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A Prostitute Revisits Her Ex-Lover’s Room

after van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles

She presses her tongue
against the boxwood floor
and can almost taste that night:
the Bordeaux staining her lips,
the tang of turpentine steeped everywhere--
into his bare walls, his rags, and even his ears.
His conversation never starved
but boiled over, likening half-peeled potatoes
to the Alpilles Mountains,
her eyes to ripe olives
savored there. She remembers
the frame of his face sagging
over the bedpost, orange wheat fields
bristling across his sallow cheeks,
and the crimson coverlet, stiff and coarse
as aged bread crust, how it cracked
under the weight of his hand over hers,
no longer timid but bold, with meaningful strokes.
When she whispered "tournesol," his breath
smoked, each syllable, a glowing coal
in his mouth. All of this before glass shatters,
before wine splatters over the floorboards,
before the taste of that night will blend
lead and sour plums on the bloody canvas
of her tongue.

24 Aug 06

Rated 9.8 (7.9) by 10 users.
Active (10): 9, 9, 10, 10
Inactive (60): 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10

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i love it. especially lines 19-21
 — chloee

Speechless.  Or almost, what's up with line 20, the :?

I love it.
 — Isabelle5

     Oh, this is tight, and very well-focused.  The various themes are present in most every line.  Very well done, I believe the poem draws the reader in, and engages an immediate empathy with the "she" portrayed.
     The poem is near flawless, so it seems my suggestions would be petty, but here they are: first, I'd suggest dropping "and" from the beginning of line 10, not so much out of concern for any rules of style but for the fact that I initially read the artist's metaphor as "likening half-peeled potatoes/to the Alpilles Mountains/and her eyes..."  Either drop the "and" or tack a comma onto the end of line 9.  Second tweak, drop the full colon from line 20; it emphasizes the concrete quality of "a glowing coal/in his mouth," and I don't think you want that.
    Last (and I'm debating this as I type) I'm not sure I want her tongue to be a "bloody" canvas in line 24.  We've already got Bordeaux stains and a crimson coverlet, and I wonder if including such a loaded word as "bloody" is worth it to tie back to the first two lines.  Hmm.  Maybe I shouldn't mention it when I can't decide.
    What I do know for certain is that this is excellent work.  I look forward to your next.
 — mikkirat

thank you chloee for reading.
Yes Isa (i'm glad you liked it) & mikki, the colon was changed to a comma. I also dropped "and" from line 10 as you suggested mikki. You're right it was jumbling up the metaphor on lines 8 & 9. I appreciate your kind words.
ps mikki, now that you mentioned "bloody," I'm not certain if I'll keep it, gonna mull it over for a bit before I decide.  ;-)  

~ redsky
 — unknown

I love this poem!
Did you post this some time ago?
I swear I have loved your poem before ;-)
 — Krttika

Wo... nice stuff... even without the reference.  Colorful and descriptive.  This is what poetry should look like.  BRAVO!
 — aforbing

Any poem with 'prostitute' in the title is bound to grab attention, and that is a good thing.  
 — propoet50

Leave bloody, I like it and it works with the rest of the "red" intimations.
 — Isabelle5

I love everything here - nice!
 — Ferroggiaro

^^2 carats up^^
 — aforbing

Gets a bit confusing with all the metaphor slinging round the midsection, but a fantastic peice.  I love poems I need to read twice.  Nice work.
 — WordsAndMe

Cool poem, I'm pretty stoned right now and I like the tongue talk!
 — danny1982

Shit! Put a 1 DOH! Sorry soooooooooo accidental no disrespect, total accident!
 — danny1982

This is great writing.
 — elysium

This is fantastic shit!  "10."
 — starr

Great, Great Poem!!!
 — UHamilton

Eh. Decidedly uninspiring. Prehaps a less cliche take would benift your writing.
 — unknown

rilly teenagangstey
 — unknown

Beautiful. Just beautiful. I was skeptical at first because I thought you really wanted attention through your title. But this is so heart-rending for me I have to thank you for writing this.
 — adhector

Damn! That's good.
 — unknown

This is a beautiful piece of writing - sustained my interest from start to finish - so much so, I couldn't find anything to whinge about - damnation! No, truly lovely - the imagery is stratospheric. The bringing to life of the relationship is the truly exceptional part for me - my only thing is 'when she whispered tournesol' When I lived in France I used to be highly amused by bottles of 'huile de tournesol' on supermarket shelves, so it whisked me straight back there, but I think that's my own terrible Proustian moment , for which I take full responsibility. Have a 10.
 — opal

