Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BODY MODIFICATIONS, by CATHLEEN CALBERT



Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

BODY MODIFICATIONS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Butterfly parts her long wings / skull and crossbones
Subject(s): Bodies; Women


"To be born woman is to know --
Although they do not talk of it at school --
That we must labour to be beautiful."
-- William Butler Yeats, "Adam's Curse"

Butterfly parts her long wings
Skull and crossbones
A shaved head sprayed gold

On my back, twin Chinese dragons,
on my thighs "Love" and "Mystery,"
black thorns encircle my ankles,
one wrist the same, my lover's name
around my left nipple, his initial
on my jugular, so it's always exposed,
so the world knows that I am his.

A marked woman,
this fan of a masculine art,
her man's signature upon her body.

Like the Egyptian princess,
Lady Churchill, hiding her symbol of eternity,
Janis Joplin, her heart upon her heavy chest:
Out of the loop.
Out of the running.
Oh, ladies . . .

Artfullete, Serpentia, Lady Viola,
Princess Beatrice, Pictura, La Belle Irene

dressed in flesh,
both the celebrant and the talisman,
I am listening to your skin:

"Never Despair"

floral necklaces slipping into cleavage,
mermaids and dolphins, corporate logos,
a hive of honeybees, band of fairies

"Nothing without Labor"

fallopian tubes, "men's ruin," a hundred penises,
pinups, zippers up the backs of their legs,
necks laced and tied with a pink ribbon

"I Live and Die for Those I Love"

Why take these vows
of permanence
and impermanence?

Because we're all going to die.
We might as well have our bodies
be objects of beauty.







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