muse

“But the fact is, she [the muse] won’t be summoned. She alights when it damn well pleases her. She falls in love with one artist, then deserts him for another. She’s a real bitch!”
― Erica Jong, Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life
K20.1CMousa

Woman Enough by Erica Jong

 

Because my grandmothers hours
were apple cakes baking,
& dust motes gathering,
& linens yellowing
& seams and hems
inevitably unraveling
I almost never keep house
though really I like houses
& wish I had a clean one.

Because my mothers minutes
were sucked into the roar
of the vacuum cleaner,
because she waltzed with the washer-dryer
& tore her hair waiting for repairmen
I send out my laundry,
& live in a dusty house,
though really I like clean houses
as well as anyone.

I am woman enough
to love the kneading of bread
as much as the feel
of typewriter keys
under my fingers
springy, springy.
& the smell of clean laundry
& simmering soup
are almost as dear to me
as the smell of paper and ink.

I wish there were not a choice;
I wish I could be two women.
I wish the days could be longer.
But they are short.
So I write while
the dust piles up.

I sit at my typewriter
remembering my grandmother
& all my mothers,
& the minutes they lost
loving houses better than themselves
& the man I love cleans up the kitchen
grumbling only a little
because he knows
that after all these centuries
it is easier for him
than for me.

© Erica Mann Jong

my favourite poem by erica jong

My Love is Too Much

My love is too much
it embarrasses you
blood, poems, babies,
red needs that telephone
from foreign countries,
black needs that spatter
the pages
of your white papery heart.

You would rather have a girl
with simpler needs:
lunch, sex, undemanding
loving,
dinner, wine, bed,
the occasional blow-job
& needs that are never
red as gaping wounds
but cool & blue
as television screens
in tract houses.

Oh my love,
those simple girls
with simple needs
read my books too.

They tell me they feel
the same as I do.

They tell me I transcribe
the language of their hearts.
They tell me I translate
their mute, unspoken pain
into the white light
of language.

Oh love,
no love
is ever wholly undemanding.
It can pretend coolness
until the pain comes,
until the first baby comes,
howling her own infant need
into a universe
that never summoned her.

The love you seek
cannot be found
except in the white pages
of recipe books.

It is cooking you seek,
not love,
cooking with sex coming after,
cool sex
that speaks to the penis alone,
& not the howling chaos
of the heart.

© Erica Mann Jong

middle aged lovers by erica jong

Middle Aged Lovers, I

Unable to bear
the uncertainty
of the future,
we consulted seers,
mediums, stock market gurus,
psychics who promised
happiness on this
or another planet,
astrologists of love,
seekers of the Holy Grail.

Looking for certainty
we asked for promises,
lovers knots, pledges, rings,
certificates, deeds of ownership,
when it was always enough
to let your hand
pass over my body,
your eyes find the depths of my own,
and the wind pass over our faces
as it will pass
through our bones,
sooner than we think.

The current is love,
is poetry,
the blood beat
in the thighs,
the electrical charge
in the brain.

Our long leap
into the unknown
began nearly
a half century ago
and is almost
over.

I think of the
amphorae of stored honey
at Paestum
far out-lasting
their Grecian eaters,
or of the furniture
in a pharoahs tomb
on which
no one sits.

Trust the wind,
my lover,
and the water.

They have the
answers
to all your questions

and mine.

Middle Aged Lovers, II

You open to me
a little,
then grow afraid
and close again,
a small boy
fearing to be hurt,
a toe stubbed
in the dark,
a finger cut
on paper.

I think I am free
of fears,
enraptured, abandoned
to the call
of the Bacchae,
my own siren,
tied to my own
mast,
both Circe
and her swine.

But I too
am afraid:
I know where
life leads.

The impulse
to join,
to confess all,
is followed
by the impulse
to renounce,

and love–
imperishable love–
must die,
in order
to be reborn.

We come
to each other
tentatively,
veterans of other
wars,
divorce warrants
in our hands
which we would beat
into blossoms.

But blossoms
will not withstand
our beatings.

We come
to each other
with hope
in our hands–
the very thing
Pandora kept
in her casket
when all the ills
and woes of the world
escaped.

© Erica Mann Jong

 

self portrait by erica jong

Self-Portrait
From Loveroot

She was not a slender woman,
but her skin was milk
mixed in with strawberry jam
& between her legs the word purple was born
& her hair was the color of wheat & yellow butter.

Her eyes were dark as the North Atlantic sea.

She learned the untranslatable words of dawn.
She studied her own fear & wrote its verses.
She used the hole in her heart to play wind-music.
She built her book-houses over her empty cellar.

She nursed on the muse at first,
then became her own mother.

© Erica Mann Jong

poets me love

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