Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Apologia by Jill Alexander Essbaum

By Jill Essbaum

I have been sodden with wine.
I have been confused by wine.
I have been lied to by men,
And yet, I lie down upon such men,
Still and willing in the manners that they please.
Lord, I’ve been the blemish at your love feast.

And I’ve been tangled in nettles and brambles,
Have dwelt in seamy hotels, have ambled
Down roads that once, so necessary,
Seemed. And I’ve prayed, hot and overloadedly,
Having meddled in such matters
That ought be closed to me.

Darkness. I have done dread deeds in,
Hearkening to apocalyptic heathen,
Even as I cocked my lips to yours. And I have slept
On floors. And I have crept along on all fours.
And. More. I have lived briskly in nice houses.
I have swigged whiskey in icehouses.

I have been June, July, and August.
I have been riotous when I felt like I must
Or I could be. And I’ve hung on your tree like a ripe fig.
Desiring to be plucked. And I’ve flung my body to your bed
Like a white bride pining to be rubbed up against.
Like a suckling child hungry in a viper’s den.

And I have been Dismas, the penitent
Thief. And I have been Judas. And I’ve spent
My plenty silvers chiefly on my hells.
In that, I have seldom, if ever, failed.
It’s just as well. For as the ibis devours her carrion,
I feed upon what queasy defeats I carry on

My back. Thus the beggar becomes her bowl.
And the hangwoman surrenders to the scaffold.
And irrevocable acts of god and doom consume me.
Can this be mercy? I fear there isn’t any
Left. Even the chrism is bereft.
Wretched, most wretched it says.

While my guilt unfolds like a napkin in your lap.
Will a dog grow fat on crumbs the master drops?
I have been a grabber at your garment hem.
And I have been a Magdalene outside your tomb.
And I’ve bathed atop roofs, have pounded with rue,
Have pooled my pearls, the sorrowful few---

Like milky mea culpas they rattle fragile on a string.
Christ: Forgive me everything.

From: “The Best American Poetry 2010,” pages 51, 52


"Jill Alexander Essbaum is a Christian erotic poet distinguished as the author of the 1999 Bakeless Prize winner in poetry, Heaven, the 2005 collection of sonnets, Oh Forbidden, and the full length collections Harlot (poetry) (No Tell Books, 2007) and Necropolis (neoNuma Arts, Spring 2008). She has described herself as "nettled and hectored by a good dozen obsessions--more, probably. There are but three that ultimately matter to me (maybe to anyone): God, sex, death. Anything worthwhile I've ever thought or said will be about those things." Essbaum's poetry features puns, wordplay and dark humor mixed with searing religious and erotic imagery. Bruce Covey singled out Essbaum as "contemporary poetry’s best punster". She currently teaches at the University of California Riverside Palm Desert Graduate Center in the Masters of Creative Writing Graduate Program."  From:  Amazon.com

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse - Rest In Peace

"A poet is an unhappy being whose heart is torn by secret sufferings, but whose lips are so strangely formed that when the sighs and the cries escape them, they sound like beautiful music...and then people crowd about the poet and say to them:  'Sing for us soon again;' that is as much as to say, 'May new sufferings torment your soul.'"  ~Kierkegaard

Ms. Winehouse died today.  My heart goes out to her family.  I love her music and her unique, soulful voice.  She will be missed.  :-(

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Frenzy by Anne Sexton

One of my collaged composition books.

by Annie Sexton

I am not lazy.
I am on the amphetamine of the soul.
I am, each day,
typing out the God
my typewriter believes in.
Very quick. Very intense,
like a wolf at a live heart.
Not lazy.
When a lazy man, they say,
looks toward heaven,
the angels close the windows.

Oh angels,
keep the windows open
so that I may reach in
and steal each object,
objects that tell me the sea is not dying,
objects that tell me the dirt has a life-wish,
that the Christ who walked for me,
walked on true ground
and that this frenzy,
like bees stinging the heart all morning,
will keep the angels
with their windows open,
wide as an English bathtub.

From:  "The Complete Poems, Anne Sexton", page 466

Sunday, July 17, 2011

December 11th by Anne Sexton

December 11th
by Anne Sexton

Then I think of you in bed,
your tongue half chocolate, half ocean,
of the houses that you swing into,
of the steel wool hair on your head,
of your persistent hands and then
how we gnaw at the barrier because we are two.

