Skip to content

the long and winding marriage poem road, continued

September 4, 2009

[For process notes on this piece, assembled randomly from chopped up sentences Nathan and I wrote, click here.]

The initial assemblage, which is the official first draft:

marriage: a user’s guide

cut and paste


The subsequent draft (accomplished mostly by mucking around with the punctuation and line breaks to change the meaning of the sentences, adding a word here, deleting a word there) …

Marriage: A user’s guide to the usual clichés (which are celibacy and sacrifice)
with lines from Nathan

You steal. My clothes lock me out. The house
remembers folding a thousand socks. Don’t waste.
Insults. Strangers hide in the closet and watch. (Seedy.)
I think I see Jesus entertaining guests. Admirable
(but wrong) toilet paper starts a fight. I came home
instead of kissing rain. An allotment of affection
remains. Silent. Driving. A reliable source of food.
Not the key. Recognition is the biggest challenge
facing cave dwellers. Given the scenario in the kitchen
each day. Savor worms. Hang strands of silk and mucous
(you only have seven seconds) from the ceiling.
Like party streamers, we pass. In the evening, utility poles
in our field look like crosses. Whose ghost
would you conjure In the morning before coffee?
Which would make the best hood? To open your parachute,
study The Way. Textiles frame the window for private
moments of self-punishment: looking for the cat
and burning popcorn occasionally (ask to be excused
if you tend to). Dominate conversations.


A further evolution (Some really cool images resulted in pairing up my mixed-up lines with Nathan’s, and I riffed off my favorites to get to this draft. I’m not sure it’s an improvement, though. I edited the spontaneity right out of it. I tend to do that.) …

Marriage: A user’s guide to the usual clichés (which are celibacy and sacrifice)
with lines from Nathan

Each spouse is a thief. Lock up the house
and all it remembers: a thousand socks
folding, the wife looking for a cat
that hasn’t come home, popcorn kernels
burning. Like insults wasted on strangers,
they’ll have to be thrown out. Who’s that
in the closet watching Jesus entertain
his guests? The least admirable of them

asks to be excused. After our last fight
(I bought the wrong toilet paper again),
you stood at the window watching me
outside testing hoods. It is your private
moment of self-punishment. Mine? To kiss
the rain, the only remaining allotment
of affection. Given the scenario in the kitchen
each day, parachutes are the most reliable
source of food. Silent recognition is
the biggest challenge facing cave dwellers.

Each evening, our ghosts hang from crosses.
We are told they are just utility poles
in the field. Party streamers string them
together. We are held with strands of silk
and mucous. Worms tend to chew textiles
that frame us. You have seven seconds
in the morning to come down from the ceiling
and dominate the conversation.


Go here to see how Nathan worked this all out!

UPDATE: Thanks, Dave, for the mention on the Smorgasblog!

  1. September 4, 2009 1:23 pm

    Carolee, thank you, thank you, thank you! This was so much fun! I really love how yours turned out. I think it’s got a lot of spontaneity. Each image is a total surprise. I mean, “parachutes are the most reliable source of food”? That’s fantastic.

  2. September 4, 2009 2:37 pm

    thanks, nathan. we’ll have to do it again sometime!

  3. September 4, 2009 10:07 pm

    I think the second poem is very successful. I much prefer it to the first. Thanks for sharing this.


  1. the long and winding marriage poem road « carolee sherwood
  2. Via Negativa

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: