Sunday, October 06, 2013

ModPo 2013 #27 Celebrating The Penetrating Word: On the Baroness Loringhoven's "A Dozen Cocktails Please"

Image from

Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven, "A Dozen Cocktails--Please"

No spinsterlollypop for me-- yes-- we have
No bananasI got lusting palate-- I
Always eat them-- -- -- -- -- -- --      
They have dandy celluloid tubes-- all sizes--
Tinted diabolically as a baboon's hind-complexion.
A man's a--
Will-o'-th'-wisp! What's the dread
Matter with the up-to-date-American-
Home-comforts? Bum insufficient for the
Should-be wellgroomed upsy!
That's the leading question.
There's the vibrator-- -- --  
Coy flappertoy! I am adult citizen with
Vote-- I demand my unstinted share
In roofeden-- witchsabbath of our baby-
Lonian obelisk.
What's radio for--if you please?
"Eve's dart pricks snookums upon
Wirefence. "
An apple a day-- -- --  
It'll come-- -- -- --  
Ha! When? I'm no tongueswallowing yogi.
Progress is ravishlng--
It doesn't me--
Nudge it --
Kick it--
Prod it--
Push it--
Broadcast-- -- -- --
That's the lightning idea!
S.O.S. national shortage of--
What ?
How are we going to put it befitting
Lifted upsys?
Psh! Any sissy poet has sufficient freezing
Chemicals in his Freudian icechest to snuff all
Cockiness. We'll hire one.
Hell! Not that! That's the trouble-- --
Cock crow silly!
Oh fine!
They're in France-- the air on the line--
The Poles-- -- -- -- -- --    
Have them send waves-- like candy--
Valentines-- -- -- --
"Say it with-- -- --  
Bolts !
Oh thunder!
Serpentine aircurrents-- -- --  
Hhhhhphssssssss! The very word penetrates
I feel whoozy!
I like that. I don't hanker after Billyboys-- but I am entitled
To be deeply shocked.
So are we-- but you fill the hiatus.
Dear-- I ain't queer-- I need it straight -- --
A dozen cocktails-- please-- -- -- --    

The Baroness was crazy. Or perhaps I only envy women as liberated as she was? I enjoyed listening to the poem as recited during the video discussion. This was real inebriation juxtaposed with Dickson's "I taste a liquor never brewed." Or was it? She was inebriated with life, with sex, with the end of an era. 

"I demand my unstinted share" and "I am entitled/ To be deeply shocked" point towards the need to claim something as hers. Perhaps the need to appropriate. In a world which is ready-made (with advertisements peppering the poem) she needs originality, she needs the word that penetrates. There was a mention of self-destruction in the video discussion. But perhaps that is a creative instinct: to destroy so that there is something new in its place. 

I like the backdrop of Williams' autobiographical account of the Baroness when I read the poem. She scared him but he was in awe of her, I think. She lived so large. What he could skim when he found the time she could have in the buckets. Was she irresponsible and reckless? Yes, I suppose. She was lucky to be so. She was lucky to have the friends she did and to have lived as long as she did (despite the headlong flight into oblivion). 

The most memorable line in the poem, for me, is "Say it with-- -- --   /Bolts !" That was her battle cry. Don't say with flowers. Don't say it with the conventional Valentine. Or sonnets. Only sissies do that. Say with lightning, say it with thunder. Or don't say it at all. She was a phenomenon. 

As I look at this poem in context of Stein and the other poets in this chapter, the Baroness' major difference is her unapologetic sexualization of language. She equates language with the politics of sex. While that could be a bitter thing, she celebrates it instead. 

No comments:

Search This Blog