"Sonety, jaká slast..."
Ivan Blatný

Kathrine Varnesová, Marilyn Taylorová, Tatyana Mishelová, Emily Lloydová, Moira Eganová, Patricia Brodyová, Amy Lemmonová - What Lips. A Triple Crown of Sonnets (moderní triplikovaná varianta základního sedmibásňového sonetového věnce)

3. února 2008 v 15:38 | Kathrine Varnesová, Marilyn Taylor ová, Tatyana Mishelová, Emily Lloydová, Moira Eganová, Patricia Brodyová, Amy Lemmonová |  Sonetové cykly
[In the spring of 2005, poet and critic Kathrine Varnes put out a query to the Wom-po women's poetry listserv to see if any of the list members were interested in collaborating on a crown of sonnets by email. The response was enthusiastic enough to yield three groups of seven poets each. Our group included Kathrine herself, and six other women from across the country. We wrote in round-robin fashion, each poet starting with the last line of her predecessor's sonnet. By the time we reached the seventh, we didn't want to stop. Eventually, we ended up with twenty-one sonnets, a "triple crown," and we think that others will enjoy reading it as much as we did writing it. The name of the poet responsible for each individual sonnet can be found at the end of the sequence.]


If only the heart came equipped with a gyroscope
to keep it on course, to keep it from running aground
with an oomph! Or a plop. Or a splat. If only the sound
of its thumpity-thump didn't unravel rope
after rope. Bring on the bon-bons! I'll out-mope,
out-howl the saddest of the sad bloodhounds
untethered from the post, the leash unwound,
when even the universe says to my orbit: Nope.

Or maybe I'll just bake that almond cake
you said you'd like to try. And as I beat
the butter with eggs and flour, I will forsake
my part in your bright future. And as I lick
the last crumb from my plate, I won't feel sick
thinking of all the things you'll never eat.


Speaking of all those things you'll never eat,
my love--could one of them, in fact, be crow?
Of course it could. But you already know
how poisonous it tastes (if bittersweet).
These days you're craving quite another treat:
the one who will replace me. But that sloe-
eyed, slack-jawed creature's surely going to show
you all the nuance of a bitch in heat.

I hope she has the brains of a golden retriever,
the glamour of an aging manatee,
the refinement of a Packers wide receiver
and finds her favorite books at Dollar Tree.
-And darling, may she be a born deceiver,
and do to you what you have done to me.


You're done with me-but what you've done for me.
Crying flexes muscles, man, I'm ripped!
The backyard's now a gym, it's where I lift
your rusty weights, speakers propped in trees;
Hendrix sings the blossoms to their knees
while Amy from next door spots. Thin-lipped,
she counts my reps. Twelve and pissed-gypped-
parents gone to work, or therapy.

So we play make believe, that she belongs
to me, her tattooed Mom. My bossy daughter
screams: "Give me ten!" (then plays more songs,
paints my dumbbells, sends me off to slaughter,
dressed in too-high heels.) "You're good and strong-
get out, be seen. You're hell, babe, you're high water!"


"Get out; be seen! You're hell, babe, you're high water!"
-the therapist's bright spin when I quote Lowell.
I'm hell: so we agree. And hell's-not social.
Agoraphobia's my alma mater-
would this "life coach" dare to suggest a daughter
of Smith or Vassar turn her back, say "Oh, well,
that was then; I'm better now" and throw all
the newsletters away? "Get out"? I've caught her

looking as though she'd like to. I, however,
am happy going nowhere, sitting here
until she leaves, and after, and forever.
"Be seen"? Where, at the mall? My cat is clever
enough company, thanks. Her and the fear,
the high windows, the news, and not the weather.


The high windows bring news: a knot of weather
pathetic-fallacies me in reverse:
this rain unslakes my Sturm und Drang-y thirst
against which I still do not own enough leather
to keep me dry. The dominatrix feather
that brushed across my cheek during the first
of last night's dreams left me the wish (or curse?)
to seek a love more genuine than pleather.

But at my back I often hear (do you?)
a Timex ticking tricky as my heart.
I fear that what the experts say is true:
we've lost the second person in our art.
If so, our only hope's Tiresias' sooth
to break the lines of me, invent the you.


Day breaks night's line, invents the new morn's you.
Like daughter (mother?), watch that sky seduce.
14 // 80 -- dawn // dying -- on the loose.
One on fire, one cooled; how the salt-years blew
her lost-lust tale she shares now, by youth's pool.
At 12, I knew: her diary behind the shoes
slaughtered me. Palms rustle … waves shuffle … sluice.
Last licks before Daddy, Robair, French jew-el.

