Easter Island

Easter Island 

In my Mytholmroyd world—
I was a moors monolith

Philip Larkin smirked at me—
Calling me an Easter Island stiff

My craggy, cliff-top face—
My tilted granite demeanor

The grueling prolongueur—
Of my schmaltzy stone verse

My dedication to mistresses—
The savage act of commitment

The one-night stands with—
Dolorous white goddesses

The placebo I kept grabbing—
Greedy like gulping for cocaine

Lady Lazarus

Lady Lazarus

“I have done it again”
—Sylvia Plath
“Lady Lazarus”

I’ve done it again & again—
The same old thing every time

Doing my Marlene Dietrich act—
Bright as a Nazi lampshade

My Weimar cabaret swan song—
The old I can’t help it routine

No longer Blue Angel darling—
Swank in my sexy stylish tuxedo

I’m just a sad old has-been now—
Orson’s mistress in Touch of Evil

Peal off my skin-tight smile—
Beneath it a thousand face lifts

Bombed-out Berlin won after all—
But I’m rather bored by it all now

My nose, my eye pits, my set of teeth—
My sour breath all will vanish someday

Eva had her fervent last wish tho—
To be married in her bunker grave

The same with me in Hollywood—
And like a cat I had nine times to die

It’s Number Nine so Auf wiedersehen—
What a trashy bunch of annihilating decades

What else is there for a million moviegoers—
The peanut-crunching crowd to do?

They want to unwrap me hand and foot—
The big strip tease, Gentlemen, ladies, please!

These are just my hands and bare knees—
I’m just celluloid skin and bones

Nevertheless, I am the same as you—
The first time it happens is an accident

The second time it’s meant to be—
Saying goodbye and not coming back

Dying is an act like anything else—
Don’t expect an encore or big comeback

Even if you do it exceptionally well—
It’s still crummy and it feels like hell

I did it so many times it was like old hat—
I guess you could say it was boring

It's easy enough to be a poet—
It's easy enough to do it and yawn

It's tres theatrical like a cabaret act—
Same place, same face, same brutes

Amused applause from the critics—
Another “Daddy” really knocks them out

I’m eyeing all my scars, my face jobs—
I really get off on cosmetic surgery

I get a nice charge, a very large charge—
Herr Doktor charges more than Dior

I am your opus up here on the screen—
Your Blue Angel in Hoodoo Voodoo drag

My makeup melts, then I have to shriek—
I turn and burn like the Third Reich

How can there be a Blue Angel like me—
Singing I can’t help it all the time?

Ash, ash, go ahead, poke and stir—
Flesh, bones, there’s nothing left here

Just a cake of soap, a wedding ring—
A gold filling, Herr God, Herr Lucifer

Beware, my dears, of men like Ted Hughes—
They eat women like you & me like air

Murder She Wrote

Murder She Wrote

“Poetry of this order
is a murderous art.
Murderous, that is,
rather than suicidal”

—John Romano
"Sylvia Plath Reconsidered," 

I think that as far as language goes—
That Olwyn and Dido Merwin were right

I’m just a spoiled American bitch queen—
Butscher even calls me a Bitch Goddess

I can’t help it actually that I’m bitchy—
Like that dishy bitchy poem “Face Lift”

Dido was so shocked and chagrined—
How dare I reveal her deepest dark secrets

Her private little cosmetic surgery tidbits—
So her ugly wrinkled old face could be new

So she could pretend to be young again—
Even tho her pussy really needed the lift

The dynamics were sharp and quick—
The hard exactness of a surgeon’s knife

But isn’t that, my dear, the craft of poetry—
The jaunty slang, the cinematic cutting?

Even “Tulips” with its quiet gentle lines—
Sustains a tension of menace and energy

Can I help it if my verse sounds stark—
And primitive like a naked African folktale?

Engorged with sudden sexy primitivism—
Exciting to the snaky Medusa imagination?

Are face lifts gothic or just merely grotesque—
Am I to blame for Dido’s tacky vanities?

Do I do night dances at racy nightclubs—
Dido writhing naked under the moon?

