Monday, October 29, 2012

Echoes of the Boom: Part I

by Sharon Bellush

Introduction by Richard Bellush:

I enjoy writing prose (with what level of success, the reader can judge), but my sister Sharon was the poet of the family. All but one of the 100 poems in this collection were written between 1965 and 1971. This was high tide of the 1960s which culturally, if not numerically, spilled into the early 1970s. For Sharon they were ages 15 to 21. The poems are a window into the era and into that stage of youth. On the rare occasions when high literacy meets adolescence, the results can be remarkable.

Skilled 19-year-olds always have made the best songwriters and poets. It is not clear why. Perhaps it is simply because they are not jaded, as much as they themselves often believe otherwise. They do not yet greet the ultimately tragic cycle of birth, love, and death with a weary shrug. The world with its pleasure, pain, joy, and sorrow is fresh. It is more fertile soil for poetry.

Sharon always was in sync with the times. She was a fine hippie in the Summer of Love, she discoed in the 70s, and she could out-yuppie Michael J. Fox in the Reagan years. There is much to be said for being in step, or at least so it seems to those of us whose footfalls are never quite right.

The one anachronous poem (Too Young to Retire) in this collection is the last one in Part IV. It was written in 1988 or thereabouts. I included it at the end just for the way it differs in world-weariness from her more youthful verses.

Sharon grew up in suburban NJ. She attended Boston University 1968-1972. After living for ten years in Los Angeles, she returned to Mendham in the 1980s. She worked variously in public relations, local journalism, and real estate. She married twice. Sharon died in 1995 from non-Hodgkins.


On the high noon sidewalk
I am brushed by fringe coats
I am anemic with anecdotes
My thumb works overtime

It is a liberated thumb, I assure
You with a liberated smirk
I am participating, I am
Democracy on tap, I am a
Squeaky cog in your wheel

I meant to keep my acquiescent yes unnoticed
Blinding the day with laughter
Hiding at night behind unbrushed hair
Tousled by nomadic sojourns

Wrapped and warmed by primeval quilts
I rest easier than my independence
I am
More vulnerable than indignant

Come to me you will leave unscathed
I will bleed in order to give
And bravely declare my
Morning freedom

My blue jeans are faded
I am emancipated

- - - - - - - - - - -

Time magazine
Portrayed her wrinkled face
Her lusty eyes of yesteryear
Yes, it was she who painted
Her toe-nails blood-red
And dragged a leopard by the leash

She rots alone in crumpled castle
Horrified at Revolution

My anger confines itself
To streets
Safely checkered in red and green lights

O we’ll strut through the fields in crimson draperies
And have affairs with lumberjacks
Darting through the trees
Volkswagen trees
I saunter into the kitchen and drug your goblet

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Courted by toad trills and rare diseased flies
You swing stately in your hammock.
Safe in the deadly peace
Of unconquered southern jungle
You have healed the wounds of your Zen guitars,
Your Freudian literature forgotten.
The jungle lacked a philosophy
And you took the jungle
Growing lean
And gray and grizzled on
Bananas and war paint ground
In earth pots scratching heedlessly wherever
Because there are no eyes here only fangs
And it was your phallic right
And I young and lank-haired
Of a blurred National Geographic centerfold
I came with the blood and the claws
And mellowed with you still young
And indistinguishable from the earth,
The grain, the huts, and the
Brown ageless children
Running rampant beneath your hammock
And I still young,
My form stretched and mellowed through you
I flash my yellow nut-stained teeth
In tremulous coquetry
Offering my morning’s work
Of jungle entrail cookery
Mingled with my fecund sweat.
You remove your straw hat to eat
You reveal your transcendency, you
Are but a man.
I am soft and slavish, I am
Pure existence, I am god

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The cold summer night
Held us dark
And lit only by fireflies

We chased them
Through the wet grass
And stuffed them in jars
With leaves
And tin-foil breathing holes

Like royalty, with
Neon treasure, we set
The jars on bureaus and left the room dark
To admire the splendor

