Poetry inspired by Sylvia Plath/Anne Sexton by Jackie Chou

Illustration of Sylvia Plath by Shannon Levin

Father's Day

Father, father
You peeled the smile
off of my face
and yellowed my soul
with talks
of your pain
your struggles
sugar coating everything
and letting the venom
seep in afterwards
The twenty dollars
you left on the ironing board
every other week
kept my mouth shut
Like bandages
they fell off
leaving my wounds
to bleed profusely
It is easy
to pretend not to know
to be cold like snow
But father, father
the men I meet
are a lot like you
They melt my morals
with the heat 
of lovemaking
and I learned
to say "yes"
to go along
with their every whim
My pliant flesh
bears all the misery
you gave mother
I get crushed
damaged
then recover
only to begin
all over again


My Degree and Other Things You Don't Know About Me

I am…


a genie in a bottle
drifting from sea to shore
shrouded by a cloud
no folded resume enclosed
explains who I am


a cardboard face
like in those antidepressant ads
two circles for eyes
a curved line for a mouth
a stick of a neck to hold


an occupant
between scraps of memories
like a pressed rose in an old diary
the stamp of honor on my diploma
faded and forgotten


Bio Note: I write free verses, rhyming poems, and Japanese short form poetry, some of which saw the light of day in journals like Alien Buddha Zine, Spillwords, and Cajun Mutt Press, Fevers of the Mind Press. I am also a Jeopardy fan.

Poetry Showcase from Elizabeth Cusack (some inspired by Plath & Sexton)

Killing Floor

What if I were invisible, she asks
where would the liquids go?

She’s serious now
She’s given up on life
and this is her last request
an answer to what is death
and what use is anything without a drink
a dry martini and a pack of Marlboro Reds.

She has priorities
when it comes to life after death
Is there darkness and laughter
If not, I’m not going there
I’ll hang around with you lot 
thank you very much
and I’ll see you on the killing floor.

How do I mute key phrases
key poets and prophets 
who are a stab to my heart.
I am as unnecessary 
as a disposable razor blade
and I am sharp enough to die.

My first highs—
Marlboros before they were Light
drinks from the basement
Guy de Maupassant— when they used to read.
I was put down there
with the spiders
in Omaha
I was disposable after all
an after-effect of the war he went through
so he beat me when I was inconvenient
and he loved me when he was through.

Assassin 
inspired by Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath knew —
Endings have beginnings
Like snakes in drainpipes
Or Lynette Fromme on a very bad day
It’s dust to dust and hell to hell
The devil comes and rings his bell
We all have that train to ride —
Spoil the illusion and we’re gone
Blow it up, but we’ll  go on
We’re endless as the sea
And nothing contains everything.

Ruthless

That night was ruthless 
And I went insane 
But it was a good thing.

I spoke to the prophet 
Who explained it all.

He shot the bullet 
Because he was searching for life.

He was a mystic looking for a star.

I am dispensable now.

Howling

My slippery days are over
But the fire still lives on
There’s a soft moon rising
Any day now.

There’s a wolf I loved
And I let the beast destroy me
It doesn’t matter now
No one believed me anyhow.

But I kept on crying wolf
Pretending that I mattered
I’m a voice howling in the dark
One day they’ll find my heart.

Plath and Sexton

Your eyes are extraordinary
And your mouth is red
Like roses at midnight
Your nose is of no consequence
But your hair is perfect
And I’m ready for you
To crack me again
You are the phantom 
That spins me around
Who picks me up
From the floor of despair
I’m a passenger here
So close my eyes
My window is viewless 
Anyway, I like your disguise
I’ll do as I’m told
I have a pill to take
But I’ll take that drink now
Then I’ll die when you say.

Faith Has Been Broken

Faith has been broken,
It was silly to try, and really, why?
Throw the bomb and blow us apart,
It frightens the fish, we’re pathetic anyhow,
Feasting on powder falling from your tongue,
Circling around with our mouths open,
Begging like top or bottom feeders,
Like husbands and wives,
We’re entertainment in an aquarium of lies,
Like a cat with no paw, we’re fantastic,
No need to drop us a line,
We’ll eat what we’re fed, and we’ll play along,
And we’ll die when we’re told,
We’ll believe you, somehow,
That this is an ocean or a natural pond,
But really it’s your game, and we’ll live till we’re done.
Strange dreams may hold us,
Lead us around by the tongue,
Making sweet sounds,
Drawing us down, clasping and dancing,
Claws in our crowns, you’re lethal with smiling,
With incisors we don’t see until it’s too late,
And we’re flopping around,
Why don’t we get it? A tiger has stripes,
A Siamese has twins, coon cats aren’t black,
What does anything mean, because a cat is a cat,
And we’re fish in a bowl, every one,
Red, English, Spanish or French,
We have gills and we’re gullible,
We’ve a tail that moves around,
But we’re just swimming in order to drown. 

