Monday, July 20, 2015

Branden Books Merges Two Books of Poetry into The Sexuality of Two 1970s American Poets - Do Check It Out!

For this book, parts of the back cover are provided for immediate reference...

In the case of the little known American poet, John, he was a highly acclaimed poet. In reading his sonnets, the reader quickly realizes that John has more than mastered the art form of poetry. His sonnets are among the more beautifully written, and very powerful in imagery. Yet, it seems, John never mastered the art of love or lovemaking, or of life itself, or life's values. He complains about his shortcomings as well as those of the women with whom he had coitur or intercourse--never a satisfying experience, though he was the father of five legitimate children...

Laura Lee, on the other hand, was sexually extraordinaire. She did not write about an ideal lover, and her virtue was not in writing Petrarchan or Shakespearean sonnets. Her strength was in acknowledging her libido, and in knowing, acquiring, and appreciating what she got and what she gave...By indulging in love-making, she also delighted her partners. And, her poetry flowed out of her in a language that continues to be cohesive, natural and beautiful...

The Sexuality of Two 1970s
  American Poets
 My Last Mistress,              By John
 Naked in Your Eye, By Laura Lee

In many ways, the poetry of John is unusual. Whereas, for me, at least, I think of poetry as romantic, sometimes sexy, but mostly that it is beautiful to read and enjoy. Not so, in the book called My Last Mistress by John. Was it written in the later years of his life as somewhat of a memoir? Had he learned, realized, how he had lived his life and felt some compulsion to seek, perhaps, forgiveness?

The book is divided into 5 sections: The Will to Wander, To One Too Near, Exploration and Defeat, At Last the Dawn, and Ending and Aftermath... A number of poems are entitled as if they were written for specific people and indeed sometimes are answers to an individual as if he had received some missive from that individual and chose to respond in poetry form. But the reader only gets to know the Initial: H, P, etc. I was therefore somewhat hesitant to read, to try to understand, and often read only further because I was compelled to read on... This was the first one which really quite my attention...
Musings at a Lakeside Inn

When the antique flute had played
a midnight knell to pleasure's end,

 And, reluctant partings made

Each to his stuccoed cell condemned,
Embalmed in scent of pines and must,
The lake's dark circle watching over,
I saw despairing in the west
A chalk-white moon fall into Dover.

How like children when we parted,
Scolded by the curfew pipe, 

Whose play must end when barely started!
Must short bars short hours keep?

Would the silver flute had blended 
Into full orchestral gladness
And canoes were newly mended,
Set adrift in new-found madness!

Great porch bright with lanterns hung,
Floorboards creaking, whirling dancers.
Would that joyous songs were sung!
Joyous questions, joyous answers!

Dark reflections would conspire
In the mirror of a cove,
Star conjoin with water lilies,
Trembling petals echo love,
But onr Inn sleeps by still waters,
Moldering in summer's sweet decay,
Entombing all her sons and daughters
Called untimely from their play

Nights long past are one with this one
And a sadness none can tell,
When he views his soul unchanging,
Each knows in his stuccoed hell.


From the poignancy of young love in Musings at a Lakeside Inn, or Night Over Jersey, we follow John through the beginnings of temptation such as with:


To the Devil, 1969
Satan, cursed be your serpent schemes
That coil on themselves. What irony
When evil ends employ such modest means
To weave false hope on summer's tapestry.
Is this your Marguerite to tempt my Faust,
Personifying paradise on earth?
It seems your corporate office, counting costs,
Trades but such beauty as the soul be worth!
Progressive fiend, you know the times demand
Your fictions with our fashions change apace--
The spinning wheel is gone; her maiden hands
Now ply electric keyboards in its place,
And air-conditioned corridors as well
As leafy lanes may lead the way to hell.

Then the cynic starts to appear as he has passed from temptation on to feelings of rightness, or desire...or need.


My wife resents my mistress,
Who in turn resents my wife,
And the ladies both are jealous
Of a third,

For they share a common envy
Of the muse who rules my life
And begrudge the metered whispers
I have heard.

