*cronch cronch cronch* Oh! *cough* What’s that? I’m just trying to eat my way through a mega-sized box of Valentine’s hearts. Why? Because we have to support small businesses in times like these, including choking down all the dry and chalky drug store candy hearts we can stomach! What else is there to do on this lonely hearts Valentine’s Day?
Ho-hum…another holiday stuck inside. That is, if you’re not one of the brave hearts ready to race into a restaurant for the first weekend of inside dining (25% capacity) in months in New York City. Try not to cough all over the flowers you panic-bought at the bodega. This Valentine’s Day really forces some quick decision making: I mean, is your relationship worth dying for? Or for those singles, is your Grindr or Tinder date worth making your heart race, not with romantic and sexual tension, but COVID-induced tachycardia?!
No judgments here. But for those of you staying inside, listening to sad Connie Francis songs at ear-piercing volume, what is there to do? Make googley eyes at your neighbor walking down the street (from six feet away, of course)? Pray for the return of flashers just so you can catch a peek? Reminisce about park bathroom perverts? Break into The Pyramid Club and dance alone?
Sigh. None of these feel sufficient, which is why in our self-isolation, we here at Filthy Dreams have turned toward the lyrical and poetic. Sure, some may reach for traditional romantic poetry for their passionate overtures. But anyone can dredge up one of Shakey’s tired old sonnets! Please! Woo the object of your affection with more contemporary poetry, especially poetry by famous people! I know I only want to read poetry collections with soft-filtered head shots of the celebrity author on the cover.
This literary love letter was inspired by my mindless scrolling through Nelson Sullivan’s videos on YouTube. Half-aware, I came across a snippet from Michael Musto’s birthday party at Bananas in which he carried around a beloved copy of Suzanne Somers’ collection Touch Me. Eventually, he reads his favorite poem “Reflections,” which begins with the reflective yet oddly maniacal lines: “I wore my green sweater today–and smiled/Because there were bits of cockleburs on the sleeve.” I’m glad you’re happy, Suzanne!
Well, Michael isn’t the only one with a much-loved and worn copy of Somers’ book. Or a particular love for poetry that dangerously tight-rope walks the line between good and bad (often tripping into bad). So for this Valentine’s Day, let us recite poetry to you, our dearest Filthy Dreams cherubs. And if you feel so inspired, pay it forward by shouting these poems out your apartment window at unsuspecting passersby. Is this not the perfect time for unrequited gestures?
Suzanne Somers “Touch Me”
Before she became the “As Seen on TV” Thighmaster mogul, Suzanne Somers was a touch-starved poet–or tried to be–with her collected volume Touch Me. What is it about? Let’s just consult the introduction: “There are many ways to touch–lovers touch with tingling intensity, strangers touch with caution, children touch with confidence, competitors touch with suspicion, exploiters touch with clammy hands, the ocean and the forest and the mountains touch with power and gentleness.” Jeez! Sorry, my hands are clammy, Suzie! Ok, go on: “Touch Me is the cry of every voice, of trees and animals, women and men. Touch Me is the call of all life, the challenge to death, and to touch and be touched–personally, intimately, honestly–is to live.” Well, that explains it! It’s a seemingly impossible challenge to just pick one poem to read your beloved. It might be easier to just stare at the glamour shots of Suzanne interspersed with her poetry as an aphrodisiac. I mean, who could choose between poems with such depth and weight as “The Quiet Loneliness of Being Alone” or “Hangovers” (“I’ve grown old enough to know/That everyone has the right/ Once in awhile/ To make an ass of himself”)? And don’t think Suzanne just tackles the big topics. She also delves into the mundane pathos of being a wealthy white woman in poems like “House Plants” (“House plants have a way of invading my privacy/mimicking my moods, of never leaving me alone”).
But at the end of the day, we have to go with the ode to frantic desperation “Touch Me.” I mean, when is more appropriate to radiate a deranged level of desperation than Valentine’s Day? And Suzanne also teaches us how to have limits, describing exactly how she doesn’t want to be touched: “Not like a cat/Or a tree/Or even a flower.” Try reading this aloud while on the subway or in a socially distanced line at the grocery store (masks on, of course) and see who will answer your beckoning siren call!
