Saturday, January 14, 2012

Poetics: Monkey Nipples & Angels



What beauty is this, the body?

A temple, ransacked by rabid weasels.

She cups a breast, fingering an ochre nipple
with a chipped half painted nail, asking herself silent
What was it they said in Virginia Woolf?

Monkey nipples---

made them giggle in English class, but now
gnarled, gummed by hungry mouths, uneven

& lower, thighs once, spider vein cracked canvases
hips that cradled children, the chalice,
now hollow.

Newton's law has spoiled the apple sauce

Eye to eye, she looks for any glimpse
of the girl that turned heads and more,
finding naught,

is this the volume Botero sought,
as he painted,
tangible in every way?

no.

no. No. NO. NO.

I think he saw her, even in ways she was unwilling,
beyond the fortune teller fool's gold found
in the lies of the mirror, sold silicone illusions
or brays of ignorant jackasses
and

upon leaving the bathroom she will cook breakfast,
pack lunches, tote kids off to school, kiss her spouse
on the cheek, fold clothes, wash dishes until fingers wrinkle,
go to work, then come home to cook & clean

but when exhaustion sets in and her eyelids no longer refrain,
she dreams lacquered wood floors, room upon room,
and a bench where she sits

looks up and sees this painting, really sees this painting
for the first time.


At dVerse Poets today, Victoria has a wonderful art prompt prepared for us. We are hanging our pens on paintings by the artist that rendered this painting. Poetics opens at 3 pm EST today.



Process Note: Virginia Woolf refers to the play Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee. I still have my copy from Senior English class. The title of this piece comes from there as well.

"I was in there having a beer one night, and I saw "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" scrawled in soap, I suppose, on this mirror. When I started to write the play it cropped up in my mind again. And of course, who's afraid of Virginia Woolf means who's afraid of the big bad wolf . . . who's afraid of living life without false illusions. And it did strike me as being a rather typical, university intellectual joke." ~Edward Albee

101 comments:

Mary said...

I picture this woman saying, as she looks in the mirror: "Oh, my lord, it has all come to this." Indeed Newton's law has spoiled the applesauce. Your poem is great incentive for me to get to the YMCA today. LOL.

DJan said...

Where is Reuben when you need him? Pondering the inevitable triumph of gravity, I almost enjoyed this. :-)

Valerie said...

Ah gravity, enemy to so many.

the walking man said...

This is NOT the way women are supposed to think of their aging beauty, a beauty which is as appealing as when they were HOT and Vogue material. It is the Madison Avenue men that give them poor body image ideation and they buy into it.

There is beauty not only in the soul of the painting but in the physicality portrayed by it. The beauty of experiences gone through, days lived and family if not for her would perish.

California Girl said...

As a Woman of a Certain Age, I can relate. This is beautifully expressed. I've seen the painting in poster form. It's riveting, as is your poem.

Mrsupole said...

Can I take the walking man home with me. If all men thought that way about aging and changing women then there would be so many women out there who would be so happy and maybe there would be no need for eating disorders because women would just be happy to be.

You are a very special man "the walking man" and someone needs to clone you and Brian.

Great poem Brian.

God bless.

Brian Miller said...

i would def agree WM...but i think that many do fall into the trap of seeing only what was lost...

i think there is much beauty in our aging...

CiCi said...

Really seeing ourselves, warts and chunky thighs and all, can be humbling and at the same time triumphant. Our insides finally matter, the inner beauty rules.

Sheila Moore said...

Very philosophical read for me. Gives me a lot to ponder as I become one year older today. ( weird coincidence, eh?)

Eva Gallant said...

Where on earth did they find that painting of me??? Seriously: I loved this poem. It has so much truth to it.

Pat Hatt said...

Bah! Could have warned me there would be a full moon
But at least it's not you and just a cartoon
So Newton is to blame for an equal and opposite reaction
That has to do with attraction
Damn that apple
Why couldn't he go and drink some snapple

Daniel said...

