Belle du Jour

The housewife birds

To another house-black lace stockings

Here sex is transactional


She gives a little.  He pays a lot


She birds back-sofa purchased

Suits cleaned.  Walk here and there

The shops @) and (@) and (@)

Chanel, Dior, Hermes

Silks and leather –Leather and silk

She memorizes the number of tassels

On her brand new whip.


Silk and leather and diamond shaped bird

Her earnings consumed in pretty things

Husband finds –mis understanding Where

He beats her after sex

She gives a little. He takes a lot.


She considers the whip.  She considers the blood

Down his back.  She considers the sofa.  She

Puts the bird on her chest.  She refuses to



Husband washes his hands and considers

The necessity of marriage.  What is wife but

Bird. But if bird, what is husband.  Hunter or

Just another bird.  Blood runs down his back.


Home is après ski and minor gossip

Home is husband

Home is where the cat’s claws

Remain untrimmed.


Poem posted in The Ashbery Home School–thanks to Emily Skillings.

La vida de la poet

One of the things about writing poems is to take risk or to use unlikely sources.  On my birthday I share this poem selected by The AshberyHomeSchool organized by Adam Fitzgerald and Emily Skillings.  Many years ago, I took Thulani Davis to see Belle Du Jour for her birthday.  We felt oh so sophisticated.  That seems like a century ago and indeed it was in the last century of the last millennium. Years later I thought about the film, but also more about what is marriage since it has been on everyone’s mind-gay marriage; divorce rates; why get married; why men are happier married, etc. etc. etc.     I am not married, but probably would have made an interesting wife had I been married.  But who knows.  I do not.  But the film gave a look at how marriage represses women.  And the ways in which she “liberates”  or does not “liberate” herself is at the heart of the film.  Of course it’s a film by the great Spanish director Bunel and given his misogyny, the liberation focuses on her use of sex.  Of course women liberate ourselves in a range of ways and that is a good thing.   We need more liberty.  We need to think about what marriage or not marriage is.  We need to find language that allows our full selves to be claimed by our full selves.  As a poet who is living her life as best she can, I know that it is not easy to live one’s full life.  But I urged each of us to do so as best we can.

At MOMA, with Jacob Lawrence catalog, January 2015

At MOMA, with Jacob Lawrence catalog, January 2015