Surely I’m just as shy as Emily Dickinson—
As closeted as moody Munich Mannequins

Can I help it if Dido Merwin was aghast—
I said nothing about the bellhop or cute waiter

Phantom Texts

Phantom Texts

“Might it be that, after all this
time, our poetry detectives
have been looking in the wrong
places for these phantom texts?”
—Anna Journey, After Ariel:
An Argument for Sylvia Plath's
Phantom Third Poetry Collection,
Plath Profiles 5

Later on when he was dead—
The phantom texts were silent

The frisson of that event—
Meant all-too-human victims

Stumbling out onto the—
Mythic arena transformed

Transforming mere human beings—
Into characters in a melodrama

It takes time though—
A dead husband’s poetic persona

Ted my Alchemical Husband—
My Demon Slave



“One is left wondering,
"What happened to Doubletake?"
—Anna Journey, After Ariel:
An Argument for Sylvia Plath's
Phantom Third Poetry Collection,
Plath Profiles 5

The Doubletake was Fitzroy Road—
Sylvia’s flat in dead-end London

The Doubletake began then—
What if it had been me?

My head shoved in the oven—
Beholding myself in the morgue?

Sylvia does not speak afterwards—
The Chalk Farm Station disappears

Reading my obituary in the Times—
It’s not really like Plath this time

Death by gas vapors for me—
That was much too easy a way

She waited until Assia and—
I made love when she was gone

Supposedly to give a reading—
“Big Bad Daddy” for the BBC

I was naked, running a bath—
She came up behind me

I fell down into the tumult—
Of falling water when she shot me

This is the last time she said—
The last time you’ll fail me

Immersed in the bathtub’s—
Running water, I was a dead pike

Assia came running in—
Screaming hysterically as usual

A beautiful witch goddess—
With a nice hole between her eyes

The privilege of intimacy—
There was no difference anymore

Sylvia was the poet myth maker now—

Our dead dyad buried in daffodils

The Pen

The Pen

“a pen already writing”
—Ted Hughes, “The Blackbird,”
Birthday Letters

Your Scheaffer pen—
Streamlined, scribbling, sleek

Writing with its demon’s schlep—
Looping on your elm tree desk

Then already writing wary things—
Writing things right away

The yawning presence writing—
Waiting for something to speak

And then the pen shuts up—
Too much has already been said

A woman in a bottleneck—
Singing like a blackbird


The Labyrinth

“Jabbered hedge-bank
judgments”—Ted Hughes
“Error,” Birthday Letters

Surrounded by stump-warts—
Estranged by brambly strangeness

Like entering a dark age dialect—
Peering into a sunken labyrinth

A leaking thatch-drip roof—
A sunken dark church next door

Like some low tide Lyonesse—
Scudding clouds, submarine trees

Huddled knee-deep in quag—
Rainy streets testing my limits

Throbbing gutters, squandering sewers
Searching for the Taw and the sea

I felt it flowing through me—
Sloughing soundlessly underground

Centuries of bog-mire, quagmire—
Morass-marsh and swamp-time

The Literary Life

The Literary Life

“Daintiest curio
relic of Americana”
—Ted Hughes,
“The Literary Life,”
Birthday Letters

I climbed Ariel’s—
Narrow dark staircase

To her Fitzroy Road—
Flat in London

To visit her—
Yeats' heirloom old dive

Her face was tense—
Blue from losing me

Her Voice a queer—
Quotidian garble

The ghostly gloom—
Arielesque forebodings

It was enough to—
Make me gasp for air

Inside her Bell Jar—
So helpless again

She wept and threw
Herself down the stairs

They picked her up, put—
Her back together again

Marianne Moore—
And Elizabeth Bishop

Lived downstairs in—
Their little Lesbian flat

So I didn’t stay—
For very long

Sylvia’s literary memoirs—
Already noir posthumous

I couldn’t help but—
Be glad it wasn’t me

American poets surely—
Should just watch TV

Devon Diary

Devon Diary

“Devon—country of
their willed idyll”
—Erica Wagner
Ariel’s Gift

It’s very, very ancient—
With castle-thick walls

Tight and compact—
Not at all rambling

A former manorhouse—
Rectory with thatched roof

Next to the town church—
With its Anglican dead

Devon becomes our double—
Our dead-end doppelganger

The house rots around us—
Our claustrophobic coffin

Then the script slowly—
Begins to overtake us

Followed by somnambulist
Secondaire lit queens

Dead End

Dead End Street

“we had to have it
we got it”
—Ted Hughes,
“9 Willow Street,”
Birthday Letters

Dead End Street—
My poetical address

Number nine—
Even better

It confirmed that—
I’d simply had it

Dead End poet—
9 Willow Street North Tawton

By the yawning Taw River—
Beyond my New England home

Here at my Elm desk—
Ear-plugs and the cliff's edge

Jung’s dreadful nigredo—
It had its eye out for me

It folded its bat wing—
Blackness all around me

Enclosing me, making—
My heart jump in my ribs

I was grabbing at straws—
Anything to get away

Anything to get away—
From marriage & motherhood

As well as from Olwyn—
Aurelia and Big Daddy back home

Pacing the parquet—
Ending up with nothing

Never mind the blockage—
Ariel still in the wings

Harassed Heathcliff

Harassed Heathcliff

“And I am the cargo
Of a coffin attended by swallows.
And I am the water
Bearing the coffin that will not be silent.”
—Ted Hughes

