Monday, June 4, 2012

Poem 10

We sit.
We are silent,
except the sniffling
from me,
directed at you.

We fight.
We are angry,
and lonely together
you always
do this, blame me.

You pick.
You are irate,
yelling and cursing
at me,
but what can I do.

I weep.
I am cut to the quick,
I hate that we do this

But the days
we don't
fight or
yell or

I live
for those days,
when you say

Some days,
I'm not sure
if the bad days
are worth the good.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Poem on Loss

We'd been together
so long
and farewell

Unfortunate circumstances
you couldn't
come with me
you yelled,
ranted, raved.

You were so irate
and tears
welled in my eyes
and ripped my heart.

And where we had been,
once strong,
Now I stood.


on my own,
in the Big Bad

I realized suddenly
I didn't want
being without you.

But It was too
late, you left
me behind,
found somebody else.

And I stayed lost
in woods of pine
and wandered

It took so long.

But I found my
the light
of day.

And once I had that
I could move

Still alone
but not
sad or

plan of attack

So for my final paper, I got some helpful feedback.  But the biggest note seemed to be that I lacked a solid explanation of the relevance of some of my quotations.  I suppose that means I will have to elaborate on the way I feel these quotes help to prove my point, that sexuality (and twisted/abnormal sexuality in particular) makes poetry particularly memorable.  Other than that, my piece was only half finished, so I'm going to continue developing the paper and adding the other two poems I planned to discuss.  Also, I'll be focusing on making sure the quotes from these additional poems are well interpreted and explained in their furthering of my point.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rough Draft of Final Essay: First Half

Strange Sexuality Makes Memorable Lyricism
            There are many things that people consider to be memorable, from a particularly well-crafted song lyric, to a horrific experience, extreme joys to births, deaths, and everything in between.  So it is no surprise that something as taboo as sex and sexuality, when used as subject matter in poetry, becomes a striking and memorable thing.  Sexuality becomes particularly fascinating when an author or poet shows it as skewed or twisted, something most would find abnormal.  There are a great number of poems that discuss such twisted sexuality, however, the ones I feel to be most relevant in this instance are Robert Browning’s Porphyria’s Lover, DH Lawrence’s Love on the Farm, and Allen Ginsberg’s Please Master.  What, then, makes these poems so memorable?  I believe Robert Frost addresses the memorability of poetry in terms of emotion, shock and surprise, and expression of the artist in his essay, “The Figure a Poem Makes,” which will aid in explaining why these poems are memorable to readers.
            Frost gives a basic assessment of what exactly poetry is, saying, “If it is a wild tune, it is a Poem.” He implies that poetry that only sounds good, with pretty words and lacking substance, is hardly poetry at all, in the lines, “No one but a humanist much cares how sound a poem is if it is only a sound.”  So, what does Frost think poetry ought to be all about?  “It should be of the pleasure of a poem itself to tell how it can. The figure a poem makes. It begins in delight and ends in wisdom. The figure is the same as for love. No one can really hold that the ecstasy should be static and stand still in one place.” Frost claims that poetry must be dynamic, offering the reader a story that twists and changes, not giving them exactly what they are expecting, but instead giving them a surprise.  Without this element of surprise, poets cannot expect their readers to remember what they have read.  Frost also argues that the writer must put real emotion into the poem, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader,” if a poet cannot be moved by their own work, they cannot expect their readers to be moved.  Since Frost expresses that poetry must be surprising and emotional to be memorable, I think he would agree that poetry with darkly sensual themes fits the These poems often depict people in compromised emotional states, relaying their fear or pleasure in great detail, causing empathy and revulsion in the reader.  And with subjects like murder and sexual domination, it seems that he would agree these poems are surprising and shocking, or at least would be at the time they were written.
            In Porphyria’s Lover, Robert Browning’s speaker utilizes a dramatic monologue, describing his act of madness and dark passion.  It starts on a dark, wicked night, “The sullen wind was soon awake/ It tore the elm-tops down for spite/ And did its worst to vex the lake,” and the speaker’s mood seems to reflect the weather as he, “listen'd with heart fit to break.”  The speaker is sullen as the wind, then in blows Porphyria, the man’s beautiful love interest.  There are early signs of his strangeness, though current cultural and social norms would make them far less noticeable, beginning to emerge as, “She shut the cold out and the storm/ And kneel'd and made the cheerless grate/ Blaze up, and all the cottage warm,” which would be a big societal shock, at the time.  He lets her light the hearth-fire, which should have been his task, as the man, and continues to reveal oddities, as he violates another social norm in the lines, “she rose, and from her form/ Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl/ And laid her soil'd gloves by, untied/ Her hat and let the damp hair fall,” failing to help her off with her outer garments.  The poem gets even more strange as Porphyria seems to be putting the moves on the speaker in the lines, “She put my arm about her waist/ And made her smooth white shoulder bare/ And all her yellow hair displaced/ And, stooping, made my cheek lie there/ And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair/ Murmuring how she loved me.”  This would have been very untoward at the time this poem was written, hinting at some sort of bizarre relationship between the speaker and Porphyria.  All of this seems a little off, but nothing yet has been extremely memorable, only laying the groundwork of their strange intimacy, hinting at sexuality.  The shock that Frost demands of the poet comes at the sudden twist, after her admission of love, in these lines, “That moment she was mine, mine, fair/ Perfectly pure and good: I found/ A thing to do, and all her hair/ In one long yellow string I wound/ Three times her little throat around/ And strangled her.”  The speaker, after realizing that his secret admiration for her was mutual, decided to preserve her, as perfect as she was in that moment, and strangled her.  As though that wasn’t shocking enough, the speaker goes on to kiss and touch his love’s now-lifeless body, as though she were still alive, in the lines, “her cheek once more/ Blush'd bright beneath my burning kiss:/ I propp'd her head up as before,/ Only, this time my shoulder bore/ Her head, which droops upon it still:/ The smiling rosy little head,/ So glad it has its utmost will,/ That all it scorn'd at once is fled,/ And I, its love, am gain'd instead!/ Porphyria's love: she guess'd not how/ Her darling one wish would be heard.”  This, certainly, offers the sort of shock and surprises that Frost demands poetry must have.  Browning makes the reader feel revolted, and at the same time, bizarrely fascinated, unable to stop reading.  A concept such as this, murdering his lover with no provocation so that he can keep her perfect forever and continue cuddling and touching her, is absolutely a picture of warped sexuality, a very memorable sort of shock. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Critical Post: Final Paper Free-Pre-Writing

