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To The Editor







To The Editor
Rhiannon Thorne

To the Editor of (Insert Any and All Literary Magazines Here)

For your consideration, publication, money, adoration of the masses,
I will write whatever you want me
to write.

A poem about my mother?
Well hell, I have a handful of those,
if none of them work,
let's talk,
I'm sure something can be arranged.
Or my father?
You've never seen anyone
come up with Daddy issues
like me.

If a love poem's more in your publication's vein,
I'm more than elated (titillated,
near orgasm, really) to pry open my pain-or my tender,
you can have whichever you want
on a nice shiny platter.

Too many commas? Surely
that's what my delete key's for.
Really, I'm open to negotiation.
Too few? I can finagle that, too.

What is your desire? Old verbs?
New verbs? I assure you,
I've got words the dictionary hasn't seen.

Have your people
write my people
(me.)




Pagent of Rages








Pagent   of   Rages  
Joan   Cusack   Handler


Hot   &   w   i   l   d   as   Rosalba’s   chili,           ANGER   parades     in   purple   patent
pumps     &     an   orgy     of   R       i     b     b     o   n   S     blanket   the   floor.
                          She   has   long   black   lashes   &   emerald
                                                                              lids,   strawberry   lips   &   cheeks,   &
                                                                                                              around   her   neck,   she   wears
                                                                                                                                  tiger   eye,
                                                                                                                                  marcasite,
                                                                                                                                  amethyst,
                                                                                                                                  turquoise&
                                                                                                                                  diamonds.
                                              Nothing   is   too     much   for   Anger.

                                                    Anger   is   Absug
                                                            Conducting
                                                        a   choir   of   F   SharpS.
                          Sunday   mornings,   she’s   a   giddy   feast     o   f                 g         u           l         l         s
at   the   East   Hampton   Dump.     Anger   is
      a   huge   red   parachute,
              a   hot   air   Balloon,
        &   a   beanstalk   that   shOOts   up   like   Jack’s   did.
    Like   money   for   candy,   I   can   never   have
enough.         I’ve   lived   so   long   without,
                          wanting   it
                                  but   afraid   of   it,
                                                    I   will   Never   get   used   to   Anger.                                                         I   LOve   my   ANGER.
                                                                              Open   the   Door!
                                                                                                                                  I’ll   fill   the   house   with   It
                                                                                                                                  with   enough   left   over   for   the
                                                                                                                                                            nuns   &   priests.
                                                                                                                                                                                      Anger   is   a   HURRICANE,
                                                    roofstornoff&
down   the   river.
            It’s   a   superstore   of   chocolates   &   pizza,           silk   coats
                                                                                                        for   every   party,     pedicures   each   night.     Anger   is
                          failing   e   v   e   r   y   thing   one   month
                                                                                                        then   Acing   the   next.
                                It’s   a   crowd   of   cantors   at   6   A.M.   Mass.
                                                                                                        It’s   perfumed   nuns   in   low   cut   dresses
                                                                                                        winking   at   priests.
                              It’s   Kafka   &   Bankers   &   idiot   savants,
                                                                              Mussolini   &   Mozart,     Warhol   &   Tevye,
                          &   a   h   u   g   e   Ice   Cream   Sundae   painted   by   Van   Gogh
                                                    Anger   is
s   t   r   o   l   l   i   n     g   t   h   r   o   u   g   h     a     s   t   o   r   e,   taking   what   you   want   withoutstoppingtopay.
                          It’s   sleeping   in   the   desert,
                                                    coyotes   to   sooth   you,     then   wailing   in   the   forest
                                                                                                                                  with   a   chorus   of   black   crows.
Anger   is   resentment,
                          irritation,   aggravation,   exasperation,
                                                                                                        vexation,   indignation,   animosity,   wrath   &
                                                                                                                                                                                                                bitterness.   Infuriated,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    it’s   ire,   mad,   temper,
                dander,
                pique,
                stew, huff,   tiff,   miff,
                                conniption,
                                paroxysm,
                                rage,   passion,   fit….
  Anger   is   Shit,   Piss,   Fuck,
                                                                                                Asskisser,   Cocksucker,
                                                                                                                              Cunt,   Dick,   Putz,
                                                                                                        Asshole,Dildo,       Puzzy,Suck,WhOre!  


