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I

Out of the little chapel I burst
Into the fresh night-air again.
Five minutes full, I waited first
In the doorway, to escape the rain
That drove in gusts down the common’s centre
At the edge of which the chapel stands,
Before I plucked up heart to enter.
Heaven knows how many sorts of hands
Reached past me, groping for the latch
Of the inner door that hung on catch
More obstinate the more they fumbled,
Till, giving way at last with a scold
Of the crazy hinge, in squeezed or tumbled
One sheep more to the rest in fold,
And left me irresolute, standing sentry
In the sheepfold’s lath-and-plaster entry,
Six feet long by three feet wide,
Partitioned off from the vast inside—
I blocked up half of it at least.
No remedy; the rain kept driving.
They eyed me much as some wild beast,
That congregation, still arriving,
Some of them by the main road, white
A long way past me into the night,
Skirting the common, then diverging;
Not a few suddenly emerging
From the common’s self through the paling-gaps,
—They house in the gravel-pits perhaps,
Where the road stops short with its safeguard border
Of lamps, as tired of such disorder;—
But the most turned in yet more abruptly
From a certain squalid knot of alleys,
Where the town’s bad blood once slept corruptly,
Which now the little chapel rallies
And leads into day again,—its priestliness
Lending itself to hide their beastliness
So cleverly (thanks in part to the mason),
And putting so cheery a whitewashed face on
Those neophytes too much in lack of it,
That, where you cross the common as I did,
And meet the party thus presided,
“Mount Zion” with Love-lane at the back of it,
They front you as little disconcerted
As, bound for the hills, her fate averted,
And her wicked people made to mind him,
Lot might have marched with Gomorrah behind him.

II

Well, from the road, the lanes or the common,
In came the flock: the fat weary woman,
Panting and bewildered, down-clapping
Her umbrella with a mighty report,
Grounded it by me, wry and flapping,
A wreck of whalebones; then, with a snort,
Like a startled horse, at the interloper
(Who humbly knew himself improper,
But could not shrink up small enough)
—Round to the door, and in,—the gruff
Hinge’s invariable scold
Making my very blood run cold.
Prompt in the wake of her, up-pattered
On broken clogs, the many-tattered
Little old-faced peaking sister-turned-mother
Of the sickly babe she tried to smother
Somehow up, with its spotted face,
From the cold, on her breast, the one warm place;
She too must stop, wring the poor ends dry
Of a draggled shawl, and add thereby
Her tribute to the door-mat, sopping
Already from my own clothes’ dropping,
Which yet she seemed to grudge I should stand on:
Then, stooping down to take off her pattens,
She bore them defiantly, in each hand one,
Planted together before her breast
And its babe, as good as a lance in rest.
Close on her heels, the dingy satins
Of a female something past me flitted,
With lips as much too white, as a streak
Lay far too red on each hollow cheek;
And it seemed the very door-hinge pitied
All that was left of a woman once,
Holding at least its tongue for the *****.
Then a tall yellow man, like the Penitent Thief,
With his jaw bound up in a handkerchief,
And eyelids ******* together tight,
Led himself in by some inner light.
And, except from him, from each that entered,
I got the same interrogation—
“What, you the alien, you have ventured
To take with us, the elect, your station?
A carer for none of it, a Gallio!”—
Thus, plain as print, I read the glance
At a common prey, in each countenance
As of huntsman giving his hounds the tallyho.
And, when the door’s cry drowned their wonder,
The draught, it always sent in shutting,
Made the flame of the single tallow candle
In the cracked square lantern I stood under,
Shoot its blue lip at me, rebutting
As it were, the luckless cause of scandal:
I verily fancied the zealous light
(In the chapel’s secret, too!) for spite
Would shudder itself clean off the wick,
With the airs of a Saint John’s Candlestick.
There was no standing it much longer.
“Good folks,” thought I, as resolve grew stronger,
“This way you perform the Grand-Inquisitor
When the weather sends you a chance visitor?
You are the men, and wisdom shall die with you,
And none of the old Seven Churches vie with you!
But still, despite the pretty perfection
To which you carry your trick of exclusiveness,
And, taking God’s word under wise protection,
Correct its tendency to diffusiveness,
And bid one reach it over hot ploughshares,—
Still, as I say, though you’ve found salvation,
If I should choose to cry, as now, ‘Shares!’—
See if the best of you bars me my ration!
I prefer, if you please, for my expounder
Of the laws of the feast, the feast’s own Founder;
Mine’s the same right with your poorest and sickliest,
Supposing I don the marriage vestiment:
So, shut your mouth and open your Testament,
And carve me my portion at your quickliest!”
Accordingly, as a shoemaker’s lad
With wizened face in want of soap,
And wet apron wound round his waist like a rope,
(After stopping outside, for his cough was bad,
To get the fit over, poor gentle creature
And so avoid distrubing the preacher)
—Passed in, I sent my elbow spikewise
At the shutting door, and entered likewise,
Received the hinge’s accustomed greeting,
And crossed the threshold’s magic pentacle,
And found myself in full conventicle,
—To wit, in Zion Chapel Meeting,
On the Christmas-Eve of ‘Forty-nine,
Which, calling its flock to their special clover,
Found all assembled and one sheep over,
Whose lot, as the weather pleased, was mine.

