Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Word List Wednesday #5

This week I challenged myself to write with words I pulled from the poem The Necessary Angel by Phyllis Janowitz as it appeared in Best American Poetry of 1994.

Word List:



She is thinking of Southeast lovers,
Sea-life and water-foul cresting
The tail-end of Summer’s last evening,
The aurora-like skyline swaying leaves
As it waves its theatrical hand across
The tops of palms and evergreen.

He is bending the spoke-lights of his
Starry eyes into the folds of her eyelashes,
Skin of his calloused fingers ten tiny
Abrasions descending the skin below
Her breastbone:  he untucks her heart,
Gray as the shadow-side of a half-burned bulb,
A gesture unsurpassable.

Time is a breast-stroke, a sweaty breeze
That blows into overturned curbside cans.
It’s the Hollywood hour of bar-tabs
And street-side cabs, corners where the
Whores roam, innocuous as last years’ lipstick
Yet still made human by the steadily-rasping
Hindrance of words whispered by strange men
In stranger cars beneath streetlights on
Whatever day the hand-strike of a calendar
Has catapulted their itchy-legged fishnets into.

The girl sitting safely in the backseat of
The boys shiny Bentley does not notice their tears;
The rain is falling now, traffic-signs blurred
Above cars where couples dine on leftover
Tiramisu and kiss to the promise of next Saturday.


  1. Real and harsh, true to life, quite superb in its delivery.

  2. Oh my, the second stanza ... especially this:
    "He is bending the spoke-lights of his
    Starry eyes into the folds of her eyelashes"

  3. A real seaminess to this poem which holds the attention. Thanks. K.

  4. First the some of the words you have chosen are so unbending for poetry, which makes the flow all the more impressive... the image you paint, the unfairness between the boys in Bentleys and the girls... It seems almost like this is the poem written by the protagonist of your earlier poem.... They seem to connect so well.

  5. I started to pick out lines I like, especially the first of the third stanza, but then realized that this whole thing is overflowing with interesting observations deftly described. Yikes, the tears of whores washed away by rain... all of it. Well done.
    (Note, I think you need an apostrophe in "boy's" in the last stanza, second line.)

  6. Time is a breast-stroke, a sweaty breeze
    That blows into overturned curbside cans...

    Such an amazing evocation of place and time.

  7. Part Dickey, a wee bit of Pynchon, all good.

  8. I strongly appreciated the same line Kerry highlights above. Evocative write!


Thank you for taking the time to comment, it is so appreciated. Your thoughts and critiques are always welcome! I will be by to visit your blog soon!