I kept on being—
Haunted by Heathcliff

All the way to my last
Book of poetry "Ariel"

Ted haunted me—
On the London busses

He skulked thru my—
Uneasy nightly dreams

Taking a bath once—
Testing the water

With my little toe—
BINGO!!! there he was again!

Poor handsome Heathcliff—
Haunting his ex-wife Sylvia

Plus all the Feminists & those—
Lovely Lesbos Libers as well

No wonder Heathcliff—
Was so snotty & snide

Overly sensitive about—
The littlest dyke things

Getting all upset—
Over my “Rabbit Catcher”

As well as “Lesbos”—
For some queer reason

Wuthering Slights

Wuthering Slights

“Writers were
pathetic people”
—Ted Hughes,
“Wuthering Heights,”
Birthday Letters

It was pretty much—
Over with when we got there

The open moors, gamma rays—
A decomposing, forsaken quarry

Dreadful drab flaking slabs—
Rubble of stone and sheep shit

I was twice as ambitious—
As Emily Bronte among the ruins

I sulked in the moody moors—
It was right up my dark alley

Amidst the rubble & ruins—
Crumbly stonework, door frames

I breathed it all in—
The burnt-out, worn-out remains

All the failed efforts, failed hopes—
A bridge back to stone rubble past

Doing what Emily Brontë did—
Playing the Heathcliff  big goodbye

Letting the moors wind blow—
The heath-grass always restless

Letting Sylvia tell her story—
Her child-idiot’s notion of me

Peering thru her jealous envious—
Gimp-eyed gaze like Bronte’s double

Court Green

Court Green

“The car crammed
with books”
—Ted Hughes, “The Pan,”
Birthday Letters

Books, brassy weather—
Bags of cutlery, crockery

Down the tilting street—
Into that strange town

Arriving ahead of time—
Before the furniture arrives

The empty new house—
Staring at us in the rain

Arriving weary after a day—
Driving in the Morris Traveler

The house knowing our future—
But helpless to warn us

North Tawton

North Tawton

you called them”
—Ted Hughes, “Error,”
Birthday Letters

Staring out the window—
The sunken church & graveyard

The black slate roofs—
The inaccessible clouds above

The submarine trees—
Rooted deep in the labyrinth

Hedge row full of secrets—
Traffic on Market & Exeter

This is what I’ve chosen—
A rainy North Tawton day

And now a gone husband—
A graveyard, a wedding picture

His unseen bones down there—
Still undergoing the changes


Court Green Home

“It is the ancient
house of Sir and
Lady Arundel”
—Aurelia Plath,
Letters Home

Lady Arundel was there—
To show Ted and me around

The main house had nine rooms—
A wine cellar and small attic

A great lawn in front leading—
From a wall nine feet high

All one can see from the road—
Is a mysterious thatched roof

There’s a cobblestone court—
A garage once a stable

A cottage with two small rooms—
Once used as the servant’s quarters

There are three acres of land—
All walled in for privacy’s sake

An apple orchard, cheery trees—
Blackberry & raspberry bushes

The land backs onto the church—
An eleventh century gloomy wreck

The graveyard is full of old tombstones—
A Norman spire looms over the dead

Elms with their spidery fingers in the sky—
Tall thick Yews with thick roots down deep

The nearby village is clogged with traffic—
Up and down Market and Exeter Streets

Beyond that is the lush Devon countryside—
And beyond that the beaches are waiting

The climate is mild but rainy, of course—
Sometimes the sun peaks through clouds


The Burnt-Out Spa

“It is not I, it is not I!”
—Sylvia Plath,
The Burnt-out Spa

An old queen ended in this place—
Miss Thing of rotting wood, rusty teeth

Pale blue vitreous oozing stuff—
Sick sticky resin outta the bark

The rafters and struts overhead—
Silent and aloof as some old Chartres

How long has this poor old queen—
Been foundering here in the rubbish?

