Ophelia and Laura Palmer

I had a opportunity to collaborate with an artist on the theme of “iconic” for the great Poets/Artists. My collaborator was Poupee de Chair, a French portrait artist. In thinking of an iconic figure, we thought of Laura Palmer, the main character in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. I then wondered what it would be like if the spirit of Laura Palmer was attached to an iconic figure in history as well, such as Cleopatra. A pretty good choice, I thought, for imagination to go — but Poupee de Chair had a better person in mind: Ophelia.

Blood Ties

“Blood Ties” — used with permission

And so the collaboration took shape. Many thanks to Poupee de Chair for her great work — two minds that thought alike was a great thing — and of course to the publication of Poets/Artists and its awesome publisher and editor-in-chief Didi Menendez. Poupee de Chair’s “Blood Ties” is so cool — each work-in-progress I saw made me giddy, and she was great at helping me solve the problematic portions of my poem.

— Originally published by Poets/Artists, Issue #31, pp 41-43

After I drowned, my spirit inhaled the crimes of my father.
He was a jealous man and ran to the King
to claim my lover insane. Trusting and beatific,
I never suspected my father’s incestuous heart.
My brother’s leave, father’s death, lover’s exile left no hamlet
to dwell in, no man to confide in, no one to touch
my soft fair cheeks, so I fell in the creek with a mind gone mad.

As Ophelia, I never bared my breasts in the bar’s smoky back room,
but with my body buried for centuries, my soul sensed the need to feel
skin on skin again, and so I stole into the newborn flesh
of Laura Palmer. By seventeen, I was reckless,
infecting my affections with distant appearances,
wanting my thumping heart to end its reclusive play, wanting
to scream for some boy on his bike, but I was helplessly lovelorn.

The angel framed on the bedroom wall benevolently guarding
her burdens reminds me there is no guide to whisk me away
from the wanderlust spirit climbing through the open window.
My oblivious mother calls her concerns typical teenage angst,
while I protect my only friend from the tactile words of testosterone.
I am too deep in the woods to prevent this stranger’s crime;
my father will sell me to the river of red velvet, tenacious and sad.