Monday, April 7, 2008

Celebrate Bisexual Poetry! Rumi's "The King and The Handmaiden and The Doctor"

Continuing our National Poetry Month Celebration...

This full poem/story by Rumi is long and wonderful with some horrible, fascinating, and mystical elements - what's cool is that the King is emotionally and lustfully enthralled by both a woman and a man during the course of the adventure. Here's some choice excerpts:


Do you know why your soul-mirror
does not reflect as clearly as it might?

Because rust has begun to cover it.
It needs to be cleaned.
Here's a story
about the inner state that's meant by soul-mirror.

In the old days there was a king
who was powerful in both his kingdoms,
the visible as well as the spiritual.

One day as he was riding on the hunt, he saw a girl
and was greatly taken with her beauty.
As was the custom,
he paid her family handsomely and asked that she come
to be a servant at the palace. He was in love with her.

The feelings trembled and flapped in his chest
like a bird newly put in a cage.

But as soon as she arrived, she fell ill.
The king was like the man who had a donkey,
but no saddle for the pack. Then he bought a saddle,
and wolves killed the donkey.
He had a waterjar,
but no water. Then he found water, but the pitcher
fell and broke.
He brought his doctors together.
"You have both our lives in your hands. Her life
is my life. Whoever heals her will receive
the finest treasure I have, the coral inlaid
with pearls, anything!"

The king's doctors fail to heal the girl, so he ran to the mosque to pray...

He cried out loud for help, and the ocean of grace
surged over him. He slept in the midst
of his weeping on the prayer rug.

In his dream an old man appeared.
"Good king,
I have news. Tomorrow a stranger will come.
I have sent him. He is a physician you can trust.
Listen to him."
As dawn came, the king was sitting up
in the belvedere on his roof. He saw someone coming,
a person like the dawn. He ran to meet this guest.

Like two swimmers who love the water, their souls knit
together without being sewn, no seam.
The king said,
"You are my beloved, not the girl! But actions
spring from actions in this reality.
What should I do?"

I won't ruin the ending for you, but the physician knows how to heal the girl, there's a secret kept from the King, and - get this - a murder...

I found this poem/story on pgs. 225-233 of "The Essential Rumi" translation by Coleman Barks with John Moyne.

Okay, YOUR turn. What are some of YOUR favorite Bisexual poems? The best way to celebrate them - is to share them!


Rita said...

Deeply intriguing and really wonderful. I was completely caught up. I'll have to go look it up now.

Anonymous said...

Here's my bisexual poem that was first published in Bi Women. Looking forward to reading other bi poems (or poems by bi poets, which may not be the same thing) here:


When I help a woman on with her jacket,
my sexuality grabs my gender identity
and waltzes it around the room.

I’m a woman, but there’s a man in me.
He’s a bit of a fop, sort of a pansy.
He might be a fag.

Why shouldn’t everything about me be fluid?
I’m a squishy skin-bag of water and salt,
ocean inside and out.

As a child, I was sure I was a boy.
The heroes of all the best books were boys.
I pretty much lived in my head, what I read.

Now I feel more like a woman –
except around straight women.
Then I feel like a butch lunk.

My husband thinks I’m a femme
because I wear lavender, (color and scent),
and ask him to open jars.

All roads meet in me:
butch when I wake up,
femme at lunch.

Androgynous at dinner,
totally trans all night .
Can I get that door for you?

Jan Steckel, 2010