III

I very soon had enough of it.
The hot smell and the human noises,
And my neighbor’s coat, the greasy cuff of it,
Were a pebble-stone that a child’s hand poises,
Compared with the pig-of-lead-like pressure
Of the preaching man’s immense stupidity,
As he poured his doctrine forth, full measure,
To meet his audience’s avidity.
You needed not the wit of the Sibyl
To guess the cause of it all, in a twinkling:
No sooner our friend had got an inkling
Of treasure hid in the Holy Bible,
(Whene’er ‘t was the thought first struck him,
How death, at unawares, might duck him
Deeper than the grave, and quench
The gin-shop’s light in hell’s grim drench)
Than he handled it so, in fine irreverence,
As to hug the book of books to pieces:
And, a patchwork of chapters and texts in severance,
Not improved by the private dog’s-ears and creases,
Having clothed his own soul with, he’d fain see equipt yours,—
So tossed you again your Holy Scriptures.
And you picked them up, in a sense, no doubt:
Nay, had but a single face of my neighbors
Appeared to suspect that the preacher’s labors
Were help which the world could be saved without,
‘T is odds but I might have borne in quiet
A qualm or two at my spiritual diet,
Or (who can tell?) perchance even mustered
Somewhat to urge in behalf of the sermon:
But the flock sat on, divinely flustered,
Sniffing, methought, its dew of Hermon
With such content in every snuffle,
As the devil inside us loves to ruffle.
My old fat woman purred with pleasure,
And thumb round thumb went twirling faster,
While she, to his periods keeping measure,
Maternally devoured the pastor.
The man with the handkerchief untied it,
Showed us a horrible wen inside it,
Gave his eyelids yet another *******,
And rocked himself as the woman was doing.
The shoemaker’s lad, discreetly choking,
Kept down his cough. ‘T was too provoking!
My gorge rose at the nonsense and stuff of it;
So, saying like Eve when she plucked the apple,
“I wanted a taste, and now there’s enough of it,”
I flung out of the little chapel.

