Margaret Randall: Power's Golden Crown

Margaret Randall is a feminist poet, writer, photographer and social activist. Born in New York City in 1936, she has lived for extended periods in Albuquerque, New York, Seville, Mexico City, Havana, and Managua. Shorter stays in Peru and North Vietnam were also formative. In the turbulent 1960s she co-founded and co-edited EL CORNO EMPLUMADO / THE PLUMED HORN, a bilingual literary journal which for eight years published some of the most dynamic and meaningful writing of an era.


What screams from the window
of the car idling beside yours
cannot be described as sound,
music’s history
stuffed deep in frayed pockets.
Aroused only by whip and chains
she claims she is in control.
All other storylines
whither in memory
or cower beneath the bed.
In the torture chamber
he is detached,
keeping his right and wrong
in clear perspective,
his prisoner an afterthought.
The suicide bomber straps
and buckles his bulky vest,
closes his eyes
and utters his last sad words:
I matter.


A fan of interlocking scenes
etched on the underbelly
of expectation:
third from left
has an ever-rising sun
and dependable climate.
I must reach to glimpse
farthest to right,
its mirage of answers
so far beyond their questions
the space between
swells in perfect labyrinth.
Take all of me pleads my life,
still urging
holistic solution.
We are more than the sum
of paltry choices
available at birth.
Minutes dance to a beat
by unexpected quarter notes,
Harmony enters
only where something stolen
is replaced by risk.
We hurry to follow those tiny arrows
stitched to the underside
of eyelids
or along the heart’s retaining wall
through mud of war
and muck of promise.
While the rhythm of lockstep
and resignation
holds out its cajoling hand
a new wind invites us
to make one last chance
our first.


Purposeful, blindered, this
regiment of minutes
ticks along
behind my wary eyes.
They are my minutes
and only I see them.
When they come upon others
they quicken their step.
The arrow says one way only
and I fear
the tiny increments will obey
as long as they are able.
Only the softest shadow of regret
might cause them to stumble
and fall,
move backward in disarray
or climb up through the clouds
and disappear
like those buffalo in the
Barry Lopez story
witnessed by a party of Cheyenne
camped on the Laramie Plain
near the Medicine Bow Mountains,
winter of 1845.
It is all about direction
and language:
the expertise of feet,
how one sound hides within another,
how nouns and verbs
spar or dance together.
People between two rivers
situate their adjectives
with care.
A female word
must run to catch up
with power’s golden crown.
It takes the perfect storm of
happenstance and disbelief
brought together
by one too many lies
woven into the texture
of our lives.
It takes horror disguised
as life as usual.
Time’s forward motion
stops, shifts,
leaves you peering at 1491
with a 2013 promise on your lips.

What are you looking for?