Guest Poet Elizabeth Warren

Venial Spirit on the Food Chain

There is a tingling at the top of my skull
in my hair-part, that could be a crack
in my brain.  My fingers are wet,
my only soul leaking out, the slime trail
an alarm I should heed.

But in the wail a shadow is creeping
in faster than I can pray, spinning
in the hole a spider's web. I cringe at
her leggy probe, her squatting over
my jellyfish and her spurt of seeds.

Have I been chosen, or am I in exile
in this death-festival of exposure?
In perpetuity I dream a fly agaric
purging god, and myself 
a mollusk to lay open as angel feed.

August, 1999

Elizabeth Warren's Questions:

Is it clear what this poem is "about?" Is it too obscure or, at the other extreme, too obvious?

Comments on the structure? I'm not a fan of "rigid" form, but I like a poem >that has some shape to it.

Comments on the images: slime trail, jellyfish, fly agaric...? I'm not thrilled with the line "Have I been chosen, or am I in exile," any thoughts?

Anne Sexton/To Echo

It is difficult to assess your madness;
your insanity glimmering, the blinding sun
of your mirrored eyes.
I know you are fashionably
maniacally depressed,
and the pills you allude to are
eagerly swallowed.
I know you are dead.
One afternoon you suffer 
a psychotic split and suddenly
veer from North to South.
Fouccault pendulums
clinging to the walls
and singing like sprung wires
as the earth spins around, you
turn your brains inside out
for an analyst
who you want to sleep with,  all the others
you can ascribe to
addiction, for which you take
medication. It's not pretty to watch
a duel for a nod, a battle
to get up in the morning-
your body an unwilling servant
and there are no more prescriptions.

August, 1999

Elizabeth Warren's Questions:

Is the subject corny/cliche/trendy, i.e. are you "put off" when you read the title?

Is it clear or too obvious that I am talking about Anne Sexton to another person who is "crazy?"

Does the form (lack of) work? Does the ending work?

The Albany Poetry Workshop