In the morning
The jars had dimmed

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Carrying a sack
Of squirmy, crawling
Things, I waddled
With belabor down a
Crowded thoroughfare; he met me there
And shook me in delight.
“Take care,” I would have
Warned. “I have a package
For the river,” but it was
Too late – the bag took flight
From sweating palms
And landed on the walk;
“Arrgh” I sobbed and
Threw myself upon the
Ground to rescue what
I carried—
My sensibilities to be exact, --
I had tucked them away
Like a kitten litter
And would have drowned them all
But now the worst
Has come to pass;
My basest and most
Slimy of affections
Wriggled all over the street
Before him. “Aargh” he
Returned, thoroughly shocked.
“What horrid creatures. Surely
They don’t belong to you?” And
Even as he spoke, they
Toward his feet
And crawled into
His pockets, cuffs
And up his perfect crease,
They would not cease, I
Knew; my disposition
Is of the most stubborn
“My god!” I cried.
“All is lost and my
Forgetful soul is tangled
In your life forever.”
And I stood there in
Despair while he began
To alarm and itch
(By now They had burrowed
Into his skin)
“Stop them! Stop them!” he
Screamed like one possessed
And writhed about
In the most unfathomed
Way. “I would, if
I knew how,” I told him,
“But this never happened before.
I’ve always,” I explained with pride
“Kept my desires under control.”
And knowing naught
What else to do, I sat
Myself down to wait.
It was not so long
Before he was consumed
Unto the bone;
Several passersby
Thought this a curious thing,
But only one was aroused
To pause – a sidewalk
Philosopher, he was quite
Old and very red. “Ah,”
He sighed upon hearing my tale,
“I have seen cases like it –
There is nothing to do but
Wait until your
Emotions have feasted their fill.”
So we sat together, waiting
Late into the day – and finally
My subconscious did emerge.

Oh, but there was such
A growl, such a spitting
Such as man has never heard!
“What will happen now?” I
Asked in fear. “A battle
Will ensue,” the little man
Replied, “between the Love
And Greed.” The wriggly
Creatures, huge in size,
Did indeed take sides and
Soon the sidewalk ran
With blood as blue as kind
And green as hate; I could
Not watch this Battle of
Myself and hid my face. “Tell
Me when it’s over,” I said,
For I suddenly heard not
A noise but a funny chomp.
“It is over,” he said, and
I turned to see him
Gobbling up the remains.
“Stop! Stop! They’re mine!”
I cried, but it was too late.
He surried away and I
Stood there alone,
With an old kitten bag
And a heap of love bones.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Boppin thru the city
It’s sure a pretty night
Got my best dress on
And I feel all right

Got me some nickels
Got me some dimes
Gonna get my head together
Gonna look real fine

Lookin for a footloose man
To put me at my ease
Those down’n’outs and married men
Keep plucking at my sleeve

Want a happy lover
With the sunshine in his soul
Can’t bother with no cloudy men
They bring me down so low

Wanna dance with city men
With lustlights in their eyes
Wanna play with mountain men
And tease them all with lies

Wanna be a city woman
Wanna be a country child
Wanna settle down
And I wanna stay wild

Truckin down the city streets
It’s sure a pretty night
Got my high heels on
And I feel all right

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Throwing mud, steaming sun, and
Nothing to feed my mind;
There is time for large questions of purpose
And doing
But I’d rather escape
Into more familiar personalities.
I have resigned myself
To prefabricated moralities for a season

Have you no mind of your own?

I have a superego which super-rationalizes
Adapting values to my impulses
That way I can call a breakdown in principles
An evolution in principles.

And who would judge me,
Whether I have deteriorated or
Matured, whatever that means –
I’m only a kid
And curious

All moralities seem logical to me
If the advocator is red and earnest
About it

But to get off the subject

“&” he screamed “%” as I stabbed him with my
Butcher knife with red and white stripes
On the handle

“#, &#$,” were his dying words and I
stood there and squished my toes in the blood.

The problem with stabbing him would be
That he wouldn’t live to be sorry
About what he did to me, so perhaps slow
Paralysis, or some horrible deforming
Crippling would be better –

My pride will be the end of me.

