Dressing Up The Stanza, Dressing Down The Heart

Patterns have begun to emerge while working on my submission to The Greensboro Review’s spring contest, a 108-line piece entitled “Three Dinner Parties.” Without realizing it, my psychological train wreck of a poem (meaning that in a good way) is taking a character on a journey through fashion design. The extremely superficial first party looks at detail in earrings, one of the smallest parts of her body. Boots, covering up all are next. The comfortable yet superficial second party moves on to a Halloween costume. Flashy sandals follow. The vulnerability of a third party focuses on the character’s favorite outfit, and her earned holes and rips. Bare feet are understood.

An old copy of my first published poem is called “Affaires D’Amour (Love Affair ). Here the equally beaming/hunching character is taking in everything and also paying attention to her wardrobe. It’s pretty funny that it all circles back to a sweater and dress, as well as jewelry. Perhaps it’s the effect of reading too many Vogues as a child, but I’ll never forget wearing my aunt’s freshly laundered leggings and ritzy pumps because I had jumped into the pool without permission. Or strutting nervously in a purple velour and multi-hued satin party dress to Janet Jackson’s “Escapade” for a fifth-grade fashion show. Running through corduroys and purple snakeskin, butt-cleavage jeans and platform wedges, these odd and comforting articles have seen some things. Perhaps the judges will take note and appreciate it? If not, bring on the imagination party! An authentic one, at that…

“Three Dinner Parties”


The diamond’s rectangle light purges
frenzied heartbeat
using ancient glow,
wild orange-red facets shining
under small flaps of taut, sectioned skin—
princess dress, everyone’s there, useless striving, peace.

These new crystalline earrings starch
the mirror
and window
with cheaper blue reflections
that clip and don’t pierce—
she’s an adult this way.

Maroon was a stealthy choice of suede hue
pressed against new leaves,
her cheeks also brighten by recalling
him despite late work
beneath pressure for loving her—
smiling, she digs the boots to her car and rubs her face.

She remembers hiding song at the last mandatory party:
quiet stories pushed to throat
contracting, burning
each word muttering
for eruption
in place of clutching the steering wheel and the wine.

Rhythms of swirling faces explicate nothing
to her dishevel,
painful ears
holding…holding nothing
anymore and the carpet
doesn’t bleed with jewelry.

The wine is subtle and heady,
snaking its way into waning neurons
bound, chopped
into solid pieces
from light fare
stretching itself into the next party.


Here the room bleeds thick with stories
that she indeed
clings to,
an as-needed and subtle basis
for which to project beer-misted giggles—
goddess costume, enlivened ones, accommodation, fun.

Such cautious attention to her costume
flowing silk
and crystals
meant to capture light
while sending out radiance—
she is a sexy scholar this way.

The ice blue metallic sandals
burrowing into hardwood,
seals her commitment
to his entwined hand
promising new attendance from now on—
hyper, she flattens out her feet and retouches lip gloss.

Memories of truncated headspace at previous friendly parties:
personalities traded
over and over
to initiate coolness
but these thoughts
can’t prevent her established reign of nothingness.

Hard-won conversations in the kitchen
land unnoticed,
genuine laughter
bouncing from the room
he maybe drifted to
and left her selves unharmed.

Sugary confections rush to the bloodstream,
melting energy as the movie starts
loud, funny
connections made
generously quick
in preparation for a later party.


Furnishing the basement is dimmed light
creeping upwards
like corn stalks,
holding natural food and drinks
for the seminar to soon take place—
dress and cardigan, teaching, settled dreams, rest.

Lavender wool bases black and white cotton
occasionally opened
by miniscule holes
or stains
only decorating skin and bones—
she speaks everything this way.

Naked toes from bare heels
smoothly flap across the linoleum,
takes soft time
that he generously offers
on a rusted orange couch—
awake, she shakes with replenished laughter.

This party bears childhood visions:
scraping the grass
while throwing arms
past strong wind
mimicking the way a dancer thinks.

Others smile at the momentum
flying purely
without notation
since lists are gone
to a mysterious place
she doesn’t recall on this stage.

Bread, cheese and Cabernet flush her insides,
gathering heavy carbohydrates
in time for questions
and measured answers
blushing more
under a cave-like tabletop discussion.


About violetprose

Writing pulls me out of myself and into a world of color. It soothes, encourages, and inspires, among other treasures. I use it to love, work, and play. I pray it breathes life and shares hope.
Aside | This entry was posted in Childhood Remnants. Bookmark the permalink.

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