Rose-lipped Robair; he married, too (I do!).
Breathless, we wait for love's siren to wail:
Roar…CRASH. . . shuffle. . . sh-h-h-h . . . another wave sails
to sand. My sea-eyed daughter listens, rapt
to the old song of my old lady whose true
voice is so young. The sky has just turned blue.


Our voices young, the sky just turning blue,
we puttered frigidly toward promised fun--
your housemate's waterbed. The winter sun
repelled by blackout shades, our tryst ('tis true)
proved not the love-feast I'd looked forward to--
your talk Anais Nin, your action Donne
without conceits. The Bud and pot you'd bummed
had fizzled things. What was a girl to do?

Now your Toyota's gone Formula Four,
your father owns a horse in this year's Derby.
(To pay the bills we cleaned a discount store.)
Your brother golfs, your mother paints, makes jewelry.
Our prospects looked so bleak at twenty-five.
Your fortune's up: how 'bout the old hard drive?


Your fortunes up, we took a long hard drive
in that little wreck of a car. Red. No hood.
Convertible if the roof were any good.
Into the canyon turns so fast, a swan dive
over the edge seemed something we might survive.
I strategized. What point unbuckle? Could
the dark be as soft as it looks? What I withstood
instead - well, well - I'd rather not revive.

Do we grow wiser, or is it we forget
the moment's contingencies? How to explain
the black blank sky, the rising sound of frogs,
-that girl I was knowing things I just can't get-
tires bruising the growth of our makeshift lover's lane,
and then the howl of lobos or wild dogs.


Hush. Hush. The howl of lobos, the wild dogs'
ululations will grow fainter soon,
and you, my friend, exhausted to the bone,
will stumble backward through a Cuervo fog
euphoric, if unsteady on your legs.
Your latest round of catch-me-if-you-can
is history; another brown-eyed man
has left your bed, lowering his white flag.

He was a marvel, this one, wasn't he?
Almost had you beating down the wall
between you marked adultery, adultery-
the way you felt your melting body fall
into his eager hands. The man was all
you knew. Ah, God, you said. Finally.


We know. You dry-humped it, Finality-
drama-hunter, story whore. You retell
our close-call (you twelve-stitch bore), and they smell
lies like meat. The night's hilarity
(or chances of) snuff out when you hold court-
catch us in those rootless eyes, deface
us, kiss me hard in front of them. I taste
a sell-out, your tongue: Secret-keeper, tort-

reporter, paid the witness, and wheel chair bills.
Who will leave whom first, once legs revive,
unrehearsed: run or stay a while?
You're poorly made for trauma. I have pills,
they hush the flashbacks of you leaving me for
dead, locked inside a burning door.


I let you run. I let the burning door
she's opened in my body burn. I could
stop this at any time. I couldn't. Good
imagination, where were you before?
What are these images that flood and floor
me, lying here but not (as if I would)
touching myself? Oh, God, maybe I should...
but--what?! I don't have to. It rains; it pours.

Imagination, she is not your type.
What was it that she said that set you on?
Her grammar's not the best. She isn't hot
by any stretch...stop stretching! Caught, you're caught!
I'm lost, I'm losing. Keep this up, I'm gone.
Imagination, she is not my wife.


Imagine this: that she is not your wife,
that these illicit kisses are our own,
that, all right, if we're neither of us home,
we are invisible despite the lights
that glimmer on our half-clad bodies, white
with winter's boredom. You smiled, took the blame
when you reached out to touch my earring's gleam:
"A comma, or an angel's wing in flight?"

you asked. I ask, Is it pathology
to be content with this position, cramped
and teenaged-fucking in a just-friend's car?
I'm punctuation in his sentence, the
period's stop, the exclamation's amp,
the comma's pause: that sharp intake of air.


Word up! Yeah girls, that sharp intake of air,
purple comma -- the body's arc -- desire
so hot no aloe-splash can douse its ire.
Oh, throb of long ago; now what you are
is buried. Lust's lusty interloper
bawls, Milk! Answers! Then, under the tight-wire,
slipp'ry as a wet heart, skips your beat. Your dire
mission? Done. So, toss that yellow hair,

praise perky nips, flat belly -- amigas, well,
try good-bye: Daddy's final sigh in my ear,
Mom's last shopping-spree. They flee from me
who Eros' rush -- -- deep, Garden kiss -- -- did fuel . . .
His weight on mine, pressed in apple flowers.
Backyard bliss, sweet death: Ah. Mi tangere.


A blackguard's bliss, sweet death: my Tanqueray
and tonic, pint of Ben and Jerry's, bag
of chips and onion dip stave off the drag
of worried nights up late, long tired days
spent jousting wolf from door. My doctor says
I'm fine. Blame cortisol. Yet I won't beg
for some prescription when I know the drug
I need is just a yogic breath away.