-- -- -- --

In the corner my radio
Plays static-y and beautiful
As a tribal drum
I like the look of it, sitting there,
I wait for the
Sensuous piano parts
Between all the rest of the jazz, I listen and smoke
And cough
I think of the stoned mindless
Warmth of last night

I am still unable to think
There’s nothing worse than
The Sunday night after
The Saturday night
Full of meaningless impulse
I lay drained of my capability to feel.

This numbness will last for
I’ll slide out of it easily
As long as I don’t see him much

I won’t feel used then
I will have accomplished
Another casual relationship
I can bury it in me for
Future reference
Retreat into
My giggly virgin mask

And in unguarded moments
Wonder why
It all matters so much.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Hitting naught
But inch-deep, laughter
Sloshing through my
I am having an experience

I wasn’t
well for this.
I hope you realize.

Not knowing
About the fireworks
I want
Reassurance, spoiling
And love from afar.

Shatter my carefully
Tight-rope ego

You laugh
At my naivet̩ Рso.
I am young. It is
A fairly common ailment.

A minority of one
You will be
In the midst
Of universal Reverence

Then you will be sorry

In the meantime
I will learn some day.
I WILL grow up
Some day.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Communal love
Meaningless giggle
I drift through the days with a Jello head
I sink into trees and bottle caps
And diffuse into music
I love until I can’t speak, I
Can’t say good morning, I can’t argue
I am gluey lost in understanding
And slither through the day untouched

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

In a
Of brows and
Furry lashes

I am
Drawn into
Your eyes
They are
Like quicksand
And amber-dark

Two jungle pools
Of swampy
Poison life

That glitter
Hurtle, slither
Their fangs into
My brain.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Pulsating hours
Of daylight melt
Into blueness
And I soften
With the shadows

A musky lakehouse
Smell of deep
Fill the chairs
And muffles
Sounds of laughter
From another time;

Wind-weary and stiff
With sun and sand
I lie couched
In the warmness
Of a log-walled den

You are hard and
Soft and strong

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Marlon Brando movie
I sit and mentally
Caress his beautiful eyes
In multicolored daydreams
The room is fraught with tension
It is high school film
Festival night
Filled with schoolmates
Come to watch the longshoreman
Battle and
In front of me there is
A certain intriguing eye, not
Handsome but
Effective enough to blur
The perspective between
The movie screen and eye (I?)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Don’t tell anyone
But I crave violence
I have a trust
In the sharp definition
Of hate and anger
That is lacking in any other
Hate is absolute

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

10:30 sitting on a couch
In my living room, stereo
Records loud enough
To non-fool everyone into
Thinking we are here to listen
And guzzle Coke and giggle
And perhaps communicate –
Already wondering how long
A decent interval must pass before
One proceeds to become passionate,
I strain to hear my mother’s nervous laugh –
Aha, it is far away –
My date just sprawls there
Strumming the air with his football
Fingers in time to Rolling Stones
“Ah,” he sighs, “I can’t stand it,”
And writhes in some private frenzy;
I frown in frustration and watch my
Toe pump up and sown, and down
And out and the bass is throbbing,
A clock is ticking, his eyes
Roll ecstatically, revealing
The bloodshot whites –
(His ears kind of stick out, also,
Actually) –
Eleven o’ three
He grabs me and the world breaks down.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The day is dank in mood as well as weather
And my mind rains sadness, we are in
A crowd of familiar faces, faces I have
No reactions to – I huddle in the wind and in
The dejection that overcomes me we I speak to
You and you answer brother-like and yet strange –
We are so blandly, politely, indifferent –
We hide behind banalities, smile painfully wide
And I am searching your expression for some
Unutterable sense of recognition, for I sense
You are as depressed as I –
Your eyes are kind and obscure and you
Inquire about me with the air of a friend
Who will always be “interested” and always
Inscrutable and I want to scream at you and
Make you somehow violent; I prefer hate,
Hostility, to this empty sense of lost
Tenderness, reliving all the nights of
Meaningless months in a glance or a stupid
Remark about the rain – my god you tear me
A hundred ways.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

He whispered in my ear
Is meadows and wholesome;
Is breeze and blueness;
Sift in tall grasses, safe from
Storms, he urged, and come
With me;
And I would go, but
Live too restless in uncommon
Softness; I long for
Violence; for all or nothing;
This tenderness is intolerable.

