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Classics

Sylvia Plath

Members

William Riley Plath
quantum superposition
a lesser sylvia plath
Memphis   

Poems

Mateuš Conrad Sep 2018
i can't help what i am...
but what i am not is a spoken word
poet: with that generic exasperation
technique of speaking -
as if, on the verge of crying...

but what i can tell you...
i am a rigid person,
there are 3/4 of me that should
have enlisted in the army,
and only a 1/4 that went to
university...

so... given that i'm such a rigid ******...
i thought i'd tell you about
linear and vertical rhyming...
linear?
oh, that's neat & easy:

.................................... end
.................................... bend
..................................... send
..................................... wend....

basically suffix rhyming...
but! but... what Sylvia Plath
introduced?
   oh, my, god...
      transcendent of
the conceptualization of
"the" box...

her rhyme? alphabetical...
sort of...

        it's more than that...
she didn't pay due diligence on
suffix rhyming -end,
   -ing
    you name it...

you want to know what her rhyme
concept implies?

   **** me, it's sassy...

she was a rhyming weaver...
an interloper...
    words didn't have to necessarily
end in the same boundary
of an echo... echo rhyming
by the standard bearers is one thing...
she made tartan rhymes...

tartan rhyming...
kilt rhyming...

                  and it looked something
equivalent to, this:

  ceremony or Potent -
Still sky, obtuSe -
   one might Say love -
  Suddenly,
        black featherS,
black reSpit -
Season of fatigue,
SpaSmodic,
  deScend...
   Stolidly...
       no effigy... Seem...
pompouS...
                         coarSe copy...
      Bell tongue BirdS...
    Shrined on her SHelf...
too Tough to Finish...
  Seize my Senses...
ToTal neuTrality...
   deScent...
                Sanguine...
  bRick dusk...
Prose...
              plaCe...
            pompouS...
Ne­at kNits...
    weedS obScured...
SHe blenched,
miMic...
   deSpite...
baniSH...
    ******...
too tough for knife to finiSH...

      Head...
so profoundly muCH...
       piN legs...
               thoughtS...
So departS...
       S(h)eets...
Sanity...
      Tongue...
Printed Page...
  Twelve...
Sick man's Eye...
nEVER nEVER found
anyWHERE...

goodbye goodbye...
      eXclamation...
the First point...
            GHost...
   Signify...
cuckoo-land of color fields,
CRisp CUsp...
    
        the girl's dancing!
she's dancing barefoot...
no, i can't fall in love with her...
she's, dead!

    but can you see
rhyming vertically?
   all the lettering,
in capital letters?
  deviancy...
   it doesn't agree to your
box standard form of
rhyme, linearly...
  it's vertical rhyming,
it's juxtapositions on a scale
that might elongate
the winding tongue of a snake
in, anything but maracas
rattling...
sssssssssssssssssssssss.....
a wet snare...
   she's teasing...
she has escaped
the tradition of
the traditional guise of rhyme...
she has invoked
rhyme, but as an intermediating
attachment...
          forget the rigid
end-
                   -ing
with a "worthy"
   sympathiz-
                                        -ing...

what a gall...
she makes the housewives of America's
1950s twice as vampire-like,
and thrice as Stepford material...
   lucky blond to leave so much
"crap" behind...
   i could pick the maggots
from her head and make it
a day's worth of fishing
on the banks of Vistula...

she's dancing in the rain,
and all i have is my Cameo cinema
moment
with my cousin, Justine,
running barefoot where
i grew up on the cement...
and then cuddling together,
getting warmer
over one worth of an afternoon...

last time i heard...
her son Leo was born on
the 15th of May,
my birthday...
  but we've fallen out...
when her husband
put a **** under my father's
self-employment
enterprise...
   and undertook
a practice of stealing workers
from him...
great move... when you join
a family...

        nice memory though...
wish my cousin Justin all the luck
she can muster...
but when it comes to family
friendliness?
none....
                 went to her brother's
wedding... was interrogated by
her brother's best man...

   Polish drunk talk...
let's just say...
his date?
   was flashing her underwear
at me from under her magic carpet
ride of a skirt while we
smoke cigarettes and finished
off drinks, being accused of...
trying... to seriously...
hide her... exhibitionism...

   so i started punching myself
in the face to find target practice
should i ever come across
any more Polacks, drunk,
at a family wedding...
   you never know...

           hell... if ******* wanna tango...
we'll... ******* tango! ha ha.
now all i need is the raw
material... my knuckles
are either furry...
or they're itchy...
  can't exactly knock-out
my neighbors dog...
   i need a ******* mug of
a mouthwash advert...
with a grin that's, seriously
asking for a few missing teeth
to rekindle a smile!
1.

