Flash Literature, Poetry, Art and Photography!

Two From Elizabeth Stassinos



  Sylvia Plath in 2007



   it's quiet now

   it's been years

   and educated people are still afraid of you


   I've been reading your journals

   you write like a cutter

   Freud would have had a ball

   with your mother


   I would have said

   dear older sister

   my own sharpened jabbing sweetness

   with clean sox and hairpins

   don't fall so in love with endings

   or some Brit gigolo dangling from a shelf

   who cut his teeth on Donne and Pope

   and whores in heels in fields

   and love villanelles chewing on themselves


   you who are astounding

   a light metal

   lithium perhaps

   in a print dress

   with matching pink and green purse

   floral and canvas

   always giving birth to your father's face

   his fat thumb-feet

   blackening on a grill

   from the accelerated heat of disease


   hungry for a sham

   American eternity

   a byline or photograph of self

   plastered on something dumb and given

   like happiness

   not something easy

   with your talent for whole worlds



   and it's 2007

   and it's still impossible to be a woman

   in love with endings


   fresh death like a lukewarm cake

   take her from me,

   the photographs of her frighten me

   her eyes and hair rise to meet mine

   I am also from scratch

   invited and moist and incompletely described


   I don't know anything but this kind of kinship

   no divorce can heal this

   no umbilicus to cut

   childless and forty and ripe



   father father

   you are here

   take her

   shake some sense into her

   or murder, poem ender.








  Is it wrong to love you

  off your medication,

  F******* your therapist on his vacation?


  Or for me to love you off mine?


  Remember the time we met,

  the bells, the drooling Vet


  the art teacher in the asylum

  who could have been anywhere

  this poem ends with her still rowing

  with her paints and crayons and cheerful assessment

  her "work clothes" thick with blue acrylics and glue

  as if "art" was the last thing to go


  I was new to feminism


  and hope and

  failed Southern politics and

  Catholics and aesthetics

  and how could you hurt your own daughter?


  You were all disbelief and cigarettes,

  a suicide

  in a garage,

  and you are pinned back in that supple leather

  bucket seat

  as still and lonely as a thumbtack


  Strange Lady Lazarus

  More Macbeth than Plath

  Enjoying the role,

  mocking the ambition-bird flopping in its cage,

  domesticity, death,


  rubbing the pink insides of your cell

  a kitchen you could never love with knives too sharp to play with

  your wishing well in the suburbs

  a tongue always feeling for her canine teeth


  telling Jesus to go to hell and

  telling Mary how to lament

  "it's this way" and

  "you won't like it" and hell is not poetry

  and hell is different

  for women with talent.



(Editor's Note: The word F****** has been edited.) 



ELIZABETH STASSINOS is a cultural anthropologist from the University of Virginia. She is an advocate of prison reform and arts and educational alternatives to incarceration.  She is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Westfield State College and has taught there since 2004.


In the past, DR. STASSINOS has volunteered as a writing facilitator for Voice From Inside’s  (VFI) Pre-release workshop. Her work appeared here in the now archived November 2007 as part of the special VFI edition.