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Featured Guest Poet Maggie Morley

Hurricane Monica

The ruins in the tempest's aftermath,
The slutty urban landscape of her mind,
Were raisined with the dried-up bees of wrath.

The casualties were great, a ghastly swath
Of truths brought down, of character maligned-
A wasteland in the tempest's aftermath.

What spiteful god laid out this whirlwind's path-
This blasted moonscape, captiously designed-
Now raisined with the dried-up bees of wrath?

In these mean days we do not weep or laugh,
We salvage those sad trophies we can find-
The corpses in this tempest's aftermath.

In times to come, on some vexed cenotaph,
Will mindless children trace faint chiseled lines
That tell of rage and bile, of sleaze and wrath?

In times to come, in some deft epigraph,
Will blue-lipped codgers, mute and wisely blind,
Limn ruins of the tempest's aftermath?
Will reason plump the dried-up bees of wrath?

April, 1999

Maggie Morley's Questions:

Is there too much of an editorial slant in this piece (e.g., "slutty urban landscape of her mind" . . . and "mindless children")?

Is the window of time too transient? (In other words, who will remember the name Monica Lewinsky in 22 months?)

Have I delivered a relatively clear message?

Tour de force! I let "captiously" go, but I did finally stumble on "Limn" as near archaic, or too obviously "poetic" language. The villanelle form was especially effective at churning up the corpses-- powerful! Thanks, CE
USA - Sun May 23 23:04:56 1999
Maggie, a powerful, breathtaking poem. The choice of the repetitions is so effective to hammer the brain and visualize wrath. I have to agree with CE about the use of "captiously"; it slows down the reading. Anyway, it's just a word, the rest is incredibly good, and consider, the villanelle is not a form I privilege. Bravo. Thanks. Paula
Paula Grenside
ITALY - Mon May 24 10:08:35 1999
Great poem! You may be right about no one remembering Monica in 22 months, but they probably will--and what does it matter?. I love the villanelle form and you've done it really well! Thanks!
USA - Sat May 29 19:43:45 1999
I must say that this is definitely the best, most creative, and definitely most entertaining editorial I've ever read on the Lewinsky situation...may I ask, though (pardon the "stupid question")--why bees? I'm not sure I see the symbolism...well, maybe it'll hit me tonight when I'm lying in bed. I'd like to know, though, so please do respond if you can.
Daisy Mendez
USA - Wed Jun 2 23:47:24 1999
This is a great villanelle. I enjoyed reading it. I liked the plain language you called "editorial slant", however. I agree with the comment about the word "captiously", but it did make me rush to my dictionary! I read it several times through at first, and finally came to the conlusion that the "bees of wrath", must be the "star" prosecutor, or any of the other "male" players in this scene, as I picture Monica as not entirely a tempest, or a wrath, but an unfortunate aftermath, of "buzzing bees". Anyway, that's my interpretation! I enjoyed this! *S*
USA - Tue Jun 8 16:05:04 1999
I must say that the insights on the the scandal is really terrific. Actually it really doesn't matter if no one remembers Monica 22 years from now. But what is important is that they may know that a certain "event" happened and be wary that it may happen again. On the other hand, I find the rhythm of the lines slow for the "tempest" tone or did you intend it to be so. If you did, I have to read it again.
paul gongora
Phils. - Wed Jun 9 23:13:54 1999
Kudos to you for tackling the daunting Villanelle! I am troubled with the title, though. When I hear hurricane, I am expecting a lot of rain to go with the destruction, and we have dried up bees. Maybe a different weather phenomenon with less water but still destructive. I think Monica will be remembered for a long time to come. I think if Faun Hall and Gennifer Flowers had fifteen minutes of fame, then Monica had 15 days and will be not easily wiped from this country's memory. I'm to young to remberwhat she looks like, but didn't Nixon's secretary Rose Mary do something with the "damn" tapes? And she never messed with cigars.
Michelle Greer
USA - Sat Jun 12 15:41:00 1999
I never like trying answer the poet's questions except obliquely because I think the poet asks the wrong things. 150 years ago Browning wrote about a duchess. Do the historical details matter? The poem survives, flourishes even. Are your adjectives editorial? No, because they're insufficiently specific to the situation (see below). Have you delivered a clear message? Oh, boy, do you want McLeish on this? Pound? I don't mean to be flip but are you sending a telegram or writing a poem? Perhaps you need to reevaluate your intentions in writing. It's important to point out that you wander from strict adherence to the form. However, I don't think that's a problem because my view of forms is that you have to extend them or subvert them. Otherwise you're writing beneath the weight of several previous centuries of other poets who have done it already. Also the Form Police lost their funding under this Republican Congress and you wouldn't expect any of them to come after you anytime soon. Some have pointed out several words that send us to the dictionary. Nothing wrong with that. Perhaps a more incisive observation might be that you use different orders of language. Is "slutty urban landscape" the same order of language as "cenotaph"? How about "blasted moonscape" and "captiously designed"? I don't think so. Does this mixing of higher and lower orders of language create problems with the piece? Possibly. I think you'll have to look at that. The poem feels as if it wants to go with the higher order of language and its high level of abstraction and generality support that perceived intention. That level of abstraction and generality is my biggest problem with the poem. It lacks specificity. You could have easily titled this "Columbine" and it would have made as much sense. Or as little. In a form where you're repeating lines throughout, the lack of specificity only accrues. Your words sound nice but there is a level of self-conscious "Poetry" (uppercase "P" is deliberate) to them. Even with your title -- which for me moves right into the precious -- why can't you come right out and say it even if you chose to use uplifted diction? Or why can't you follow and abstraction with something more specific? But there's the difficulty of a form: You're locked into 50% of a poem that repeats itself; you build in the abstraction by design and you don't mitigate in your non-repeating lines.
Ian Wilson
USA - Tue Jun 15 14:22:48 1999

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