Minds break apart at midnight,
piece together in dreamless sleep.

Robert Lowell poaches pen-and-ink
drawings for Life Studies.
Sylvia Plath dons Ariel’s red dress,
but loses Ariadne’s thread.  

Lowell raises For the Union Dead,
mythic monument to his family’s best.
Pigeons decorate it with their ***** mess.
Plath pins a ******* to her chest —  
shockingly pink —
and stands beside the kitchen sink,

Stirring a *** of poet’s gruel.
Madness and death the golden rule
no artistry can break. Not even the careless
reader can take leave of these senses

Once they’re rendered on the page.
Confession doesn’t age well,
as Lowell knows oh so well,

unless it suggests more substantial fare,
say, a flannel bathrobe for him to wear
in a Boston psychiatric ward — if he dares.

There’s something wrong with his head.
Crown him Caligula; his lineage has fled.

“What does that have to do with me, Daddy?” Plath artfully whines.
“Fill the tulip jars with red water, not wine,” he replies.
“The bridegroom cometh. Turn off the oven.”
But it is too late. She has met her fate before it predeceases her.

Like a teacher’s pet, she bets her life on a recitation
of Daddy, a term of endearment,
a term of interment in a stark, loveless miscarriage,
a dark, masculine disparagement of her freedom. O Daddy dearest.

Lowell shoots up to salute the younger poet, guessing
she has given the year’s best reading by a girl in red dresses.

At this stage, what does it matter that his “mind’s not right”?
What can he do but give up his right to pray, as every insight
       slips away?

But no Our Father for Plath. For her, the Kingdom comes too late.
Colossal poetry cannot save; the poet raves and raves and raves
       into that dark night.
Turn off the oven, turn out the lights. Daddy, too, is not right.

2.

Blake fired his Proverbs of Hell
in the dull, damning kilns
of England’s Industrial Age.

A poet’s no sage, but Lowell earned
his wings when he doctored Blake’s phrase:
“I myself am hell.”

A stone angel directs his descent:

Fortune favors the bold.

Never discount the power of chance.

Affliction of the senses is a gift.

Invisible seeks invisible.

Darkness obscures our limits.

We carry darkness within us.

Anarchy breeds spirit.

Artistry breeds no merit.

Appropriate beauty, at all costs,
whether, man, beast or angel
.

3.

Poetry births an artifact of words; we unearth them, and they adhere.
We bury them, and they fall flat — hollow sounds, futile splats,
       prehistoric grunts ground into the ground.

Bathed in lithium and alcohol, here bobs your calling, Robert:
Everything matters; nothing coheres.
Build a shell of a soul on this maxim, a notebook of negation.  
       Grind your axes.

Sanctuaries may crumble, gates may close. Press on. Press on.
Corkscrew your identity into the iambic line; rouse the reader to find
the misleading promise of Eternity in the sonnet, the sonnet,
       the endless sonnet.

For minds lost in madness, tree limbs dangle like kite tails in the wind. No one flies here anymore. Gather reddened kindling while ye may.

What exiles you from the ancients — Homer, Virgil and Horace —
springs from vision, not technique: You lack the requisite blindness.

Absence absents the soul. Here, now, forever, shimmers only presence,
only the present, only Presence: divine, human, animal, marmoreal.
       Skunks, sails, cars and pails. Sing on, O son of New England!

Day by day, failing all, fill your void with fiery
hieroglyphs of verse. Then call your duty done.

4.

Behold: You are not the favorite, after all, but Camus’ stranger,
trapped in the blinding sun, stumbling on the burning sand.

Only what dies in you endures.

“Is getting well ever an art,
or art a way to get well?”

The skunks scurry, scavenge and survive far too long for you to answer.

You lie down beside orange fishnets, facing the shore.
At midnight, you will dream of dreamless sleep.
To follow the development of this poem, it's important to know the works and lives of the confessional poets Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath. If you are unfamiliar with them, I suggest you first read "Skunk Hour" by Lowell and then "Daddy" by Plath. Short biographies would help, too.