When I was a child, I always hated being used in my father's sermons, shrunk to a symbol to illustrate some larger lesson, flattened out to give other people comfort or instruction or even a laugh. It did some violence to my third dimension; it made it difficult for me to breathe. 'That's not me,' I would think, listening to some fable where a stick figure of myself moved automatically toward a punishing moral. 'That has nothing to do with me at all.' If I had a soul, I thought, it was that resistance, which would never let another human being have the last word on me. This is what it is to write about people who are alive and then, sometimes, people who are dead. To say that his eyes were clear as agates, that his voice was a gravelly baritone, to surround him with the right adjectives and set him into the story-- all this is an attempt to fit him into the glass box of a good sentence so everyone can see what he means. But it won't work, the words can't hold him, and I am glad. The desire to describe voice, gesture, skin color, is a desire to eat, take over, make into part of the pattern. I am happy every time to see a writer fail at this. I am happy every time to see real personhood resist our tricks. I am happy to see bodies insist that they are not shut up in this book, they are elsewhere. The tomb is empty, rejoice, he is not here.

Priestdaddy, Patricia Lockwood

Jewel Thief Movie

I was so happy in the gem room. The sun was president, I was just dug up, all hell had shrunk to a sulphur crystal. Something danced on the point; it must have been me. I had a hundred faces, and one of them served up the ceiling in a perfect slice —  like a twelve-year-old saint in some countryside where they only read Revelation. I had some small nugget of sense, for once, I was a mind that understood the light    ...     Rain rained in my aquamarine. The world’s knuckles gripped the bedstead. I felt the red dynamiting of me in Missouri, where all outdoors was my candy store, where color sucked at its all-day self and never became less sweet, less new. “I want to put it in my mouth,” said someone, “I almost want to eat it    ...    ” I had dozens of uses, but I was mostly flat beautiful. Visitors just gasped in the matte-black room where I freely fluoresced. They saw me laid on a dictionary to demonstrate my transparency, which was complete; they could read the word everything through me. My name meant blood, meant seawater, meant lemon. The eye in my agate never blinked. I was believed to be formed of frozen moonlight. I was cut so that a star shone back. The purest and wind-clearest hunk of me they carved into a horse. When I was split to the purple and somehow still standing, they called me a cathedral. Yet just to the left of that I spilled all over velvet. The velvet is what did it —  I wanted to be smuggled. Wanted to ride past all the alarms, just before that drop of sweat hit the floor. Wanted to end up in god- knows-whose hands, a heist. “Obscene,” said a man behind me, “just in piles like that    ...    obscene.” Then I spilled another carat, laughing. In Missouri you could pluck me straight up off the ground. Gumdrops, gobstoppers, jujubes. I thought: try to suck me down to nothing, and find yourself up against one million years. In piles like that. Just out there. For anyone. Obscene. The legs of the real thing were opening, flash and flash and flash. I said: go ahead and smash the glass. Give me a break-in like a kaleidoscope. Someone will entirely drip with me as soon as I get out of here.

Patricia Lockwood in Poetry, September 2017

A woman's body always stands on the outskirts of the town, verging on uncivilization. A thin paper gown is all that separates it from the wilderness. Half of its whole being is devoted to remembering how to live in the woods. This is why Witch, this is why Whore, this is why Unlucky and this is why Unclean. This is why attempts to govern the female body always have the feeling of a last resort, because the female body is fundamentally ungovernable.

Patricia Lockwood, from Priestdaddy

The Hypno-Domme Speaks, and Speaks and Speaks

I was born as a woman, I talk you to death,                                                   or else your ear off, or else you to sleep. What do I have, all the time in the world, and a voice that swings brass back and forth, you can hear it, and a focal point where my face should be. What do I have, I have absolute power, and what I want is your money, your drool, and your mind, and the sense of myself as a snake, and a garter in the grass. Every bone in the snake is the hipbone, every part of the snake is the hips. The first sound I make is silence, then sssssshhh,          the first word I say is listen. Sheep shearers                      and accountants hypnotize the hardest, and lookout sailors who watch the sea, and the boys who cut and cut and cut and cut and cut the grass. The writers who write page-turners, and the writers who repeat themselves. The diamond-cutter kneels down before me and asks me to hypnotize him, and I glisten at him and glisten hard, and listen to me and listen, I tell him. Count your age backward, I tell him. Become aware of your breathing, and aware of mine                         which will go on longer. Believe you           are a baby till I tell you otherwise, then believe you’re a man till I tell you you’re dirt. When a gunshot rings out you’ll lie down like you’re dead. When you          hear, “He is breathing,” you’ll stand up again. The best dog of the language is Yes and protects you. The best black-and-white dog of the language is Yes and goes wherever you go, and you go where I say, you go anywhere. Why do I do it is easy, I am working my way through school. Give me the money                           for Modernism, and give me the money for what comes next. When you wake to the fact that you have a body, you will wake to the fact that not for long. When you wake you will come when you read the word hard, or hard to understand me, or impenetrable poetry. When you put down the book you will come when you hear the words put down the book,                                              you will come when you hear.

Patricia Lockwood from Poetry, December 2013

That your attention is in one sense the most precious part of you, it is your soul spending yourself, to teach you that there’s always more.

That your attention is a resource that can be drafted, commandeered, militarized and made to march — like youth, passion, or patriotism.

That your attention can be diverted and used to power the devil’s Hoover Dam.

how do we write now? patricia lockwood

I know all women are supposed to be strong enough now to strangle presidents and patriarchies between their powerful thighs, but it doesn't work that way. Many of us were actually affected, by male systems and male rage, in ways we cannot always articulate or overcome. Sometimes, when the ceiling seems especially low and the past especially close, I think to myself, I did not make it out. I am still there in that place of diminishment, where that voice an octave deeper than mine is telling me what I am. Before I turned thirteen, I had never been part of a class that my father called empty-headed and addressed as "dollface", that our church seemed to see as just bodies. I was simply myself, unique and irreducible. Suddenly I became female, and it was as if a telescope I had been looking through- with a clear eye, up at an unbounded night of starts- had been viciously turned on me. I went to a pinpoint. Does God exist was never a question for me then; do I exist took up the whole of my mind. I did not make it out, but this does. Art goes outside, even if we don't; it fills the whole air, though we cannot raise our voices. This is the secret: we cannot raise our voices. This is the secret: when I encounter myself on the page, I am shocked at how forceful I seem. On the page I am strong, because that is where I put myself. I am no longer whispering through the small skirted shape of a keyhole: the door is knocked down and the roof is blown off and I am aimed once more at the entire wide night.

Patricia Lockwood, Priestdaddy

Perhaps [Didion] promises that synthesis, even of a time like this, is still possible. ‘I went to San Francisco because I had not been able to work in some months, had been paralysed by the conviction that writing was an irrelevant act, that the world as I had understood it no longer existed.’ Perhaps she offers the feeling that if you write the facts down, the facts might somehow remain standing at the end, after the end. There is a small, unobtrusive reporter in the corner. She has outlasted everything else.

Patricia Lockwood, “It was gold”

Source: lrb.co.uk