I haven't been around here in a while, so I'm astounded by the positive responses to this piece. Thank you for reading and making such kind comments, you guys are great! ;-)
 — redsky

this is really visual. i like it. :) i think you really portrayed the mood and the imagery well. i can see the painting when i read this, as well as the passion.
 — missmurder

this is really great!!
 — sugarcookie

I don't see the big hype. It's really not that impressive.  It's a pretentious poem that isn't even that coherent.
 — MEB

i love the wordings... very articulate and beautiful in their own way. wondeful...
 — GreenDreams

I know I thing or two about hookers and ex-lovers an' such.  Nice work indeed.
 — devilsbelboy

Ah, still loving this!  Happy random!
 — Isabelle5

I would remove the second comma in |20.
Good work.
 — likeavirus

Oh, man.  This is absolutely incredible.  I would love to own this painting with your poem posted beneath it.  That sounds corny but I'm dead serious.

Experiment with the form a little bit because it's lopsided, and I want to see the poem mimic the tall, slender, compressed strokes that Van Gogh uses in Bedroom in Arles.  

I think "She remembers" in L11 could mark a new stanza.  
Same with "All of this..." in L21.

Great work.  10, a rarity.
 — aurelius

 — skyline

did you notice that you have no bad comments about this poem?  you must be proud of yourself...  there is a gay black guy on tv right now... cool.
 — loveart416

 — unknown

i like it...i was nervous from reading the title but its good
 — sonadora

Very bold. I can almost taste this one, does that make sense?
 — SarahMichele

A somewhat interesting poem, however as usual on PC it is totally spoilt by the lack of attention to technical detail.

The lady in question in line two would have great difficulty pressing her tongue to a boxwood floor in Provence, or anywhere else in France for that matter.

European boxwood is used mainly in marquetry or in the making of very small items and it would be impossible to find sufficient size of plank from such wood to construct much more than a small ornament box or case.

It is only in America where a larger variety of boxwood grows that its timber is used for fencing and cheap flooring.
The area around the Alpilles Mountains has an abundance of high quality timber trees, pine and cedar in particular.

So I am afraid the lady gave this poem the kiss of death; unfortunately.

 — Mor

this is beautiful.
 — ducktape

This is very well written.
 — RedRaven

This poem is amazing...pay no attention to the man who claims to profess in many things. Languages, poetry and botany now too, just to name a few. The wood could have been imported, because it was a favorite wood choice for the family who owns the house. Or, the person who made the house chose boxwood becaue he knew that it had to be imported and that using it would jack up the price of the house overall. I say we send Mr. Mor to play Jeopardy to see how well he fares. Hopefully the categories are Botany in Arles, Foreign Languages, Using the Messageboard, Self-Professing Poetry, and Condescending Techniques. Great piece. 10/10
 — Henry

http://jo el.arpin.free.fr/English/boxwood.html

Or maybe they can use some European boxwood or some French boxwood Mr. Mor. I doubt there is not enough boxwood in France. If their favorite wood choice were boxwood, then they might want it imported...and maybe that was the only room in the house with boxwood. So, it wouldn't be too much. The poem is great nonetheless.
 — Henry

I have to say this is just amazing work. I admire your style and ability to create sucha  vivid picture in the reader's mind.  Personally, I like the word "bloody" in there. It just drives the point home, and intensifies the picture.
 — Unbelievable

It has my imagination running in circles. This is all over the place in a perfect sense of the phrase.
 — DaylightChar

amazing, it should be considered as truely creative and original. the idea fits the tone
 — serein

wow, I think this was one of the first poems I ever loved here.  I had forgotten the title, the author and it was lost to me all this time.  I'm really glad it's top rated.
I still think it is amazing.  Faving so I don't lose it again.
 — jenakajoffer

fantastic imagery and colorful descriptions. i like her tongue tasting the floor and that whole scenario. amazing poem, thank you!!
 — humblebee

 — karly22

this poem is so bad for so many reasons ...
I hate everything about it
poetry should never lie and this seems to me the worst kind of lying
incremental and sorry for itself
 — karly22

  ^ poetry should never lie ^

 — unknown

poetry is the lie.
but nevermind that, L20 turns me on. olives turn me off.

a better than good effort.
 — DeformedLion

this poem is average.
i dont understand the hype.
it seems like its trying too hard to sound metaphorical.

the best poems are about real life and real events.
 — unknown

to unknown- have you ever read 'the Second Coming' by Yeats.
Or perhaps had a browse through Donnes' Holy Sonnets?

