Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blueberry Festival

The Blueberry Festival is an annual event held in Kingsville at the John R. Homestead, a farmhouse built in 1842. This is one of my favorite festivals. We get to eat blueberry pie as we tour the steam-powered sawmill, blacksmith shop, or walk along the lakeshore boardwalk.




Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Revising Marilyn

I revised this poem at Sage Hill, tightening some of the lines and making the voice more active. Its earlier incarnation can be found on this blog dated September 25th, 2005. It was published in The Windsor Review 38.2 (2005).



Elizabeth Siddal and Marilyn Monroe in Conversation



They sit and chat, stir cream into coffee,
like long-time friends swapping recipes
over the kitchen table.
Since their deaths, they’ve spent
barely a minute apart.

Lizzie, as Marilyn calls her, loves
to curl Marilyn’s hair with an iron.
Wishes such things were invented
in her day. Marilyn teaches Lizzie
the proper way to apply mascara.

They giggle like schoolgirls
into the wee hours. Is that really you?
Marilyn asks, pointing
to a Rossetti reproduction.
It doesn’t even look like you.

In fits of laughter, they roll
about the bed in pajamas and fuzzy slippers.
What about this, Lizzie teases,
holding a Marilyn doll.
I can’t imagine your hips so small.

But their time together is not always frivolous.
They organize study groups and book clubs,
complete with egg salad sandwiches
and jasmine green tea.

They relate to Hardy’s tragic heroines,
bite their lips when reading McCullers.
Tennessee Williams often sparks a debate
over the worst kind of lover.
But Goethe is their favorite.
Young Werther’s death scene
always turns on the water-works,
each offering the other a tissue.

They share stories of unhappy marriages,
lost children and drug addictions.
Lizzie preferred laudanum, Marilyn diazepam.
Revealing the details of their deaths,
they promise never to tell.

Cut the tips of their forefingers,
and gently press them together.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Black Beetle Through a Microscope

This poem is based on an actual event in Siddal's life. The beetle was indeed used for a demonstration.

Black Beetle Through a Microscope


Purple-black, shiny as polished stone,
it once burrowed in the soil, signaled to its mate
by fanning out its leafy antennae.

Fetched from the kitchen to compare to Durer’s art,
its dissected body now lies here, extended
under a microscope. Shell flayed.
Peeled,
the thin membranous wings
that once took flight.

Your gaze cuts deep. Penetrates into the dark
interior, possesses tiny follicles,
hairs that stand on end.

The professor remarks how Durer’s drawing captures
the beetle’s likeness. How accurate
his art to anatomy.

You agree, nod your head. Wonder at anatomies
on display,
how bodies are framed
through the lens of an eye.

The carcass, no longer useful, discarded
with the rotting vegetable roots and rancid meat.