-- -- -- --

Late afternoon
Mellow-rich sun, soft breeze with
A sorrowful chill;
Happiness is somehow
I think of you
And nothing matters –
I think of you
And dissolve beyond
The commonness of words.
Tall grass
Runs through my
Your image through
My mind;
Soon you will be gone;
Soon perhaps
You will not occur to me.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insensitive to insensitivity
I wander vulnerable
Among the taller people, believing
They have needs like mine –

I have no memory, I have
Infinite capacity to feel, I
Cannot bury myself and become hardened
I heal over and over
Self-destructive flings and delusions
That I can let myself be used without
Being hurt

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Fog and rain
On slushy snow
And 8:00 AM

In the morning
From books and
Wearing my
Security uniform
Of short-hemmed mascara;

Bundles of self-
Congratulating adolescence
Glandular turmoil

Shooting me towards
Opposite poles
At the glance of another gland.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Outskirts of a town well-guarded
By matronly suburban streets
The charcoal, dusty tar, the houses
Box-white, edges softened
In a flutter of curtains
And willow-tree shadows
Which demand a respectability
Of persons, noises and sundry smells

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

I have
An abominable awareness
Of the soles of my feet. They
Are sand-stung, unused
To pebbly lake bottoms, pine needle
Beds –
My feet sting and my breath
Draws deeply, nostrils
Flared to absorb
The air that forces
Coolness into well-heated lungs –
The twilight turns the
Sun from bright to
Smoldering metallic rose and
Seething wavelets draw the
Fury down
To the level of docks, and lake and sand –
And me –
I stick a toe into the pinkness
And it numbs –
The ruggedness of all I feel
Intrigues me; I am a match
For the brittle dusk

The campsite is calm, the wind
Is dying, a burnt-wood smell
Drifts into the sun – I watch
It sink, impaled for a time
On a mountaintop –
Waves of purple, vermilion
And green shoot up
To the clouds
In a symphony of
Lonely light –
I turn to replenish the fire.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Learning to smoke cigarettes
Hidden in the girls room
Deep in the rec room cellar
Surrounded by smoke
Not knowing how to inhale
Not knowing to keep
My eyes from running
Coughing and burping and
Breathing spasmodically

The thing sits there burning
What the hell are you doing
Down in the garage looking in
The car mirror
Don’t everything look cool
It’s really funny, I should
Have gone through this
Years ago

My rebellion has failed

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Sitting sophisticated
In a lace-curtain summer eating elegant chicken
Taking Salem menthol
Tweed walks
Through the stables

He talks through his side-teeth
With high-class disdain
I long myself
To become knowing and
I am beautifully bitchy
There is nothing to do
Very little to say
The sun is setting and
The clouds darken and scatter in the
Patterns of my mind

My self-denial needles me
I would like with all my
Insides to shock him horribly
I would like to roll
Down a hill in the grass.
Indian wrestle
Make his side-parted sandy hair
(Inevitably side-parted, perfect and neat)
Hall down in thatches over his

Sitting ladylike I seethe
With resentment
For God’s sake what does
Have to do with being
A woman?

His drawling sidelong glance
Is asking
Would I like to start back
I smile with the dominant
Coldness of the cool he projects

I feel awkward, very awkward
And dislike myself
For deferring to this person
Who chooses to ignore
The warmth and the frivolity
And the earthiness
That I offer him

Feeling alien and inadequate
I follow with misgivings toward the house.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Cheers and the winter city
Students flirting
I am disheveled
And warm and secure

I have just left him

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Sucking the essence of youth
Emptily espouse the liberation of the masses

Bloodlines bloody
With quality
Prep-school philanthropists

Child of peasantry
What do you envy

Blood pedigree brilliancy

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Amidst the manly chatter
Of a room not mine
I wait for you
My mind in your arms

My mind in your arms

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