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Mary Wallach

Why I Don't Write Autobiographical Poems

Vengeance doesn't work in a poem, nor do digs at anatomical parts
or mean-spirited, see-what-I-mean, anecdotal jibes. For example,
you write an epic tirade against "Bob." Who is Bob to me, the reader?
The fact that he lied, cheated, was lousy in bed, that doesn't make Bob
special, nor does your problem with Bob make me feel different about my life.
However, speak to me of Bob's kitchen, of its perfect, painted walls
of deep and shiny teal with high-gloss white moldings, (he was into that
Southwestern look), of the way Bob's toast had to be cooked evenly on
both sides, and of Bob, himself, draped, regally, in a raggedy old kimono,
dragging on a filthy, filterless cigarette, his hand as graceful as a gazelle in
slow-motion, the nervousness suspended, of how each word he spoke was
always articulated as neatly, separately, yet as packed with juice as a
champagne grape -- and I can begin to feel more impassioned. And when,
after several years of cohabitation, he drops you as carelessly as he flicks
an ash, you allow me to be devastated.

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