Tag Archives: Anne Sexton

Patchwork Poem #3 ala Anne Sexton

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In This Fashion I Have Become a Tree

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I said, “The devil is down that festering hole.”
Fifty-two reds and blacks and only myself to blame.
Fire woman, you of the ancient flame, you
as old as a dog, as quiet as a skeleton,
Mother of fire, let me stand at your devouring gate.

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Angel of clean sheets, do you know bedbugs?
Let me pick those sweet kisses. Thief that I was
I have become a vase you can pick up or drop at will.
Once I was a couple. I was my own king and queen
of wire. Your voice is out there. Your voice is strange,
stay near. But give me the totem. Give me the shut eye,

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that hole where the fire woman is tied to her chair.
Take me back to that red mouth, that July 21st place.
Let me pick those sweet kisses. Thief that I was
my blood buzzes like a hornet’s nest. I sit in a kitchen chair—
a little solo act—that lady with the brain that broke.

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Inanimate at last. What unusual luck! My body–
gull that grows out of my back in the dreams I prefer.

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Probably my least favorite of my three Anne Sexton centos.  Has to be the mood I am in.  Though it could be my method.  This time I used one poem, “Angels of the Love Affair,” which is broken into 6 sections.  Instead of choosing lines, writing them on a separate piece of paper, then constructing the poem, I typed lines directly onto the computer, composing as I went.  This method didn’t give me as much time to sit with the lines or play with them.  Still…I blame it on the mood.

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…