Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My 15 Minutes

As soon as I read this week's Poetry Thursday prompt, I immediately thought of the Marilyn Monroe series by Andy Warhol. This is strange, because I am a Warhol fan, but not obsessively so. And I have really no true feelings about Marilyn. But something in these called to me.

The day I wrote this, we covered "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks in my literature class. They really struggled with it, because they were reading it with the periods, not the line breaks. So, I demonstrated how to read it correctly and then made them all stand up and recite it as a group, to hear how it would have sounded if 7 or more people recited it in unison. (One of my students said he felt like he joined a cult. ) Hearing them recite the poem with all the "we" sounds, made me think about the plural first person voice of the Marilyns in this poem.



We twenty-five lie
side by side, smooth
as a line of Rockettes
each identical to another.
Why not thirty six? We

have often wondered, whispered
among ourselves. Then, we
could fold face to face,
touch nose to nose, red
pout rubbing red pout. Then,

we could fold ourselves again, back
to back with no one else
lurking behind us. Now, we
cannot conform to this simple
and elegant division. Instead,

there is always one of us
stuck in the middle, divided.
Now, we know we have differences,
imperceptible shifts in light
and tone. Can you see us

as we truly are -- a slight smile
spread across our lips, our eyes
half closed and sleepy? Or are we
only an image to you, blond curls,
pink skin, blue eyeshadow hiding our eyes?

Black, White, & Gray

Honey, I am so damn tired.
Stretched thin, to tell the truth.
I have tried over and over to reproduce
that same smile you saw in me
yesterday. Believe me, I tried

wet my lips in the same way, lidded
my eyes just so. All I can muster
is this thin and vacant stare, this
barely perceptible smirk. Do
what you can while you can, that's

my motto and it has pushed me
this far for this long. Its left me
blurred along all my edges. Sometimes
I feel as insubstantial as a ghost
hovering over you, watching and waiting.

Other days, I feel as though a thick
inky black stain has smudged
across my insides. Does it show
yet? Can you tell the difference
when it does? Each new day

I mutter a futile prayer
that you will notice as I vanish
right before your eyes. That you will lift me
out of my monotony. Or at least, you'll recall
how I was, not how I seemed.


Beaman said...

Can't say I like the picture or any of Warhol's work but your poem certainly impressed. Very interesting structure, good write!

Catherine said...

Awesome take on Marilyn. (I'm familiar with the Brooks poem you mention, too - yours is very different even though you retain the "we")

Brian said...

Thank you. With your two poems, his painting makes sense now.

I really like how you wrote two poems, one for each aspect of her.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I like the multiple portraits that Warhol made and i think the Technicolour part of your poem really captures why the pictures intrigue me so...

dogfaceboy said...

Jess, good work. Much fun.

writerwoman said...

Your poems are my favorite this week so far. I like the lust in the color one, when they want to meet lip to lip. And the used up exhaustedness of the black and white one.

wendy said...

He prob used twenty five for tension..visual...I like how your poem shows the effect of the tension on the subjects themself.

The second poem shows the weariness of symbol status so well. The color bled out..sucked dry.

So very well done!

i loved the audio link as well.

Kimberley McGill said...

It was never Warhol's art that was good, I think. It was that he reflected America back to America.
Your poetry brings the paintings alive in a whole new way - very well done!

Dave said...

This is terrific.

megan. said...

Fabulous poem, truly. Excellent portrayal of Monroe and Warhol.

Really. So jealous of this one.

Jessica said...

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all the great comments. I really appreciate your critiques.

I have enabled my comment moderation, because I just had to delete a very offensive and long post about the end of days. Seriously. The end of days. (I'm Jewish/Pagan by the way, so it's pretty funny to get that kind of comment.)

Sorry for any inconvenience, but I want to leave up my comment moderation for a little while to thwart any weirdness. Has this happened to anyone else before?

Robin (Capitulation) said...

Hi Jessica,
Both of these poems are amazing in how they capture the essence of the painting. I enjoyed reading every word!

And thanks for stopping by and leaving your kind comment.

Jone said...

I like your take on Warhol's art. the style of Brooks made it an interesting read, especially the first part. Thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog.

gautami tripathy said...

Very interesting read. I like both parts.

Meditating for being one with you

Marcia said...

The pair is the painting. Your first poem saw things I did not think about, but they are now real to me. Your second spoke of things already in my head. I loved that you put them together.

Michelle said...

Very interesting. The poems interpret the painting in a very telling way. I enjoyed this . . .

...deb said...

Great take on the prompt. You brought the work to life for me. I love the exploration of numbers and color.

Regarding weird comments. I got something weird a few weeks back (prose poetry week). I googled the poem and author and found quite a few hits on the poem, in religious-type sites I don't frequent. I guessed the poster is "shopping" or "promoting" their POV, which I don't subscribe, too, either. I ignored it and they haven't come back. I left the comment up, if you want to look at it and see if it is the same "voice", but, then: why?

But back to your poem. I liked IT a lot.