Tuesday 7 October 2008

Down There

Disclaimer: Sensitive readers and bloggers might find some of the language used in the poem that follows offensive. Thanks.

Down There – by Sandra Cisneros

At that moment, Little Flower scratched herself
Where one never scratches herself

From “The Smallest woman in the World”
- Clarice Lispector

Your poem thinks it’s bad.
Because it farts in the bath.
Cracks it knuckles in class.
Grabs its balls in public
and adjusts – one,
then the other –
back and forth like Slinky. No,
more like the motion
of a lava lamp.
You follow me?

Your poem thinks it
cool to pee in the pool.
Waits for the moment
someone’s watching before
it sticks a finger up
its nose and licks
it. Your poem’s weird.

The kind that swaggers in like Wayne
or struts its stuff like Rambo.
The kind that learned
to spit at 13 and still
is doing it.

It blames its bad habits
on the Catholic school.
Picked up words that
Snapped like bra straps.
Learned words that ignite
of their own gas
like a butt hole flower.
Fell in love with words
that thudded like stones and sticks.
Or stung like fists.
Or stank like shit
gorillas throw at zoos.

Your poem never washes
its hands after using the can.
Stands around rolling
toilet paper into wet balls
it can toss up to the ceiling
just to watch them stick.
Yuk yuk.

Your poem is a used rubber
sticky on the floor next morning.

the black elephant
skin of testicles,
hairy as kiwi fruit
and silly, the shaving
stubble against the purity
of porcelain,

one black pubic
hair on the sexy
lip of toilet seat,

the swirl of spit
with a cream of celery

a cigarette
stub sent hissing
to the piss pot,

half finished
bottles of beer reeking
their yeast incense,

the miscellany of maleness:
nail clippers and keys,
tobacco and ashes,
pennies quarters nickels dimes and
dollars folded into complicated origami
stub of ticket and pencil and cigarette, and
the crumb of the pockets
all scattered on the Irish
linen of the bedside table.

Oh my little booger,
it’s true.

Because someone once
said Don’t
do that!
you like to do it.

Baby, I’d like to mention
the Tampax you pulled with your teeth
once in a Playboy poem*
and fond it, darling, not so bloody.
Not so bloody at all, in fact.
Hardly blood cousin
except for an unfortunate
association of color
that makes you want to swoon.

I want to talk at length about Menstruation.
Or my period.
Or the rag as you so lovingly put it.
All right then.

I’d like to mention my rag time.

Gelatinous. Steamy
and lovely to the light to look at
like a good glass of burgundy. Suddenly
I’m artist each month.
The star inside this like a ruby.
Fascinating bits of sticky
The afterbirth without the birth.
The gobs of a strawberry jam.
Membrane stretchy like
saliva in your hand.

It’s important that you feel its slickness,
understand the texture isn’t bloody at all.
That you don’t gush
between the legs. Rather,
it unravels itself like a string from some deep deep center –
like a Russian subatomic submarine,
or better, like a mad Karlov cackling
behind beakers and blooping spirals.
Still with me?

Oh I know, darling,
I’m indulging, but indulge
me if you please.
I find the subject charming.

In fact,
I’d like to dab my fingers
in my inkwell
and write a poem across the wall.
“A Poem of Womanhod”
now wouldn’t that be something?

Words writ in blood. But no,
not blood at all, I told you.
If blood is thicker than water, then
menstruation is thicker than brotherhood.
And the way

it metamorphosizes! Dazzles.
changing daily
like starlight.
From the first
Transparent drop of light
To the fifth day chocolate paste.

I haven’t mentioned smell. Think
Persian rug.
But thicker. Think
But richer.
A sweet exotic snuff
From an ancient prehistoric center.
Dark, distinct,
and excellently

*John Updike's "Cunts" in Playboy (January 1984), 163.

This poem is included in the book ‘Loose Woman’ published by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, 1995.


  1. Ah, gotta love John Updike! :) It has been forever since I've read him....I need to look him up again.

  2. Hi, karma, the poem is by Sandra Cisneros, a woman born to mixed parentage, Latin and US. The John Updike quote is used only as reference.

    Thanks for popping by.

    Greetings from London.

  3. thanks for reminding me that i need to read more of her work. i *really* like _the house on mango street_. it resonates with me and relates to many scenarios prevalent in black/"african american" culture.

    i'm gonna make it a point to get one of her books from the library tomorrow.

  4. Thanks, fly, you're ahead of me, though. I have not read 'The House on Mango Street' yet.

    Greetings from London.

  5. Though i don't find the subject particularly charming i must say this ode to menstruation is indeed "refreshing". Instead of feeling miserable every month, I will now feel like an "artist each month".

    I had to google Sandra Cisneros because i didn't know her and got so intrigued. I'll have to read her. The comment above makes me feel like reading "The House on Mango street".

    so thanks Cuban for introducing her to me...

  6. Thanks, castle, as a bloke I can honestly admit that I have come a long way, if you catch my drift, in terms of women's bodily functions :-). I think her poetry is really incisive and witty. i own two volumes of her poetry, 'Loose Woman' and another one whose name escapes me now.

    Thanks for popping by.

    Greetings from London.

  7. Tampoco la conocía... y enWikipedia me enteré de más...
    Tú siempre, Cuban, acercándonos a la literatura o la música desde una arista nueva, qué bueno.
    Saludos desde Berlín,

  8. Her writing certainly makes one think differently about bodily functions.

    Blunt, honest, perceptive.

    Thanks for the intro.

  9. Whoops, sorry! I thought the whole thing was John Updike. Well, I will have to check out Cisneros then. Thanks!

  10. It's all right, karma, no worries, :-)

    Agu, aqui, como siempre, vacilando el comunismo :-D!

    Diva, you got it in one word: honest.

    Greetings from London.

  11. jeje, bien irreverente... "una flor en el fambeco" las imagenes me cuadran y me recuerdan a bukowski. Bien por ella!
    Entré corriendo, porque estoy en la pincha, maylin me llama 'ahora mismo' y le recomiendo -como siempre- tu pagina.

    pilladera, tony.

  12. http://elblogdereinaldoarenas.blogspot.com/2008/10/crculos.html

  13. Oh my, I'm no prude by any means but the timing of my visit to read this post's poem by someone with the same first name... lol

    Thanks for stopping by with your kind words. :)

  14. Gracias por pasar asere.

    Sandra, well, timing and time and more specifically time of the month. I would call it biological synchronicity :-)

    Reinaldo, me llego por alla en un momento.

    Greetings from London.

  15. I don't feel like an artist right now. Maybe poetry isn't my thing!


  16. Not offensive, just very sharp!

  17. OK, TB, got the message, no worries :-)

    Lena, agree with you, it's sharp poetry at its best.

    Greetings from London.



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