Emily and Charlotte
Miss Auden
Beyond Mademoiselle
New Yorker
Henry James
St. Botolph’s
Ted’s Misanthropy
Jacqueline Panic
Bitch Goddess
Stella Dallas
Bette Davis
Gloria Swanson
Miss Aschenbach
Barbara Stanwyck
Vivien Leigh

Emily and Charlotte

“They touched this,
wore that, wrote this”
—Sylvia Plath
Unabridged Journal
August 9, 1956

Charlotte’s bridal crown—
Heirloom lace and honey suckle

Emily’s death couch—
Her small, luminous books

Her watercolors, beaded—
Napkin ring, Apostle cupboard

There are two ways into—
The stony house, both tiresome

But the mad difficult way—
Is the one through the novels

The public route goes—
From town thru pasture land

Over the stone steps—
And voluble white cataract

The rock warped road—
Green slimy footbridge

Goat-flattened grasses—
Where a carriage once ran

Old carriage road’s—
Sunk ruts deep in the mud

A track well-worn
Like Wuthering Heights

Losing itself, losing itself—
But not lost for long

Miss Auden

—Sylvia Plath
Unabridged Journal
August 9, 1956

Auden tosses his hay head back—
With a twist of his wide ugly grin

His sandy hair, coarse tweedy jacket—
His baggy burlap-textured voice

The whiteness of his hairless legs—
Gesticulating grubby stubby fingers

His comfy worn-out carpet slippers—
The beer he drinks, the Lucky Strikes

Waving his black cigarette holder—
A new unlit white one zig-zagging

Talking in his gravelly incisive tone—
About how lost cute Caliban is

Such a natural beastly badboy—
Just the type for young Ariel

All the intricate abstruosities—
Of their late night marriage

The fated cleavage tragedy—
Prospero, magic and the sea

Naturally, Ted is jealous—
How dare the gods be queens!

Half-male, half female—
Smelling beer, cheese sandwiches

The gay-eyed White Goddesses—
Who never go blind or deaf

They’ll never give up trying to—
Make the whole world less str8t!

The horrible queer conspiracy—
To make Mytholmroyd myth gay!

Beyond Modern Poetry

“Get into novel deep
enough so it will
go on at the same time”
—Sylvia Plath
Unabridged Journal
July 25, 1956

Getting out of the dull paralysis—
Realizing that it’s only one

One day and one book at a time—
To make time slow down that way

Nourishing my life on the
Particular and the concrete

Despising writing poems on the—
Seven Deadly Sins, just killing time

Ted’s mat-black pubes—
Describing him, a poem will come

Daily, simply writing—
The untouchable object mine

Writing about Ted’s physique—
His smell and funky armpits

His heavy eyelids, his smirk—
That’s where magic mountains lie

The aura of immaculate potential—
Over my crummy struggling

Catapulting me out of adolescence—
Into the money-making racket

Getting to know Ted’s sullen moods—
Hardly writing a word about myself

So much for McCall’s, Mademoiselle—
Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping

Squeeze a True Confession sob-story—
Giving myself up to Romanticism’s demise

Beyond Mademoiselle

“This week I dragged on,
cleaned the Augean stable”
—Sylvia Plath
Unabridged Journal
April 26, 1958

I shuddered and gloomed—
Over my New Yorker rejection

All sticky grey lethal—
Loath to confront, weary me

My poem lousy, hasty—
Messy plumb-pudding with pits

How it must amuse them—
Critics ruining my career

Next year I’ll know better—
Of course, I won’t be here

I’ll be sucked up—
Lost in the sun’s supernova

How’s this for a title—
“The Everlasting Monday”?

Thou shall work for—
“The Eternal Monday Blues”

The Yeatsian ideal of work—
Being fused with static being

A work and a poet’s life—
A life of eternal Mondays

Eternal Monday launderings—
And eternal Monday fresh starts

New Yorker

“A day of messy
New Yorker rejection
of all my poems”
—Sylvia Plath

Unabridged Journals

April 17, 1958

A dismal depression—
Injustice and sobbing angst

Just finished reading—
James’ “What Maisie Knew”

His biography comforts me—
Ironically for some reason

I want to let him know—
About his posthumous reputation

After all hose years of pain—
Giving his life to writing

As I’ve done for so long—
Critics insulting, ignoring him

All the readers who raised—
Their noses not reading him

Perhaps I’m too critical—
Of myself like James’ critics

Doesn’t failure whet my blade—
My gay blade baked in chocolate

A chocolate cake with—
White frosting for Henry James?