IV

There was a lull in the rain, a lull
In the wind too; the moon was risen,
And would have shone out pure and full,
But for the ramparted cloud-prison,
Block on block built up in the West,
For what purpose the wind knows best,
Who changes his mind continually.
And the empty other half of the sky
Seemed in its silence as if it knew
What, any moment, might look through
A chance gap in that fortress massy:—
Through its fissures you got hints
Of the flying moon, by the shifting tints,
Now, a dull lion-color, now, brassy
Burning to yellow, and whitest yellow,
Like furnace-smoke just ere flames bellow,
All a-simmer with intense strain
To let her through,—then blank again,
At the hope of her appearance failing.
Just by the chapel a break in the railing
Shows a narrow path directly across;
‘T is ever dry walking there, on the moss—
Besides, you go gently all the way up-hill.
I stooped under and soon felt better;
My head grew lighter, my limbs more supple,
As I walked on, glad to have slipt the fetter.
My mind was full of the scene I had left,
That placid flock, that pastor vociferant,
—How this outside was pure and different!
The sermon, now—what a mingled weft
Of good and ill! Were either less,
Its fellow had colored the whole distinctly;
But alas for the excellent earnestness,
And the truths, quite true if stated succinctly,
But as surely false, in their quaint presentment,
However to pastor and flock’s contentment!
Say rather, such truths looked false to your eyes,
With his provings and parallels twisted and twined,
Till how could you know them, grown double their size
In the natural fog of the good man’s mind,
Like yonder spots of our roadside lamps,
Haloed about with the common’s damps?
Truth remains true, the fault’s in the prover;
The zeal was good, and the aspiration;
And yet, and yet, yet, fifty times over,
Pharaoh received no demonstration,
By his Baker’s dream of Baskets Three,
Of the doctrine of the Trinity,—
Although, as our preacher thus embellished it,
Apparently his hearers relished it
With so unfeigned a gust—who knows if
They did not prefer our friend to Joseph?
But so it is everywhere, one way with all of them!
These people have really felt, no doubt,
A something, the motion they style the Call of them;
And this is their method of bringing about,
By a mechanism of words and tones,
(So many texts in so many groans)
A sort of reviving and reproducing,
More or less perfectly, (who can tell?)
The mood itself, which strengthens by using;
And how that happens, I understand well.
A tune was born in my head last week,
Out of the thump-thump and shriek-shriek
Of the train, as I came by it, up from Manchester;
And when, next week, I take it back again,
My head will sing to the engine’s clack again,
While it only makes my neighbor’s haunches stir,
—Finding no dormant musical sprout
In him, as in me, to be jolted out.
‘T is the taught already that profits by teaching;
He gets no more from the railway’s preaching
Than, from this preacher who does the rail’s officer, I:
Whom therefore the flock cast a jealous eye on.
Still, why paint over their door “Mount Zion,”
To which all flesh shall come, saith the pro phecy?

V

But wherefore be harsh on a single case?
After how many modes, this Christmas-Eve,
Does the self-same weary thing take place?
The same endeavor to make you believe,
And with much the same effect, no more:
Each method abundantly convincing,
As I say, to those convinced before,
But scarce to be swallowed without wincing
By the not-as-yet-convinced. For me,
I have my own church equally:
And in this church my faith sprang first!
(I said, as I reached the rising ground,
And the wind began again, with a burst
Of rain in my face, and a glad rebound
From the heart beneath, as if, God speeding me,
I entered his church-door, nature leading me)
—In youth I looked to these very skies,
And probing their immensities,
I found God there, his visible power;
Yet felt in my heart, amid all its sense
Of the power, an equal evidence
That his love, there too, was the nobler dower.
For the loving worm within its clod
Were diviner than a loveless god
Amid his worlds, I will dare to say.
You know what I mean: God’s all man’s naught:
But also, God, whose pleasure brought
Man into being, stands away
As it were a handbreadth off, to give
Room for the newly-made to live,
And look at him from a place apart,
And use his gifts of brain and heart,
Given, indeed, but to keep forever.
Who speaks of man, then, must not sever
Man’s very elements from man,
Saying, “But all is God’s”—whose plan
Was to create man and then leave him
Able, his own word saith, to grieve him,
But able to glorify him too,
As a mere machine could never do,
That prayed or praised, all unaware
Of its fitness for aught but praise and prayer,
Made perfect as a thing of course.
Man, therefore, stands on his own stock
Of love and power as a pin-point rock:
And, looking to God who ordained divorce
Of the rock from his boundless continent,
Sees, in his power made evident,
Only excess by a million-fold
O’er the power God gave man in the mould.
For, note: man’s hand, first formed to carry
A few pounds’ weight, when taught to marry
Its strength with an engine’s, lifts a mountain,
—Advancing in power by one degree;
And why count steps through eternity?
But love is the ever-springing fountain:
Man may enlarge or narrow his bed
For the water’s play, but the water-head—
How can he multiply or reduce it?
As easy create it, as cause it to cease;
He may profit by it, or abuse it,
But ‘t is not a thing to bear increase
As power does: be love less or more
In the heart of man, he keeps it shut
Or opes it wide, as he pleases, but
Love’s sum remains what it was before.
So, gazing up, in my youth, at love
As seen through power, ever above
All modes which make it manifest,
My soul brought all to a single test—
That he, the Eternal First and Last,
Who, in his power, had so surpassed
All man conceives of what is might,—
Whose wisdom, too, showed infinite,
—Would prove as infinitely good;
Would never, (my soul understood,)
With power to work all love desires,
Bestow e’en less than man requires;
That he who endlessly was teaching,
Above my spirit’s utmost reaching,
What love can do in the leaf or stone,
(So that to master this alone,
This done in the stone or leaf for me,
I must go on learning endlessly)
Would never need that I, in turn,
Should point him out defect unheeded,
And show that God had yet to learn
What the meanest human creature needed,
—Not life, to wit, for a few short years,
Tracking his way through doubts and fears,
While the stupid earth on which I stay
Suffers no change, but passive adds
Its myriad years to myriads,
Though I, he gave it to, decay,
Seeing death come and choose about me,
And my dearest ones depart without me.
No: love which, on earth, amid all the shows of it,
Has ever been seen the sole good of life in it,
The love, ever growing there, spite of the strife in it,
Shall arise, made perfect, from death’s repose of it.
And I shall behold thee, face to face,
O God, and in thy light retrace
How in all I loved here, still wast thou!
Whom pressing to, then, as I fain would now,
I shall find as able to satiate
The love, thy gift, as my spirit’s wonder
Thou art able to quicken and sublimate,
With this sky of thine, that I now walk under
And glory in thee for, as I gaze
Thus, thus! Oh, let men keep their ways
Of seeking thee in a narrow shrine—
Be this my way! And this is mine!

