Sunday, February 7, 2016

#192: "All She Knew She Learned at the Movies" by Lois Roma-Deeley

~This poem was previously published in Sow’s Ear (1991). 


Paper Covers Stone

Some flicker of morning
light breezes through the blind

of my kitchen window
strikes the wall white. A drum

stick from last night’s dinner
lies alone on top the bed

of baby peas. Close up
I’d say my lines

around the mouth
are much too fine

to see. In fact I’m often told
by perfect strangers on the street

I look like Bette Davis
in Dark Victory. Only the eyes

go soft when I
bite my lip: a thousand times I said no

don’t buy me a solitary
pearl set in gold.

He married
poorly, and when they took off—

all the way to God
knows where—I swear

I was relieved.


Scissor Cuts Paper

Time has two hands
around my throat
and you’re urging

him to squeeze me
harder. Aren’t you

satisfied? Look
in your wildest dreams

is the enemy

who points a finger
at your wrist, watches
the tantrum of blue veins
blister thin skin, then smiles—
                   spitting in your ear:

he should have married me.


Stone Smashes Scissor

No one in the world
cares to hear the story
of how it all began or
if in fact they were
a perfect looking pair.
No one in the world knows that

when she bites her lip
she needs to be alone;
when she speaks of love, she only
talks of him—how much
he cost her: cruelty
is a shock for those who feel

no one in the world
leaves a light on at home
without locking every door
twice, without closing
all the windows tight.
She hears a knock downstairs and sure,

she gets up to answer, but
no one in the world
is there. The winter
wind, trapped deep within
a wall, comforts her,
that’s all. She knows the roar,

once a sea-rose of pink sound,
carried him far out
to the shallows of her
well-lit house. There, wading in
the pools, she made love
feel like a world
where no one ever goes.



I wrote “All She Knew She Learned At the Movies” during a time when I was teaching Women’s Studies courses at the university. As a Women’s Studies professor, I had students who trusted me with their stories. Feminism was not a just a theory or world view to me. Feminism—and the consequences of sexism— had a very real human face. Further, my teaching experience caused me to more closely examine my own life as well as the lives of my students. Poetry was then—and is now— the only way for me to deal with any of it.

However like many writers, my creative process often involves getting obsessed by entire subjects outside the literary realm. This fit perfectly into my lecture preparation. In fact, my obsessions delighted and, sometimes, consumed me. Feminist theorists as well as feminist psychologists became of great interest to me.  In reviewing some of their works, reoccurring themes took over my imagination and would not let go.

For example, the idea of how women “internalize oppression” was a theme that seemed to repeat itself over and over again in my investigations. The question of how human beings give up a sense of self fascinated me. I was enthralled—and not a bit terrified—by  the process—the “how” of it. This idea brought me to many authors and ultimately to R.D. Laing’s The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness.  Some of the chapters in this book became a model for the voice in the poem.



 Lois Roma-Deeley, winner of the Samuel T. Coleridge Literary Prize, is the author of three collections of poetry: Rules of Hunger (2004), northSight (2006) and High Notes (2010)—a 2011 Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. She has published in more than twelve anthologies, including Villanelles (Everyman’s Library, Pocket Poets Series). Further, her work has been featured in nationally and internationally in numerous literary journals including, The Transnational (forthcoming), Spillway, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Bellingham Review, 5 AM, Water~Stone, and many others.

1 comment:

  1. You raise some profound questions about where the self comes from and how it's shaped by what's around us. Thank you.


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