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
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"
“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
with Dr. Gail Crowther : Author of Three Martini Afternoons at the Ritz The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Gail: I first started writing when I was probably about 6 or 7, mainly poems to various family members and making little books of poems. At that age I read vocariously and loved poetry anthologies with a mix of all sorts of poets and poems. Then this progressed to extremely serious teenage poetry and short stories that were all about death, dying, and how world-weary I was aged 15. My main influences at this time were Plath, the Brontës, and anything with a whiff of gothic. By the time I got to university, I realised I was more comfortable writing non-fiction and became interested in writing about people, places, and objects. But I was fascinated by academics who were somehow able to keep the creative in their writing, people like Annette Kuhn, Caroline Steadman, and Alison Light.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Gail: I have such a wide range of influences and I read across so many genres because I do believe strongly that writers should do this. Somehow immersing yourself as a reader does feed into your writing as you tend to synthesise everything you expose yourself to. So, I read academic texts, lots of poetry, lots of contemporary fiction in many genres such as classics, crime, thrillers, or what is often called ‘chick-lit’. I also recently started reading more YA fiction, as well as biographies, books about art, and photography. All of these things influence me. Even writers I don’t particularly enjoy influence me because I can think about ways in which I don’t want to write, or messages I don’t want to give out. The most recent set of books I read which blew me away were Ali Smith’s quartet Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer. To be able to write like that would be a dream and to make politics so beautiful, and not preachy, well, I was completely in awe.
Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Gail: Not really, no. It just always seemed to be lurking there, unquestioned. I still have a Student of the Week poster from when I was aged 8 and one of the questions on there was “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and my answer was “A writer.”
Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?
Gail: This is a big question! There are so many people who have helped in so many different ways. I’m sure other writers will agree that sometimes emotional support is just as important as professional support and I have been lucky to get both. Whether that’s good friends, or my parent delivering meals for me when I’ve been deep in a chapter and not wanting to stop and cook, through to my agent Carrie and editor Alison who always, always treat me kindly and with so much support that I completely trust them to not only be great judges of my work, but to do it in such a way that it feels a really positive collaboration. I have learned so much from them about how a book works, how a narrative works, and now when I write I have their voices in my head and given what a lonely profession it can be, that feels very comforting somehow. There is also George, my dog, who has been with me for every word I have written since 2012, and I couldn’t ask for a better side-kick (though some days his snoring is a bit off-putting).
Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from home influence your work?
Gail: I grew up by the sea in the north of England, and like Plath, always feel that the sea is a part of my consciousness in some way. I’ve lived in many other cities, and in other countries too, but I am happiest when I am by the sea which somehow feeds into my work, but I honestly couldn’t say how. Perhaps mostly in a practical way. I start every day with a walk on the beach and George has a swim and I mentally plan the day ahead. Or if I get stuck with work I go to the beach, and this usually sorts things out. There’s something about the sea that relaxes the mind. Or opens it up.
Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Gail: I think there are two pieces of work – my first solo book The Haunted Reader and Sylvia Plath was my attempt to bring the creative into an academic piece of work. I was utterly absorbed in this for a good four years of my life as it began as my PhD thesis and was then adapted into a book. I loved every minute. It was when I first encountered the notion of sociological hauntings and ghostly elements of social life which formed a framework for so much of my subsequent work after that. I just wanted to explore what it is about Plath that captures so many people. Using Jacqueline Rose’s idea that Plath is a ghost that haunts our culture, I wanted to carry on that story to find out what happens to that ghostly figure when it is let loose in our culture? What do readers do with such a ghost? But my latest book Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz: The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton is also especially meaningful to me as I used a very different writing style and I had a lot of fun creating a thematic dual biography by merging two stories to show certain similarities and differences between the two poets.
Q7: Favorite activities to relax?
Gail: Reading just about anything. Watching films and (mostly American) TV, hanging around on the beach, eating crisps, watching massively dramatic operas, travelling to new places, playing games with George, buying shoes.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?
Gail: “I simply cannot see where there is to get to” from “The Moon and the Yew Tree” by Plath. On the surface it seems quite desolate, but actually it kind of depends on mood. If I’m melancholic, I appreciate the slight despondency of it. But if I’m looking for a way ahead, I like the quest aspect – where exactly is there to get to? Who knows…
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Gail: I’ve started work on a new book which I hope will be announced very soon and is due to be published in 2023 by Gallery Books ׀ Simon & Schuster, New York. Writing and researching during a pandemic is rather unique and somewhat challenging, but I am so happy and privileged to be working on this project. If anyone would like to follow my updates, or just chat about writing, I’m on Twitter – @gail_crowther and on Instagram – crowther_gail (though you’ll have to put up with lots of pictures of George and my new shoes as well as writing updates.)
https://amzn.to/2TKLPF6 link to Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz on U.S. Amazon