“We have never grown up from magic—just away.” — Ann Menebroker
I recently wrote a piece about my friend Ann Menebroker, the fine poet who died recently at the age of eighty. In response, I received a number of communiqués from people who wanted to read more snippets from Annie’s letters, so I present them here with one of Annie’s poems.
March 2009: I loved the artwork of your friend Marco Donner. In this one, the young Madonna is separated from her child, who is way above her. She looks enraptured and the child looks like a girl…so perhaps that’s what it is…an elevated perception of adult/child, of the specialness of birth, of new beginnings, of innocence. Of the female influence, which is supposedly less wild and warlike than the male. And I could be crazy.
July 2007: I have been writing a little and think I have amassed some eleven or so new poems. Of course they must sit around and I must go back to them after the glow of genius has faded. Ha!
July 2006: If we get to come back once we finish a round on earth, I want to come back flooded with the joy of music, voice, instruments, all of it! Soaked up like gas on a rag, blazing like a Bic lighter starting up the fire. I want to learn harmony and notes and how to put those notes and that harmony together. All of it, baby!
My only two “lovers through the mail” boyfriends are a crazy drunk writer/musician/broke/ill health guy in New Mexico, and a crazy artist/poet trying to quit smoking pot friend in Australia. Their letters, the flirting, all of it, I love! Being with them would be a disaster.
February 2004: I am very bad about rewriting. I am one of the sloppier poets, one who accepts the gift too easily, rips into it, pops out the gift, throws the tissue and ribbons aside! What I edit, I edit as I’m writing in that powerful flow of creativity. I need to work on my editing skills, not to be so easily content. I have had a poem I thought “hot stuff” get cool comments from fine critics to remind me of this!
I treat poems like lovers, caught up in the passion. I know passion cools.
June 2002: I went to Nevada City and spent the night with my daughter Sue and her husband Kevin. We went to a barbecue of a young poet up there. It turned out there were a lot of males and only 3 women, Sue, myself, and another gal well into her fifties. So we got flirted with, which was most fun! A young man kissed me with barbecue sauce on his lips, and an older man hugged and kissed me. Then I left and went safely with Sue and Kevin to their home. I felt like a kid! I’ve been telling all of my women friends about being kissed. God, I’m silly.
It seems lately that I need a little male attention, which hasn’t been the case in a lot of years. So I have to watch it and stay away from them (in any romantic sense, that is.)
No sense messing up a perfectly satisfying life!
January 2004: I’m getting another book out. But don’t worry, no need to buy it. I’ll send you a copy. You’ve seen most of the poems. Many of them are in my previous collections of poetry. They are all from The Wormwood Review. The publisher, up in Grass Valley, came upon them, some 57 or so, and asked me if he could put them in a collection. I said, hmmm, ok. He sent me the book to proof. I just got it. I hadn’t seen some of those poems in years! They are full of my life, my history. They have that “tough gal” feel to some of them. It will be titled Tiny Bites, the Wormwood Poems of Ann Menebroker.
March 2006: And here I am, loving it downtown. The other night I was awakened by all of this noise, as if the two men upstairs (landlord and his partner) were either having very violent sex or were murdering each other. It went on and I got up and looked out the windows, but saw nothing. The next morning my landlord told me that some drunk had tried to kick down the wooden gate at my end, and there was a huge disturbance, police were called, so I was way off!
A fat-paged book in sepia cover
with a young Garcia smiling from
the flat memory of who he was, is
left on the front seat of the old Mercury
Cougar that belonged to her mother
who was more porcupine than cat.
She still pulls quills from her child’s heart plant.
Who did Lorca love? His mother sent
an omelet to the prison where his
rhetoric and fame, his love of handsome
men, brought him. Did he eat this
meal his frightened mother sent?
He smoked loaned cigarettes and cried
the cry of fear and death.
Her mother died at home in her own bed.
Lorca died near a group of olive trees
in the hot season, dramatic bullets
for his final act. Sex is forgotten.
I am really going to die.
Someone stole the book when she
went into the store for a tub of margarine.
This Is Your life. Candid Camera.
I’ve Got A Secret. Survival.
A goddamned book! It wasn’t even hers.
A man’s whole life stolen twice.
— Ann Menebroker December 2002
More of Ann Menebroker’s poems can be found on the worldwide web.
(Todd Walton’s web site is UnderTheTableBooks.com)