Susan terris


Take Two: Star-Crossed/ Assia Wevill & Ted Hughes

 

                                          Jeanne Bessette

                                        Jeanne Bessette

chemistry    fuck without restraint    but between us

omens    she    mad phantom    haunts our grounds

babies    she     hell-bent    makes all babes pay

 

oven gas    now    we  in his house    his children   

his bed-by-seven rules    yes    you vamp    [flashback]    

less fetching in pinnies    shrew who taunts    uses   

 

her dishes    makes her tomato-soup cake    portents

her sewing basket    even her dressing/undressing

gown the color of sin    owl's cry    he makes me

 

cook and sea witch    no nod to my work     and no

wedding ring    cock  o' the walk    he pecks me

to submit    dung beetle    too easy    old slag

 

needy half-yenta queen    greedy for more    extreme

[long shot]    oh    you   mister-led-by-his cock    makes

my words     like hers     pour like wet mud    how

 

you say Ass-ia    you    who only half-admit our child   

murderer    Assia says    philanderer    well    biddy 

only Brenda    and Carol    and forever in my face    her

 

Sylvia    no    Ted   you  whom she dubs little man    in ours   

but we shall punish   [fade in]    daughter and I will mock

all who love Sylvia    gas    gas oven for us  two    too  


Take Two: Black Jack / Bramwell Bronte & His Drinking Mug

 

is it my carrot top    or the pale sisters    painted

yet myself removed        turned into a sloe-eyed pillar

since I am not quite real        crave gin and poppies

 

Black Jack for sleep    sin-steeped    set my bed afire

for I lust    keen to peel off their gossamer collars 

[blow-up]  unhook    denude            taste cherries

 

and Black Jack hidden down there    Anne in

a book-lined study        a heathered heath for Emily

then for Charlotte    my Charlotte    castles in Angria

 

I     the intruder    am ill    enslaved by the unreal

what I want            to die standing up    like my pillar

but even more    [climax]    true friend to Bramwell

 

Brontë    I want Black Jack    mine    theirs          

and that sodding poppy    sweet canker-rose of Lethe


Take Two: Royal Pain / Duke & Duchess of Windsor

 

once upon a time    she whispers    there was a girl

named Goldilocks   then he says    who went for a walk in

the woods    [splice]    La Caravelle    champagne    paté

 

I still love you   he says    Ditto    dear    she murmurs

but you and I create only disaster together    so then

he says    his entrée is woefully underdone    [filter]

 

long wordless silence            they are being watched

              crimping a small rosy kerchief    he blows

his nose    more silence    [slow-mo]   she leans in so

 

no one can hear    and Goldilocks    said    this porridge

 is too cold    the Duke of Windsor squares

his shoulders    replies    but this one    is just right

 

so I shall eat it all    the Duchess    reaches for his hand

finis   she says   we may have love    [block]     but there's

nothing   my darling    worse    than outliving romance

 


Susan Terris’ most recent books are Take Two: Film Studies (Omnidawn Publishing,  Fall 2017), Memos (Omnidawn Publishing), and Ghost of Yesterday: New & Selected Poems (Marsh Hawk Press). She is the author of 6 books of poetry, 16 chapbooks, 3 artist's books, and one play.  Journal publications include The Southern Review, Denver Quarterly, Georgia Review, and Ploughshares. A poem of hers from Field appeared in Pushcart Prize XXXI. A poem from Memos was in Best American Poetry 2015. Ms. Terris is editor emerita of Spillway Magazine and is a poetry editor of Pedestal Magazine.