IN PRAISE OF ANNE SEXTONI thought you might like to read a terrifyingly forlorn and bitter ode to masturbation by the great American poet, Anne Sexton. Essentially a poem about a broken relationship, Anne Sexton takes this taboo subject and leaves no holds barred. Wonderful! Love Susie. x

The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator

The end of the affair is always death.

She’s my workshop. Slippery eye,

out of the tribe of myself my breath

finds you gone. I horrify

those who stand by. I am fed.

At night, alone, I marry the bed.

Finger to finger, now she’s mine.

She’s not too far. She’s my encounter.

I beat her like a bell. I recline

in the bower where you used to mount her.

You borrowed me on the flowered spread.

At night, alone, I marry the bed.

Take for instance this night, my love,

that every single couple puts together

with a joint overturning, beneath, above,

the abundant two on sponge and feather,

kneeling and pushing, head to head.

At night alone, I marry the bed.

I break out of my body this way,

an annoying miracle. Could I

put the dream market on display?

I am spread out. I crucify.

My little plum is what you said.

At night, alone, I marry the bed.

Then my black-eyed rival came.

The lady of water, rising on the beach,

a piano at her fingertips, shame

on her lips and a flute’s speech.

And I was the knock-kneed broom instead.

At night, alone, I marry the bed.

She took you the way a woman takes

a bargain dress off the rack

and I broke the way a stone breaks.

I give back your books and fishing tack.

Today’s paper says that you are wed.

At night, alone, I marry the bed.

The boys and girls are one tonight.

They unbutton blouses. They unzip flies.

They take off shoes. They turn off the light.

The glimmering creatures are full of lies.

They are eating each other. They are overfed.

At night, alone, I marry the bed.