So that even now after—
A grey sticky profitless day

Oily-haired and blood-gutted—
I know what Maisie knew

I know what James knew—
What a posthumous poet I’ll be

Henry James

“Ted’s poem in St. Botolph’s—
his tough, knotty phrases”
—Sylvia Plath

Unabridged Journals

April 17, 1958

So butch with calm & fury—
So exquisitely slayable

“When braced pig-iron—
Dragons grip blizzards

In their rigor mortis”—
Oh gawd, how I feel it

If only my voice came out—
As strong and virile as that

Do I pamper and crimp—
Too much like Emily Brontë?

I feel curious about Ted—
His misanthropic maleness

I want to butter him up—
Such a slinky, swank male

Shrewd-sighted and—
A self-interested exploiter

The same tactics as Daddy—
Playing the Big Bumblebee

For want of it or for00
Excess of it enacted coldly

What cruel sufferings—
He could enact in my bed

If I had no moral code—
Like some Jamesian thug

A well-endowed gigolo—
A user and abuser

Making me grovel for it—
Portrait of a Fallen Lady

St. Botolph’s

“I first saw him vain,
a smiler. And here after
all these years is the
old nick.” —Sylvia Plath

Unabridged Journals

May 19, 1958

His misanthropy felt—
Like a ton of bricks

His playing Creon with—
Snail-faced Van Voris

Ted’s mean wrong face—
He couldn’t help it

He felt ashamed—
Playing on the same stage

Van Voris such a fag—
Cold, corrupt, queer

Luxuriating over words—
Loins, incest, bed, sex

Ted felt like stepping—
Barefoot into slimy shit

Hawking and spitting—
Skin crawly with worms

He shrank, sneered—
Slouched away from it

Van Voris slumped in—
Loose boneless pose

Legs stuck straight out—
Flowery up-holstered couch

Limp wrists flaunting it—
In an unsightly fashion


“Who knows who Ted’s
Next book will be dedicated
To? His navel? His penis?”
—Sylvia Plath

Unabridged Journals

May 19, 1958

His male misanthropy—
His distrust of all others

His face in the hallway—
Miss Elliot’s cocktail party

His revulsion for Auden—
His skanky lizard neck

His disgust with Capote—
Ted’s vanity insulted

He had that misanthropic—
Misogyny for homos

Yet his nasty, catty—
Ways seemed closety

I can see it now—
Ted used all of us

Both men and women—
How foolish of me

His chill, dark-rubber—
Frog-faced visage

Ready to confront me—
With some unseen horror

Unseen, unforgivable—
Ignorant Yorkshire hood

Mexborough Waste Land—
Money grubbing hustler

Superstitious & fearful—
I’d turn out to be Lesbos

Jacqueline Panic

“Dangerous to be
so close to Ted
day in day out”
—Sylvia Plath

Unabridged Journals

November 7, 1958

I have a life—
Separate from Ted

I’m not likely to be—
Merely his accessory

Must go on my own—
Think, work my way

Lead separate lives—
Get away from him

I need a life that—
Supports me inside

This place is a—
Terrible nunnery

I hate this room—
Its sterile whiteness

Unlike the little—
Boston apartment

Tho Johnny Panic—
Wasn’t a Boy

J. Panic was—
My lovely girlfriend

Jacqueline Panic—
Was her name

Bitch Goddess

“I only write here
when I’m at wit’s
end, a cul de sac”
—Sylvia Plath

Unabridged Journals

November 11, 1958

What panics me the most—
Is the idea of closetry

Being closety, well-educated—
Brilliantly promising, but dead

Fading into middle age—
Indifferent to myself writing

I get frozen in time—
Unable to take rejection

I tend to go passive—
Turn myself over to Ted

Ted is tired of my trip—
Talking astrology and tarot

But doing nothing about it—
Not bothering to work on it

I’ve tired of it too—
Something vital is missing

An uneasy feeling that I’m—
Writing about the wrong thing

My poems are fake and pukey—
My head is full of bread-crumbs

I don’t dare start imitating Auden—
Miss Capote or Eliot or Woolf

That’s the last thing Ted Hughes—
Or Olwyn would possibly stand

The same with Aurelia or even—
Big Daddy down there in his grave

If I’d listened to Prouty the dyke—
I’d have ended up like Stella Dallas

If I’d listened to Anne Sexton—
Having cocktails at the Ritz after

Lowell ranting in his classroom—
Surely I’d be a nervous wreck

According to Pan my Ouija advisor—
I’m destined to be the Bitch Goddess!

