Terese Svoboda

Miss Lola Ridge (1873-1941)
April 25, 2020 Svoboda Terese

Miss Lola Ridge (1873-1941)

“The fire of the world is running through me.”

Where the jackhammer
of line and rhyme from the fin de siecle
stopped,
she chose to rhyme
or not.

Anarchist, she chose absolute freedom,
not
to make nothing happen,
hence
her broadside helped free a man in Alcatraz.

Drugs, yes. Bigamy, yes. She left her son in an orphanage,
that kind of freedom,
and a speech ten years before Woolf’s treatise about a room
women needed for themselves
that set out the female as creative,
not muse.

By the time war rang a second time,
she’d been to Baghdad, Beirut, Mexico City, Santa Fe solo
with their spirit-trapped rocks
and high society,
on everybody else’s money.

A woman more
than the sum of tri-cornered affectation (but friend-of-Moore),
she lied about her age ten years
into
anorexic sainthood,
can’t for art’s sake. Lest she be
remembered for only a few poems:

a black baby tossed into a fire
a public electrocution
a Jew lynched
and a long poem about the Ghetto—

Terese Svoboda’s most recent book of poetry is Professor Harriman’s Steam Air-Ship (Eyewear, 2016). “Theatrix: Play Poems is forthcoming from Anhinga in 2021.”