Category Archives: love

with thanks to barbie, ken & g.i. joe…

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for helping me get a jump-start on NaPoWriMo!

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National Poetry Month is just a few days away, and that’s when the madness begins.  NaPoWriMo.  A poem-a-day for 30 days.  If you haven’t taken the pledge at Read Write Poem yet, now’s the time.  You know you want to!  And once you start writing a poem every day, it will turn into an addiction.  You will HAVE to write. Every day.  Or you’ll burst.  Trust me.  It happens just like that.

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In that spirit, Carolee and I have been talking about starting a little early getting our poem on.  And since we’re the mini-challenge divas, well, you know we have to do it.  This is my pre-NaPo poem #1.  I’m sure my partner-in-crime will have one up on her poetry blog soon.  Like today.  Right? 

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What the Dolls Do While We Sleep

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From somewhere near a pulsing
point of darkness (far from her heart)

Barbie reveals that most of her life
(the part we can not see

beneath skin stiff as bone)
has been lived behind the bushes.

Not a door, or a curtain, or even behind
Ken’s broad shoulders. You see, don’t you,

how letting truth slip from the split
of hard plastic lips is an act of bravery—

truth like a tree fallen over a chasm
your character drawn by the way you cross

balancing step by step on slick bark (courting danger)
or dodging below, stepping lightly over simple stones.

Minus the tree, the wide cavern (gaping hole) in her path
Barbie makes her first decision, slipping

out the window, snagging rubbery toes on the sill
landing hard on adventure’s packed dirt.

The bush is a cliché, rain soaked leaves
a moist haven glistening in the moon’s light

(all good love affairs begin with a cliché and hard rain).
This is where G.I. Joe waits, camouflage pants unbuttoned

gun hidden in a bunch of roots reaching up like hands.
Here in the bushes, Barbie lives another life.

Her dream house is a cardboard box
(so much easier to clean)

her lover, the hero whose shaved head
fits so much better on her belly than Ken’s sculpted crown.

In the music video version, our brave soldier gets carried away
rips Barbie’s left leg from its perfect socket.

No matter how they are molded at the factory
these are breakable times.

Returns are not easy to make
without a receipt, and even then

chances are slim the new doll you carry home
won’t believe the old ones really talk when you leave the room.

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Patchwork Poem #2 ala Anne Sexton

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You Are the Answer

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Listen! Listen!
We are not lovers.
We are like pigeons
after the small death.
They have teeth and knees
because they share the same dirt.
…………..Even their song is not a sure thing
……………….it is a kind of breathing—
…………………….we gasp in unison beside our window pane.

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Listen! Listen!
The girl full of talk of coffins and keyholes
with her large gun-metal blue eyes
with the thin vein at the bend of her neck
………………then your hand in her hand
………………………with an old red hook in her mouth.

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We are not lovers.
Now there is green rain for everyone,
their red claws wound like bracelets,
…………tired of my mouth and my breasts,
………………..each one like a poem obeying itself.

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Listen! Listen!
The king has brought me into his chamber.
I’ve been opened and undressed.
Then the chains were fastened around me
……………..(even their song is not a sure thing).
After the small death
……………..it is a kind of breathing.

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I chose these three Sexton poems: “Man and Wife”; “Love Song”; and “Consorting With Angels”, because they seemed to speak from the same place of melancholy and longing.  I tried to find pieces that resonated with a similar tone/voice.  They are all from her collection, Live or Die.   After choosing them, I discovered an author’s note which confirmed that I was on the right track.

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Sexton wrote, “To begin with, I have placed these poems (1962-1966) in the order in which they were written with all due apologies for the fact that they read like a fever chart for a bad case of melancholy.  But I thought the order of their creation might be of interest to some readers, and, as Andre Gide wrote in his journal, “Despite every resolution of optimism, melancholy occasionally wins out: man has decidedly botched up the planet.””

Patchwork Poem #1 ala Anne Sexton

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Since You Ask, Most Days I Can Not Remember

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I was wrapped in black
my hair rising like smoke from the car window
and I beat down the psalms
………………….(notice how he has numbered the blue veins)
and I undid the buttons
………………….(like carpenters they want to know which tools)
and the love, whatever it was, an infection.

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And then you called me princess.

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Climb her like a monument, step after step
…………………..(he is bulding a city, a city of flesh)
then the almost unnameable lust returns
leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss.

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This is not an experiment. She is all harmony.

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And then you crowned me–
fireworks in the dull middle of February–
face flushed with a song and their little sleep,
and as real as a cast-iron pot–
the bones, the confusions.

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You undid me and then
I stood up in my gold skin.

…………………..((From the glory of boards he has built me up).
As for me, I am a watercolor,
have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy,
and the love, whatever it was, an infection.

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So this is a patchwork poem for the “Fall in Love With a Poet” mini-challenge at Read Write Poem.  The lines are taken from four Anne Sexton poems: Mr. MineUsWanting to Die; and For My Lover, Returning to His Wife.

There is a theme here in these poems, as well as in the lines I have chosen.  I just need to figure out what it is, spend some more time with Anne…

Self-Portrait with Stick of Butter (poem 5 of 365)

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Soft as an oil crayon
slide across the curve of your forehead.

Do not use for cooking
baking or basting.

Fresh-scented girl,
name your stick
and wish it well.

Light the tip of your butter
with flame from a rusted gas stove
…………..inhale the memory of popcorn in a pan,
thread-bare movie house carpet
roaming fingers not quite long
enough to wrap a steering wheel
…………..curl around
a bottle of beer.

Lick sweet and salty
from lips you can not see.

Straighten your shirt
(you do not wear skirts)
Face the mirror once again.

Soft as an oil crayon
slide beneath the curve of your chin.

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Here’s the thing about writing every day, about coming to the page no matter if you feel uninspired, rushed, tired, un-caffeinated: something will emerge. It might not be great. It might not make sense. It might not be good until you work with it for days/weeks/months, until you combine it with another poem, or until you leave it on the altar of “well, at least I tried,” and move on.

But you have a bunch of words in the shape of a poem, and that’s progress, baby! Poem-gress!