Joan Annsfire

Two Poems

by Joan Annsfire

Across the Table

the hours,
we sat in a cafe, in the sun
writing treatises, discussing
changes in the wording, changes in the air,
the electric energy of ideas,
a huge banner unfurling into the
boundless space
of our vision.

I remember,
the distinctive rhythm of your voice,
your powerful current of energy,
the understated music
of your quiet listening.

I replayed such simple motions:
your pen tapping against the table,
your fingers moving around the rim of a glass,
I imagined touching your shoulder
but being less than brave
my actions did not flow as easily
as the words that took shape
on blank paper.

now ,
it seems strange
to have kept a special place
for time passed so uneventfully.
a day like any other,
full of opportunities
lost or squandered.

looking back,
I marvel
that the world did not pause
and hold its breath
in those years when life was fast and dense
and as close as I have come
to flying.

Uninvited Guests

I was a phantom then,
running from my mother’s ghost,
the boy/girl who chopped off waist-length hair
and with it the fear
that once bowed my head
and caused my hands to shake.

Friends, thick as thieves,
stole my love,
we were all doing time,
as if waiting
for that special invitation,
to join the human family.

But the card had clearly
been mailed to the wrong address.

Loose pieces who
landed in California;
there we stood fast
on the front lines, arms locked
against the encroaching enemy

Yet the truth about an army of lovers
is a longer, sadder tale.

Our very existence was a menace,
a nightmare to feminist vision,
some spoke of glass ceilings
but what we saw were high walls
holding us captive in our own
wild and tangled wilderness.

Armed only with ideas and determination
we staked out our territory,
and began to lay the foundation
of something entirely new.

Outside forces closed rank
and shouted empty threats,
their voices now lost
in the din of construction
already underway.

Joan Annsfire writes poetry, memoir and fiction. Her chapbook, “Distant Music” is available through Headmistress Press. Her work has appeared in anthologies such as The Times They Were A- Changing,” “The Queer Collection,” “99 Poems for the 99 Percent,” “OccuPoetry,” “Milk and Honey,” and “The Other side of the Postcard.” Literary journal publications include: Counterpunch’s Poet’s Basement, Lavender Review, Sinister Wisdom, The 13th Moon, Bridges, The Evergreen Chronicles, The SoMa Literary Review and The Harrington Lesbian Literary Quarterly. Her stories have appeared in “Uprooted, an Anthology on Gender and Illness,” Harrington Lesbian Literary Quarterly, and “Identity Envy,” as well as in a new anthology: “Dispatches From Lesbian America.”