Erica Jong
Poem For Molly’s Fortieth Birthday by Erica Jong

Poem For Molly’s Fortieth Birthday by Erica Jong

'Why do youhave stripesin your forehead,Mama?Are youold?'Not old.But not soyoungthat I cannotseethe world contractingupon itself& the circleclosingat the end.As the furrowsin my ...

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You Whom I Hoped To Reach By Writing by Erica Jong

You Whom I Hoped To Reach By Writing by Erica Jong

You whom I hoped to reach by writing,you beyond the multicolored tangleof telephone wires,you with your white paper soultrampled in transit,you with kaleidoscope stamps& black ...

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Cheever’s People by Erica Jong

Cheever’s People by Erica Jong

These beautifully grown men. These hungerers.Look at them looking!They're overdrawn on all accounts but hope& they've missed(for the hundredth time) the expressto the city of ...

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Climbing You by Erica Jong

Climbing You by Erica Jong

I want to understand the steep thingthat climbs ladders in your throat.I can't make sense of you.Everywhere I look you're there--a vast landmark, a volcanopoking its head through ...

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Smoke by Erica Jong

Smoke by Erica Jong

Smoke, it is all smokein the throat of eternity. . . .For centuries, the air was full of witchesWhistling up chimneyson their spiky broomscackling or singing more sweetly than ...

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Letter To My Lover After Seven Years by Erica Jong

Letter To My Lover After Seven Years by Erica Jong

You gave me the childthat seamed my belly& stitched up my life.You gave me: one book of love poems,five years of peace& two of pain.You gave me darkness, light, laughter& the ...

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Wrinkles by Erica Jong

Wrinkles by Erica Jong

For Naomi LazardSometimes I can't wait until I look like Nadezhda Mandelstam.-- Naomi LazardMy friends are tired.The ones who are married are tiredof being married.The ones who ...

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Autumn Perspective by Erica Jong

Autumn Perspective by Erica Jong

Now, moving in, cartons on the floor,the radio playing to bare walls,picture hooks left strandedin the unsoiled squares where paintings were,and something reminding usthis is like ...

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Henry James In The Heart Of The City by Erica Jong

Henry James In The Heart Of The City by Erica Jong

We have a small sculpture of Henry James on our terrace in New York City.Nothing would surprise him.The beast in the jungle was what he saw--Edith Wharton's obfuscating older ...

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To My Brother Poet, Seeking Peace by Erica Jong

To My Brother Poet, Seeking Peace by Erica Jong

People wish to be settled. Only as long as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.-- ThoreauMy life has beenthe instrumentfor a mouthI have never seen,breathing windwhich ...

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Colder by Erica Jong

Colder by Erica Jong

He was six foot four, and forty-sixand even colder than he thought he wasJames Thurber, The Thirteen ClocksNot that I cared about the other woman.Those perfumed breasts with ...

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Beast, Book, Body by Erica Jong

Beast, Book, Body by Erica Jong

I was sick of being a woman,sick of the pain,the irrelevant detail of sex,my own concavityuselessly hungeringand emptier whenever it was filled,and filled finallyby its own ...

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Middle Aged Lovers, Ii by Erica Jong

Middle Aged Lovers, Ii by Erica Jong

You open to mea little,then grow afraidand close again,a small boyfearing to be hurt,a toe stubbedin the dark,a finger cuton paper.I think I am freeof fears,enraptured, ...

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Narcissus, Photographer by Erica Jong

Narcissus, Photographer by Erica Jong

"...a frozen memory, like any photo,where nothing is missing, not even,and especially, nothingness..."-- Julio Cortazar, "Blow Up"Mirror-mad,he photographed reflections:sunstorms ...

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The End Of The World by Erica Jong

The End Of The World by Erica Jong

Here, at the end of the world,the flowers bleedas if they were hearts,the hearts ooze a darknesslike india ink,& poets dip their pens in& they write."Here, at the end of the ...

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The Dirty Laundry Poem by Erica Jong

The Dirty Laundry Poem by Erica Jong

This is the dirty laundry poem-because we have traveled from town to townaccumulating soiled linen & sweaty shirts& blue-jeans caked & clotted with our juice& teeshirts crumpled ...

