Friday, March 28, 2014

I Wish I'd Written This

At The Edge Of The Body

At the edge of the body
there is said to be
a flaming halo-
yellow, red, blue
or pure white,
taking its color
from the state
of the soul.

Cynics scoff.
Scientists make graphs
to refute it.
Editorial writers,
journalists, & even
certain poets,
claim it is only mirage,
trumped-up finery,
illusory feathers,
spiritual shenanigans,

But in dreams
we see it,
& sometimes even waking.
If the spirit is a bride
about to be married to God,
this is her veil.

Do I believe it?
Do I squint
& regard the perimeter
of my lover's body,
searching for some sign
that his soul
is about to ignite
the sky?

Without squinting,
I almost see it.
An angry red aura
changing to white,
the color of peace.

I gaze at the place where he turns into air
& the flames of his skin
with the flames of the sky,
the existence
of both.

It had to be Erica Jong today, as she's just had her 72nd birthday. (Yes, this is a much younger photo!)  She's even better known, of course, as a feminist novelist, starting with her 1973 best-seller, Fear of Flying.  That was considered very daring, even groundbreaking, in its day, for its approach to female sexuality. She coined the term, "the zipless fuck," which became an immediate catch-phrase.

She went on to write a number of other works of fiction and non-fiction, but she was first a poet and has continued to publish volumes of poetry too. Her books are listed in the Wikipedia article at the link on her name, above, and on her own website. You can also find them at her Amazon pages, along with a concise literary biography of her life and work. And her poems are on the trusty PoemHunter site.

Her early poetry was also ground-breaking. It included such domestic topics as preparing food, which had not previously been considered sufficiently exalted to be the subject of poetry; and it often did so in plain, direct language. They could be deceptively simple; some were quite fanciful and startling when read closely.

The poem I've chosen, the title poem of her 1979 poetry book, is more overtly fanciful. The language is still very direct, but not exactly plain. Above all, I love the images she creates. At the same time, Jong's poetry can be subtly disturbing, and this one is no exception. (What is that "angry red aura" about?) An intellectual aspect to her writing is also typical — as in the closing lines here. And with what apparent effortlessness she creates such beautiful poetry!

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).

And a P.S. — for those who were eagerly awaiting Leigh Spencer's book, Tequila and Cookies, it's out! Here's the Amazon link (and you can get it at Amazon UK too).


  1. Thank you, Rosemary for introducing the new poet for me. I feel that the criteria of bad/good/accessible poem is different for everyone, based on the personal beliefs, culture e.c. Appreciate the links you offered, so I can keep learning about the poet.
    ~ Peaceful weekend to you xx

  2. Wow. If Erica Jong is 72, I am old. I remember her books, Back In the Day! Cool pick for today, Rosemary. I love the idea of his aura "igniting the sky" and proving the existence of both aura and sky. Cool.

  3. Rosemary, thank you so much for featuring Erica Jong today. Yes, I remember when FEAR OF FLYING came out, and it was such a 'daring' book. Today, ha, it might be pretty tame. I only learned within the past 15 years that she was also a poet, and in fact a very good poet. I own 3 poetry books of hers here, and they are books I often look to for inspiration when I am stuck writing a poem of my own.

    The poem you shared was an interesting one. I hadn't seen this one. I am not sure what to make of auras, though I know many believe in / see them. I have never been able to see them. I like the idea in this poem of a red aura changing to white, the color of peace. Oh that we would all have white auras rather than red.

    Erica Jong 72? Amazing. Where does time go? Thank you for another excellent post!

  4. Thanks, Rosemary. I have a novel and some poetry books of hers from back in the day. Always thought she was exceptional.

  5. Thank you for sharing this poem, Rosemary! I did not know Erica Jong wrote poetry. I enjoyed your choice and particularly like the last stanza.

  6. How embarrassing that she is a o poet and I didn't-t know it! I'm going to read her poems now. Thank you Rosemary.

  7. Thanks Rosemary, for introducing Erica Jones. I have never read before....shall grab her books asap....:)

  8. Thank you Rosemary for introducing Erica Jong and sharing her beautiful poem...there's great force within each word.....

  9. Rosemary - I just loved this! Going back in time is always wonderful. Her poem reminds me of the time in the 80s when in my bedroom attempting to see auras around everything. I think that I had read instructions on how to do so by a female NASA scientist. I cannot remember her name, but her book was titled: Hands of Light (I think).

    1. Oh Liz, I have owned hands of Light and its sequel, Light Emerging, by Barbara Ann Brennan, for many years now. Wonderful books, Treasures!


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