See how the little weeds insinuate—
Soft suede tongues between her toes

Her tacky toppled coiffure wig—
A shameless esplanade for crickets

I pick and pry like a nosy doctor—
Doing an autopsy among the ruins

Enamel entrails, beggar bowls—
The pipe & hookah that ruined her

The pizza delivered by the cute kid—
The vodka bottles scattering the floor

Cleaning up the mess she left—
Her gimpy Revlon mushy lips

It all flows into a tragic picture—
Balustrade of a saggy has-been

Once so gracious and austere—
Seated on her stylish chic throne

Seated beneath her the cute—
Entourage of chicken boss cupids

Spoiled rotten by her wealth—
And streaming hustler generosity

So many grew spoiled here—
At the doorstep of her lewd spa

Straining, staining, spraining—
The jizz-jets of youthful desire


Blowjob for a Birthday


The month of deflowering is over—
The fruit’s in, all of it simply rotten

The debutant balls are tumescent—
The dead mummies back in storage

The deadheads are back home again—
Couch potatoes in front of the TV

I’ll go into hiding in a flowerpot—
My heart is a stopped wilting geranium

The dogs are nosing in my entrails—
They’re peeing on the hydrangea bushes

The cabbage heads are wormy—
Nailed to the moldering rafters

The inmates are back in their cells—
Their veiny skin white as pork fat

O the beauty of abuse—
The orange pumpkins without eyes

The birds have pecked them all out—
Along with Tippi Hedren’s up in the attic

Dark House

There’s this house on haunted hill—
I made it myself up in my dizzy brain

I like to hide myself in a quiet corner—
Picking my nose & digging for ear-wax

It has so many cellars & crypts—
Such eelish delvings go on down there

It’s like Vincent Price after the plague—
The Last Man on Earth there in dead Rome

I must simply find a map outta here—
All these marrowy tunnels, mole-peopled

Creeps living in wells down there—
All of Miss Dante’s assholes live down there

It makes my nostrils quiver & go queer—
There’s a cuddly boy who loves me down there


Once I was an ordinary lesbian—
Me and my lover drove with diesel dykes

When we thundered into town—
The str8ts hid away in their closets

Time unwinds itself with Sapphic grace—
The great umbilicus swallows us all

I’m sleep-drunk after draining dry—
The moon’s vat of vulva vibes

The Beast

The minotaur boy—
Such a lovely lanky young dish

The sun sits in his armpit—
Nothing ever gets moldy with him

Lady Gaga lives under his dunce cap—
It’s hard to get rid of him

The sky’s always falling on him—
Pig puddles and sty-faced kid

Hogwallow’s kept boy—
Mollusks and mud-sump happy

The Duchess of Nothing—
His Hairtusk’s bride

Skin-Flute News

He’s so cool going down—
Shifty-eyed down on my lily root

Our bower of old umbrellas—
Withering under his pitiless fingers

He squeezes the sky of his—
Black and blue dominion

There’s little or no shelter—
When his cruel wolf-mouth snarls

He strangles my fugitive lips—
Into a soft caul of forgetfulness

Silk worms weave my tomb—
Nodding nymphs like statues

I’m a puppet now loosed from—
The strings of the puppet-master

He wears a mask of horny antlers—
When he comes into bed with me

I’m tongueless underwater—
Beneath the reeds with crocodiles

Witch Burning

Can there be queer love after Auschwitz—
For those that survived the ovens?

Even after the war the queens were—
Rounded up for being ex-cocksuckers

The marketplace is always busy—
The str8ts piling up the dry sticks

They’re only to ready to burn us—
Make us climb into a bed of fire

It’s easy to flame the faggots—
Smoke always outta the chimneys

They’re turning the burners up—
Always inventing new sorts of plagues

Gimme a break, the queens say—
Knowing their days are numbered, dearie

I’m lost, I’m lost, my ankles brighten—
Then my thighs alit, there goes the disco!

St. Peter’s

This is the place where old queens—
And new queens are mended

They lie flat in the graveyard—
Beneath the flat blue anvil sky

They’ve flown outta the cuckoo’s nest—
They’ve entered the crypt of indifference

The headstones are peaceable—
The mouth-holes finally closed now

It’s a stone quarry of silence—
People of North Tawton drive by

Lichens kiss the time away—
Jewel-masters drill for gold

Worms chisel and pry away—
Farming the lovely pig’s sty

This is, after all, kaput—
Ear wigs worry getting inside

Face lifts don’t count anymore—
Night and day are the same

A workman walks by carrying—
A corpse once a pink torso

The churchyard full of extras—
This is the home of spare parts