For my final paper I'd like to discuss the theme of a sort of twisted sexuality as memorable expression in poetry.  In my comparisons, I plan to use Browning's poem "Porphyria's Lover," which is clearly an exercise in depravity, a strange sort of love expressed in murder, preserving the beloved.  I also plan to use the poem "Love on the Farm" by DH Lawrence, which expresses a bizarre perspective on love and sexuality, through descriptions of animal fear and human sexuality, mixing trepidation with temptation, and offering an interesting combination.  The essay I plan to reference is Robert Frost's "The Figure a Poem Makes,"  which talks about emotion, shock, surprise and expression being crucial elements of poetry.  Without these elements, the poems I have selected would not be complete.  The last poem I've chosen to use is Allen Ginsberg's "Please Master," which describes the twisted encounter of a sort of encounter between two men, one clearly beneath the other, at least in his own mind.  It seems to describe a violent sort of encounter, verging on BDSM, and also shows a very bizarre sexual mentality, from the speaker. I will compare the similar and dissimilar aspects.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


It's hushed,
the darkened room
silent.  Except
the sound of breath
soft in chests.
And there is only
Lips are soft
against slick
skin slips
over skin.
Teeth grating,
bones bend
to fit.
Fingers graze
creamy-pale flesh
feeling lost
in feeling,
lost in
And as pulses
hit like waves
on the shore,
so you press,
so, raspy voiced,
And shaking,
hands search,
the surface,
Blue to green,
eyes affix.
That tongue
those lips
and teeth
do tricks.
Now the room,
still dark,
not so quiet,
lips and teeth
crash as
hips to hips
a rhythm
Hearts beat
sweat slips
and moans
eek out
of dry throats.
Two so
bones and
soul and

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Without Further A-Du-hamel...A bad pun and a critical post