August 2022 Poetry Showcase from Elizabeth Cusack 

July 2022 Poetry Showcase by Elizabeth Cusack 

Dylan Poetry Showcase from Elizabeth Cusack
 









Poetry inspired by Anne Sexton by Peter Hague

Midnight Squall
In Memory of Anne Sexton

Here at death’s doorway – 
gothic and brooding.
Depression is king – 
I can’t be happy with anything. 
Anyone.
Any burst of Sun.
I have checked my sextant
and I am rowing home. 
I have done my hitch! 
I have crossed my canvas – 
stitch by stitch. 

(c)Peter Hague 2020

"Bio: Peter Hague has written and studied poetry for most of his life and now has a number of books available including ‘Gain of Function’ and ’Summer With The Gods’. His main occupation was Creative Director in the field of advertising and design. He has a dedicated web site at https://peterhague.com and a digital art site at http://e-brink.co.uk He posts frequently on the web
@PeterHague"




2 wonderful poems by Jennifer Patino inspired by Plath and Sexton

“Anne, I understand”

1.

It's one of those things. We all go through them.
Our little sufferings. We all have our own
little sufferings.

How many children did you bring? Up-swing.
How was your upbringing? Womanhood
is synonymous with duty.

Oh, I absolutely      wanted you here. You complete
the room. Wear green. Blue. No black. No doom
or gloom. And where's your other better half? Your groom?


2.

They asked me these questions in a different time. They
asked me them on a different day. You changed it all for us.
You showed the suppressed female another way.

You made us see right through them. Their transparency.
You wouldn't let them hide. You ripped rubber gloves off.
Dug right in. Your voice etched onto vinyl records is now therapy.

Thank you. For the attitude. Thank you. For acknowledgment
of every shade of moon and mood. Thank you for peach lipstick,
and jealousy, and pyrotechnic poems, and accusing eyes.

3.

I imagine it was hard at the end. Harder still, in the moments
you were sure it was the end and it wasn't. You kept pounding along
on a typewriter, on a wooden door, dry skin cracking in winter, bloody knuckled.

I can imagine a smoke filled room with you. You are the smoke. You
blend into the wallpaper because our host says it's vintage. You make
jokes and I'm your ventriloquist's dummy speaking in your voice.

I have no choice. You felt that too. You over-explained yourself. The worst
and best and gross and beautiful parts of yourself. Your books line the shelf
in the hospital, where I'm surprised you're not banned. “Anne, I understand.”

Sylvia's Medicine

this medicine // laced with dreams of dying //
elderberry mash // melts quickly on a raspberry
tongue //           sylvia left a message //
she is // the entire town’s favorite reminder //
she is // often stuck in my throat when I ponder
goodness //      swallow medicine // like
pumpkin seeds // teeth breaking on the outer
shell //           sylvia says I need to get out more //
but this medicine // makes greens appear blue //
turns them electric // makes red appear where none
should be //       “sylvia’s bleeding”   // she doesn’t notice
the jagged shell // embedded // in her pomegranate foot
this medicine // wakes me up fifteen minutes before //
the alarm clock curses // makes the sun catcher prisms
dancing on the creamed walls look magnified // magnificent
sylvia never cries // she let me // put this medicine //
on all her beach wounds //        I’m different //
I cry as she hands me // this bag // of this medicine //
she’s different            //         she lets me 

Poetry: This Place is a Sorry Excuse For a Hell by Jennifer Patino 

Poetry: Angel Light by Jennifer Patino 

Poetry: It Starts by Jennifer Patino 

New Poem “Gutter Girls” by Jennifer Patino 

Audrey Hepburn Challenge: Some Things A Lady Just Wears Well by Jennifer Patino 

 Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Jennifer Patino 

 



Poetry and stories inspired by the Red Tractor picture

(c) HilLesha O’Nan

Red Tractor by David L O’Nan

Hazel Willett grew up between country and town before the Carmi, Illinois roads. A right red arrow sign points “Corn Seeds and Corn Sold here”, the left black arrow sign on the other side says “The House of Prayer” all you see are fields. Where are these places?

Well Hazel got married a few times to Ol’ Red, Ol’ Roy, and Dwight the drunk. She had a few kids, a few odd girls and a couple of country punks. She had one son the cook, Willie Buck and one son that knew how to crook ‘Lil Clyde. Together them boys could steal some hearts, skinny dipping like frogs out in the pond while mean ass Dwight drove around drunk mowing a mess of crops with his rusty red tractor.

A few years in the boys got through school or left before the final bell tolled and enlisted into the Air Force. They learned the game, got married and got a divorce to two Lindas 2 weeks before they left off to their first mission.

Well Linda Jean and Linda Darlene moved on quickly and got hitched up with the Grawlikee twins. Sean and Shoney Grawlikee. The best metal head country loving boys with the coolest motorcycles and the coolest 8 track system playing the Allman Brothers Band until the birds fell from the sky to their death from the Ramblin’ sounds.