The   eleventh   commandment
                                                preached   by   my   father,   my   mother,
                                                  the   doctor   &   nuns,   my   best   friends’
                                                                                                grandpa
                                                                  &   the   Yo-Yo   King:
                                                                                                                Thou   shalt     NOT   Be   Angry!

                Like   the   fat   woman   in   her   girdle,   I
                                      learned   well   to   stuff   it.     Find   a   pocket   or   cave;
                                                  there’s   room  
                                        behind   the   rib   cage   or   inside
                                                                          the   breasts.
                                                                                                But   now           it’s   out   there!

                                                Batten   Down   the   HatcheS!

                                  Anger   is   All   I   ever   wanted.




Edge








Edge
Sylvia Plath


The woman is perfected.
Her dead

Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity

Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Her bare

Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.

Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little

Pitcher of milk, now empty.
She has folded

Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden

Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.

The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.

She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.



Loop








Loop
John Taggart



Doorway without a door
the doorway always open
one at a time inside
one at a time I am one
no third person is one
one is I on is I me
the one primitive I me
I me the child of pain
the primitive I inside
inside the turbulence
inside the black rooms.

One I know really one scream
hard not to within one scream
what it is what the movement
same passionate same movement
first movement of resignation
same as before the same alone
away from the weddings alone
not in the wedding pictures
other other possible pictures
blacktop other blacktopped
not in other I me within one
echoes of in one black room
within one in one back room.

Within one in one black room
echoes of in one black room
not in other I me within one
blacktop other blacktopped
other other possible pictures
not in the wedding pictures
away from the weddings alone
same as before the same alone
first movement of resignation
same passionate same movement
what it is what the movement
hard not to within one scream
one I know really one scream.

The motive for movement one scream
from one room to another movement
into another from one black room
red after black into this red room
red after black no red deeper than
the motive for movement one scream
through empty rooms through black
wandering to music played backwards
seething writhing sea through it
through black to red through black
the motive for movement one scream
from one room to another movement
into another from one black room
red after black into this red room
red after black no red deeper than.



Doorway without a door
the doorway always open
one at a time inside
one at a time I am one
no third person is one
one is I one is I me
the one primitive I me
I me the child of pain
the primitive I inside
inside the turbulence
inside the black rooms.

One scream I know really one
one scream within hard not to
what the movement what it is
same movement same passionate
resignation’s first movement
the same alone same as before
alone away from the weddings
wedding pictures not in the
possible pictures other other
blacktopped blacktop other
I me within me not in other
in one black room echoes of
in one black room within one.

In one black room within one
in one black room echoes of
I me within me not in other
blacktopped blacktop other
possible pictures other other
wedding pictures not in the
alone away from the weddings
the same alone same as before
resignation’s first movement
same movement same passionate
what the movement what it is
one scream within hard not to
one scream I know really one.

Red after black no red deeper than
red after black into this red room
into another from one black room
from one room to another movement
the motive for movement one scream
through black to red through black
seething writhing sea through it
wandering to music played backwards
through empty rooms through black
the motive for movement one scream
red after black no red deeper than
red after black into this red room
into another from one black room
from one room to another movement
the motive for movement one scream.

Been moving me really only one has
moving me only one within itself
moving me one scream within itself
move me away screams within the one
wedding rooms away from the weddings
this black room from those to this
this black room I’m wandering in this
wandering means moving in this room
moving without meaning’s wandering
in this black room no end to moving
a writhing sea like moving in a sea
in a writhing sea I am wandering
in this room seething and writhing.

In this room seething and writhing
in a writhing sea I am wandering
a writhing sea like moving in a sea
in this black room no end to moving
moving without meaning’s wandering
wandering means moving in this room
this black room I’m wandering in this
this black room from those to this
wedding rooms away from the weddings
move me away screams within the one
moving me one scream within itself
moving me only one within itself
been moving me really only one has.

No red goes deeper than this red after black
movement into this red room red after black
movement in a writhing sea in black rooms
movement in one black room in one in another
one scream the motive for wandering movement
the one child is the poet the child of pain
scream from one child given only one picture
one picture of blood this room full of blood
scream from one child who’s given one picture
one scream the motive for wandering movement
no red goes deeper than this red after black
movement into this red room red after black
movement in a writhing sea in black rooms
movement in one black room in one in another
one scream the motive for wandering movement.

