Dancing on the Grave of a Son of a Bitch
This poem is more properly a “dance poem” than a song or chant because the element of repetition is created by movements of language rather than duplicating words and sounds. However, it is in the spirit of ritual recitation that I wrote it/ a performance to drive away bad spirits perhaps.
The story behind the poem is this: a man and woman who have been living together for some time separate. Part of the pain of separation involves possessions which they had shared. They both angrily believe they should have what they want. She asks for some possession and he denies her the right to it. She replies that she gave him money for a possession which he has and therefore should have what she wants now. He replies that she has forgotten that for the number of years they lived together he never charged her rent and if he had she would now owe him $7,000.
She is appalled that he equates their history with a sum of money. She is even more furious to realize that this sum of money represents the entire rent on the apartment and implies that he should not have paid anything at all. She is furious. She kills him mentally. Once and for all she decides she is well rid of this man and that she shouldn’t feel sad at their parting. She decides to prove to herself that she’s glad he’s gone from her life. With joy she will dance on all the bad memories of their life together.
Diane Wakoski, “Dancing on the Grave of a Son of a Bitch” from Emerald Ice: Selected Poems 1962-1987. Copyright © 1988 by Diane Wakoski. Reprinted with the permission of David R. Godine/Black Sparrow Press, www.blacksparrowbooks.com/titles/wakoski.htm.
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Poet Diane Wakoski b. 1937
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