I laughed when the page first came up and the picture appeared. But it was a great choice for the piece you wrote. Really well done. Of course, it is not just women who look in the mirror and don't recognize or understand the body that sits in front of them.

Heaven said...

your words captured our eyes, our fears when at the end of a long and tiring day, we look up to see this beautiful painting ...

i love this beauty ~

Gloria said...

Brian really I dont like so much Botero, dont like how he show the woman, but I thin, really think you made a beautiful poem to the women has to work a lot all the time, thanks so much:)

annell said...

Wonderful write, humor, and depth!

Gloria said...

And I love the walking man comment!

Gloria said...

uups Mrsupole! we love the same man (ha,ha) I love this comment too, is nice and the Brian poem of course:)

tony said...

Is It All behind Her Now?

manicddaily said...

Rabid weasels--ouch! I was in Uruguay last year in a hotel of angels where a reproduction of the botero was hanging in the bathroom. (I know he's colombian.) he has a wonderful embracing spirit. As does your poem though a bit darker. K

Christine said...

Amazing to read this, like you were inside my head. I do have this view from time to time, 4 children ransacked mine, but then I change my angle and see that they are scars of beauty for what my body created and does for others.

Rae said...

You really painted some vivid imagery with this one. An awful lot of of us women can relate. Excellent writing Brian.

Sam!! said...

Nicely expressed Brian!

Take care

Deb said...

Add me to the list of women (or humans) who can relate to this. But as I age and the children have become independent adults, I have more 'me' time so I can go to the gym, run some 5K's, and can pay better attention to my diet. I actually feel healthier and stronger now. Insightful, beautiful poem.

ladyfi said...

We all come to that sooner or later. Lovely writing!

Laura said...

This poem speaks to me right where I am currently. Celebrating how extra ordinary the ordinary is. Thanks for this one, Brian.

Pauline said...

That mirror doesn't lie so much as it conceals - it pastes the current image over the previous ones... gravity and gravy will have their way with us.

I like the way you always dig beneath the surface and let us see with our hearts as well as our eyes

The girl with the flour in her hair said...

Ok...truly the way you put words together is magical. You have an amazing gift to use words that normally would not apply to said topic, but then, somehow...they do.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I must be a very visual person ..... the toilet is so small when compared to ...... or maybe I just have toilets on my mind .....

A Daft Scots Lass said...

I feel so sad reading this.

I want to take her with my to the gym.

rain :: said...

wow...such a remarkably poignant and tender post.

Steve E said...

Brian, every single line you write is a gem. Some are more 'gem' than others--grin! So I could write an encyclical about lots-o-lines (Hmmm?) or single one kid out and "make an example of him!" Noooo, I mean take a single line--that doesn't sound good, either--grin!

Well, you wrote: "...but when exhaustion sets in and her eyelids no longer refrain,..."

You must be sitting nearby at 2 AM when I am reading and commenting in a state of tiredness...then next morning, "OMG! Did *I* write THAT???"

Thanks for another interesting and FUN read, friend. Well done!

Claudia said...

but when exhaustion sets in and her eyelids no longer refrain,
she dreams lacquered wood floors, room upon room,
and a bench where she sits

looks up and sees this painting, really sees this painting
for the first time....

and with the painting she sees herself for the first time...not what the others want her to be or the ideal and perfectionism she's running after but just what she is and can be through the eyes of a loving artist..and this could be a painter or a poet...smiles .. you have brought quite some depth into this and made the painting even more tangible

Sue said...

I think I love you.

=)

rosaria said...

Everyone will understand this moment in the bathroom mirror.

But you added the layers of literature here, and your commentary didn't make us wince once.

No, this is the truth, you say, the truth of living scarring that body and all of our bodies.

Then, you took us to dreams, where questions are really answered.

(in dreams, and in poetry like this, Brian!)

hedgewitch said...