Danielle Steel “Rainbow Dreams”
But even more than Suzanne, who else could you turn to when seeking happily ever after than the reigning royalty of romance, the master of marriage, the sultaness of seduction, the queen of the dramatic author photo, Danielle Steel? Sure, other romance novel writers can try (and granted, some of the sleazier Dollar General paperbacks spinning on that display rack satisfy more in the smut department), but nobody can surpass Danielle in the sheer quantity of attained romantic fantasy. All through the shelves of Barnes and Noble, airport book stores, and local libraries, women protagonists are finding, losing, and finding love again. Sigh. I owe a debt to artist, writer, and foremost Danielle Steel expert Patty Gone whose own adoration and knowledge of Danielle far surpass what I could ever hope to achieve and who introduced me to Danielle’s aptly titled collection of poetry, Love. Like her novels, Love‘s chapters of poems follow a clear narrative structure, starting with “When Love Is New,” “Growing Together,” and…uh oh…”Growing Apart.” But don’t worry, eventually, you’ll get to “And love again…carefully this time.”
For this Valentine’s Day, I’ve selected the ethereal “Rainbow Dreams,” which begins with the zombie-like and my new chosen pick-up line: “already hungry/for your face…” I just want to eat your face, baby!
Since we’re running with our firey, flaming, unwavering passion for breezy poetry by the rich and famous, it would be sacrilege to ignore our blessed mother, Lana Del Rey. Lana knows we don’t have the attention span we used to. I mean, what is happening on Twitter right now? I better go look! Check your mentions! Beyond social media, we certainly don’t have all night to recite gushing love poems! Get to the point! So as always, Lana knows best and delivers a series of very quintessentially Lana haikus at the conclusion of her poetry collection Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass. If I had to choose a poem that gets me all hot and bothered, I’d have to go with this one with all that dripping grapefruit. Catch it before it’s ruined like Lana’s peaches (fuck!):
Babe let’s go to town
buy something sweet – pink grapefruit
eat it with sugar
Ok ok, I’ll give you another. Perfect for pretending you’re a femme fatale:
Every night I die
when I give myself to you
sad but beautiful
Tennessee Williams “Life Story”
On the subject of dying in bed, I love surprise endings, don’t you? Hell. I like them even more than happy endings! It’s always hard to keep things fresh in relationships, isn’t it? So why not spark up a ciggie and keep the object of your affection on their toes with one of my all-time favorite poems by Tennessee Williams:
After you’ve been to bed together for the first time,
without the advantage or disadvantage of any prior acquaintance,
the other party very often says to you,
Tell me about yourself, I want to know all about you,
what’s your story? And you think maybe they really and truly do
sincerely want to know your life story, and so you light up
a cigarette and begin to tell it to them, the two of you
lying together in completely relaxed positions
like a pair of rag dolls a bored child dropped on a bed.
You tell them your story, or as much of your story
as time or a fair degree of prudence allows, and they say,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, until the oh
is just an audible breath, and then of course
there’s some interruption. Slow room service comes up
with a bowl of melting ice cubes, or one of you rises to pee
and gaze at himself with the mild astonishment in the bathroom mirror.
And then, the first thing you know, before you’ve had time
to pick up where you left off with your enthralling life story,
they’re telling you their life story, exactly as they’d intended to all along,
and you’re saying, Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, the vowel at last becoming
no more than an audible sigh,
as the elevator, halfway down the corridor and a turn to the left,
draws one last, long, deep breath of exhaustion
and stops breathing forever. Then?
Well, one of you falls asleep
and the other one does likewise with a lighted cigarette in his mouth,
and that’s how people burn to death in hotel rooms.
Kristen Stewart “My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole”
Speaking of surprises, did you know Kristen Stewart, favorite soft-spoken, surly, and sullen actress of lesbians everywhere, is also a poet? Well, she’s not. But she has penned poetry before with the…um…inventively titled “My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole,” which she probably ill-advised recited to Marie Claire in 2014. Though she accurately called the poem “embarrassing,” she also explained her writing process: “I like being able to hit on something, like, ‘There it is.’ I don’t want to sound so fucking utterly pretentious but after I write something, I go, ‘Holy fuck, that’s crazy.’ “There it is!” and “Holy fuck, that’s crazy!” are probably the best reactions possible to this poem. Though not necessarily a romantic poem for your desired companion, every Valentine’s Day does need a reminder to be thankful that Kristen is no longer closeted, dating her male Hollywood co-stars as beards, and seemingly trying to emulate the drunken pretension of Jack Kerouac after starring in On The Road.
