, Maria and Yekaterina in the weeks leading up to their appeal hearing on 1 October.

The following contribution comes from Alison Croggon, a writer who lives in Melbourne, Australia. Her work includes poetry, novels and criticism, and her most recent collection of poems is Theatre, from Salt Publishing.


Why did I send a poem for Pussy Riot? Because every thing that lives is Holy. Because they kindled a riot on the altar of authority.

Because they dared to laugh at a god without humour. Because they sang aloud. Because no one should be imprisoned for insulting a lie.

Because courage has a price. Because desire is an embrace and a flame.

Because of what is stolen daily.

 

Dance of the Seven Veils

 

FIRST             she is humble and unworthy
                                                she dare not
                                                                        she is diseased
her eyes dilate her fingers bleed her mouth simmers with juice
                                    she cannot
contain herself she spills
                                                modestly into the word
                                    contingent as a virus
                                                            in the corpse of god
 
SECOND        she locks her mouth
            fast on the mouth of a man
                                                his pen rivers her blood
over the margins
                                    of god’s book
 
THIRD            she is an ear
wet with song she is a cunt swollen
            with god’s glory she is an eye
blistered with light she is skin
                                    split by goading kisses she
                        is a stomach parched
            to ecstasies she rakes off
                                                her hair she is
the pure sex tolling
                                    through cavities of blood
 
FOURTH        she understands
            how walls melt
                                    in desire’s conflagration
 
FIFTH she sees her lover
            perfected in death
rising to take her
                                    perfectly unbodied
                        kiss
            in his bloodied mouth
his dessicated skin
                                    pearls and floods
                        with the salty waters
                                                of her many tongues
 
 
SIXTH            she is cast
                                    into her freedom
            her voice infects
the cloistered ear
                                                 her tumescence
                        returns she sleeps
                                                slimed with sweat her tears
                                    o’erspill the nightmare chalice
            her lips rot her hands blaze with putrefaction her stink
                                                fills the chapel with penitents
                        she is all parasite ingesting her own juices
                                    her belly bloats and ulcers
                                                            with the fruit of god
she cries love
                        in the crowded streets
            she is untouchable
 
SEVENTH      she burns
                                    on the pyre built
                                    letter on letter
                                    by god’s faithful servants
 
                        her blood boils
                        her eyeballs burst
                        her bones crack and char
 
                        naked
                        at last
                        in god’s great darkness

 

Other Poems for Pussy Riot posts

Poems for Pussy Riot – an introduction to the project

Soutien-Gorge: Ira Lightman

Vagina: Sophie Mayer

Song: Ali Smith

Abridged and Complete Biography of Olympe de Gouge: Claire Trévien

Women of the Year: Betty Doyle

Weapons of Minor Destruction: Sandra Alland

Our Glorious Leader Putin: Jack Underwood

Cat Power: Amy Key

Avoid using the word “pussy”: Charlotte Geater

Poem with Four Vaginal Walls: Mark Burnhope

Sheela na gig (deconstructed): Sarah Crewe

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