Wednesday, August 31, 2011


My mother digs her fingers through my scalp
On the wooden porch my father built
With charred fingers and a sunburnt face
Pieces of my hair fall onto the wood grain
I run my hands through my new short hair
And hate it
I will wear this same hair cut for the next ten years
Maybe eleven
You never liked a woman with short hair
Severe was the word you had chosen
You liked your women care-free and limber
Bodies bending to suit your needs
To catch your heavy head before it hit the cement
We were teenagers too long
We were lost on a dirt road but not discontent
You breathed into my exposed neck
You pulled me into your clandestine embrace
Near a horse farm somewhere off the beaten path
I was telling you a story about the way I had sliced my finger
While slicing roast beef, a strange situation for a vegetarian
I was clever in your company
Blushed and batted my eyelashes
As you talked incessantly
I thought it was because you were nervous
But I would learn years later when we lived in a wooden apartment
Together with many books and musical instruments
That the only time when you were really paying attention
When I could look into the full moon of your face
Was when you were talking about yourself
What sort of love is this
That you have given me:
A lonely love that fails to light the electric stove
That cries with the tea kettle
That apologizes to no one

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Like all Delicate things should be loved

If I could get back to you
I would
But fear traps me between its glistening teeth
I was brave before I became aware of any real danger
Didn’t know that cars crumble into scrapnel
That fires melt skin into bubbling liquid
That lightening strikes the ground like a knife from heaven
You know If I could I would find a way to push back that
Thin skin and brave the plane and the train and the ride to
The station make love to you like a bullet meets the flesh
Trapped inside your skin the way all beautiful things tend to
Burn a little at first
Anything worth it’s weight in dirt stings a little at first
I felt your stare like shadows feel the night air
I felt your lips, chapped and red against my cheek
Like records scratch the songs I love onto repeat
I knew your name better than my own once I know
I did love you the way all delicate things should be loved
Covered in rags and kept in the basement
Like babies need a strong hand
I did, cradle your soft skull
I did fear I would drop you
And I did get a lump in my throat
At the sound of your voice
Croak my name
Just once or twice is enough
I love you
If that’s okay
If not, throw it away
Really I just need some kind of confirmation
A simple affidavit
I just need your signature on the dotted line
Autograph your name on my spine
I know the way that feelings lie
The way that lovers lie
The way that all things beautiful eventually die.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vampire in Queens

Hell is your house
Over-looking the Queens bridge
There is nothing to talk about
The refrigerator is empty except for a can of Sapporo
That some girl bought three years ago
That you left in there
Sentimental somehow
I don’t know
Haven’t had a real name
Or my own bed in five years
And I know the city is crawling with happy-endings
And none of them are mine
Even in the biblical sense
Once I did some African Dancing
With your Asian friend named, “Small Fry”
Who was petite and liked to kick up her feet
Danced like they were on fire
I couldn’t quite keep up
Took the 7—long ride back home to hell
On a non-stop train
I’m just saying that I danced hard
I gave it my all
But I never could shrug you off like the bad dream you are
I’ve got a nervous streak
Which you like
Because you think it means I am sensitive
But really I am peeling like onion skin
You called me baby, you called me honey baby
You called me “thin skin”
I need a sunset and a head full of regret
Just enough to light a fire under me
Like “Small Fry” I could fly off the handle
We were so old yesterday
But I woke up today crying like a newborn
Getting older never got any easier
Some of us want to grow up to have families
And mortgages
I just want to grow up to be a little less afraid
Of the simplest things
Paper-cuts and the little hang-nails
That bleed as I walk real slow down Delancy
Think about tea and nightingales
Think about things I imagine would make me happy
As if I could acquire this feeling through retail therapy
Hell is Queens
Hell is your New York City
Pretending to sleep so you can fuck me without having to look me in the eyes
You calling me fat on the 6 train
Sometimes we were preppy and young with hands and mouths which kiss fervently
And no real fear and you calling all the shots makes you feel less scared and slightly happy
If you can even call it that
I have a rock in the pit of my stomach
And it feels heavy when I walk
You said you knew I was bright
And so I was
bright enough to leave
The borough which sucks my blood
and makes love to me only when no one is watching.

