my birthday present

my birthday present
My awesome birthday present 1/26/11 (see story under my first post)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Little Levity

The Crows Start Demanding Royalties
                   Lucia Perillo

Of all the birds, they are the ones
who mind their being armless most:
witness how, when they walk, their heads jerk
back and forth like rifle bolts.
How they heave their shoulders into each stride
as if  they hoped that by some chance
new bones there would come popping out
with a boxing glove on the end of each.

Little Elvises, the hairdo slicked
with too much grease, they convene on my lawn
to strategize for their class-action suit.
Flight they would trade in a New York minute
for a black muscle car and a fist on the shift
at any stale green light.  But here in my yard
by the Jack-in-the-Box Dumpster
they can only fossick in the grass for remnants

Of the world’s stale buns.  And this
 despite all the crow poems that have been written
because men like to see themselves as crows
(the head-jerk performed in the rearview mirror,
the dark brow commanding the rainy weather).
So I think I know how they must feel:
Ripped off, shook down, taken to the cleaners.
What they’d like to do now is smash a phone against a wall.
But they can’t, so each one flies to a bare branch and screams.

"Crows" by Lucia Perillo,  from Inseminating the Elephant
(Copper Canyon Press, 2009).

How about some fun poems this week?

Lucia Perillo just won an award,  the  Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry,  for her latest book, Inseminating the Elephant. I found several of her poems on line and I really like her powerful imagery and clever sense of humor.  She has multiple sclerosis and much of her poetry reveals her frustration in dealing with the disease that has her confined to a wheel chair. Maybe that is evident here in that she perhaps wishes to sprout new bones and, like the crows, trade in one form of mobility for another. Isn’t it fun to see what a powerful image she creates in naming crows “Little Elvises?”  By the end I am fully identifying with the crows’ frustration at being taken advantage of and I am right there with them, screaming in the trees.

And then there is this poem about Cher. I have admired her since I was a teen because I perceived her to be cool and confident, free of the hang-up of caring about what other people think, unlike my people pleasing self.  And, in my opinion, unlike the typical woman of the 70's, who was just finding her independence and place in the world. This poem takes me back to that era when women were making giant strides but how much progress have we made? Are our young women still feeling pressured to be sexy, skinny little Barbie dolls who are all too ready to reliquish who they really are?

 I expect you will see more of both these poets in future posts .


by Dorianne Laux

I wanted to be Cher, tall
as a glass of iced tea,
her bony shoulders draped
with a curtain of dark hair
that plunged straight down,
the cut tips brushing
her nonexistent butt.
I wanted to wear a lantern
for a hat, a cabbage, a piñata
and walk in thigh-high boots
with six-inch heels that buttoned
up the back. I wanted her
rouged cheek bones and her
throaty panache, her voice
of gravel and clover, the hokum
of her clothes: black fishnet
and pink pom-poms, fringed bells
and her thin strip of a waist
with the bullet-hole navel.
Cher standing with her skinny arm
slung around Sonny's thick neck,
posing in front of the Eiffel Tower,
The Leaning Tower of Pisa,
The Great Wall of China,
The Crumbling Pyramids, smiling
for the camera with her crooked
teeth, hit-and-miss beauty, the sun
bouncing off the bump on her nose.
Give me back the old Cher,
the gangly, imperfect girl
before the shaving knife
took her, before they shoved
pillows in her tits, injected
the lumpy gel into her lips.
Take me back to the woman
I wanted to be, stalwart
and silly, smart as her lion
tamer's whip, my body a torch
stretched the length of the polished
piano, legs bent at the knee, hair
cascading down over Sonny's blunt
fingers as he pummeled the keys,
singing in a sloppy alto
the oldest, saddest songs.

"Cher" by Dorianne Laux, from The Book of Men.
© W. W. Norton & Company, 2011.


Jayne said...

I have followed Cher's career since the beginning. Who wouldn't want to be Cher. I just saw her in the movie "Burlesque" and in spite of the fact that I hate all the plastic surgery she has down to her body, her spirit remains as feisty as ever. You go, girl!

kelly.chadwick said...

I liked the crow poem. While reading it I envisioned boy crows walking around my yard in black leather jackets and black sunglasses on trying to pick up crow chicks in poodle skirts! With their muscle cars parked under my bird feeders.

Loretta said...

Nice poem.