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5 Poems by V.C. McCabe

"Antonyms for Curative"

Not stitching, not parallel,

hubristic scars inflamed. Not

apothecarial, more mercurial,

your touch more curse than

prayer. Not worship, not grace,

no redemption in your hand.

Not sympathy, not silence, we

haunt the in-between. Not

listening, not familiar, not that

you care anyway. The fear of

changing, of yielding, whistles

compromise away. Not tender,

this darkness, not cleansing, but

fester. Not beauty, not kindness.

Language fails us again. How

ugly, your countenance, your

bedside manner an attack. Not

responsive, my candor, my ardor

a cancerous want. Not mortar,

not pestle, not poultice or salve.

This wound will not be healed.


"Act I" from Taming

use me stark mad or wonderful

your pleasure and instruments

strange penance of tongue take delight

together and fast our sweet means to delights

touch and be happy

whipped set free

I am a horse thoroughly rid love take hold

touch O yes, sweet hand

knees kissed marked to scold and raise up

a storm

lips move with breath perfume the air

sacred and sweet

cruel art

cunning instruct my hand

I will charm tongue your pleasure

I am tied to be obedient

thralled wounded

mark my beloved Knock, I say Worship, I say

knock me here soundly knock here knock here, I say

knock me and rap me well knock

come part the fray, I say rise rise

knock and knock O, heavens

knock me here, knock me well and knock me soundly and come servant

sweet, happy

foul love, rough

Katherina Minola, renowned for her scolding tongue.

Know her know her well see

her eyes a cat.

Katherine the curst

Katherine the curst

title of all titles

Peace is the rival of my love.

Stand amorous fairly bound plead for her.

Speak, fair, curst Katherine, scold harm me strange wildcat.

Lions roar the sea chafed with sweat

a woman's tongue that gives so great a fire

she's the choice

she's the chosen

famous for a scolding tongue



[Source: The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare]


"Act II" from Taming

bind my hands pull off my raiment

I'll plead have me have me

tie my hands strike this insolence weeps

shame a devilish spirit

I must dance barefoot in hell

wrong me show myself a guest in your house

do me wrong know my grief

I see you I call your name I pray I curse

grateful to behold you

this cunning this liberty I welcome the education

of a simple instrument and you you you within.

Between us two raging fires meet

consume feed their fury fire fire

rough and happy.

Iron hold her break her for she broke me

bow her hand teach her fingering

with a devilish spirit

with word and instrument and vile terms to misuse

She sings newly washed with dew.

Piercing crave enter Katherine.

Kate Kate Kate the curst Kate the prettiest

Kate Kate take me,

Katherine hit sit Katherine bear bear Katherine

O Katherine come, come you are angry

Katherine be my remedy Katherine

Katherine tongue tongue Katherine tongue

Katherine strike strike Katherine strike me

O Katherine Katherine craven

Katherine Katherine there there

rough and coy and angry pleasure

O Katherine command this chamber

O Katherine Katherine warm in bed

born to tame wild

Katherine Katherine call me lunatic

be curst be pleased be curst believe

O kiss kiss O tame men and women

the shrew will feast

Katherine give me joy. Kiss me, Kate.

Now I madly desperate lay fretting by you

this strife of love

I die I live I am I offer all

I die and die I am Katherine

I give all.

[Source: The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare]


"Act IV" from Taming

mad beaten

I am a fire

teeth tongue fire

my master, my mistress, and myself

fire fire fire

here there slap feel knock

she he me die in oblivion

he is more shrew than she

let their heads be slick

let them touch kiss

enter my companions

dagger sheath

bate and beat and be obedient

all night the clamor

scorn makes a god of affection

beastly beauteous

we are joy

the taming

the taming


and tongue O

I fear I fear I love my misery

touch eat eat eat

my honey love

a velvet dish a shell a toy a trick

I will be free

O God up and down carved


a devil

cut me cut cut here I command

break beautiful

skin feast



this night

the sun

the moon

a war of stars

mad mad mad



[Source: The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare]


"Act V" from Taming

the priest the church the door

knock knock knock

beat down the gate within within

pound, beloved, here at the door with him

lay hands in the church together

we are undone

worship beat beat O god O

I am undone, I am undone

lunatic mad

I am with strangers abused

we are undone

Love wrought these miracles

Love made the haven of my bliss

fear not the depth of this

the rest the feast

the kiss the midst

the kiss let’s let’s

Katherine I will kiss she kisses him

love is this a banquet

sit down sit eat sit sit and sit and eat and eat

this kindness is for both our sakes me and you

turn round round Katherine that by him by me

turn round Katherine Katherine

A hundred marks, my Kate, put down

head and body head and horn

O hit now hit here you two I say and let’s be content

come to me O come do what you will

come come O come enter Katherine come Katherina

Katherine what is your will? where is your fire?

here is a wonder a wonder

enter Katherine as prisoners to her Katherine obeys

laying Katherine I charge come come come

wound beauty whirlwind a woman troubled

thirsty to sip or touch pain night storms

crave love and obedience a rebel grace

kneel bound to serve, love, and obey

our bodies soft and weak and smooth

our soft conditions our strength our weakness

our stomachs our hands our hands

kiss kiss come

we three are married



[Source: The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare]


V.C. McCabe is the author of Give the Bard a Tetanus Shot (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2019) and Co-Editor of New International Voices at Ice Floe Press. Her work has appeared in ekphrastic exhibits and journals worldwide, including EPOCH, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, and Coffin Bell.

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