I reared digital moonlight
You read its clock, scrawled neon across that black
Kismetly … ubiquitously crest fallen
Thrown down to strafe your foothills
…I’ll suck the bones pretty.
Your nature perforated the abrasive organ pumps
Spray painted everything known to man,
Stream rushed through and all out into
Something Whilst the crackling stare down sun snuck
Through our windows boarded up
He hit your flint face and it sparked.
And I bellowed and you parked
We reached Marfa.
One honest day up on this freedom pole
Devils not done digging
He’s speaking in tongues all along the pan handle
And this pining erosion is getting dust in
And I’m drunk on your morsels
And so I look down the line
Your every twitch hand drum salute
Salutes mine …
Jim Morrison “Lament For The Death Of My Cock”
Phew…after all this loving, I sure am getting worn out, aren’t you? Though we like to push our–and your–limits here at Filthy Dreams, even we hit our wall. So let’s turn to the Backdoor Man and Lizard King for when there’s been a little too much mutual attraction and, well…friction with his “Lament For The Death Of My Cock.” For some of you fellow Jim Morrison devotees (and why wouldn’t you be?!!! If you’re not, why are you reading this??!!), you’ll recognize the poem as the track “Lament” on An American Prayer. But, who can get past all those jingle bells in the title track to even make it to “Lament”? And nothing quite says, “Awake!” like some psychedelic ode to one’s own donger. But, let’s not get critical. Jim is a penile philanthropist, offering up his wiener to…what? His tight leather pants?! Now, who isn’t in the mood…
Lament for my cock
Sore & crucified
I seek to know you
acquiring soulful wisdom
you can open walls of
How to get death
On the morning
which the child
The death of my cock
Ancient wise satyr
Sing your ode
to my cock
caress its lament
stiffen & guide
The knowledge of cancer
To speak to the heart
& give the great gift
This stable friend
& the beasts of his zoo
wild, haired chicks
each color connects
to create the boat
which rocks the race
could any hell be more
horrible than now
“I pressed her thigh
& death smiled”
death, old friend
death & my cock
are the world
I can forgive
in the name of wisdom
Sentence upon sentence.
Words are healing.
Words got me the wound
& will get me well
If you believe it.
All join now in lament
for the death of my cock
a tongue of knowledge
in the feathered night
boys get crazy in the head
I sacrifice my cock
on the altar
For those who want to listen to Jim instead:
Lydia Lunch and Exene Cervenka, Excerpt from Adulterers Anonymous
Of course, we couldn’t leave things on such a phallic note. Gross! So for a corrective, let’s turn to rage and maybe just a little misandry with our role model Lydia Lunch and X’s Exene Cervenka’s Adulterer’s Anonymous. In one of my favorite interviews, Lydia Lunch tells Merle Ginsberg that Adulterer’s Anonymous was just something two girls made when they had nothing to do and suggests the audience steal a copy. Well, done and done, Lydia–after scouring the Internet for a lusted after PDF. Delineating their individual voices through differing fonts (here represented by capital and lowercase letters–Lydia is uppercase; Exene is lowercase), Adulterer’s Anonymous is a disturbing, deranged, vulgar, violent, raunchy, and thoroughly romantic trip through Lydia and Exene’s kingdoms of filth. My favorite chapter is “A Minute In Heaven 4 A Life In Hell,” which is where I snatched these two lovely segments for your, of course, pleasure:
A FATAL ATTRACTION
ATTACK ON THE HEART
HEAPED ON THE FLOOR
USELESS AND WASTING AWAY UGLY
A SACK OF BONES SUNK
PINPRICK THRU THE FLESH WRETCHED
WEAK AND IN NEED
OH BABY I LOVE IT WHEN YOU DO THAT
TRUE LOVE IN AN INSTANT LOCKED DEEP IN MY GUT.
FLESH IS ITS OWN REWARD BURNS A HOLE IN MY EYE SUCKS
MY SOUL THRU THE SOCKET
A MINUTE IN HEAVEN FOR A LIFE IN HELL.
I’D START AT SCRATCH AND WORK MY WAY BACK
THE SILENT SCREAMING CONTINUES CONTINUES THE PERPETUAL
INABILITY TO THINK STRAIGHT CONTINUES SO IN PLACE OF REASON
i cast your likeness in ruins.
WITH AN UNCONTROLLABLE URGE TO DIE IT’S TIME TO TRANSFER
TRUE LOVE IN AN INSTANT.