It’s time to move time for some passion in this language
to make a move ma—mah—moo-euve-veh it’s time to move
move out of this purple light move out of deep red light
the second movement is the movement of rosy transparency
move as gathering did you think we would move together
come let’s waltz time did you think it’d be let’s waltz
that ma—mah—moo-euve-veh time it’s time to make a move
make the move by yourself move out of this purple light
by yourself alone second movement of rosy transparency
as wedding guests did you think we’d move as a gathering
like wedding guests did you think it’d be let’s waltz time
time to move alone time for some passion in this language
move alone move away it’s time to ma—mah—moo-euve-veh
away from deep red from this purple light away by yourself
alone and away from the weddings movement of transparency
hand in hand did you think we’d move as wedding guests
hand in hand with bride and groom did you think we’d waltz
no other move time it’s that ma—mah—moo-euve-veh time
alone and away from warm welcome always time for that time
away from warm welcome of bride and groom transparency move
black their hands did you think bride and groom wouldn’t
as blackened to us did you think their hands wouldn’t be
time to move into black black rooms time for some passion.

Time to move into black black rooms time for some passion
as blackened to us did you think their hands wouldn’t be
blacken their hands did you think bride and groom wouldn’t
away from warm welcome of bride and groom transparency move
alone and away from warm welcome always time for that time
no other move time it’s that ma—mah—moo-euve-veh time
hand in hand with bride and groom did you think we’d waltz
hand in hand did you think we’d move as wedding guests
alone and away from the weddings movement of transparency
away from deep red from this purple light away by yourself
move alone move away it’s time to ma—mah—moo-euve-veh
time to move alone time for some passion in this language
like wedding guests did you think it’d be let’s waltz time
as wedding guests did you think we’d move as a gathering
by yourself alone second movement of rosy transparency
make the move by yourself move out of this purple light
that ma—mah—moo-euve-veh time it’s time to make a move
come let’s waltz time did you think it’d be let’s waltz
move as a gathering did you think we would move together
the second movement is the movement of rosy transparency
move out of this purple light move out of deep red light
to make a move ma—mah—moo-euve-veh it’s time to move
it’s time to move time for some passion in this language.






THIS IS MY THIRD AND LAST ADDRESS TO YOU







THIS IS MY THIRD AND LAST ADDRESS TO YOU
by Adrienne Rich


I'm feeling very honored and challenged to be here, to be here to honor Emily Dickinson, to be here as part of this event as a whole, and I feel very challenged to be in the company of such great women. I'm going to start with a poem of mine in the middle of which Emily Dickinson appears and in the middle of which I address her. It's not entirely of or about her. I had a written a poem back in the sixties, the early sixties, addressed to her, called "I'm in Danger, Sir," a quotation from a letter she had written to Thomas Higginson. He reproves her meters, and she writes to him and says, "You think my gait spasmodic, I am in danger, sir." But I'm not going to offer that poem; I'm going to offer the last poem that I have written for her, and I mean by that the Last. That's what this poem's all about. In between I wrote a long essay about her. When all of her work finally became obtainable in its original versions, I began to study it for the first time as a huge body of work, containing many unexpected and remarkable poems which were nowhere anthologized and which weren't even being talked about. The name of this poem of mine is "The Spirit of Place." I started writing it when, with my woman friend, lover, comrade, I moved into the valley of western Massachusetts where Emily Dickinson was born, and lived all of her life. And I was occasionally asked, half jokingly, if I had moved there to be near Emily, and I acerbicly answered "no." This is "The Spirit of Place," and parts of this poem are addressed to my friend, lover, and comrade, and parts of poem are addressed to Emily Dickinson:

I.
Over the hills in Shutesbury, Leverett
driving with you in spring      road
like a streambed unwinding downhill
fiddlehead ferns uncurling
spring peepers ringing sweet and cold
while we talk yet again
of dark and light, of blackness, whiteness, numbness
rammed through the heart like a stake
trying to pull apart the threads
from the dried blood of the old murderous uncaring
halting on bridges in bloodlight
where the freshets call out freedom
to frog-thrilling swamp, skunk-cabbage
trying to sense the conscience of these hills
knowing how the single-minded, pure
solutions bleached and desiccated
within their perfect flasks
for it was not enough to be New England
as every event since has testified:
New England's a shadow-country, always was
it was not enough to be for abolition
while the spirit of the masters
flickered in the abolitionist's heart
it was not enough to name ourselves anew
while the spirit of the masters
calls the freedwoman to forget the slave
With whom do you believe your lot is cast?
If there's a conscience in these hills
it hurls that question

unquenched, relentless, to our ears
wild and witchlike
ringing every swamp.

