Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mise en abîme

She was a stunner, a poet; Sylvia Plath was one of her many peers…

Anne Sexton was an amazing poet, complete with the obligatory mental health issues that seem mandatory to creative genius.

What is it about the creative process that often attracts persons of ‘challenged’ mental health or substance abuse? I tend to think it is our propensity for self-examination, to the point of self-flagellation. It is not easy to look deep into the crevices of the soul—particularly when what you find there is something less-than Thanksgiving Dinner conversation material.

It is also fascinating to note that writing, in particular, seems to be a narcissistic endeavor. “Look at me! Look at me! Listen: I have something you need to hear!”

It is no wonder, then, that many writers have gone the way of alcoholism, depression and in many cases, suicide. That isn’t an option I could ever ponder, simply because in my case I’d consider it the ultimate in selfishness. I have two autistic kids. They’ve got enough shit on their plates without me bending over and taking a dump on their peas and carrots.

But I can relate to the inclination in theory, anyway. I’m not a poet but I can understand where it all comes from…that need to discover self or other; to shine a light on life’s sores. That taste in your mouth when you stumble upon the perfect word or phrase. The urge to get it all down, lest it disappear forever.

Anne, this one’s for you, lady.

~ Mise en abîme ~

feelin’ very Plath today
trouble keeping ennui at bay
the straw that broke the proverbial cliché
was running out of mayonnaise

earsplitting life rains on my cavalcade

how long
can over-ripe fruit hang
before the inevitable thump
where hope and reality collide
bruising skin and ego

slightly Sexton round half-past three
with no fur coat, vodka or garage
forced to rethink my hapless homage
grudgingly substituted mustard

I have a king, Mr. Dream
smaller than yours, no doubt
equally dear
I wonder will it whimper to a close
last regret siphoned like stolen gas
from a tank already parched

‘I’m going to heaven, right Mom?’ he asks for the seventeenth time today

Yes! with conviction I mutter
though I do not really feel that way
I’m not against God, per se
kids should have imaginary friends

grousing Woolf due to winter’s malcontent
pond behind the house is frozen
gathering stones for my pockets, it seems
time was not well spent

chores and drudgery the tender frenulum
between need, want, must do something
halting frenetic energy
with no deliberate target

“Heaven’s real, right Mom? ” OCD!

standing between two mirrors I see
me within a me
what? is it
where? are we going
when? I’m ready
why? not now

‘I’m going to heaven, right Mom?’ Is death the freedom to begin?

now, now
I foment to a mercurial eruption


standing between two mirrors I see
the containment of the container within the contained
constant self-reflection, endlessly repeating frames
hauntingly familiar

stalled between am and will be
I could shuffle toward Sylvia’s path
but with my oven out of gas
I’d have to use the microwave

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