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For All Those Who Died by Erica Jong

For All Those Who Died by Erica Jong

For all those who died-stripped naked, shaved, shorn.For all those who screamedin vain to the Great Goddessonly to have their tonguesripped out at the root.For all those who were ...

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People Who Live by Erica Jong

People Who Live by Erica Jong

People who live by the seaunderstand eternity.They copy the curves of the waves,their hearts beat with the tides,& the saltiness of their bloodcorresponds with the sea.They know ...

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Dear Colette by Erica Jong

Dear Colette by Erica Jong

Dear Colette,I want to write to youabout being a womanfor that is what you write to me.I want to tell you how your faceenduring after thirty, forty, fifty. . .hangs above my ...

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Sunday Afternoons by Erica Jong

Sunday Afternoons by Erica Jong

I sit at homeat my desk aloneas I used to doon many sunday afternoonswhen you came back to me,your arms ached for me,and your arms would close me inthough they smelled of other ...

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Ordinary Miracles by Erica Jong

Ordinary Miracles by Erica Jong

Spring, rainbows,ordinary miraclesabout whichnothing new can be said.The stars on a clear nightof a New England winter;the soft air of the islandsalong the oldSpanish Main;pirate ...

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Parable Of The Four-Poster by Erica Jong

Parable Of The Four-Poster by Erica Jong

Because she wants to touch him, she moves away.Because she wants to talk to him,she keeps silent.Because she wants to kiss him,she turns away& kisses a man she does not want to ...

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We Learned by Erica Jong

We Learned by Erica Jong

The decorum of fire...-- Pablo NerudaWe learned the decorum of fire,the flame's curious symmetry,the blue heat at the center of the thighs,the flickering red of the hips,& the ...

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Autobiographical by Erica Jong

Autobiographical by Erica Jong

The lover in these poemsis me;the doctor,Love.He appearsas husband, loveranalyst & muse,as father, son& maybe even God& surely death.All this is true.The man you turn toin the ...

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Aura by Erica Jong

Aura by Erica Jong

I sit in the black leather chairmeditatingon the plume of smoke that risesin the air,riffling the pages of my lifeas if it were a book of poems,flipping throughpast & future.If I ...

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The Poem Cat by Erica Jong

The Poem Cat by Erica Jong

Sometimes the poemdoesn't want to come;it hides from the poetlike a playful catwho has rununder the house& lurks among slugs,roots, spiders' eyes,ledge so long out of the sunthat ...

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January In New York by Erica Jong

January In New York by Erica Jong

Black ship of nightsailing through the world& the moon an orange slicetangy to the teethof lovers who lieunder it,sucking it.Somewhere there are palm trees;somewhere the seabluely ...

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Flying At Forty by Erica Jong

Flying At Forty by Erica Jong

You call mecourageous, I who grew upgnawing on books,as some kidsgnawon bubble gum,who married disastrouslynot oncebut three times,yet have a lovely daughterI would not undofor ...

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At The Edge Of The Body by Erica Jong

At The Edge Of The Body by Erica Jong

At the edge of the bodythere is said to bea flaming halo-yellow, red, blueor pure white,taking its colorfrom the stateof the soul.Cynics scoff.Scientists make graphsto refute ...

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At The Museum Of Natural History by Erica Jong

At The Museum Of Natural History by Erica Jong

The lessons we learned here(fumbling with our lunchbags,handkerchiefs& secret cheeks of bubblegum)were graver than anyin the schoolroom:the dangers of a lifefrozen into ...

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A Reading by Erica Jong

A Reading by Erica Jong

The old poetwith his face full of lines,with iambs jumping in his hair like fleas,with all the revisions of his bodyunsaying him,walks to the podium.He is about to tell ushow he ...

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Blood & Honey by Erica Jong

Blood & Honey by Erica Jong

I began by loving women& the love turnedto bitterness.My mother, the bitter,whose bitter lesson-trust no one,especially no male-caused me to be naivefor too many years,in mere ...

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Knives by Erica Jong

Knives by Erica Jong

The women he has had are all faceswithout eyes.He has entered them blindas a cut worm.He has swum their oceanslike a wounded fishlooking for home.At nights when he can't sleep,he ...