How you come and take my blood cup
and link me together and take my brine.
We are bare.  We are stripped to the bone
and we swim in tandem and go up and up
the river, the identical river called Mine
and we enter together.  No one's alone.

From:  "The Best American Erotic Poems", page 95

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Temptation by Nina Cassian

By Nina Cassian

Call yourself alive?  Look, I promise you
that for the first time you'll feel your pores opening
like fish mouths, and you'll actually be able to hear
your blood surging through all those lanes,
and you'll feel light gliding across the cornea
like the train of a dress. For the first time
you'll be aware of gravity
like a thorn in your heel,
and your shoulder blades will ache for want of wings.
Call yourself alive?  I promise you
you'll be deafened by dust falling on the furniture,
you'll feel your eyebrows turning to two gashes,
and every memory you have --- will begin
at Genesis.

from: "Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times," page 48


Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Dish of Fruit by William Carlos Williams

Vincent Van Gogh, Still Life with Carafe and Lemons, 1888.

The Dish of Fruit
By William Carlos Williams

The table describes
nothing: four legs, by which
it becomes a table.  Four lines
by which it becomes a quatrain,

the poem that lifts the dish
of fruit, if we say it is like
a table---how will it describe
the contents of the poem?

from:  "The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams 1939-1962, Volume II", page 143

Monday, July 4, 2011

Rhapsody on a Windy Night by T. S. Eliot

Winter Moon by Marion

It's an Eliot kind of day today.  I came to Mr. Eliot's works in my early 40's and now I can't get enough of his writings.  I was reading this one late last night on my Kindle and fell in love with the moon imagery.  His poetry never, ever disappoints me.  Enjoy! 

Rhapsody on a Windy Night
By T. S. Eliot

TWELVE o’clock.
Along the reaches of the street
Held in a lunar synthesis,
Whispering lunar incantations
Dissolve the floors of memory
And all its clear relations
Its divisions and precisions,
Every street lamp that I pass
Beats like a fatalistic drum,
And through the spaces of the dark
Midnight shakes the memory
As a madman shakes a dead geranium.
Half-past one,
The street-lamp sputtered,
The street-lamp muttered,
The street-lamp said, “Regard that woman
Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door
Which opens on her like a grin.
You see the border of her dress
Is torn and stained with sand,

And you see the corner of her eye
Twists like a crooked pin.”

The memory throws up high and dry
A crowd of twisted things;
A twisted branch upon the beach
Eaten smooth, and polished
As if the world gave up
The secret of its skeleton,
Stiff and white.
A broken spring in a factory yard,
Rust that clings to the form that the strength has left
Hard and curled and ready to snap.

Half-past two,
The street-lamp said,
“Remark the cat which flattens itself in the gutter,
Slips out its tongue
And devours a morsel of rancid butter.”
So the hand of the child, automatic,
Slipped out and pocketed a toy that was running along the quay.
I could see nothing behind that child’s eye.
I have seen eyes in the street
Trying to peer through lighted shutters,
And a crab one afternoon in a pool,
An old crab with barnacles on his back,
Gripped the end of a stick which I held him.

Half-past three,
The lamp sputtered,
The lamp muttered in the dark.
The lamp hummed:

Regard the moon,
La lune ne garde aucune rancune,
She winks a feeble eye,
She smiles into corners.
She smooths the hair of the grass.
The moon has lost her memory.
A washed-out smallpox cracks her face,
Her hand twists a paper rose,
That smells of dust and eau de Cologne,
She is alone
With all the old nocturnal smells
That cross and cross across her brain.”
The reminiscence comes
Of sunless dry geraniums
And dust in crevices,
Smells of chestnuts in the streets,
And female smells in shuttered rooms,
And cigarettes in corridors
And cocktail smells in bars.
The lamp said,
“Four o’clock,
Here is the number on the door.
You have the key,
The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair.
The bed is open; the tooth-brush hangs on the wall,
Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life.”
The last twist of the knife.

T.S. Eliot (1888–1965). From: "Prufrock and Other Observations." 1917.