Love everything about this piece, brian--mature, intelligent and also full of all kinds of emotion. Beautiful, painful work. The applesauce line rules.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious ... and well-written:

"gnarled, gummed by hungry mouths, uneven

& lower, thighs once, spider vein cracked canvases
hips that cradled children, the chalice,
now hollow."

The ending is beautiful, Brian. It reminds me of a photograph I've seen on weheartit.com a few times...

"but when exhaustion sets in and her eyelids no longer refrain,
she dreams lacquered wood floors, room upon room,
and a bench where she sits

looks up and sees this painting, really sees this painting
for the first time"

~Shawna
(rosemarymint.wordpress.com)

Dolly@ Soul Stops said...

Ah, Newton's law...so glad that God sees beyond the exterior...having said that you are motivating me, like Mary said, to try to counter Newton...Thanks, Brian, for another thought-provoking with emotion poem.

Daydreamertoo said...

Good grief, I also know this woman. SMH. Nice write Brian :) I do NIOT want that man to paint >> Me << LOL

Fireblossom said...

Bravo, Brian.

Peter Greene said...

Enjoyed that! And thanks for it.

Tom said...

yes, the applesauce bit, a fan favorite, is one of the best lines i can remember reading recently.
if you want to read about beauty in aging, Heinlein penned one of the best in 'Stranger in a strange Land'..one of the must reads for any sci-fi enthusiest

Birdie said...

if we would see our bodies for what they are, the sacred temples that permit us to be alive, we would treat ourselves with gentleness and love, young or aged ... and we would not fall for the lies that only a young 'perfect' body is beautiful ...
a very thoughtful topic once again Brian!

Glenn Buttkus said...

I swear your fans gather at all
edges of this globe, eager to
pounce on your poetics, they
the rabid weasels, voracious,
insatiable, still beautiful in their
feeding. This was well said, sir,
written by a man who truly
understands women, love them
in all their guises and sizes; and
yes, there is a beauty in our aging,
in our scars, blemishes, and love
handles.

Myrna R. said...

Okay, so I hate looking in the mirror. Means, I'm still not living a life devoid of illusion, still afraid of that wolf, and afraid of accepting gravity's triumph.

Great poem Brian.

Laurie Kolp said...

OMG- The picture caught me off guard and I can only imagine what the prompt will be...

As I was commenting I clicked on 'show original post' which kept the picture out and now I can say I love this, Brian.

Me said...

So I had to trade smooth skin for a few stretch marks and a couple of extra pounds? Well, I have two beautiful sons to show for it, so I think I came out on the better end of that deal.

Bodies are meant to be lived in, and that is what makes them art.

Great piece, Brian.

The Silver Fox said...

Somehow, I'm betting that her husband still loves her, and doesn't take her for granted.

Cinner said...

Brian I agree with so many others, that we should clone you, what a better world if we could all love our bodies as they are. a wonderful read today. I really wish I could put words together like you. ahhhh.....Evas comment I loved it!

kez said...

Awwww poor woman you make me feel for her ...but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Botero was obviously smitten somehow with these humongous forms ...lovely imagery thank you x x

Susie Clevenger said...

Gravity is working against me..threw in John Mayer..I spend as little time in front of the mirror as possible. Loved this poem.

vivinfrance said...

A tour de force of a poem, yet I find myself uncomfortable - it came too close to reality for my chubby sensibilities! Blame it all on Newton and childbearing!

Tara MIller said...

I think as women, we put a lot on ourselves and then on those tired days, don't want to look into the mirror. This was a fun and thoughful work, love. The picture is def an eye opener ;)

Teri M said...

Captivating to read and picture.

Charles Miller said...

Dude, this really captures the spirit and the lietralness of the picture. Lovevthe images andvthe way yourvwords circle around the subject and begin to animate the pigment corpse the painter left haging in time. Love this line, but I'll be damned if I know what it means:)

Newton's law has spoiled the apple sauce

Victoria said...

