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today Diane read me her poem in my car with dusty mother mary looking on. it is the first i've heard of her and i think she is wonderful. everyone ought to go out and find her book of poetry.

this one is for all of us who are learning to live with our faces real and imagined.

but it is especially for my friend alina.

I Have Had To Learn To Live With My Face

You see me alone tonight.

My face has betrayed me again,

the garage mechanic who promises to fix my car
and never does.

My face

that my friends tell me is so full of character;

my face

I have hated for so many years;

my face

I have made an angry contract to live with
though no one could love it;

my face that I wish you could bruise and batter

and destroy, napalm it, throw acid in it,

so that I might have another

or be rid of it at last.

I drag peacock feathers behind me

to erase the trail of the moon. those tears

I shed for myself,

sometimes in anger.

There is no pretense in my life. The man who lives with me
must see something beautiful,

like a dark snark coming out of my mouth,

or love the tapestry of my actions, my life/this body, this

but angry insistence, their presence.

I hate them,

want my life to be more.
Hate their shadow on even my words.

I sell my soul for good plumbing
and hot water,

I tell everyone;

and my face is soft,


a feathering of snow

against the

cold black leath coat

which is night.



my face against the chilly


of your back.

Learning to live with that you're born with

is the process,

the involvement,

the making of a life.

And I have not learn happily

to live with my face,

that Diane which always looks better on film

than in life.

I sternly accept this plain face,

and hate every moment of that sternness.

I want to laugh at this ridiculous face

of lemon rings

and vinegar cruets

of unpaved raods

and dusty file cabinets

of the loneliness of wall Street at night

and the desert of school on a holiday

but I would have to laugh alone in a cold room

Prefer the anger

that at least for a moment gives me a proud profile

Always, I've envied

the rich

the beautiful

the talented

the go-getters

of the world. I've watched





a fish that swam through the net

because I was too small

but remained alone

in deep water because the others were caught

taken away.

It is so painful for me to think now,

to talk about this; I want to go to sleep and never wake up.

The only warmth I ever feel is wool covers on a bed.

But self-pity could trail us all, drag us around on the bottom of

shoes like squashed snails so that

we might never fight/ and it's anger I want now, fury,

to direct at my face and its author,
to tell it how much I hate what it's done to me,

to contemptuously, sternly, brutally even, make it live with itself,

look at itself every day,
and remind itself

that realist is

learning to live with what you're born with,

noble to have been anything but defeated,

that pride and anger and silence will hold us above beauty,

though we bend down often with so much anguish for

a little beauty,

a word, like the blue night,

the night of rings covering the floor and glinting

into the fire, the water, the wet earth, the age of songs,

guitars, angry busloads of etched tile faces, old gnarled

tree trunks, anything with the beatuy of wood, teak, lemon,


I lost my children because I had no money, no husband,

I lost my husband because I was no beautiful,

I lost everything a women needs, wants,


before I became a woman,

my face shimmering and flas at the moon
with no features.

I look at pictures of myself as a child.

I looked lumpy, unformed, like a piece of dough,

and it has been my task as a human being

to carve out out a mind, carve out a face,

carve out a shape with arms & legs, to put a voice inside,

and to make a person from a presence.

And I don't think I'm unique.

I think a thousand of you, at least, can look at those old photos,

reflect on your life
and see your own sculpture at work.

I have made my face as articulate as I can,

and it turns out to be a peculiar face with too much

bone in the bridge of the nose, small eyes, pale lashes,

thin lips, wide cheeks, a rocky chin,

But it's almost beautiful compared to the sodden mass of dough I

started out with.

I wonder how we learn to live

with our faces

They must hide so much pain,

so many deep trenches of blood,

so much that would terrorize and drive others away, if they

could see it. The struggle to control it

articulates the face.

And what about those people

With elegant noses and rich lips

What do they spend their lives struggling for

Am I wrong I constantly ask myself

to value the struggle
more than the results

Or only to accept a beautiful face?if it has been toiled for

Tonight I move alone in my face;

want to forgive all the men whom I've loved?who've betrayed me.

After all, the great betrayer is that one I carry about reach day,

which I sleep with at night. My own face,

angry building I've fought to restore

imbued with arrogance and pride, anger and corn.

To love this face

would be to love a desert mountain,

a killer, rocky, water hard to find, no trees anywhere/

perhaps I do not expect anyone

to be strange enough to love it;

but you.

Diane Wakoski

5:47 p.m. - 2006-05-04


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