Daughters Temporarily Lost Inside the Warehouses of Men

tea leaves talk to sisters
mothers see moons before phases
grass sewn into gowns
root vegetables boiled
to ease the cramps

they bury placentas
grounding children, daughters tied to
aunts and soils, gardens
shaved with female hands
tokens planted at all
corners of bounty

we expect mothers to saddle
office chairs, push paper, draw
blood, shuffle like tin wasps
stuck in traffic, children
lost ducklings, panicked
smothered by the tables, chairs, books

we expect daughters to lift above
old gray men, tribes of combatants
men old at two decades
recalcitrant and know-it-all’s
old seedless corn stalks
desiccating in their own winds

women harbingers of family blood-
lines, forced into exile of paralytic
heterosexual white male dullness
creative touches torched
by male-dominated exchanges
sports-war-money-things

how do you retrieve daughters
lost in this ambush of stupidity
how do you relearn night
songs of birthing and menses
how do you bring daughters, nieces
granddaughters back

we are off orbit, time mashed up
by Christian overlords, exchanges
set only to shekels-dollars-pounds
the sterling and gold standard
weapons against women towns, pueblos

a family now a census stat
tax write off, insurance
for the male line to move on
deeper into the morass
of the male line’s making

gunpowder-nukes- engines-chemicals
strafing the land, DNA futures
women forced to shuffle with men
do work of men, count profits
labor for another day of destruction

you hold ancient web, or that
ebb and flow, mountains moved through
endless time, both sets of chromosomes
the power in your sex, you are more
than the sum total of credit exchanges

more than a vessel for the syphilitic
harbingers of final apocalypse
even now as daughter is lost
in sea of confusion, lost temporarily
inside the chamber of men, seeking

a sense of self through the lens of men
science-technology-engineering-math
tools not for good, not for food and clear
skies, water pure, oceans deep blue
but for weapons, factories of death

one day soon daughter will return, fill
her soul with ancient aunties’
and nanas’ songs, discover woven
patterns of mother’s secret signals
protecting her/earth from robber men

Paul Kirk Haeder has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. He organized Part-time faulty in Washington State. His book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his autobiography, weekly or bi-weekly musings and hard hitting work in chapter installments, at LA Progressive. He blogs from Waldport, Oregon. Read his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam, coming out Jan. 2020 from Cirque Journal. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.