I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world,
to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')


These poems are works in progress, and may be subject to revision without notice. Completed versions appear in my books. Nevertheless copyright applies to all texts found here.

20 August 2008

C***


It’s just like one of those weeds
that swallows insects.
And it’s hungry! It seeks to feed.
I’ll swear it reaches out with its big side-flaps
and stretches and sucks —
you can hear the air retreat
in front of its jet funnel,
its ruching of in-drawn petals.
It puckers to an arch kiss,
pouts, plops like a fish,
flops to a loose pocket.
It gapes, it salivates, it wants your juices.
You tickle its hairy leaves and it gasps —
you are so pretty.
You are a winged thing,
and here is this coarse slobberer —
stop, take pity!
Only stroke it. Watch how it widens.
Oh yes — it’s sticky! It grasps, fastens,
clamps: magnet.
And the fierce little eye in the middle
goes red, goes wild, throbs blindly, sizzles.

Bites, tightens till you shrivel.



© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 1974
from Universe Cat, Pariah Press (Melb.) 1985
First published (earlier version) Compass


The title – in case you haven't figured it out already – is a four-letter word meaning female genitalia. I don't usually censor it, but as this is a public space and I don't want Google removing my blog....
First written in 1974 and bravely published by Chris Mansell in the now-defunct literary magazine Compass, this was a famous poem in Australia for a while – and in some quarters infamous. It was universally referred to, both by those who loved it and those who hated it, as "THAT poem". Many people begged me to change the title to something more discreet or euphemistic, but I have always been convinced that this title is absolutely right POETICALLY.

I do believe it was the first "literary" piece of its kind, at least in this part of the world, where it inspired others to poems on the same and similar subjects. It appears on my "Texas Poetry Trip" blog, but I decided it was high time to post it here as well. I chose Melanie's wonderful orchid pic to use, with her permission, as my "Passionate Crone" icon largely because it struck me as a perfect illustration for this poem!


Submitted 6 July 2013 for Poets United's Verse First: Appetite

15 comments:

  1. Amy Barlow Liberatore23 August 2008 09:14

    I had never encountered this work of art before. Honestly, Rosemary, it's astonishing, bold, sexy, and powerful. I think there are so many feminists here in the States who would love it, so I will pass on your blogsite to them in hopes they will visit.

    You are gifted and just the type of Crone I want to be (I'm 51 and ready for my Crone Crowning).

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  2. Oh Amy, thank you! Yes, I doubt that it was known outside Australia.

    You're an astonishing woman yourself, and will surely love your richly rewarding Crone years!

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  3. That is a wonderful poem, perfectly working the image to the orchid photo I saw in another post. Alive and full of motion and energy and realness. Very cool poem.

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  4. Thank you for appreciating it so much!

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  5. Haven't read this before but that was a bold and sassy piece of work. Nice one.

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  6. Ha, Rosemary....before I read your explanation I thought you were perhaps writing about the venus fly trap. (Perhaps I should not confess my ignorance.) But once I read your explanation I GOT it, and it definitely is a brave poem....and it is described perfectly!

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    1. No, you're spot on! I certainly had in mind the Venus Flytrap, as a metaphor.

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  7. Well, now I know why you are called the Passionate Crone, my dear! I love that it caused a sensation Back in the Day! Good for you!Color us feisty.

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    1. Apart from being very desirous, and frustrated, at the time, I was also fed up with the inaccurate way men wrote about women's sexuality.

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    2. Oh, and I wasn't a crone in those days - I was 35!!!

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  8. ..ah, I applaud your courage to write on such subject Rosemary... no wonder it got the attention it deserved... if i hadn't read the title i would thought also that you were writing about a venus fly trap... brilliantlly dirty truth! i am afraid to tackle a subject / theme like that as i don't think i am of legal standing yet to do such... ha... smiles... this is def beyond the kind of appetite i would have thought to read thru poets united... you win us def a real element of surprise... smiles...

    ..i've read your response re: my comment recently to Mary's post... thanks a lot... it is always good to know there is someone on the other side of the globe who shared almost what you've exactly been through... def figure is no big deal for me today but for a 7 year old lad it does really matter big back then... eversince i always knew i am way different from the rest in the way i think... i can imagine things beyond the normal understanding of many... at some point i took it as an advantage... sometimes, i wondered if it's a curse to be like me because i always get misunderstood as people around me just didn't get what i am saying / writing most of the time the way i get it clearly... & i always adjust because at the end of the day i am still human who still needs a friend... smiles...

    ...my apology for coming here only now... ye know sometimes i tend to forget that i still have business yet undone... or maybe, today is just the right time to read this with a right mood... smiles...

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  9. I think there are no accidents - or very few anyway. I in turn only just found and read your comment, and I think it's perfect timing.

    The bullying is long ago for me, as is being a somewhat odd, misfit young woman. You end up finding friends for whom you're not so 'different' after all, and you find the understanding. There are other visionaries, poets and artists out there.

    In his song Chelsea Hotel, Leonard Cohen writes of Janis Joplin saying to him: 'Well, never mind. We are ugly, but we have the music.' In the same way, we little fat kids who got bullied grew up to be poets. And we didn't stay fat, and we keep finding friends. I wouldn't swap for anyone else's life!

    I'm glad you appreciate the poem. :)

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