Four Famous Women


was it rape
that iron rail piercing your womb
more than rape
a lifetime's sentence
of infertility and pain

yet you, ancient goddess image
you, with dark bird eyebrows
you, wielding the paintbrush like a scalpel
kept probing those wounds
painted even your chest's plaster prison
with garish colours

bedridden, corseted, wheel-chaired
Diego tattooed on your brow
housebig loom his paintings
in which you stand
essence of Mexico
among the crowd
your own, picturebooksmall
give him that privileged place
above your brow or on your childless lap

what shall we do with your body, they asked
burn it you said
burn it
because really, lack of peace notwithstanding
you've reclined enough

Ms Wollstonecraft

Mary, Mary, quite
contrary isn't having
any more of it
refuses to be
the weaker sex
speak me not of
Man with a capital M
I'll have us vindicated
but Woman is feeble
they say and her understanding
compromised by bodily fluids
puerile, snaps Mary

Mary Anne Evans

I shall call myself George
I shall not be smiled down on
have my darling fancies smiled down on
like silly stories by silly ladies
not I
I shall call myself George
it's another way of taking your name, my darling
give it to my darlings
not to be smiled down on
no silly lady
no, not I

right then, Marilyn,
let’s get things straight
it’s all your fault
you weren’t the first
and you weren’t the last
but you were The One
you made it famous, the face,
you know, that face
for goodness sake
close your mouth and open your eyes!
stop stamping STUPID
on womankind, on blondewomankind
it’s all you fault

you know, replies Norma Jeane,
I wasn’t born a blonde

Annette Kupke

If you have any comments on this poem,  Annette Kupka would be pleased to hear from you.