by Smokey Farris
There she sits alongside the herbal oils
and homeopathic medicine store.
She’s saying a sentence while adjusting her
awkward and milking the affection of
Painted white like the background of a naval officer.
She displays features such as,
sandy earth tones of hair and flesh.
Wine colored eyebrows.
Grey skin like a pigeons
And satellites resembling teeth.
A storm threatens as I catch a glimpse
of her chartreuse, lavender and plum printed silk panties.
Hiding behind the shadow of her legs.
I habitually do this.
The image followed me as nude chickens gather,
Seeking out warmth and companionship.
Morosely catapulting vague simulations,
of female forms as if made of mated
phosphors and colored dough.
Determined to overrun the best of my
sketch book for the next three weeks
Angry images of conically distorted
Female features blurts out grave images of
Horndoggers and Angels
Collapsing onto hot trampolines
And forgoing foreplay.
I squirt honey from my golden breastplate,
Like I always do.
Withdraw my most nickel plated and enamel
coated flicker of torture.
I then Put it back into the glove box.
Begin to descend into third gear and
Connect my cassette tape to the head
Of the stereo deck.
Forget about taking my laundry out of the dryer
And wear shoes that smell like mildew.
0 thoughts on “Relax”
It’s difficult for me to get through this poem, for its grammar and punctuation non-sequitors breaking it up, but here goes.
I like the title reappearing at the end, as though to dismiss everything that’s come before. What is it dismissing?
A woman, maybe just coincidentally (ironically) homeopathic. “Saying a sentence while adjusting her awkward” may be preparing us for the disconnects that follow in the poem. Maybe it’s about disconnection. “Milking the affection of the bored” is a wonderful phrase making the whole poem worthwhile if it didn’t seem to set a precedent.
The next four stanzas indicate the narrator is a visual artist by their references to colors and images. “Determined to overrun the best of my sketch book for the next three weeks” nails this down, at least as a metaphor for close, imaginative observation. “Satellites resembling teeth” I don’t understand; seems as though it should be the other way around.
The end of the fifth stanza is sexual, presumably in relation to the woman, but “I squirt honey from my golden breastplate” keeps any physicality at a remove, which may again indicate an artist’s detachment.
Is “my most(?) nickel plated and enamel coated flicker of torture” a cigarette lighter, perhaps a gun? Anyway, it brings the relationship to a climactic head, only to put it away.
Then comes the relaxation. I like the last two lines a lot. They bring the narrator more into focus and shift the woman out of one so intense and crazed.
Now I’m thinking the poem is about a poet as artist, and how observation can overtake the imagination as chaotic, disconnected obsession, demanding the poet “descend into third gear.” Any other perceptions, commenters? Poet?
To Randall: Smokey’s poetry is a lot like his paintings and music. You were getting there when you said “…observation can overtake the imagination as chaotic, disconnected obsession…” Smokey functions strictly in the moment. Through stream of consciousness, he culls these images not in any literal sense, but with theatrical analogy. I think that “flicker of torture” is the character’s habitual tendency to undress women, and he’s not really using a car stereo or a stick shift- it’s all movement within his brain. The novelty may wear on you, but I’ve grown to appreciate it. Try reading it aloud. Smokey’s poems are a sound, not a book report. But, to be fair, you need to know Smokey’s voice for it really to come across.
To Pat: Thanks. Your remark about “the character’s habitual tendency to undress women” is revealing. This, together with the artist’s/poet’s obsessional focus, may be what the poem’s about. I tried reading it aloud, but I still stumble over the non-sequitors. I admire the imagery, but I wish the whole piece would cohere more, so when we reach the last two lines, we’d get a better sense of what he’s relaxing from. But we’re almost there, aren’t we.