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Becoming A Nun by Erica Jong

Becoming A Nun by Erica Jong

For Jennifer JosephyOn cold daysit is easy to be reasonable,to button the mouth against kisses,dust the breastswith talcum powder& forgetthe red pulp meatof the heart.On those ...

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The Artist As An Old Man by Erica Jong

The Artist As An Old Man by Erica Jong

If you ask him he will talk for hours--how at fourteen he hammered signs, fingersraw with cold, and later painted bowersin ladies' boudoirs; how he played checkersfor two weeks in ...

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Alcestis On The Poetry Circuit by Erica Jong

Alcestis On The Poetry Circuit by Erica Jong

(In Memoriam Marina Tsvetayeva, Anna Wickham, Sylvia Plath, Shakespeare?s sister, etc., etc.)The best slavedoes not need to be beaten.She beats herself.Not with a leather whip,or ...

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For An Earth-Landing by Erica Jong

For An Earth-Landing by Erica Jong

the sky sinks its blue teethinto the mountains.Rising on pure will(the lurch & lift-off,the sudden swinginto wide, white snow),I encourage the cable.Past the wind& crossed tips of ...

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Depression In Early Spring by Erica Jong

Depression In Early Spring by Erica Jong

Meathooks, notebooks,the whole city sky palely flaming& spectral bombshitting that patch of riverI see from my eastern window.The poets are dead, the city dying.Anne, Sylvia, ...

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Cheever’s People by Erica Jong

Cheever’s People by Erica Jong

These beautifully grown men. These hungerers.Look at them looking!They're overdrawn on all accounts but hope& they've missed(for the hundredth time) the expressto the city of ...

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Books by Erica Jong

Books by Erica Jong

The universe (which others call the library). . .-Jorge Luis BorgesBooks which are stitched up the center with coarse white threadBooks on the beach with sunglass-colored ...

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Nursing You by Erica Jong

Nursing You by Erica Jong

On the first nightof the full moon,the primeval sack of oceanbroke,& I gave birth to youlittle woman,little carrot top,little turned-up nose,pushing you out of myselfas my ...

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The Central Passion by Erica Jong

The Central Passion by Erica Jong

What is the central passionof a life?To please mummy & daddy?To find a home for their furniture?To found a family of one's own,possibly a dynasty?To fill the world with more ...

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Another Language by Erica Jong

Another Language by Erica Jong

The whole world is flat& I am round.Even women avert their eyes,& men, embarrassedby the messy waythat life turns into life,look away,forgetting they themselveswere once this ...

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Because I Would Not Admit by Erica Jong

Because I Would Not Admit by Erica Jong

And his dark secret loveDoes thy life destroy.-William BlakeBecause I would not admitthat I had nurturedan enemy within my breast-a lover who wanted to gnawmy secret rose,a lover ...

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Nobody Believes by Erica Jong

Nobody Believes by Erica Jong

Nobody believes in love-not even me.Love is the thingyou waitto end.Love is the thingthat will not,cannot work.Love is the thingthey warn you of-the dire parents,the friendswith ...

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Baby Witch by Erica Jong

Baby Witch by Erica Jong

Baby-witch,my daughter,my worship of the Goddessalonecondemns you to the fire. . .I blow uponyour least fingernail& it flares cyclamen & rose.I suck flames from your ears.I touch ...

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Birthdays by Erica Jong

Birthdays by Erica Jong

Next birthdayI am thirty-six,& formed (for all intents& purposes)in tooth & claw.Six bookshave peeled awayall that I am& allthat I am not;I turn back pages nowin history's ...

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Continental Divide by Erica Jong

Continental Divide by Erica Jong

Handcuffed by time,I travel across this broadbeautiful America-mesas, deserts,peaks with clouds caughtupon them,the Continental Dividewhere a dropp of rainmust decidewhether to ...

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To The Goddess by Erica Jong

To The Goddess by Erica Jong

Goddess, I come to you my neck wreathed with rosebuds,my head filled with visions of infants,my palms open to your silver nails,my eyes open to your rays of illumination,my vagina ...

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Catching Up by Erica Jong

Catching Up by Erica Jong

We sit on a rockto allow our soulsto catch up with us.We have been travelinga long time.Behind us are forests of bookswith pages green as leaves.A blood sun staresover the ...

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