Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Bell Jar


“It was a queer, 
sultry summer,
the summer they 
electrocuted the 
—Sylvia Plath,
The Bell Jar

The idea of being electrocuted makes me sick—
The Rosenbergs strapped into a crude, shitty
Rather unstylish electric chair…

No class at all, just a mirrored-window there—
With ogling voyeurs staring at you, waiting
Expectantly for you to get yourself fuckin fried 

Zapped until your blood boils, feeling it bad—
Your brains turned to mush beneath the metal
Skullcap strapped down over your shaved head

Tres unfashionable if you ask me, my dears—
But then, getting hung with your tongue
Sticking out or getting gassed isn’t much better

Guillotine slicing seems faster & more humane—
But then just ask Marie Antoinette back during
The French Revolution about what she thought

Her aristocratic rather shocked head plopping—
Down thru the hole in the platform, slice & diced
Nice & quick, ka-plopping down into a basket

Tell us, Marie Antoinette, are you still saying—
“Let them eat cake?” down there in the bloody
Basket looking bug-eyed at the whole scene?

Your lovely French body up there on the stage—
Flopping around like a chicken with its head cut-off
Amidst the roaring mob of vengeful revolutionaries?

Court Green in Devon is bad enough—
The old cemetery with its crumbling tombstones
Old elms and yew trees gaunt in the moonlight

At midnight in the moonlight a year later—
There’s a fake, country-wet freshness in the air
Somehow seeping into the tail end of a bad dream

The past has evaporated over all those long gone—
Days and nights since Ted and Assia have strangely 
Disappeared, leaving me a distraught, lonely window

The sun wavers in the small town empty streets—
The crummy Mytholmroyd relatives have come, gone
Although Olwyn has refused to come visit me

We hate each other & perhaps she senses it—
With that Heathcliff-esque intuition she shares with
Ted of the moody moors about what really happened

How could there be a funeral in the cemetery—
When, after all, both Ted & Assia have supposedly
Flown the coop, run away & left me husbandless?

I’m not really a widow although I knew I am—
Now I’m’ just simply a strange, lonely, weird kind
Of American divorcee struggling on my own

Bell Jar and Colossus are both published now—
Miss Faber has taken me under its wing publishing
Some of my other books like my Ariel as well

Somebody has to collect Ted’s royalties—
So they send the check to me and that helps out
Plus a job at the BBC & teaching at Cambridge

Gradually, I’ve wormed my way into British Lit—
Even though I keep everything pretty much hidden
In plain sight playing innocent about any foul play

I simply despise dirty, cheap, crummy London—
The cars seem smaller and blacker and more dingier 
Than ever, sizzling through black wet streets

The clothes on the people seemed even grubbier—
And I remember when I was going to Cambridge
And then W.B. Yeats’ flat on Fitzroy so very drab

That winter there was a horrible cold snowstorm—
I decided to stay at Court Green in New Tawton 
Giving up any possible séances with Miss Yeats

I stay in bed most of the time on weekends—
In a basement room in a scruffy hotel in Victoria
Reading A.E. Ellis’ The Rack, racking my brains

I’ve reached the nadir of my so-called Life now—
Totally preoccupied by my memories of Hughes
In bed with Assia Weevil & feeling very depressed

Am I drawing solely from memory now—
Dreaming of my husband, as well as undoubtedly 
Assia pregnant by now with Ted’s new offspring?

The more I read The Rack, the more I like it—
To see them both on the Rack, stretched out and
Screaming bloody murder down in some dungeon

I lie here listening to the hiss of dark cars—
Going by on black wet streets, the drabness of 
English clothes, being stuck in awful England

Emotionally, I feel I’ve reached a new low—
But then what else is new, I’ve been depressed
Most of my life at least since I was nine years old

After Daddy died, joy left my life for some reason—
I ended up stuck with cloying, possessive Aurelia
Who dominated, guilted and drove me crazy

I’ve started paraphrasing all of my journal entries—
“The basement room in a scruffy hotel near Victoria" 
Into "a cold, cheerless dead-end cemetery.”

I’ve slowly realized that I’m undergoing something—
A strange weird “Doubletake” of film noir horror
Like in some tacky cheap Hammer Film movie

Philip Larkin is right about me when he says—
“I see her as a kind of Hammer Films poet” 
In his letter to Judy Egerton on June 10, 1960

This is before I shot Hughes making love—
To Assia Weevil in the Court Green cemetery
And buried them down deep in the moist earth

I’ve repressed it all, not wanting to think anymore—
After hearing them talk on the phone one night
Discussing how they were going to murder me

Ted would knock me out with a big glass ashtray—
And then Assia and him would stuff me headfirst
Into the oven and turn on the gas all the way

They’d hide out back in London for awhile—
In one of Ted’s former girlfriend’s dump, then wait 
For the inevitable Black Telephone call at night

After all, I’ve tried it twice already back home—
Gone thru electroshock treatment and years of
Hospitalization and psychiatric intensive treatments

After all, Anne Sexton & I would joke about it—
Sipping cocktails after Looney Tune Lowell would 
Give his crazy poetry confessional lectures back then

After all, I’d left a wonderful teaching job at Smith—
Against Aurelia and Prouty’s advice, only to marry
And get totally enamored with a mean British thug

He’s a Thug, just the type I’ve always wanted—
A Big Bad Daddy type so moody, so malcontent,
So tall, dark and handsome with a nice big dick