Monday, April 25, 2011

On the "minx"-on the true-love--Fanny Brawne

During my reading of Keats, I came across the love letters between him and his belovced, Fanny Brawne. Keats died in Italy, after attempting to recover from tuberculosis which proved to be terminal. After witnessing the death of his brother from the same malady, he eventually suffered a similiar fate after a bleeding lung led to his untimely demise. We all seem to be struck by the untimely deaths of those whose art fascinates us. By age 24, Keats had written all the poems he'd ever write but fame in any magnitude arose only post-humerously. Whatcaught my attention was the clandestine relationship between Fanny and John (their engagement remained a secret because John who gave up a career in medicine to persue his full-time advocation of writing) could not support Fanny in a proper fashion. The two maintained a passionate correspondence. "At eighteen, Fanny Brawne “was small, her eyes were blue and often enhanced by blue ribbons in her brown hair; her mouth expressed determination and a sense of humour and her smile was disarming. She was not conventionally beautiful: her nose was a little too aquiline, her face too pale and thin (some called it sallow). But she knew the value of elegance; velvet hats and muslin bonnets, crêpe hats with argus feathers, straw hats embellished with grapes and tartan ribbons: Fanny noticed them all as they came from Paris. She could answer, at a moment’s notice, any question on historical costume. ... Fanny enjoyed music. ... She was an eager politician, fiery in discussion; she was a voluminous reader. ... Indeed, books were her favourite topic of conversation”.[8]"

In a letter to his brother, Keats describes the Fanny he'd soon become enamored with:

"Mrs. Brawn who took Brown's house for the summer still resides in Hampstead. She is a very nice woman and her daughter senior is I think beautiful, elegant, graceful, silly, fashionable and strange. We have a little tiff now and then—and she behaves a little better, or I must have sheered off" ; the second: "—Shall I give you Miss Brawn[e]? She is about my height—with a fine style of countenance of the lengthen'd sort—she wants sentiment in every feature—she manages to make her hair look well—her nostrills are fine—though a little painful—he[r] mouth is bad and good—he[r] Profil is better than her full-face which indeed is not full [b]ut pale and thin without showing any bone—Her shape is very graceful and so are her movements—her Arms are good her hands badish—her feet tolerable—she is not seventeen—but she is ignorant—monstrous in her behaviour flying out in all directions, calling people such names—that I was forced lately to make use of the term Minx—this is I think no[t] from any innate vice but from a penchant she has for acting stylishly. I am however tired of such style and shall decline any more of it" [13]

I decided to post a moving letter from a dying Keats, living in KItaly to his secret fiancee'. I don't know of any current pop songs that demonstrate this level of passion and devotion:

My dearest Girl,

This moment I have set myself to copy some verses out fair. I cannot proceed with any degree of content. I must write you a line or two and see if that will assist in dismissing you from my Mind for ever so short a time. Upon my Soul I can think of nothing else - The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you again[s]t the unpromising morning of my Life - My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you - I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again - my Life seems to stop there - I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving - I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. I should be afraid to separate myself far from you. My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change? My love, will it? I have no limit now to my love - You note came in just here - I cannot be happier away from you - 'T is richer than an Argosy of Pearles. Do not threat me even in jest. I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion - I have shudder'd at it - I shudder no more - I could be martyr'd for my Religion - Love is my religion - I could die for that - I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet - You have ravish'd me away by a Power I cannot resist: and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavoured often "to reason against the reasons of my Love." I can do that no more - the pain would be too great - My Love is selfish - I cannot breathe without you.

Yours for ever
John Keats

Thursday, April 14, 2011


In sepia he sits beside her
Fixed eyes set on me as she sits in her floral dress
Daydreaming about a dinner, cold on the stove,
a depression era mortgage and two kids who rip holes
in the upholstery, just kids who didn’t know any better
and he stares straight ahead
Bela Lugosi eyes that cut into the twenty-first century
into new millenniums, that scream through golden parchment, burnt at the edges
That say, listen kid, I knew the depression would come again in your time
That remind me to stuff wads of cash into my mattress, not to trust banks
and bureaucracies, that tell me to drive slowly
All these things I have done mean nothing
When I know that you walked door to door selling vacuums to support your hungry family
On weekends you carried a sinking violin case to practice with the
New York Philharmonic orchestra until at 31 you could no longer hear the music
That once on an empty street you closed the car door on your son’s hand as he writhed in pain
And you walked away until a man in a gabardine suit tapped your shoulder, let you know what you’d done
The pain of the language you could no longer comprehend
The crossword puzzles that kept you company in the silence of decades
Your wife’s back pressed up against the wallpaper in a New York kitchen
Because she wasn’t obedient
a bloody lip and the silent screams you wished you could hear
to know you were still alive
You were stuck in the quiet silence for years before the big white took you
Under it’s thick embrace
And I loved you despite the rage
I can understand it now
That fear lights a fire under us whether we like it or not
I was not your baby girl for long enough
And you were scared that I’d turn out
Too Jewish in the nose
Perhaps worse yet, the shiksa I’ve become
Your eyes still stare back at me,
Your wife’s hands wrinkled by time, mind
Has forgotten most of what’s she’s ever known
But she remembers you on a beach in far rockaway
She remembers the dark eyes that held her in a Nat King Cole
Nature boy embrace---
The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved
In return
And you stare back at me
Not blankly but knowingly
My grandfather twelve years dead
Seeing me more clearly
Than I have ever seen myself
My grandfather twelve years dead
You live on in my Russian roulette stare
In the quiet prayer I whisper
through the dashboard of my car.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Resolution and Independence by William Wordsworth