II.
The mountain laurel in bloom
constructed like needlework
tiny half-pulled stitches piercing
flushed and stippled petals

here in these woods it grows wild
midsummer moonrise turns it opal
the night breathes with its clusters
protected species

meaning endangered
Here in these hills
this valley      we have felt
a kind of freedom

planting the soil      have known
hours of a calm, intense and mutual solitude
reading and writing
trying to clarify      connect

past and present      near and far
the Alabama quilt
the Botswana basket
history      the dark crumble

of last year's compost
filtering softly through your living hand
but here as well we face
instantaneous violence      ambush       male

dominion on a back road
to escape in a locked car       windows shut
skimming the ditch       your split-second
survival reflex taking on the world

as it is       not as we wish it
as it is       not as we work for it
to be

III.
Strangers are an endangered species
In Emily Dickinson's house in Amherst
cocktails are served       the scholars
gather in celebration
their pious or clinical legends
festoon the walls like imitations
of period patterns
(...and, as I feared, my "life" was made a "victim")
The remnants pawed       the relics
the cult assembled in the bedroom
and you       whose teeth were set on edge by churches
resist your shrine
            escape
                are found
nowhere
           unless in words
                (your own)
      All we are strangers--dear--The world is not
      acquainted with us, because we are not acquainted
      with her. And Pilgrims!--Do you hesitate? and
      Soldiers oft--some of us victors, but those I do
      not see tonight owing to the smoke.--We are hungry,
      and thirsty, sometimes--We are barefoot--and cold--

This place is large enough for both of us
the river-fog will do for privacy
this is my third and last address to you
with the hands of a daughter I would cover you
from all intrusion       even my own
saying       rest to your ghost
with the hands of a sister I would leave your hands
open or closed as they prefer to lie
and ask no more of who or why or wherefore
with the hands of a mother I would close the door
on the rooms you've left behind
and silently pick up my fallen work

IV.
The river-fog will do for privacy
on the low road a breath
here, there, a cloudiness floating on the black top
sunflower heads turned black and bowed
the seas of corn a stubble
the old routes flowing north, if not to freedom
no human figure now in sight
(with whom do you believe your lot is cast?)
only the functional figure of the scarecrow
the cut corn, ground to shreds, heaped in a shape
like an Indian burial mound
a haunted-looking, ordinary thing
The work of winter starts fermenting in my head
how with the hands of a lover or a midwife
to hold back till the time is right
force nothing, be unforced
accept no giant miracles of growth
by counterfeit light
trust roots, allow the days to shrink
give credence to these slender means
wait without sadness and with grave impatience
here in the north where winter has a meaning
where the heaped colors suddenly go ashen
where nothing is promised
learn what an underground journey
has been, might have to be; speak in a winter code
let fog, sleet, translate; wind, carry them.

V.
Orion plunges like a drunken hunter
over the Mohawk Trail       a parallelogram
slashed with two cuts of steel
A night so clear that every constellation
stands out from an undifferentiated cloud
of stars, a kind of aura
All the figures up there look violent to me
as a pogrom on Christmas Eve in some old country
I want our own earth       not the satellites, our
world as it is       if not as it might be
then as it is: male dominion, gangrape, lynching, pogrom
the Mohawk wraiths in their tracts of leafless birch
watching: will we do better?
The tests I need to pass are prescribed by the spirits
of place       who understand travel but not amnesia
The world as it is: not as her users boast
damaged beyond reclamation by their using
Ourselves as we are       in these painful motions
of staying cognizant: some part of us always
out beyond ourselves
knowing       knowing       knowing
Are we all in training for something we don't name?
to exact reparation for things
done long ago to us and to those who did not
survive what was done to them       whom we ought to honor
with grief       with fury       with action
On a pure night       on a night when pollution
seems absurdity when the undamaged planet seems to turn
like a bowl of crystal in black ether
they are the piece of us that lies out there
knowing       knowing       knowing




inheritance








A brief introduction to my newest manuscript, inheritance which will be published by unbound CONTENT, LLC in 2013. This is just the first version of my manuscript - changes will be made and I'll keep you updated as they occur. I'm just going to put up the sections of the book and the first poem in each section. Also the poem that inspired me late one night when I first received the email from unbound CONTENT telling me they liked my work and were interested in reading my manuscript and I panicked because I DIDN'T HAVE ONE. 1 inspiring poem by Brian Andreas and 3 long hours of work later I had inheritance.

