Eating Chocolate Ice Cream: Reading Mayakovsky

By Barbara Guest 1920–2006 Barbara Guest
Since I’ve decided to revolutionize my life
                       since
                                  ”
                       decided
                                           ”
                       revolutionize
                                           ”
                       life       
                                           ”
                                      
How early it is! It is eight o’clock in the morning.
Well, the pigeons were up earlier
Did you eat all your egg?
Now we shall go for a long walk.
Now? There is too much winter.
I am going to admire the snow on your coat.
Time for hot soup, already?
You have worked for three solid hours.
I have written forty-eight, no forty-nine,
no fifty-one poems.
How many states are there?
I cannot remember what is uniting America.
It is then time for your nap.
What a lovely, pleasant dream I just had.
But I like waking up better.
I do admire reality like snow on my coat.
Would you take cream or lemon in your tea?
No sugar?
And no cigarettes.
Daytime is good, but evening is better.
I do like our evening discussions.
Yesterday we talked about Kant.
Today let’s think about Hegel.
In another week we shall have reached Marx.
Goody.
Life is a joy if one has industrious hands.
Supper? Stew and well-cooked. Delicious.
Well, perhaps just one more glass of milk.
Nine o’clock! Bath time!
Soap and a clean rough towel.
Bedtime!
The Red Army is marching tonight.
They shall march through my dreams
in their new shiny leather boots,
their freshly laundered shirts.
All those ugly stains of caviar and champagne
and kisses
have been rubbed away.
They are going to the barracks.
They are answering hundreds of pink
and yellow and blue and white telephones.
How happy and contented and well-fed they look
lounging on their fur divans,
chanting, “Russia how kind you are to us.
How kind you are to everybody.
We want to live forever.”
Before I wake up they will throw away
their pistols, and magically
factories will spring up where once
there was rifle fire, a roulette factory,
where once a body fell from an open window.
Hurry dear dream
I am waiting for you
under the eiderdown.
And tomorrow will be more real, perhaps,
than yesterday.

Barbara Guest, “Eating Chocolate Ice Cream: Reading Mayakovsky” from The Angel Hair Anthology. Copyright © 2001 by Barbara Guest. Reprinted by permission of Granary Books.

Source: The Angel Hair Anthology (Granary Books, 2001)

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Poet Barbara Guest 1920–2006

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Subjects Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Life Choices, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

 Barbara  Guest

Biography

Barbara Guest rose to prominence in the late 1950s as a member of an informal group of writers known as the New York school of poets whose membership included Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, and James Schuyler. Their innovative approach to poetry was influenced by modern art, especially surrealism and abstract expressionism. Guest drew on her own background in art (she worked for Art News magazine in the 1950s) to create poetry . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Life Choices, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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