            Denise Duhamel employs a fairly wide variety of poetic forms in her book, Ka-Ching, as well as a few pieces of prose, and some works that are in between.  As variant as her form is, her subjects seem almost equally varied.  In my opinion some of her most interesting works in this book are “Apple,” “Please Don’t Sit Like a Frog, Sit Like a Queen,” and “Anagram America.”  These all employ extremely different forms, and cover very different subjects.
            In her poem, “Apple,” Duhamel uses a fairly simple form, each stanza made of three lines.  There is no rhyme pattern, and she employs language that is absolutely conversational, in the style we discussed as ‘hyper-talk.’  This poem discusses the speaker helping her friend’s child do homework, with the context that her friend is going through a really nasty divorce.  It’s really powerful, with lines that move the reader to empathize, though they lack typical “poetic” style, such as the lines:

“My godson had missed a lot of school
because of the separation, the restraining order,
the bad nights of sleep at the hotel,

the cough syrup, the bolted door.
My friend needed her son
with her as she went to the lawyer’s office,

the safety deposit box, the Starbucks
where she wept and blew her nose into grainy napkins.
Now it was time for his homework.”

Although these lines don’t have evocative, flourish language, they still evoke the desperation of the situation, the feeling of being overwhelmed and lost, and Duhamel brings you to feel for the child further, describing the homework session and the immense frustration the child feels.  There’s no beating around the bush, it’s a raw moment, as their lives coming unraveled, captured in verse.  She goes on to put him to bed, after,

“I held him until he stopped kicking,
until he snapped fine. He scrawled
a few purple loopy marks that went

outside the lines.  Each apple had oval eyes
and a U-shaped smile that seemed to mock us.
I wrote a note to Mrs. Harris explaining

Patrick’s crayon situation, which I hoped explained
the whole situation.  The whites of Patrick’s eyes
were full of red squiggles”

Duhamel makes you feel the anguish of the child, the frustration, the desire to find safety and comfort, with a conversational tone, relaying heartbreak and all seriousness in a way that few writers seem to be able to do.

            Another interesting poem in Duhamel’s book is “Please Don’t Sit Like a Frog, Sit Like a Queen,” which is a villanelle, inspired by bathroom stall graffiti from a university in the Philippines.  The tone of this poem is dramatically different from the tone of “Apple,” instead of serious, seeming to poke fun at the way women primp and preen and attempt to find wealthy men, insinuating that women ought to never do things that may be seen as undignified or unladylike.  The tone seems entirely to be joking, with lines like,

“Keep your breath minty and your teeth white and clean.
Paint your nails so they glisten, ten pearls.
Don’t sit like a frog, sit like a queen.

Smile, especially when you feel mean.
Keep your top down when you take your car for a whirl.
Remember to pamper, remember to preen.”

The form of a villanelle, I think, offers the ability to make the poem seem to be almost sing-songy, giving it a sort of chiding feeling.  It comes across sort of like an older woman telling younger girls how to behave, reminiscent of girls’ “Finishing Schools.”  I think Duhamel does a really great job, in this poem, of mocking the way women behave, and the lengths they sometimes go to in order to land a wealthy or well-off man.  It’s a very clever way to evolve off a simple bathroom stall scrawl.

            In “Anagram America,” Denise Duhamel takes an extremely different tone, serious and political, no longer relaying her life events or silly little sestinas.  This poem has a strange structure, free verse essentially, with each line ending on a different arrangement of the letters in “America,” and the tone is a bit darker, it seems.  Duhamel seems to write from the perspective of an average American citizen, challenged about America’s integrity.  The speaker agrees some things are skewed, with government and politics, but continues to talk about the great things we have, “And what about our generous tax refund system? I race aim-/ lessly through the stuffed aisles of Dollar-Rama. Ice/ cube trays and pink sponges and a digital camera. I/ buy them all!  Now that’s America.”  She seems to be making a point that we are too distracted by our own problems and consumerism to be bothered with politics and all the problems in the world.  The whole thing seems an exercise in word manipulation, and political manipulation.  She finishes with a line that almost spells this out, “Welcome to America, where the letters can be twisted into almost anything.”