William Page

Sylvia Plath Leaves Lemonade


When Plath stuck her head in the oven, the sad pie

was cooked, the owl had stopped questioning,

the rat in the wall no longer squealed. 


The fire marshal had taken off his brass badge

and gone to bed. Each morning we look into the mirror

for the world’s defeats the newsboy

delivers whether or not trees are loosing their leaves,

cameras of night continuing surveillance.


If all the rocks in fields turned to candy,

the grass wouldn’t care, the rooster with its little red flame

burning its head would still strut through dust proclaiming its gender.


Sylvia Plath forgot the recipe for lemonade.

When the furnace was bursting at its seams billowing smoke

and the oven was hissing like a snake because it wasn’t heating

Plath should have come up for air and tended her children

asleep in the next room, dreaming of ponies.

She should have paid attention to shadows

calling across the kitchen trying to tell her

there were more poems to be written, more men

she should have given the boot.





I grant this machine that holds my devotion

is less powerful or artistic than volcanoes

with operatic voices pitching fire into the air.

The rumble of my Harley down avenues

is heard only by street lights glittering by.

And its cylinders flash through time never

to be recovered, unless time too is a cycle.

I’ve rolled so long below amorphous clouds

passing the sun burning in its pit of sky

and under the whispers and shouts of night,

I ask little of coming miles, counting

my wounds and scars blessings, veritable

tattoos. All my regrets have burst like blisters.

I’ll arrive early or late at the corner of here

or there, where all may come to nothing

more than a spill of blood and a seep of oil

to be rumbled away by the motor of sun,

that once warmed me, or blown away by the fan

of wind that chilled. The machinery of forests

goes on leafing, fields rise up from seeds,

and seasons pass by like speeding wheels.

William Page’s third collection of poems, Bodies Not Our Own (Memphis State University Press), was awarded a Walter R. Smith Distinguished Book Award. His collection, William Page’s Greatest Hits: 1970-2000, was from Pudding House Publications. His poems have appeared widely in such journals as The Innisfree Poetry Journal, The Southern Review, Sewanee Review, North American Review, Southwest Review, Rattle, Ploughshares, Literary Review, American Literary Review, Southern Poetry Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Pedestal Magazine, North Dakota Quarterly, Wisconsin Review, South Carolina Review, and in numerous anthologies, most recently in The Southern Poetry Anthology Volume VI: Tennessee. He is founding editor of The Pinch.



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