The prompt over at Poetry Thursday this week was to write about the body. In my head, I briefly shuffled through the content of my old poems, even though I was pretty certain I hadn’t written anything about my hands or my ears or my ass. So, the next thing that came to mind was this poem by Diane Wakoski, which J.C. used to recite occasionally back in college. When I was going through my Kerouac and Bukowski phases, J.C. was all about the Wakoski. And last night, as I was reading through some of Emerald Ice: Selected Poems 1962-1987, it became pretty clear why all over again: the woman rocks. What follows is only the first third or so of the poem, and I’m guessing blogger will mess up some of the formatting, though I’ll do my best to keep it from happening.
I Have Had to Learn to Live With My Face
You see me alone tonight.
My face has betrayed me again,
the garage mechanic who promises to fix my car
and never does.
that my friends tell me is so full of character;
I have hated for so many years;
I have made an angry contract to live with
though no one could love it;
my face that I wish you would bruise and batter
and destroy, napalm it, throw acid on it,
so that I might have another
or be rid of it at last.
I drag peacock feather behind me
to erase the trail of the moon. Those tears
I shed for myself,
sometimes in anger.
There is no pretense in my life. The man who lives with me
must see something beautiful,
like a dark snake coming out of my mouth,
or love the tapestry of my actions, my life/this body, this
face, they have nothing to offer
but angry insistence, their presence.
I hate them,
want my life to be more.
Hate their shadow on even my words.
I sell my soul for good plumbing
and hot water,
I tell everyone;
and my face is soft,
a feathering of snow
cold black leather coat
which is night.
my face against the chilly
of your back.
Learning to live with what you’re born with
is the process,
the making of a life.
And I have not learned happily
to live with my face,
that Diane which always looks better on film
than in life.
I sternly accept this plain face,
and hate every moment of that sternness.