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Sylvia Plath
by Ellyn Maybe

hearing Sylvia Plath read on a record
reminded me of a pair of shoes I can't take off
no shoehorn
the laces won't break.
she sounded so old
trill in her voice
extra, like she was trying to convince herself
but the eyelids kept opening so she saw.
she was young in age, about 30.
she sounded like Hedda
a lady who wears hats
and has many socials
that people forget the date
and never show.
she was trying too hard
the energy was tension
babies and a runaway train for a husband
he burned her last journal
that always made me cringe
she looked so ponytailed in photographs
she could have been a college roommate of my mom.
she could have been someone my dad met
before he met mom
and found a little too complicated to date.
artists seem to identify in the struggle
to stay alive
to stay in a world
we create what we need
she couldn't flutter her troubles away
she sounded like she had removed a piece
of herself on that record.
the joy was in knowing some day there'd be
someone else to touch
young poets who get creases in their cheeks
while reading The Colossus
who'd find strength to demand respect
from their loved ones and hated ones
after reading the letters of
Anne Sexton
Daniel Berrigan
Jack Kerouac
Allen Ginsberg
Neal Cassady
Alice B. Toklas
nobody sounds that vulnerable
on phonograph anymore.
touchups and high production values sort of
kicked the raw edge onto cassette and onto compact disc.
this old record of American Jewish Poets
there are so many who don't understand
stereotypes are a kind of death.
letters get passed on
passed back and forth
and ink sweats into our answering machine
where there's a yearning for manifestos and recipes
the work of speeches under the fingernails
the activism of being
the shadows are the hair that falls down our backs.
Sylvia Plath sounded as though
she was choking back laughter
irony that her sexy brain
was in a see-through head
people couldn't caress enough.
being smart alone at times can be as lonely
as being the chalk that fell off
and became the memory of someone's violent death.
being very smart can be like
reading and wanting
to not stop and fuck
one used the book
when others aren't seeing
and spread open to that page
use that & press
use this & fly
I wouldn't want anybody throwing my poetry away when I die
not for the children
not to keep the world safe from dissent
not for better orgasms
not for cures for rare sleeping disorders.
I want to hold the record
of Sylvia Plath reading
the same way the sky holds a kiss.
throughout the ages
tin can lines we talk through
to the ones that came and sandpainted
and the ones who will come
the ones who massage empty rooms
the ones who remember
the ones who have no choice but to remember
the ones whose journals are burned
and we swallow and eat the flame
capsized and tightroping
into the wet & needy rooms
we keep slightly subterranean
though visible to circuses
both inside & outside of our heart.


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