Brilliant. I just love it. When we had this painting at the museum, I tried to steer the younger kids around it, but you can bet that's right where they gravitated! I enjoyed your rendering.

zongrik said...

lots of great images. i like the spider veins line the best.

also, you sneaked the weasel into this, hmmmm wonder where that came from ;)

Friko said...

No, too close to home for me to like.
Too brutal; I like my illusions.

Margie said...

I loved this, Brian.
I always tell hubby I'm not getting older "I'm getting better"
And I know he will still love me when I'm an old lady, wrinkles, and all!
But more important, I'll love me!

Wonderful write, thank you!
You are the best poet and always impress me so!

Waiting here for the Broncos and Patriots big game tonight!
Having a little party at the house with some die hard Bronco fans!
It should be fun!

How was the reading last night?

Smiles

Bernie said...

Yup it happens, everything heads South eventually and thats okay as I am heading to Florida next winter so my location will match by body...lol

Fred said...

Brian, great job here, love how the inspiration came to you here. Great verse. Thanks

farmlady said...

Botero chose to paint THIS woman... the real one.
You, amazing poet that you are, chose to validate his abstract choice.
Thank you for these words...
"silicone illusions
or brays of ignorant jackasses."
Truth, truth.
There is always a moment when we see things as they really are... We see the pink toilet paper, the hair under the armpit and the key on the outside of the door. We really see life, out of preportion as it is,and wish for something more.
She will always look at her reflection in that mirror and sigh... until she sees the true image of who she is.
Even then she will fail.
This is not our "model".Our dream is young, thin and ripe. We laugh, in the abstract, but what you don't see is the tears.

irene said...

An interesting structure for your poem. I like how you imagined her as wife and mother. Bravo Brian!

PattiKen said...

I've been wondering who to blame. Newton works.

Mama Zen said...

Thank you, Brian. This is special.

Vicki Lane said...

Aging is particularly difficult in a society where so much importance is placed on youthful beauty -- especially for women.

JJ Roa Rodriguez said...

Being a caregiver for 7 years now, i never thought i will leaarn and love the beauty beyond sagging skin, wrikled face and gray hair. There are a lot of stories to tell. I am always thaankful that they have let me be part of it.

Lovin' this!

JJRod'z

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

"looks up and sees this painting, really sees this painting
for the first time..."


Hi! Brian...
Thanks, for sharing such though-provoking [poetic] words/that compliment the Botero's painting..."perfectly."

I agree with some Of the previous commenter(s) Madison Avenue + Brain-washing = self-loathing...

However, I think everything should be "internal" and not "external..."

I think it's should be about the way we treat each other and not the way we look to each other...This to shall pass.."

deedee :-/

Betsy said...

Ah, yes, what has been said is so true. Still...I think I'll stick to the treadmill a few more years. lol...

ds said...

Yes. You've caught it, once again, the essentials of what it means to be human. "Newton's law has spoiled the applesauce." That's a line that will stick, even among so many other beautiful lines.
Thank you for this, Brian.

Teresa said...

What a great response to the prompt~so many layers to the poem and the painting. I'm afraid I too can relate to those stretch marks and the effects of gravity.

Whosyergurl said...

WHERE did you get that picture of me? ;-) Oh, my. You write like Wally Lamb or Steve Martin- so aware of how a woman must feel, but writing from a man's body. You must be a good listener.
Cheryl

Maggie said...

Wayy true. We are all afraid of aging.

beccagivens said...

Brian -- love your response ...
"think that many do fall into the trap of seeing only what was lost...

i think there is much beauty in our aging ..."
Refreshing to have that encouragement!!!

Well done!!

Dave King said...

This is redolent with all that is wonderful and all that is sad about the flesh. It's a small(ish) tour de force. So well done, it seems untrue.

Lydia said...

You make me believe in reincarnation. Surely, you were once a woman to know the heartbreak described here. Brilliant, Brian.

Sh@s said...

Brilliantly written.

RD said...

angels indeed

Olive Tree said...

your Newton's law line made me laugh. this is a smart, witty, alive, and honest writing. loved it! i also like how you end it. reality bites sometimes. i truly think you nailed the prompt.

thanks for visiting my blog earlier in the week. i appreciate your thought. have a wonderful week ahead.

