WORKING NOTES by Denise Newman
"Disaster Services" was written in response to my strong reactions to Francis Bacon's paintings. They horrify me, but there is also a calm in them, arising from his formal qualities as with the spaciousness of the large color planes. He works with the tension between containment and holes. In my poem I show how the family as a formal structure can be functioning on one level, and at the same time, leaking into despair.


"He loses his bribe money and suffers his punishment anyway."

Soren Kierkegaard


The never sleeping worm
threads rot with all the living,
(no use in charming the little bugger once it's bitten)
The woman sniffs and wonders
what the apple thinks of her



All flesh is edible
smiling like a bite
in an apple going brown
    Well how do I look?
The white-gloved glass handlers
holding her pretty up could
slip threat sunk up to
lips in chat



Lure of words
on lines
talks him to her, doing it as her bit
Come tangle your long ruinous arms
with mine dear--



Coupling like scaffolded scaffolding
in their guts -- what?
a hollow gassy feel -- Sweet me up Daddy,
                      don't stop!



Inserts his in her, on sale
is moral to save and amass
Well done honey glow
he's a family man now
Whose worm rules?



Fall little apple fall
far far from the tree
their teeth stuck out of their mouths
at baby smiling back so prettily
Good serves girl deserves better
Go ahead, ravish my youth if you must



Edible host family eating toast and jam famished
morning newspaper around disasters
and Mom's assuring humming them
that nothing's going on in there--
happiest make believe bosom time



Dusty moth earthed
swollen legs up dreamed
magazine unblemished life
flipping through "someday" vague sum
--all over the neighborhood
trees bow down and raise up
in penance for them



Holes in Sunday, in the clothed and flaccid flesh
Father with his head
sunk back into cushions
looking upward as if at birds
carrying off chunks
of him



They bought a fraud
"Oh well" Mom says
what can be said
with a devouring emptiness
about the head?
this isn't it at all


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BIO: Denise Newman's book of poems Human Forest will be out next January by Apogee Press and her translation of The Painted Room by the Danish poet Inger Christensen will be out in the fall by Harvill Press, UK.

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