Stella Dallas

“new altercations,
old silences”
—Adrienne Rich
“Moving in Winter”

Their lesbian lives—
Collapsed playing bridge

Married piecemeal—
Thru their snowy winters

Headboard and footboard—
Hushed gone now

She’d never lain in bed—
Actually desiring him

It smothered her—
Her elbows worn smooth

Years after marriage—
It was just meaningless

Mirrors reflecting not—
Then but somebody else

Closets confining—
Things that shuffled

Footsteps on carpets—
Another lover instead

Finding a diva—
The breeder gave away

She married again—
Her highschool sweetheart

Her name was Stella—
Stella Dallas the Dyke

Bette Davis

“Last night we sat
with the stereopticon”
—Adrienne Rich
“The Evil Eye”
Readings in History

Last night we watched—
An old Bette Davis movie

She was pushing Joan Crawford—
Down the steep stairs

She was reminding Joan—
There was rats in the cellar

“Be a good girl, Blanche—
And eat your din-din”

She was Baby Jane doint—
Her old vaudeville routine

She was out to get even—
With the whole damn world

Gloria Swanson

“to know how it was
to forget how it is”
—Adrienne Rich
“The Movie,”
Readings in History

It’s the hope of losing oneself—
The desire for a big come back

Knowing how it used to be—
Hollywood Cult of the Oscar

I’m finally ready Mr. DeMille—
For my come-back close-up

Things so much more simple then—
The Screen was small, I was Big

Miss Aschenbach

“his criminal reflection”
—Adrienne Rich
Readings in History

Miss Thomas Mann—
Looking like some old queen

Not as bad though as—
Miss Aschenbach in Venice

Rouge, lipstick—
A brand new lopsided wig

Perfect for seducing—
The young innocent Tadzio

Tadzio smirked—
He was cute and clever

Visconti and Bogarde—
Had the kid’s number

Aging and jaded—
Obsessed with youth

Gustav Mahler—
With his tragic schmaltz

On the polluted beach—
In his chaise-lounge

Miss Aschenbach—
Gradually failing away

Some may think—
It’s not beautiful

Young Tadzio’s—
Awful rotten teeth

How could Male Beauty—
Be ruined so tackily?

Miss Aschenbach—
Certainly agreed

She chose the deadly—
Rampant Plague instead

Barbara Stanwyck

“expectantly azure”
—Adrienne Rich
Readings in History

Can old movie stars—
Show only clips of ourselves

Those queen bees—
There on the silver screen

Detached matinees—
Of who we used to be?

We stare at our divas—
Bette Davis, Joan Crawford

Marlene Dietrich—
Noir Touch of Evil

Tony Curtis in drag—
In “Some Like It Hot”

Vivien Leigh tricking—
“Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone”

So many diva demises—
Being bruised and abused

Liking every minute of it—
Paying the Contessa for boyz

Barbara Stanwyck’s rough trade—
In “Sorry Wrong Number”

Your mother in her yearbook—
Like a WWII LIFE photo

Looks so poor and honest—
Her long hair hardly combed

She’s pregnant with you—
Baby boomer little queen bee

Hollywood’s next generation—
Addicted to cinema swansongs

Vivien Leigh

“pulled back the sheets”
—Adrienne Rich
“Living in Sin”

I thought the villa—
Would surely keep itself

The expensive furniture—
Surely it wouldn’t age

The kept boy I chose—
Surely he wouldn’t cheat

Seeing how much I’d aged—
I had all the mirrors cloaked

I’m stalking Rome again—
All the slutty evil nightclubs

The Contessa simply smiles—
At her table of young protégés

Each of them good at—
Writhing nude in my bedroom

The morning afterward—
Cruelly delineating my wrinkles

Sepulchral sex-pot I used to be—
The front pages of the gossip rags

Meanwhile here in decadent Rome—
Degeneracy has a way of rubbing off

I make desperate calls to the evil—
Contessa pleading for a new lover

The Contessa simply smiles—
Sending Ernest Thesiger instead

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