Archives for posts with tag: Sylvia Plath

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lex talionis
by Stuart Barnes

an eye for an

I

SOURCE: “lex talionis” by Stuart Barnes is based on page 41 of Letters Home by Sylvia Plath: Correspondence 1950-1963 (HarperPerennial, 1992).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stuart Barnes was born in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. His poems and creative non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in The Warwick Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Assaracus: A Journal of Gay PoetryThe Nervous BreakdownSoutherly Journal, Going Down SwingingOut of Sequence: The Sonnets Remixed, Mascara Literary Review and Verity La, amongst others. He is poetry editor of Tincture Journal and can be followed on Twitter @StuartABarnes.

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LEAVING THE MOTEL

Poem by W.D. Snodgrass

Outside, the last kids holler
Near the pool: they’ll stay the night.
Pick up the towels; fold your collar
Out of sight.

Check: is the second bed
Unrumpled, as agreed?
Landlords have to think ahead
In case of need,

Too. Keep things straight: don’t take
The matches, the wrong keyrings–
We’ve nowhere we could keep a keepsake–
Ashtrays, combs, things

That sooner or later others
Would accidentally find.
Check: take nothing of one another’s
And leave behind

Your license number only,
Which they won’t care to trace;
We’ve paid. Still, should such things get lonely,
Leave in their vase

An aspirin to preserve
Our lilacs, the wayside flowers
We’ve gathered and must leave to serve
A few more hours;

That’s all. We can’t tell when
We’ll come back, can’t press claims,
We would no doubt have other rooms then,
Or other names.

NOTE: William DeWitt Snodgrass (1926-2009) won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1960. He is considered a leading figure — along with Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, and Anne Sexton — in the confessional school of poetry.

Photo: Built in 1946, the Olive Motel is an old-school motor court motel located at 2751 Sunset Blvd. in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles.

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MIRROR 
by Sylvia Plath

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
What ever you see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful —
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

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PHOTO: Actress Megan Fox curls up with SYLVIA PLATH: Collected Poems.

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Since May is “Get Caught Reading” Month, we will try to feature photos of well-known people reading books where we can, in fact, make out what they are reading. But this isn’t always easy — since the covers for many books change over the years.

On several obscure (to me) websites, I was able to find the cover for the edition of SYLVIA PLATH: Collected Poems that Megan Fox ponders in the photo above — but unable to locate it at the major online booksellers. It seems that the volume now sports a cover with a photo of Plath looking into the camera, in contrast to how she was depicted in the book’s previous incarnation — a coloring-book outline drawing of her looking down.

Another change in the newer edition: The word “the” has been added before “collected poems” — perhaps to let the reader know that this is “the” definitive collection of Plath’s work.

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BLACKBERRYING

Poem by Sylvia Plath

Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.

Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks—
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.

The only thing to come now is the sea.
From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,
gapping its phantom laundry in my face.
These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.
I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me
To the hills’ northern face, and the face is orange rock
That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space
Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths
Beating and beating at an intractable metal.

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BALLOONS

Poem by Sylvia Plath

Since Christmas they have lived with us,
Guileless and clear,
Oval soul-animals,
Taking up half the space,
Moving and rubbing on the silk

Invisible air drifts,
Giving a shriek and pop
When attacked, then scooting to rest, barely trembling.
Yellow cathead, blue fish —-
Such queer moons we live with

Instead of dead furniture!
Straw mats, white walls
And these traveling
Globes of thin air, red, green,
Delighting

The heart like wishes or free
Peacocks blessing
Old ground with a feather
Beaten in starry metals.
Your small

Brother is making
His balloon squeak like a cat.
Seeming to see
A funny pink world he might eat on the other side of it,
He bites,

Then sits
Back, fat jug
Contemplating a world clear as water.
A red
Shred in his little fist.

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LEAVING THE MOTEL

Poem by W.D. Snodgrass

Outside, the last kids holler
Near the pool: they’ll stay the night.
Pick up the towels; fold your collar
Out of sight.

Check: is the second bed
Unrumpled, as agreed?
Landlords have to think ahead
In case of need,

Too. Keep things straight: don’t take
The matches, the wrong keyrings–
We’ve nowhere we could keep a keepsake–
Ashtrays, combs, things

That sooner or later others
Would accidentally find.
Check: take nothing of one another’s
And leave behind

Your license number only,
Which they won’t care to trace;
We’ve paid. Still, should such things get lonely,
Leave in their vase

An aspirin to preserve
Our lilacs, the wayside flowers
We’ve gathered and must leave to serve
A few more hours;

That’s all. We can’t tell when
We’ll come back, can’t press claims,
We would no doubt have other rooms then,
Or other names.

NOTE: William DeWitt Snodgrass (1926-2009) won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1960. He is considered a leading figure — along with Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, and Anne Sexton — in the confessional school of poetry.

Photo: Built in 1946, the Olive Motel is an old-school motor court motel located at 2751 Sunset Blvd. in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles. I’ve driven past this place countless times and always figured it was abandoned — but from what I gather via Google, it’s still in business.