Lorraine said...

I see too well the results of my past, it's the eyes, always, love this Brian

Brendan said...

The takes on why Botero would paint grotesques of the human form -- at least, favor the billowed -- have been interesting. And you do a great job of balancing the possibilities, to show the ravages of time at the same time celebrating them. - Brendan

JANU said...

Beauty is much more than appearance...though we women try to stay young and fit...it is a losing game...you have seen beyond her external appearance...good.

wood said...

your descriptions and conclusions in this are fully human. really oustanding work here brian. the prize of youth and beauty slipping away, only when we stop to notice. identity in that mingle of past and present, to see what was lost and feel what ws gained. lots of "surface" in this poem, enjoyed very much

happygirl said...

no. No. NO. NO.
Raging at the Law of Newton. Raging at the coming of the darkness. Raging at the mirror. When did it come to this.
Yeah, I'm doing sit-ups today.

P.N. Subramanian said...

Beauitiful composition. The value addition by way of an explanatory note was of great help to comprehend.

SueAnn said...

You had me at Botero! Crafter of the human landscape. Beautiful and amazing!
To appreciate one's body is not an easy task...indeed...warped.
This poem quite titillating.
Hugs
SueAnn

♥ Braja said...

You're brilliant with words.

(She does have a real yoga butt though :)

Heather said...

I LOVE this!!!!!!!!!
We as women need to know we are beautiful...because we are ALIVE....your words capture so much emotion here that women can relate to...
the picture did make me laugh OUT LOUD! I don't like looking in the rear view! LOL
off to starbucks and then watching the G-Men later!
enjoy your Sunday!

ayala said...

This is deep and thoughtful ... So many women judge themselves by how others see them... And others know that the journey and wearing all the different hats they do has made them who they are. Love Newton's law spoiled the applesauce.... Love it all :)

otin said...

That looks like Kim K in that picture. LOL

Lisa Golden said...

I'm learning to accept the changes. I can't say I embrace them yet. Letting my natural silver hair grow in was a big step and it's been positive. The other changes - those rendered by the rabid weasels - are harder to accept. I look at the beautiful, plump, smooth skin of my daughters and remember.

This poem speaks for me, to me, about me. Your talent is boundless.

Michael Willoughby said...

Love the line about the apples!

Magpie said...

You have such a mastery of phrase...
"Newton's law has spoiled the apple sauce". It's sometimes hard to embrace our battle scars. :)

lifeisaroadtrip said...

Methinks there is a woman somewhere inside you, Brian. (This is not a bad thing.)

Orang3 said...

monkey nipples...I have my mind full of fuck right nao

Ginny Brannan said...

Ah, we get older, our bodies change, gravity takes over...we women are not naive to the fact that we will never be that perky 18 year old again (without a personal trainer and lots of money, lol!!). A good man overlooks the changes and sees the woman for who she really is. I'm lucky to have a husband like that, and can tell the woman in you life is lucky too. A very thoughtful and well written piece, Brian!

That Janie Girl said...

Wow.

Just wow.

Is that me????

Slamdunk said...

Fitting that I hit Pat's blog before yours. Now I have too many images dancing in my head.

adeeyoyo said...

Oh yeh, hear, hear, Walking Man and Mrsupole said it all - there's nothing left to add!

Zuzana said...

Oh yes, I can certainly relate to the feel of a woman, who can see that age is leaving its print all over her. By each day, something else goes.;)
But eventually, the same physical imperfections are a testimony of a life lived and can be beautiful and enticing in a more profound way. As the beauty of youth carries nothing with it.;)
Lovely piece as always dear Brian,
xoxo

Barbara said...

I want the applesauce line on a tee.

Ed Pilolla said...

i saw a few botero sculptures a few weeks ago. what a presence. but i do wonder whether i need to see them again before i see them for the first time.