Thus am I mine own prison (Christina said),
and extra pounds mine own straitjacket. Hell,
I'll shrug it off somehow. Or sweat it off.
An extra lap or two, early to bed,
rise with the dove that plagues my windowsill.
A moment's peace, sometimes, is just enough.


A moment's peace from you, old Earth! Enough
losses spin from your whirly-twirly sun
obsession. Take a breath. How we run
through the tin of Danish cookies! They seemed enough
in mother's hands. I'll birth no daughter: Enough
said my body. A cousin says she loves her son
more than her daughters-be glad I got the right one.
I remember mother's patient: You were enough.

Still I dream of sisters. Six would do the trick.
We'd make injera the traditional way
by fusing concentric circles of reddish grey
with bubbles like stars in early evening's dome.
A hundred year-old starter, our fingers quick,
we lift the steaming bread and sing of home.


Singing of home, you lift his self-esteem
by pressing your warm cheek against his thigh,
eliciting an undersong from him,
his moist and muted baritone reply;
two variations on the ancient theme
of tongue and touch-followed closely by
rising glissandos, sweet in the extreme,
where semiquavers rise, explode, and die.

These are the oratorios of sex:
the incandescent music of the spheres
pulsating with the power to perplex;
your bodies arch and bend toward what they hear-
the melody, persistent and complex,
that never dwindles, never disappears.


We fade with time, he disses me, no peer
in bed, he likes to kiss in iffy places,
hairy bastard, wets the knobby spaces
in between my pedi'd toes. Mir-
rors hiss and steam, catch my angles, floor
me-more!-submissive Miss! He threw me in
a codpiece, butter-scotched me, licked my shins.
More S, less M, more battle-wear, less whore.

These days I'll take my kink in soft-boiled prunes
draped in hand-whipped cream, warmed on gates
of salty thighs-why dirty up the plates?
And when you leave I'll eat through family wounds-
wrap up the junkie daughter in a stash
of petit-fours, tossed in the neighbors' trash.


You toss the wrapping in the neighbors' trash,
and in your glove compartment, toss the gifts:
the stone I found and hoped meant something shifts
against my breasts in black and white, a splash
of coffee on my collarbone--you crashed
almost, you say, too taken with the drifts
of sheet around my thighs to drive. Love, lift
me up where I belong: there on your dash-

board, O grand passion's heights. Drive carefully
(my great fear now: that one of us will die
before we meet). We plan. In weeks I'll be
one thousand miles from here. In one month, I
will sit in this car, pop the glove and see
the stone and laugh. I'll meet your wife and lie.


I've cast my last stone, met your wife and lied
(suspicions all correct: my thespian
abilities come shining through just when
I need them most). It's resolution time
again, again. I look at you and sigh.
I'll give you up, you mortal sin, for Lent;
I'll drink no more, become a lesbian,
and maybe I'll remember how to cry.

As if. You're my addiction, my best vice,
you're opium, the dark and smoky den
in which I shed my black lace, boundaries.
I knew it once we fucked: you'd fucked me twice:
flesh into flesh, you whispered carpe diem,
and then you seized my beating heart and squeezed.


Sinbad, honey-man, you knew where to squeeze.
Heart-to-haunch -- a beat -- your sneaky pass
abajo. Melted chocolate can't surpass
such sweet moan. You are the one . . . Freeze-
frame. On the fly cherry breeze
whipped our hair. My arms, your neck, class
tripping. Red Fiat, wine, our glass
of crime.

You never called. Your croon's a tease.

Crush me! No proposal? No pot of gold?
Sinbad, where's that beat my moves inspired?
So this is how hot chocolate turns cold.
Now legal tender's tender heart beats tired,
our offspring ready-launched at Cupid's ruckus.
Oh, sticky heart! Oh thighs! The tunes that fuck us.


Old thighs, old sticky heart, old tunes do flick us
into this century, which clots and whines
with greed, with bullets, real and tropal mines
that burst and turn flirtatious grin to rictus.
Let poems the crime scene fit, Lex loci delictus!
And so to desk: abed with World divine
and Time, who held us on his grill-fork tines,
we wrote until it seemed that Poesy whip't us.

Yet still we write-and love-eat chocolate,
drink wine, suck oysters, cackle, drive too fast.
We're louche, near decadent. But wait-there's hope
for women veering toward the profligate:
these sonnets would let us catch our breath at last
if only the heart came equipped with a gyroscope.


č. 1, č. 8, č. 15 - Kathrine Varnes

č. 2, č. 9, č. 16 - Marilyn Taylor

č. 3, č. 10, č. 17 - Tatyana Mishel

č. 4, č. 11, č. 18 - Emily Lloyd

č. 5, č. 12, č. 19 - Moira Egan

č. 6, č. 13, č. 20 - Patricia Brody

č. 7, č. 14, č. 21 - Amy Lemmon

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