I fall in love with him the minute I meet him—
At a party in Cambridge for a crummy little literary
Magazine his gang have put together with their band

Saint Botolph's Review has a poem or two—
By this campus Lady’s Man who has a reputation
For being a hot Yorkshire hustler with the women

At a dance to celebrate one of the rag’s racy issues—
Hughes and I dance with each other and I fall for
Him head over heels but he just smirks at me

I’m just another one of those Fulbright chicks—
A Doris Day type from New England from a fancy
Ivy League college called Smith, a little know-it-all

Like any Wolf he knows that I really want it—
And he plays hard to get, ripping off one of my
Earrings outta my earlobe & making it bleed

He’s a goodlooking mean Mytholmroyd S/M type—
Used to getting his way and then dumping them
After he gets what he wants outta them

A sordid Rabbit-Hunter type from the Moors—
Used to hunting and fishing and fucking whatever
He wants to because he’s the Heathcliff type

Wuthering Heights is the Story of his Life—
He goes thru women like harvesting wheat and
He’s got the drop-dead looks of a Jack Palance

My bloody earlobe gets erect & turns me on—
I’ve had too much to drink and I’ve never ever
Had a real man in bed before back there at Smith

But here’s Big Daddy both cruel & cunning—
Who knows what I want and I’m willing to
Beg, crawl, steal and bleed for it

I stand on my toes as if to kiss him—
While the party and band get louder & louder
But then I bite him on the cheek real hard

Hughes the Rabbit Hunter jumps back—
He’s bleeding like a pig and then I reach down
And grab his big Mytholmroyd piece of meat

Hughes does a Doubletake and just stands there—
I’ve got my tight little fist around it, undoing his
Zipper and squeezing it like a big fat Snake

Hughes gets me in an empty bedroom upstairs and—
That’s when he does another Doubletake finding
Out that my innocent lips are tight like a Vise

“Don’t bite me,” he tells me, as I go down on him—
All those Smith College pent-up Mademoiselle hot
Passions & rabid hungry New Yorker yearnings

This new Heathcliff of mine is quite the hunk—
Talk about a Trans-Atlantic blowjob with a chick
He’d thought was just cool as iceberg or cucumber

I succulently deep-throat Ted’s think tense Tool—
His uncut touchy Titanic sliding fast down my nice
Little pert polite pretty pouty greedy Throat

Another Doubletake comes up for Ted Hughes—
When I get all twelve inches of his manly moody
Moors meat up my pussy for sloppy seconds

I’m simply unforgivably, insatiably Slutty—
Nothing but a little Stella Dallas whore right outta
Some new trashy Olive Higgins Prouty porno novel 

A pent-up Hollywood starlette waiting to happen—
Hot off a slippery, Vaseline-greased King Vidor
Director’s couch starring Barbara Stanwyck

Or was it Barbara Standyck doing the dirty—
Me making up for lost time for an all too hot,
Long too-long repressed cocky Oedipal Complex

Definitely a true Mating of the Gods—
As Miss Peter Ustinov exclaims demurely during
A nude gladiatorial fight in a Spartacus skin-flick

Such Divine Conjoinings of Cock and Cunt—
Such Mt. Olympus Conjugations of Male and Female
Such Marriages of Shocking Poetic Genius!!!

Surely such Rendezvous Encounters can’t last—
Like Oil and Water they surely can’t mix for long
Surely English Literature will never be the same!!!

So that the very next issue of the little rag—
Saint Botolph's Review gets devoted completely
To our “Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath” seminal tryst

Our Succulent shocking Quickie London Marriage—
Followed by being invited to T.S. Eliot’s Faber
Cocktail party celebrating our new book

The Times and London Book Review—
As well as The New York Times and New Yorker
Give Ted and me simply wonderful rave reviews

We’re the new lovely couple on the BBC—
Celebrities of CBS, NBC and ABC in America
Giving exquisite readings at the Guggenheim

The Queen & British Royalty simply adore us—
She bestows both the Order of Merit and even
Declares us the first Joint Poet Laureate Couple

We become Stars of Stage, Screen, and TV—
Hollywood woos us, lavishes us with Oscars,
All because of our stunning Bell Jar Movie

And what is this stunning Motion Picture?—
This exquisite Hollywood Romantic Jewel
That turns Norma Desmond green with Envy?

It’s just a minor little screen gem—
Based on my cheap pulp fiction paperback novel
A fictional little piece of kitschy schlock

It’s hardly a True Confession Classic—
Hardly an American Masturbation Masterpiece
It’s owes a lot to Robert Lowell and Anne Sexton

It points poignantly to Tennessee Williams—
His play/movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and
Especially Burl Ives as Big Daddy

It draws inspiration from Hollywood—
Jane Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe
Especially their Big Cadillac Tits

It alludes to the Great American Dream—
As well, of course, to the Great American Novel
And New York’s great Skyscraper Skyline  

But it isn’t all just Americana schlock—
Even though my Sylvia Plath puss gives it
Perhaps just the Right Touch down there

Way down there between Ted’s legs—
Down there inside his moody insolent
Anglo-Saxon Lounge-Lizard Loins

It’s Ted’s Big Bad Daddy Dick—
His sullen Wuthering Heights Wiener
His Sultry Withering No-Good Smirk

I always seem to fall for it—
Getting stuffed inside this bleak Bell Jar
And then Ted turns up the Electricity

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