Generations
Brian Andreas

It came on her
without thinking
that she was
the exact age
as her mother was
& no matter what,
it would have been hard to leave

& suddenly
all the generations
gathered around her
in that small kitchen
& held her close

& they would have
blocked the light
if they had not
come filled with
their memories
of love.


INHERITANCE

ancestors

Advice

Your hands, riddled with time, gripped mine
and your eyes shone with so much light

for a moment I thought you recognized me,
your beloved granddaughter, your face

in the layers of my face. So when you leaned close,
I listened to your beautiful voice,

as if I knew it were the last time, I cradled
your soft hands in my own and you said,

the most important thing you can teach your child
is kindness,


even though I would not be pregnant
for weeks.



the living

the artist

there is a colour in my brain, I write the word colour,
I ramble through a box of crayons from years ago, I touch robin's eggs, I
see a colour and name it peace or maybe war

I drop my pen and come up with a paintbrush, I think desire and watch the
wings of a pelican change colour in the sky, disappear, flash back, think of
a day, black and white,

I read about a flower that is yellow, but I
don't want yellow, I want the sun against my skin, the colour that
an exhale makes in the summer when everyone tells me you cannot see your
breath

in the summer, there is a trembling in my yellow, there is a quickness
in my breath and you cannot paint quickness, you cannot write
yellow



contraindications
for all the illness we have shared

contraindications

Now that the Magical Mystery Tour has ended, the
doctors are on a need-to-know basis, you take the
prescriptions, you line the bottles up three times before
you are satisfied.

Now that your body has accepted the invading army
there is no more laughter, you have been sold to a high-ranking
officer, you are not at Woodstock anymore, your young limbs dancing,
your body absorbs the chains.

You are a pharmaceutical marvel, a dancing bear, a white-boned,
knuckled fist, a woman in despair, a body without sleep,
a mother who promised to do the right thing,

no matter what it is.



lovers

the love affair

life slides under the door and
I think about you not knowing how to love
and touching a person's sleeping eyelids

to change a dream, to lie here with you
under a silent oak tree, the sunlight

has begun to breathe and I am digging you a grave
for your past and your future, I am

holding you here, the trunk of my car open to let the sweet
sound of a song rise into the
air, it is rushing by

too swiftly

and I have premonitions or
I just got lucky or everything
means something

nothing vanishes without a trace

I hold despair in the palm of my hand and cannot dance
without spilling it onto the floor, it
seeps into the carpet

but you are holding out a towel and the sound
of your laughter is like paper birds settling on the branches of
the tree growing from my ribs



coming home

the halfway house

We call our building "the halfway house",
an ancient home with high ceilings, walled off into apartments,
odd twists and turns, a gracious front porch, tiny back yard,
the newly married couple grills on the sidewalk.

I carry home with me in the scents
of night air, the river, almost distant,
corn, ripe under the hot sun.
The sound of the train coming in while

the moon steadily climbs in the clear sky.
Where even living "in town" you can see
the vast sprinkle of stars past the faded orange
glow of streetlights.

The way it takes three long months to repave
the road and you learn to live with the sound of
jackhammers, the scent of oil, the easy "good morning"
from the man leaning against his stop sign,

dependable as sunrise. The new neighbour has a puppy
she claims is a Chihuahua, names him Taco, and he looks
like a tiny Dalmatian, soft as silk, ears flopping back
as he learns to run. He doesn't bark,

it's that kind of house, one step up from the alley with its
cheap beer cans and flashing police lights. A girl gives my dog
Milkbones when she leaves for work, sighs over her blue eyes,
longs for a dog of her own, but

how can she afford one, no, not yet. Soon, she promises me,
soon she will fall in love with a man who comes in to buy
a gift for his mother and they will adopt a dog, she will
carry a baby low in her belly, they will always remember

the house they started in, laundry flapping on the line in the
tiny backyard, guarded by a neighbour's dog, the man who works
nights carrying in her early morning shopping, the places she
never knew were home.



hope
for my daughter

the promise

If I pick up that gun,
if I pull the trigger on a sunny afternoon
or early morning

you will be in class and I will have written down someone else's phone number
to call when you are left with no one waiting at the door,
to scoop you up,
to drive you safely home.