VI

For lo, what think you? suddenly
The rain and the wind ceased, and the sky
Received at once the full fruition
Of the moon’s consummate apparition.
The black cloud-barricade was riven,
Ruined beneath her feet, and driven
Deep in the West; while, bare and breathless,
North and South and East lay ready
For a glorious thing that, dauntless, deathless,
Sprang across them and stood steady.
‘T was a moon-rainbow, vast and perfect,
From heaven to heaven extending, perfect
As the mother-moon’s self, full in face.
It rose, distinctly at the base
With its seven proper colors chorded,
Which still, in the rising, were compressed,
Until at last they coalesced,
And supreme the spectral creature lorded
In a triumph of whitest white,—
Above which intervened the night.
But above night too, like only the next,
The second of a wondrous sequence,
Reaching in rare and rarer frequence,
Till the heaven of heavens were circumflexed
Another rainbow rose, a mightier,
Fainter, flushier and flightier,—
Rapture dying along its verge.
Oh, whose foot shall I see emerge,
Whose, from the straining topmost dark,
On to the keystone of that are?

VII

This sight was shown me, there and then,—
Me, one out of a world of men,
Singled forth, as the chance might hap
To another if, in a thu
931

Noon—is the Hinge of Day—
Evening—the Tissue Door—
Morning—the East compelling the sill
Till all the World is ajar—
Sylvia Plath  Jun 2009
Cut
Cut
for Susan O'Neill Roe

What a thrill ----
My thumb instead of an onion.
The top quite gone
Except for a sort of hinge

Of skin,
A flap like a hat,
Dead white.
Then that red plush.

Little pilgrim,
The Indian's axed your scalp.
Your turkey wattle
Carpet rolls

Straight from the heart.
I step on it,
Clutching my bottle
Of pink fizz. A celebration, this is.
Out of a gap
A million soldiers run,
Redcoats, every one.

Whose side are they one?
O my
Homunculus, I am ill.
I have taken a pill to ****

The thin
Papery feeling.
Saboteur,
Kamikaze man ----

The stain on your
Gauze Ku Klux ****
Babushka
Darkens and tarnishes and when
The balled
Pulp of your heart
Confronts its small
Mill of silence

How you jump ----
Trepanned veteran,
***** girl,
Thumb stump.
Rebecca Karlsson Mar 2015
She's got a hinge loose.
Well, I'll tell you,
it's more than that.  
The whole door is falling off,
And will certainly take a few other things with it.
The sum failure of her small unseen parts,
Coming loose one by one.  