This poem shows us the healing and transformative characteristics of nature that help man overcome his obstacles. this power can be harnassed by anyone who appreciates nature regardless of class. Wordsworth is an important poet of the Romantic Era who suffered the loss of many of his children as wella s his mother at an early age and found solace in nature which he discusses in his poem, "Tintern Abbey" as well as this one:

THERE was a roaring in the wind all night;
The rain came heavily and fell in floods;
But now the sun is rising calm and bright;
The birds are singing in the distant woods;
Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods;
The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters;
And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.


All things that love the sun are out of doors;
The sky rejoices in the morning's birth;
The grass is bright with rain-drops;--on the moors
The hare is running races in her mirth;
And with her feet she from the plashy earth
Raises a mist, that, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.


I was a Traveller then upon the moor,
I saw the hare that raced about with joy;
I heard the woods and distant waters roar;
Or heard them not, as happy as a boy:
The pleasant season did my heart employ:
My old remembrances went from me wholly;
And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy.


But, as it sometimes chanceth, from the might
Of joy in minds that can no further go,
As high as we have mounted in delight
In our dejection do we sink as low;
To me that morning did it happen so;
And fears and fancies thick upon me came;
Dim sadness--and blind thoughts, I knew not, nor could name.


I heard the sky-lark warbling in the sky;
And I bethought me of the playful hare:
Even such a happy Child of earth am I;
Even as these blissful creatures do I fare;
Far from the world I walk, and from all care;
But there may come another day to me--
Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty.


My whole life I have lived in pleasant thought,
As if life's business were a summer mood;
As if all needful things would come unsought
To genial faith, still rich in genial good;
But how can He expect that others should
Build for him, sow for him, and at his call
Love him, who for himself will take no heed at all?


I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy,
The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride;
Of Him who walked in glory and in joy
Following his plough, along the mountain-side:
By our own spirits are we deified:
We Poets in our youth begin in gladness;
But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.


Now, whether it were by peculiar grace,
A leading from above, a something given,
Yet it befell, that, in this lonely place,
When I with these untoward thoughts had striven,
Beside a pool bare to the eye of heaven
I saw a Man before me unawares:
The oldest man he seemed that ever wore grey hairs.


As a huge stone is sometimes seen to lie
Couched on the bald top of an eminence;
Wonder to all who do the same espy,
By what means it could thither come, and whence;
So that it seems a thing endued with sense:
Like a sea-beast crawled forth, that on a shelf
Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself;


Such seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead,
Nor all asleep--in his extreme old age:
His body was bent double, feet and head
Coming together in life's pilgrimage;
As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage
Of sickness felt by him in times long past,
A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.


Himself he propped, limbs, body, and pale face,
Upon a long grey staff of shaven wood:
And, still as I drew near with gentle pace,
Upon the margin of that moorish flood
Motionless as a cloud the old Man stood,
That heareth not the loud winds when they call
And moveth all together, if it move at all.


At length, himself unsettling, he the pond
Stirred with his staff, and fixedly did look
Upon the muddy water, which he conned,
As if he had been reading in a book:
And now a stranger's privilege I took;
And, drawing to his side, to him did say,
"This morning gives us promise of a glorious day."


A gentle answer did the old Man make,
In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew:
And him with further words I thus bespake,
"What occupation do you there pursue?
This is a lonesome place for one like you."
Ere he replied, a flash of mild surprise
Broke from the sable orbs of his yet-vivid eyes,


His words came feebly, from a feeble chest,
But each in solemn order followed each,
With something of a lofty utterance drest--
Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach
Of ordinary men; a stately speech;
Such as grave Livers do in Scotland use,
Religious men, who give to God and man their dues.


He told, that to these waters he had come
To gather leeches, being old and poor:
Employment hazardous and wearisome!
And he had many hardships to endure:
From pond to pond he roamed, from moor to moor;
Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance,
And in this way he gained an honest maintenance.