Well back to Willie Buck, known for his cooking the best Scrambled egg chili and blood red puddings, but Clyde felt lonely out there near the Philippines. They began to hear about the rumbles of the wars in countries nearby. Clyde fell in love with a girl from Manila. They talked about babies, farming and building a home back near his mom. Well this girl didn’t feel quite the same for Clyde. She didn’t fully like his idea. She said “no, no, no red tractor, I’ll stay here” then he saw her walk away to another man about a mile away at the corner store. The man was wearing shades and smoking nearly 2 packs at once. It was Clyde’s enemy in the Force. Jimmy Wesley, the self proclaimed loverboy who could convince any women that walked by that he was quite the investor. “One day baby! It’ll be me and you in a big mansion and we’d have all the horses you want”

Well, Clyde got mad. Escaped away. Beat up a greaser style man on the dirt road. Clyde stole his coat and his car and made a skip-hop-and a jump to the nearest Aeroplane. He made it home back into mama Hazel’s arms and her ripe red flowery moo-moo dress.

Hazel said “Welcome home baby, Daddy Dwight is missing…or maybe the ass is in jail… I tell you what Clyde, find you a gal down at Birdie Brown’s bar, marry her up and you can have Dwight’s farm since I’m down for the count and falling more ill everyday damn it!”

She took a silent breath of wretched smoke straight into Clyde’s ear and whispered “You can save up and get you the newest red tractor on the market”

Clyde got giddy and got him a factory job and began singing Buck Owen’s tunes to hippies in the bar that were stoned and tipped him torn dollar bills. One of those Friday nights he saw Marie Smith, a childhood enemy who know was smoking about 2 packs at once and dancing around. They got to talking and next thing you know they were dancing to “Summer in the City” he said “baby, all this scotch has gotten you looking so pretty”…”and it would be an honor if you come to my horse farm estate and become my wife” Well she thought Clyde was full of gold…but he just sold her a pack of lies with wandering eyes.

The couple got married on a rainy El Dorado night. The slick haired preacher got them all wedded and ready to go. 2 weeks later she is looking outside. Clyde is outside yelling “Baby! look at my new ride” Hell…it was the best red tractor around.

4 years later, 6 kids yelling, and a deadbeat neighbor who keeps inviting Marie over for a weed break and a jean shorts photo session. Clyde is walking around, hands in pocket, brass knuckles and a lucky rabbit’s foot in his clutch. Instead of fighting his neighbor Kenny for a lost cause he kept walking up that hill and sat by Mama’s stone. He talked for about an hour and said sorry Mama…I just wasn’t as successful as you wanted me to be.

A few minutes later his brother Willie Buck pulls up with his famous Dr. Thunder Cherry Pie and his family of five. He says “Hey Clyde it’s going to be a great Christmas ain’t it?” Well before Clyde could answer in shame, Willie Buck pulls out a check and says here’s 50 bucks…buddy it’s time to tow away that motherfucking red tractor!”

Clyde begins to hitch the roads and hopes to hit Hollywood to stalk Dolly Parton.

The Red Tractor Micropiece from Spriha Kant

The Red Tractor 
stands polished
excited to assist
his driver’s nominee
in plowing the fields

(c)Spriha Kant

Small town Whitley City, Ky from Marilee Poppins (Lena Saunders)

Ol'Red 

Childhood memories take me back to the winding roads of Kentuckys holler. 

Summers spent running amuck with our cousins

Balancing buckets on our tiny shoulders to bathe ourselves

Taught to handle, load, and shoot guns so young, knocked me on my toosh 

Seeing our Uncle riding back on the red tractor, we knew it was time

Uncle Buck would bring laughter to hurt your belly and cheeks

Aunt W would sing her angelic songs, motioning for us all to sing along

The red tractor still sits in their yard today

Old, duled in its lustrous red, grass grown knee high, weeds twined with the tires and grill

As old and dull as it may look, Red still starts and runs to give its best just to be chosen. 

Life doesn't end as we grow older and wrinkled.

Life doesn't end as our bones do not cooperate as they once did

Life doesn't end when we choose to settle in our lives

Let things grow and get wrapped up in different ideas

Turn that key 

Start your engine

Be present in the body and world your in.

(c)Lena Saunders 9/8/2022

Hot red tractor by Ivor Daniel

I love your hunky tyre track ruts
in clagging mud or
droughted dust

your Wrangler shirtsleeved
diesel trail

your hoarse rough
rumbling horsepower

hotter than a red
Corvette (to me)

in the heartland
the prairie

in sunset Shredded
Wheat
or Marlboro

Country 

“Cursed Houses” Part 2 Poetry Showcase from David L O’Nan  

A “Cursed Houses” pt. 1 Poetry Showcase from David L O’Nan – September 2022 

 Inspired by Bob Dylan poetry by Ivor Daniel 

A Review of “Before the Bridges Fell” by David L O’Nan (review by Ivor Daniel) 

2 poems by Spriha Kant from Hard Rain Poetry Forever Dylan Anthology 

Poetry based on photography “The Lone Road to Moloka’I” from Maggs Vibo 

Poetry based on photography Challenge from Ankh Spice pt. 1 

Bare Bones Writings Issue 1 is out on Paperback and Kindle 

Hard Rain Poetry: Forever Dylan Anthology available today!