They would have my substance wasted
On their interwoman strike,
Leaving not a cent to publish
These poor words

But reality starts to enter when he pens 


Who supplements his wife
May claim
To have autmented life
But shame
Increases too with career
Of error
And aggrandizes fear
To Terror

But like the publisher suggests on the back of the book, John's  words are found through his muse indeed, but with love, he's still the worse... For me, this was clearly demonstrated as he wrote the title poem, "My Last Mistress" which appeared earlier this week...Check it out if you haven't yet read... At this point, he has lost all sense of emotional stability, as he discusses his last mistress with a woman he is now trying to seduce. If she was disgusted as I was with what he said, she didn't have dinner with him that night...

But is there hope for John? Is this unique book really his life story in poetic form? And does he end life still looking for something--a fantasy he will never find? Or does he one day reach a point when he has no choice but to look backward and reflect on his failings, his joys, his triumphs? Readers will be intrigued to follow John's road--some of his stories are sad, some will amaze you with his inability to see himself at that time, others will be funny, such as the adultery poem--if it wasn't so close to reality...

Funny, you know, the poetry of the 70s might just have led to what is routinely occurring in today's world... Except most hide it, deny it, or else Instagram it to the world! I think it was brave of John to create the story of his life--or, if not biographical, to be able to look at the lives of men and put it before readers in such delightful verse!

While John is the more thought-provoking of the two writers, Laura Lee presents as a bold, unapologetic woman who happily shared her thoughts. I was most intrigued by her poem regarding her death which was posted earlier this week. I would admit that was probably due to my age and love of books, LOL!

Frankly, Lee's poetry is too allegorical for my taste. I've become so literal in reading so many books that I have come to dislike having to figure out what the author wants the reader to understand about her words. Take for instance,

Pop the Cork

take out my cork
I've been bobbing around in the waves
for so long
phosphorescent nights
unreal purples at the bottom
when I dared to venture down
the bends coming up again
fast, brutal, but, oh
the sky is above me
and clouds form faces I have known
and want to follow
but they dissolve into nothing
all my loves are wrong for me
they want to crack me open
and drink my blood
so I stayed for all these centuries
locked in this bottle
you passed me on the beach and i cried--
help! I felt your need, too, your gentle
beauty reached out to me, but you walked on by
I am still bottled up floating around this
universe waiting for you to pull off my cock
and help me emerge the whole me
not what other want to see...
pop the cork
even if it breaks
and I die from pollution
for this air tight container
restrains my growth
ships are locked in bottles
not people
not me
i want to go to the veldt [as below?}
and watch the lions
drink and play 

I want to go to big sur 
and dance at nepenthe, [drug]
drinking hot buttered mm while the phoenix burns

so i, too, can fly into a tomorrow
smelling of redwoods, streams
and fresh forest air

where I can return to the womb
at night 
in a water bed
sandwiched in satin sheets with you.

Sure, I get the gest of it--the romantic tale in which she shares her feelings and desires... but when I read, I don't want to, please, could anybody help me understand what "Pop the Cork" means if it doesn't mean what I think it means...LOL... Still, when you read such a verse, it does tend to haunt you, wanting you to explore whether this is really, after all, just a story about a genie in the bottle perhaps??? Wanting to be taken home by the Captain!

But then when she got explicit, it was very explicit...


When you fumbled my girl breasts
I burned with desire.
our hips learning, pressing, covering.
The small of your back made room for my fingers.
Your neck was salty.
Woman was my name.
Later, alone, licking my lips,
I wished I hadn't let you.


And, of course, I was pleased to read about Midnight, with quite a different story... my favorite, of course...


His black velvet, impossible skin
wraps itself around my arm
while he burns holes through me with his
golden eyes and witchcraft.
My little sultan of the rooftops 
is a male chauvinist
who patrols the sky by night
awaiting any female prey
But I forgive him,
for he crawls into my bed each morning
and serenades me with a lullaby of purrs.

This book of poetry is refreshing in its honesty, its depth of emotional sharing, and its topical interest. While some poems are erotic, most, instead, are a revelation of the writers' personal emotions about their individual lives and those within their surroundings. Nothing is sacred, yet it is in no way a form of  content that is not suitable for adults and some young adults.

If you enjoy poetry, I wholeheartedly invite you into this memorable merge of the lives of one woman and one man, speaking out to readers in the best way they know how to express their feelings. Their sexuality is the reality of being wholly man and wholly woman, sharing what has been important to them, respectively. For me it was revelatory...and memorable...



Come into the lily, tarry
relishing the petals.

 Drink deep the juice
and revel.
Take care our stems
don't choke.
I love you best
when my roots can stretch
to heaven or to hell.

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