And there never seems to be a proper screwdriver handy when she needs one.
Maia Vasconez  May 2018
A gamble
Maia Vasconez May 2018
1.He’d say anything to get me out of my shell.
2. His pupils are hard, black marbles and I want to flick him off of me.
3. He is always shuffling through women like they are a deck of cards.
4. It’s just how the dice rolls.
5. I was afraid of falling, of my arms snapping like wishbones.
6. He waits until I’m swaying like a door hinge.
7. My eyes are wide like 8 ***** and he hits me with that same click, roll, thunk of a pool ball table.
8. You are cursing me. When you yell, you are cursing me.
9. “Come out, come out, wherever you are…”
10. I hope the bruises on your legs turn into birds. I hope you get out of here.
This is for anyone whose ever been hurt by a man
I no longer believed
in the idea of soul mates
or love at first sight

But I was beginning to believe
that a very few times in your life
if you were lucky
you might meet someone
who was exactly right for you

Not because they was perfect
or because you were
but because your combined flaws
were arranged in a way
that allowed two separate beings
to hinge together
2 condemned males serving life sentences in top-security prison inmates separated by wall and steel cell bars

INMATE 1 (burps loud coarse voice) i have this fantasy of being a hunted outlaw taking my 3 guns and ******* Ford truck driving north south east west robbing convenience stores bars banks people sharp-shooting car thieving running until my time is up like the old west firing pistols wearing a Stetson hat drunk smart-*** talking hanging with ***** bar girls forget about eating just burning a trail (holds metal reflective scrap in hand attempting to catch glimpses of inmate 2)

INMATE 2 (sits cross-legged on floor with palms up resting on knees) too many people are hurting and getting killed right now i imagine if there is a god i’ll bet he or she or it feels weary disappointed disgusted by human kind’s destructive nature

INMATE 1 so what

INMATE 2 i don’t know about you but i miss women their point of view play friendship tenderness nurturing intimacy physical beauty i long for love belonging a woman’s touch her attendance passion the hinge of her thighs licking ******* ****** crave its warm wetness taste smell texture even tongue dipping into **** in a way i’m a total gynephiliac or philogynist

INMATE 1 filojinist huh what are you a professor you ***** son-of-a ***** where did you learn to talk like that tell me professor ever **** on a perfect *****

INMATE 2 most women have some desirability i’ve known many but yeah there was one in particular i remember she was a beaut bulging pelvic bone cute floppy lips eager **** tangy gamey sweet salty flavor just the right amount of furriness lust response flow she’d reach for my ******* and i’d just keep working her getting her hotter taste her ***** taste her *** i was addicted to that woman’s ****** even though she treated me like trash perhaps it was simply an oral fixation or some subliminal need i don’t know our relationship lasted way longer then it should have guess i was kind of drunk on her downstairs

INMATE 1 i never was much of a cooch muncher (flexes arm muscles opens tightens fist) women are cows they give off too many odors plus they always want mommy control no matter how much or what you give them they always want more

INMATE 2 you don’t get it do you the connection between the moon oceans great mother earth fragrance of dirt aroma of rain female beauty you’re a misogynist gynophobe possibly misanthrope

INMATE 1 you use too many big words ******* i hear some women is like how you described yourself some women gets drunk on johnson and nuts

INMATE 2 what are you talking about

INMATE 1 i want to get hooked up with a ***** like that a ***** who’ll lick and **** my johnson and nuts all day long (hand goes to crotch squeezes)

INMATE 2 yes me too maybe we ought to ask ourselves why escapism into ****** fantasy and release is so profoundly vital to our existences

INMATE 1 what

INMATE 2 life sentence means no motive for rehabilitation no hope for redemption how much money does it cost to maintain each prisoner who pays the bills why keep us alive does society honestly believe we pace our confines haunted in regret yearning for inner salvation

INMATE 1 you think they should **** us

INMATE 2 i question the entire punitive system did you ever read Michel Foucault’s Punishment and Discipline the beginning will make you squirm or Franz  Kafka’s In The Penal Colony that horrific carving apparatus