The old Man still stood talking by my side;
But now his voice to me was like a stream
Scarce heard; nor word from word could I divide;
And the whole body of the Man did seem
Like one whom I had met with in a dream;
Or like a man from some far region sent,
To give me human strength, by apt admonishment.


My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills;
And hope that is unwilling to be fed;
Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills;
And mighty Poets in their misery dead.
--Perplexed, and longing to be comforted,
My question eagerly did I renew,
"How is it that you live, and what is it you do?"


He with a smile did then his words repeat;
And said, that, gathering leeches, far and wide
He travelled; stirring thus about his feet
The waters of the pools where they abide.
"Once I could meet with them on every side;
But they have dwindled long by slow decay;
Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may."


While he was talking thus, the lonely place,
The old Man's shape, and speech--all troubled me:
In my mind's eye I seemed to see him pace
About the weary moors continually,
Wandering about alone and silently.
While I these thoughts within myself pursued,
He, having made a pause, the same discourse renewed.


And soon with this he other matter blended,
Cheerfully uttered, with demeanour kind,
But stately in the main; and when he ended,
I could have laughed myself to scorn to find
In that decrepit Man so firm a mind.
"God," said I, "be my help and stay secure;
I'll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor!"

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Baby Took Me Down

Left one foot hangin’ mid-air
I was once adventurous
But baby took me down
A peg or two
Daylight breaks and I’m starting to look like you
The way all the old couples do
in sepia tone photographs
Baby took me down to see his body in the light
Hair and fissures
Whatever it is that I take in my mouth
Like a foreign language
A foreign object
Did you grow to feel something bitter for me, darling?
Did you grow like all men do to find comfort in my arms
But fear in your heart…a death rattle that begins with just a simple tap of the foot
You wanted to be anywhere but here with me
If the house was folding in…I didn’t know it
But you said you couldn’t breathe
And baby I’m scared too
The way it feels so good sometimes
So you sit waiting with a lump in your throat
For the other shoe to drop
I am dressed up in knee-high boots and I have a voice
That tears the hair off your neck
I am testing the boundaries of your heart
If I must be a recluse
Keep me in the home of your heart
I thought I heard you crying
But it was me
The child that lives in my chest
That sulks and beats its fists against my ribcage
And sometimes I feel it too, baby
When you take me down.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Learning about the Romantic Era

and lovin" it:

In the introduction of the Longman Anthology, “The Romantics and their Contemporaries,” a picture of the turbulent times facing the people of the late 18th century is painted. Although Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is a work of fantasy, one critic observed that there is “an air of reality attached to it” (7) The new social order, the abolishment of slavery in the British Colony and the end of the French Revolution created a political climate that challenged the preconceived notions of the elite and presented a new way of life for the lower classes. Male authors of the time were interested primarily in the romance novel, while feminist writers like Wollstonecraft found the genre to be “dangerous for young readers.” Furthermore, Wollstonecraft scorned the sensationalism of female characters within the romance novel.
The French Revolution and the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo marked a movement toward political progressiveness which led ultimately to a fair amount of political unrest as workers were unable to unionize, radicals were tracked down by Agent provocateur’s and were then provoked to commit capital offenses. The Monarchy’s insanity and mismanagement of finances was highlighted both by George III’s mental instability and Prince Regent’s over-spending. By 1750 , the greatly expanding populations of England and Wales coincided with a greater demand for coal and iron for transportation purposes. Modern industry’s attack on nature appeared to have spurned the romantic poet’s reverence of nature. Schiller describes his feeling for nature as being akin to “an invalid for health.” (24) The use of opium became rampant as it offered an inexpensive intoxicant, easily dissolved in alcohol. Poor families fed it to ailing children to sedate them during the parent’s required work shifts. In 1792, Wollstonecraft became one of the first outspoken writers to identify women as an oppressed and marginalized class who “were made to feel and be felt, rather than to think.” (29) Founded in 1802, the Political Register, an affordable weekly newspaper, with a 40 to 50 thousand circulation made Cobbett, the most widely read author of his time, although his paper was referred to as , “two-penny trash.” In addition, Ann Radcliffe’s novels won her both considerable admiration and excellent financial compensation, heralding her, “the great Maria” of her time.
What interested me most about the Romantic Age was the work of Barbauld and Wollstonecraft, who appear to be revolutionary in their ideas. Although, overall the Romantic Age appears to have been one of considerable progressive change, it struck me that feminism was very much alive during such a male dominated period in history. I was also moved by the fact that Wollstonecraft had the poise to denounce the most popular novel form of the time, for its exploitation of women which was undoubtedly a radical perspective in the 1800s.