Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Walk Through Victoria's Secret - When I Was the Muse

In this poem N becomes a nude model for an art class. She is surprised to find there is a second (male) model also present. Frankly, this second model seems superfluous to the premise and action of the poem, as he appears and then is never developed. Some interesting and startling lines, like this one

Someone fluffed/the crispy hair between my legs into a dark brown/bristling fan.

However, two thirds of the poem (and by now, this is what I am starting to recognize about much of this poet's "lesser" poems), is more about effect and set-up. The real meat of the poem, the "good stuff," as it were, is almost at the end. The lead up is N discussing why she decides to model nude and how she deals with being naked in front of strangers, then, while they take a break, she ambles through their renderings of her to see how she's been viewed and we get this

But someone serious and sad had shared a vision/of my head as a clotted orb of hair and mouth,/and brushed in underneath, a body headless/as the horseman in the myth. Then I seemed/to walk into the darkroom of my mind's own eye/and saw the disconnected self I'd always felt inside

and this makes the poem almost worth it. Almost.


  1. Hmm, everything about that poem sounds very compelling to me. As someone always fascinated w/ the psychology of why we do what we do, I'd want to know all that middling stuff you described as seeming more superfluous. And the end part is a fine bit of writing indeed, setting up the very abstract ending w/ some fine, and near chilling imagery that drives it all right home.

  2. You know, Jeanne, on the first read through, I liked it. But then when I went back I had to think, why did she introduce the male model? All that is said about him, is that 1) N knew him from another class, 2) he is hot and 3) he seems at ease. Then he's dropped. While she is positioned and drawn and she wanders around observing herself while the artists are on break, he is just dropped. The two models aren't even skillfully juxtapositioned. It seems so much more could have been done with the two models. Otherwise, why even put him in there? There was a complete poem without him. And the rest of the set-up could have been accomplished with fewer words. In fact, she falls into that bad habit of telling rather than showing - too often. That very abstract ending you mention? That wasn't the ending. She wanders into more telling and more abstraction.