INMATE 1 uuhhh what the **** are you talking about

INMATE 2 i don’t know i don’t understand why i’m locked up in here

INMATE 1 (runs fingers through hair) what crimes did they convict you of

INMATE 2 i tried killing myself so many times they put me on death row i should be free to roam or at worst case scenario sedated in an insane asylum instead they accused me of being a danger to myself and society they said i could injure other people while attempting to destroy myself i drove off a 6-story garage ledge onto a public street below

INMATE 1 is that why you’re in here you silly *** ***** driving off a 6-story garage ledge onto a public street below ain’t no crime hell just reckless driving

INMATE 2 the courts are ******* up judges think they’re celebrities silver-tongued thieving lawyers twist the truth the whole system is corrupted by bribes cover-ups secret deals concealed schemes personal gain collusion fear

INMATE 1 as for me i tortured ***** killed lots of people men women children you want to hear some tantalizing details like the time i ***** killed a mother and her 2 young daughters cut out their warm hearts and ate

INMATE 2 (interrupts) stop you sick animal please stop

INMATE 1 yeah you got a problem with that

INMATE 2 i couldn’t live with myself doing what you did i get skittish at the sight of blood

INMATE 1 you pathetic lightweight i want to stick my johnson up your tight hairy *** so bad (sniffs finger) i want to hear you squeal like a little girl

INMATE 2 sorry to disappoint you but i’ve got hemorrhoids

INMATE 1 French ticklers hell they just make ******* a more interesting sensation

INMATE 2 this is the rudest most repulsive conversation

INMATE 1 what you think you’re better than me just because you’re educated (finger picks nose flicks ****** at wall speckled with many ****** flicks)

INMATE 2 i didn’t say that perhaps morally more reserved why did you torture **** **** people

INMATE 1 it was fun made me feel powerful having control over another person’s existence hey i didn’t ask to be born blame it on my mom people are so ******* up life is a joke i was just trying to help rid the world of all its vermin

INMATE 2 there was a time when i would have considered you psychopathic but in this chaotic shifting flipped out world where reality mirrors fiction and when civilization is insanely vicious fraught with violence guns firing fires exploding extremism prevails criminals scoundrels lunatics govern gang lords rule the streets your murderous vices may serve as grounds for exoneration provided you conduct yourself intelligently you may qualify yourself as an ordinary survivor or possibly even reputable citizen

INMATE 1 what? you’re reasoning i’m normal maybe innocent you’re my main man tell me why you want to destroy yourself so bad

INMATE 2 i think human kind is a curse we annihilate everything and don’t seem to learn change instead we get worse our busy selfishness is a betrayal against earth all the creatures a betrayal against god as a kid the betrayal i felt i knew i could not reveal because it would be a deeper betrayal the neglect and punishment i endured i knew i could not make known because it would only add to the betrayal the rage i felt listening to lies i knew i could not challenge a million lies i did not know how to confront the frustration i now suffer pains me as long as i can remember in my mind i’ve always felt like a prisoner alone in a room no one is coming this twisted despair inside the body of person with suicidal tendencies found guilty sentenced to life incarceration in maximum-security prison doesn’t that sound like a double conviction

INMATE 1 wow interesting ok professor you’re putting me to sleep chat with you later

INMATE 2 you really ought to learn yoga

INMATE 1 voga? what’s that for

INMATE 2 an inner journey a light when other lights go out a way to stay grounded when gravity fails

INMATE 1 sounds like just another jail cell
Cat Fiske  Jan 2016
Box Turtle
Cat Fiske Jan 2016
I am the Box Turtle,
I shut you out,
and sleep away in my shell,

I am the Box Turtle,
the only turtle who is safe from the world,
the only turtle who can shut away the world,

I am the Box Turtle,
I'll hid for life,
behind the hinges that cover me,

I am the Box Turtle,
Who will slam my door,
on you and the world,

I am the Box Turtle,
I can live my life in my shell,
while you continue creating this hell,

I am the Box Turtle,
I will not fight,
I will live in peace not war,

I am the Box Turtle,
I'll  lock the ones who try and hurt me out,
to try and survive these battles alone,

I am the Box Turtle,
inside my hinge like doors,
I'll be safe from the world,

I am the Box Turtle,
I must be safe from you,
and any other fools.
Box turtles  are cool,
only turtle that can fully close its shell bc it has mini doors,
I love em, they're cute.

— The End —