This specter hangs, lightly,
in the shadows of our days.

Our home, built on the back of prescription bottles
and long hours fingering a worry stone in a half-lit room,
hours I should have spent holding your hand
in mine.

Every promise
unmade
in the unbearable heat of a moment
that could not bear
the light.

poem for kate







poem for kate
© Wanda Lea Brayton, 2011 All rights reserved

Godspeed your journey as this ache abounds,
for the sun rises and falls so swiftly these days.

The severity of the landscape is daunting,
I know, and shadows lengthen as we watch.

When the harbor shifted,
boats were lost to such terrible tides -
bridges were burned as tender for a coming storm.

Still, birds soar beneath fierce clouds, unafraid,
preparing for the worst of it.

They know where shelter might be found,
remember how leaves curl
just before wind and rain strike.

No one ever said life is fair, or dull.
Monotony is sometimes a good place to hide
from typhoons that would sink a smaller raft.

Survival traces our skin with wounds,
craving a deeper remembrance
than we would offer, given a choice.

Walking the tightrope is a hazardous vocation -
it is up to us to weave those nets
that would save us
from succumbing
to gravity's ferocious demands.

There are many reasons for what we do not do.

There are many excuses that would let us falter,
as human as we are and must become -
we tremble with chaotic courage,
immersed in glorious fractures of flame.

We are not helpless
as long as we have a single breath left
surging from beneath our curvéd bones

and there is a hand held out to us,
somewhere in the distance,
marking the edge of a brand-new shore.



Hold On







Hold On
© Wanda Lea Brayton, 2011 All rights reserved

At the bottom of a shadowed gully,
there are stones enough
to weigh your pockets down.

Resist their allure.
They are not as desirous as you might think,
or the mountain would not have shunned them so,
shoving them into oblivion.

We all have cracks lurking beneath our surfaces -
don't ever believe the propaganda that you're alone.

Nothing is unbearable -
not death, not life,
not what hovers between.

There is no bravery, no heroism here -
there is only necessity and those things which linger
under conscious choices to take one step forward
or two steps back, away from the precipice.

Hold on.

Someone is coming to lend you their trembling hand,
to light this deep darkness with a single candle.


Author's notes:

Partly inspired by the profound lines from a fabulous movie, "The Cheyenne Social Club". Henry Fonda's character said to Jimmy Stewart's character:
"I swear, you could be hangin' by your fingertips from the side of a cliff
and call it 'climbin' a mountain'".



Love is, and always. Anne












I have always loved Anne Sexton and most when I am ill.


Hemmingway wrote, "I learned to understand Cezanne much better and to see truly how he made landscapes when I was hungry. I used to wonder if he were hungry too when he painted; but I thought possibly it was only that he had forgotten to eat. It was one of those unsound but illuminating thoughts you have when you have been sleepless or hungry. Later I thought Cezanne was probably hungry in a different way."


In this way, Anne Sexton makes the most sense to me when I'm making the least sense to myself.


A poet-friend and I have always been fascinated with Anne's friendship with Maxine. We are convinced that Anne met with her the day she died to say goodbye, as much as she was able. And in a way Maxine probably understood.


On October 4, 1974, Anne Sexton had lunch with poet Maxine Kumin to revise galleys for Sexton's manuscript of The Awful Rowing Toward God, scheduled for publication in March 1975. On returning home she put on her mother's old fur coat, removed all her rings, poured herself a glass of vodka, locked herself in her garage, and started the engine of her car, committing suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.

In an interview over a year before her death, she explained she had written the first drafts of The Awful Rowing Toward God in twenty days with "two days out for despair and three days out in a mental hospital." She went on to say that she would not allow the poems to be published before her death.



My poet-friend and I each wrote a poem about that friendship - about that day. And finally, Anne's Suicide Note.





