Poem – Cigarettes And Whiskey And Wild, Wild Women – Anne Sexton

(from a song) 
Perhaps I was born kneeling, 

born coughing on the long winter, 

born expecting the kiss of mercy, 

born with a passion for quickness 

and yet, as things progressed, 

I learned early about the stockade 

or taken out, the fume of the enema. 

By two or three I learned not to kneel, 

not to expect, to plant my fires underground 

where none but the dolls, perfect and awful, 

could be whispered to or laid down to die. 
Now that I have written many words, 

and let out so many loves, for so many, 

and been altogether what I always was— 

a woman of excess, of zeal and greed, 

I find the effort useless. 

Do I not look in the mirror, 

these days, 

and see a drunken rat avert her eyes? 

Do I not feel the hunger so acutely 

that I would rather die than look 

into its face? 

I kneel once more, 

in case mercy should come 

in the nick of time.

Poem – Clothes – Anne Sexton

Put on a clean shirt

 before you die, some Russian said. 

Nothing with drool, please, 

no egg spots, no blood, 

no sweat, no sperm. 

You want me clean, God, 

so I’ll try to comply. 
The hat I was married in, 

will it do? 

White, broad, fake flowers in a tiny array. 

It’s old-fashioned, as stylish as a bedbug, 

but is suits to die in something nostalgic. 
And I’ll take 

my painting shirt 

washed over and over of course 

spotted with every yellow kitchen I’ve painted. 

God, you don’t mind if I bring all my kitchens? 

They hold the family laughter and the soup. 
For a bra 

(need we mention it?) , 

the padded black one that my lover 

demeaned 

when I took it off. 

He said, ‘Where’d it all go? ‘ 
And I’ll take 

the maternity skirt of my ninth month, 

a window for the love-belly 

that let each baby pop out like and apple, 

the water breaking in the restaurant, 

making a noisy house I’d like to die in. 
For underpants I’ll pick white cotton, 

the briefs of my childhood, 

for it was my mother’s dictum 

that nice girls wore only white cotton. 

If my mother had lived to see it 

she would have put a WANTED sign up in the 

post office 

for the black, the red, the blue I’ve worn. 

Still, it would be perfectly fine with me 

to die like a nice girl 

smelling of Clorox and Duz. 

Being sixteen-in-the-pants 

I would die full of questions.

Poem – Cinderella – Anne Sexton

You always read about it: 
the plumber with the twelve children 

who wins the Irish Sweepstakes. 

From toilets to riches. 

That story. 
Or the nursemaid, 

some luscious sweet from Denmark 

who captures the oldest son’s heart. 

from diapers to Dior. 

That story. 
Or a milkman who serves the wealthy, 

eggs, cream, butter, yogurt, milk, 

the white truck like an ambulance 

who goes into real estate 

and makes a pile. 

From homogenized to martinis at lunch. 
Or the charwoman 

who is on the bus when it cracks up 

and collects enough from the insurance. 

From mops to Bonwit Teller. 

That story. 
Once 

the wife of a rich man was on her deathbed 

and she said to her daughter Cinderella: 

Be devout. Be good. Then I will smile 

down from heaven in the seam of a cloud. 

The man took another wife who had 

two daughters, pretty enough 

but with hearts like blackjacks. 

Cinderella was their maid. 

She slept on the sooty hearth each night 

and walked around looking like Al Jolson. 

Her father brought presents home from town, 

jewels and gowns for the other women 

but the twig of a tree for Cinderella. 

She planted that twig on her mother’s grave 

and it grew to a tree where a white dove sat. 

Whenever she wished for anything the dove 

would dropp it like an egg upon the ground. 

The bird is important, my dears, so heed him. 
Next came the ball, as you all know. 

It was a marriage market. 

The prince was looking for a wife. 

All but Cinderella were preparing 

and gussying up for the event. 

Cinderella begged to go too. 

Her stepmother threw a dish of lentils 

into the cinders and said: Pick them 

up in an hour and you shall go. 

The white dove brought all his friends; 

all the warm wings of the fatherland came, 

and picked up the lentils in a jiffy. 

No, Cinderella, said the stepmother, 

you have no clothes and cannot dance. 

That’s the way with stepmothers. 
Cinderella went to the tree at the grave 

and cried forth like a gospel singer: 

Mama! Mama! My turtledove, 

send me to the prince’s ball! 

The bird dropped down a golden dress 

and delicate little slippers. 

Rather a large package for a simple bird. 

So she went. Which is no surprise. 

Her stepmother and sisters didn’t 

recognize her without her cinder face 

and the prince took her hand on the spot 

and danced with no other the whole day. 
As nightfall came she thought she’d better 

get home. The prince walked her home 

and she disappeared into the pigeon house 

and although the prince took an axe and broke 

it open she was gone. Back to her cinders. 

These events repeated themselves for three days. 

However on the third day the prince 

covered the palace steps with cobbler’s wax 

and Cinderella’s gold shoe stuck upon it. 

Now he would find whom the shoe fit 

and find his strange dancing girl for keeps. 

He went to their house and the two sisters 

were delighted because they had lovely feet. 

The eldest went into a room to try the slipper on 

but her big toe got in the way so she simply 

sliced it off and put on the slipper. 

The prince rode away with her until the white dove 

told him to look at the blood pouring forth. 

That is the way with amputations. 

They just don’t heal up like a wish. 

The other sister cut off her heel 

but the blood told as blood will. 

The prince was getting tired. 

He began to feel like a shoe salesman. 

But he gave it one last try. 

This time Cinderella fit into the shoe 

like a love letter into its envelope. 
At the wedding ceremony 

the two sisters came to curry favor 

and the white dove pecked their eyes out. 

Two hollow spots were left 

like soup spoons. 
Cinderella and the prince 

lived, they say, happily ever after, 

like two dolls in a museum case 

never bothered by diapers or dust, 

never arguing over the timing of an egg, 

never telling the same story twice, 

never getting a middle-aged spread, 

their darling smiles pasted on for eternity. 

Regular Bobbsey Twins. 

That story.

Poem – Cockroach – Anne Sexton

Roach, foulest of creatures, 

who attacks with yellow teeth 

and an army of cousins big as shoes, 

you are lumps of coal that are mechanized 

and when I turn on the light you scuttle 

into the corners and there is this hiss upon the land. 

Yet I know you are only the common angel 

turned into, by way of enchantment, the ugliest. 

Your uncle was made into an apple. 

Your aunt was made into a Siamese cat, 

all the rest were made into butterflies 

but because you lied to God outrightly- 

told him that all things on earth were in order- 

He turned his wrath upon you and said, 

I will make you the most loathsome, 

I will make you into God’s lie, 

and never will a little girl fondle you 

or hold your dark wings cupped in her palm. 
But that was not true. Once in New Orleans 

with a group of students a roach fled across 

the floor and I shrieked and she picked it up 

in her hands and held it from my fear for one hour. 

And held it like a diamond ring that should not escape. 

These days even the devil is getting overturned 

and held up to the light like a glass of water.