Anne Sexton |
A born salesman,
my father made all his dough
by selling wool to Fieldcrest, Woolrich and Faribo.
A born talker,
he could sell one hundred wet-down bales
of that white stuff.
He could clock the miles and the sales
and make it pay.
At home each sentence he would utter
had first pleased the buyer who'd paid him off in butter.
had been tried over and over, at any rate,
on the man who was sold by the man who filled my plate.
My father hovered
over the Yorkshire pudding and the beef:
a peddler, a hawker, a merchant and an Indian chief.
Roosevelt! Willkie! and war!
How suddenly gauche I was
with my old-maid heart and my funny teenage applause.
Each night at home
my father was in love with maps
while the radio fought its battles with Nazis and Japs.
Except when he hid
in his bedroom on a three-day drunk,
he typed out complex itineraries, packed his trunk,
his matched luggage
and pocketed a confirmed reservation,
his heart already pushing over the red routes of the nation.
I sit at my desk
each night with no place to go,
opening thee wrinkled maps of Milwaukee and Buffalo,
the whole U.
its cemeteries, its arbitrary time zones,
through routes like small veins, capitals like small stones.
He died on the road,
his heart pushed from neck to back,
his white hanky signaling from the window of the Cadillac.
as blue-eyed as a picture book, sells wool:
boxes of card waste, laps and rovings he can pull
to the thread
and say Leicester, Rambouillet, Merino,
a half-blood, it's greasy and thick, yellow as old snow.
And when you drive off, my darling,
Yes, sir! Yes, sir! It's one for my dame,
your sample cases branded with my father's name,
your itinerary open,
its tolls ticking and greedy,
its highways built up like new loves, raw and speedy.
Denise Duhamel |
They decide to exchange heads.
Barbie squeezes the small opening under her chin
over Ken's bulging neck socket.
His wide jaw line jostles
atop his girlfriend's body, loosely,
like one of those novelty dogs
destined to gaze from the back windows of cars.
The two dolls chase each other around the orange Country Camper
unsure what they'll do when they're within touching distance.
Ken wants to feel Barbie's toes between his lips,
take off one of her legs and force his whole arm inside her.
With only the vaguest suggestion of genitals,
all the alluring qualities they possess as fashion dolls,
up until now, have done neither of them much good.
But suddenly Barbie is excited looking at her own body
under the weight of Ken's face.
He is part circus freak,
part thwarted hermaphrodite.
And she is imagining
she is somebody else-- maybe somebody middle class and ordinary,
maybe another teenage model being caught in a scandal.
The night had begun with Barbie getting angry
at finding Ken's blow up doll, folded and stuffed
under the couch.
He was defensive and ashamed, especially about
not having the breath to inflate her.
But after a round
of pretend-tears, Barbie and Ken vowed to try
to make their relationship work.
With their good memories
as sustaining as good food, they listened to late-night radio
talk shows, one featuring Doctor Ruth.
When all else fails,
just hold each other, the small sex therapist crooned.
Barbie and Ken, on cue, groped in the dark,
their interchangeable skin glowing, the color of Band-Aids.
Then, they let themselves go-- Soon Barbie was begging Ken
to try on her spandex miniskirt.
She showed him how
to pivot as though he was on a runway.
to tie Barbie onto his yellow surfboard and spin her
on the kitcen table until she grew dizzy.
anything, they both said to the other's requests,
their mirrored desires bubbling from the most unlikely places.
Denise Duhamel |
At first she was sure it was just a bit of dried strawberry juice,
or a fleck of her mother's red nail polish that had flaked off
when she'd patted her daughter to sleep the night before.
But as she scrubbed, Snow felt a bump, something festering
under the surface, like a tapeworm curled up and living
in her left cheek.
Doc the Dwarf was no dermatologist
and besides Snow doesn't get to meet him in this version
because the mint leaves the tall doctor puts over her face
only make matters worse.
Snow and the Queen hope
against hope for chicken pox, measles, something
that would be gone quickly and not plague Snow's whole
If only freckles were red, she cried, if only
concealer really worked.
Soon came the pus, the yellow dots,
multiplying like pins in a pin cushion.
the greasy hair.
The Queen gave her daughter a razor
for her legs and a stick of underarm deodorant.
doodled through her teenage years—"Snow + ?" in Magic
Markered hearts all over her notebooks.
She was an average
student, a daydreamer who might have been a scholar
if she'd only applied herself.
She liked sappy music
and romance novels.
She liked pies and cake
instead of fruit.
The Queen remained the fairest in the land.
It was hard on Snow, having such a glamorous mom.
She rebelled by wearing torn shawls and baggy gowns.
Her mother would sometimes say, "Snow darling,
why don't you pull back your hair? Show those pretty eyes?"
or "Come on, I'll take you shopping.
staying in her safe room, looking out of her window
at the deer leaping across the lawn.
Or she'd practice
her dance moves with invisible princes.
And the Queen,
busy being Queen, didn't like to push it.
More great poems below...
Maggie Estep |
My first job was when I was about 15.
I had met
a girl named Hope who became my best friend.
Hope and I were flunking math
class so we became speed freaks.
This honed our algebra skills and we quickly
became whiz kids.
For about 5 minutes.
Then, our brains started to fry
and we were just teenage speed freaks.
Then, we decided to to seek gainful employment.
We got hired on as part time maids at the Holiday Inn while a maid strike
We were scab maids on speed and we were coming to clean
We were subsequently fired for pilfering a Holiday Inn guest's quaalude
stash which we did only because we never thought someone would have the
nerve to call the front desk and say; THE MAIDS STOLE MY LUUDES MAN.
someone did - or so we surmised - because we were fired.
I supppose maybe we were fired because we never actually CLEANED but rather
just turned on the vacuum so it SOUNDED like we were cleaning as we picked
the pubic hairs off the sheets and out of the tub then passed out on the
bed and caught up on the sleep we'd missed from being up all night speeding.
When we got fired, we became waitresses at an International House of Pancakes.
We were much happier there.
John Berryman |
I am the little man who smokes & smokes.
I am the girl who does know better but.
I am the king of the pool.
I am so wise I had my mouth sewn shut.
I am a government official & a goddamned fool.
I am a lady who takes jokes.
I am the enemy of the mind.
I am the auto salesman and lÃ³ve you.
I am a teenage cancer, with a plan.
I am the blackt-out man.
I am the woman powerful as a zoo.
I am two eyes screwed to my set, whose blindâ€”
It is the Fourth of July.
Collect: while the dying man,
forgone by you creator, who forgives,
is gasping 'Thomas Jefferson still lives'
in vain, in vain, in vain.
I am Henry Pussy-cat! My whiskers fly.