My Dearest Maxine
Rowan



nothing is moving today, not even my fingers, you see
I am a figment
of our days, and, I apologize
for not being fair, but I know
you understand. Knew
better than me
the sound of the oars
as they scraped the mouths
of the seaweed
weren't screams, as you said
Anne,

in that honeyed-hush way
that you had
when I was sinking

Annie...

they aren't screaming
but listening
to what awful thing, you'll say next!
Both
in a row boat, laughing, and giving
each other shit

we just kept rowing
and rowing
out of synch
and in circles

I cried

Maxine! People are going to think
we are crazy!!

Your point is?
Then peed yourself
and we lost it

I should have told you
Maxine

how even then
the seaweed clawed
out my eyes

that washed over

into our boat
and I freaked,
and couldn't explain

why. And you
were always
okay with that. Never happened.

You'd smile,
then sing

Annie, row the boat ashore...

as we danced

till I had no choice
but to sink,

swimmingly.

Love is,
and always.
Anne




heartbeats
Kate Hammerich



my fingerprints are on the inside of your thighs,
Acqua di Gio and sweat,

a love letter under your shoulder blade,
you are reading a poem

like Anne on a boat somewhere, holding
Maxine's hands, saying the wrong words over
and over again

shivering in a bath,
I cannot die because
I once told you forever

even when my fever goes up and
my heart has forgotten how to beat and I think
about that, how a body turns itself inside out and
it all comes down to a broken heart.





Suicide Note
Anne Sexton



Better,
despite the worms talking to
the mare’s hoof in the field;
better,
despite the season of young girls
dropping their blood;
better somehow
to drop myself quickly
into an old room.
Better (someone said)
not to be born
and far better
not to be born twice
at thirteen
where the boardinghouse,
each year a bedroom,
caught fire.

Dear friend,
I will have to sink with hundreds of others
on a dumbwaiter into hell.
I will be a light thing.
I will enter death
like someone’s lost optical lens.
Life is half enlarged.
The fish and owls are fierce today.
Life tilts backward and forward.
Even the wasps cannot find my eyes.

Yes,
eyes that were immediate once.
Eyes that have been truly awake,
eyes that told the whole story—
poor dumb animals.
Eyes that were pierced,
little nail heads,
light blue gunshots.

And once with
a mouth like a cup,
clay colored or blood colored,
open like the breakwater
for the lost ocean
and open like the noose
for the first head.

Once upon a time
my hunger was for Jesus.
O my hunger! My hunger!
Before he grew old
he rode calmly into Jerusalem
in search of death.

This time
I certainly
do not ask for understanding
and yet I hope everyone else
will turn their heads when an unrehearsed fish jumps
on the surface of Echo Lake;
when moonlight,
its bass note turned up loud,
hurts some building in Boston,
when the truly beautiful lie together.
I think of this, surely,
and would think of it far longer
if I were not… if I were not
at that old fire.

I could admit
that I am only a coward
crying me me me
and not mention the little gnats, the moths,
forced by circumstance
to suck on the electric bulb.
But surely you know that everyone has a death,
his own death,
waiting for him.
So I will go now
without old age or disease,
wildly but accurately,
knowing my best route,
carried by that toy donkey I rode all these years,
never asking, “Where are we going?”
We were riding (if I’d only known)
to this.

Dear friend,
please do not think
that I visualize guitars playing
or my father arching his bone.
I do not even expect my mother’s mouth.
I know that I have died before—
once in November, once in June.
How strange to choose June again,
so concrete with its green breasts and bellies.
Of course guitars will not play!
The snakes will certainly not notice.
New York City will not mind.
At night the bats will beat on the trees,
knowing it all,
seeing what they sensed all day.




Waiting for Icarus







Waiting for Icarus
Muriel Rukeyser

He said he would be back and we’d drink wine together
He said that everything would be better than before
He said we were on the edge of a new relation
He said he would never again cringe before his father
He said that he was going to invent full-time
He said he loved me that going into me
He said was going into the world and the sky
He said all the buckles were very firm
He said the wax was the best wax
He said Wait for me here on the beach
He said Just don’t cry

I remember the gulls and the waves
I remember the islands going dark on the sea
I remember the girls laughing
I remember they said he only wanted to get away from me
I remember mother saying: Inventors are like poets,
a trashy lot
I remember she told me those who try out inventions are worse
I remember she added: Women who love such are the worst of all

I have been waiting all day, or perhaps longer.
I would have liked to try those wings myself.
It would have been better than this.



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