They are some of the greatest poems ever written and score low on the 'real life/real events' meter. So shut the fuck up.
 — DeformedLion

this is awesome work, the odd line needs a trim but wow what a keeper.
 — Caducus

Love the images!  Don't know the picture, but would prefer an opening with tongue on bed stand or anything but the floor.
 — poetbill

e.g. headboard
 — poetbill

Glad this is back up here where it belongs.
 — aurelius

Scratch that, I clicked Recently Commented and not Top Rated.

In which case, the fuck is the matter with you people.  Get some voters doin' 10s in here.
 — aurelius

I would give this a 10, but you let the wine spill...I find that to be sacrilege...of a sort.
 — DeformedLion

I myself do not like this for some reason.
 — EpicPants

yeah this is so visceral that I shuddered at the realism -- you've capture'd a poignant series of pain body relationships with skillful descriptors and an unprejudiced, almost sultry tone of voice -- this is one of the first Poems that left me speechless when I read it the first time -- masterful writing
 — AlchemiA

It's so good to see this on the top list again.  Still one of the best, in my humble.
 — Isabelle5

I know how hard it can be to accept criticism for a poem that has been so fondly lauded for so long, but here it goes:
I don’t think you need “prostitute” or “ex”  in the title.
I love the boxwood, regardless of its accuracy or lack thereof.
In L5, I find “everywhere” superfluous.
In L6, it may be a specific reference, but as the line stands alone, “rags” is not very evocative.  
In L8, consider another colon in place of the comma after boiled over.  There’s nothing really wrong with the comma, it’s just that it leads me to read that the half-peeled potatoes are boiling over, and I don’t think that’s beneficial.  
Orange wheat fields—good stuff.
In L20, no comma after syllable.
I don’t think “All of” helps L21
In L24, bloody is a bit trite, and “of her tongue” is a weak line, while
“lead and sour plums on the canvas of her tongue” is strong.
 — unknown

Painted a mental picture with every line. Beautiful.
 — unknown

This is so fine.  How fine?  So fine, that's how fine.  Punto.
 — eric

Holy amazing wow
 — themolly

redsky, as i enjoyed seeing this in the I-70 review as well!
nice to see that.

well done.  have loved this poem for some time now.
 — jenakajoffer

this piece looks 'n looks 'n dares to see -- this piece is beyond reason in the best sense of that logic -- at once a painting deRigor and also a sharp shard of some black crystal making for many reflections -- this is as good as Poetry gets when we realize what Poetry gives --
 — AlchemiA

beautiful poem
but 11-18 present something of a punctuation challenge
especially in light of the finale of that sentence
"with meaningful strokes"
that doesn't seem to fit the description provided by the rest of that particular passage and i found it somewhat perplexing
 — chuckle_s

 — unknown

haven't visited for a while (overwhelmed w/other creative venues besides poetry right now), miss everyone, thanx everyone for their grit, honesty, and reflections!
 — redsky

the intonal-instinctual moves in this make it an everlasting favourite -- simply one of the 'best' viscereal writers here at PC ...
 — AlchemiA

his 'A Prostitute Revisits Her Ex-Lover’s Room' is brilliant with viscereal poetry moves that shudder with frisson through-out the fatal-skin we're in ...
 — AlchemiA

 — psychofemale

 — AlchemiA

poerty: as birds with song, as music made with wind and stream, and texture touched like mud and silk, and tempo beat like drum and blast, and truth in nature is beauty at last - so what is this numinous truth moving-us toward expression bound by our social experience, coloured by what we eat and modified by what eats us? I'm consummated by beauty, nourished by truth, birthed by ecstasy and grow in reality: poetry
 — AlchemiA

 — AlchemiA

bringing it back old school, read and learn
 — unknown

this is so black ...
 — AlchemiA

Kind of creepy. Dug it.
 — Avery33

stunning imagery
 — unknown

Are you trying to make a pimp of Van Gogh? you trying to make a pimp of Van Gogh.  Your descriptive abilities are solid, but you are trying to add a presence to the original that is not condoned.  Can you add an idea to a still painting? like the dogs playing poker were actually playing poker.  Can you pretend like you were there?  Your poetry is obese.  like you would eat everything that made everybody great.    
 — percocet

It's a dick greeted by black eyes,
A poet greeted with thick thighs,
the bleeding eye,
of any reality.  
 — percocet

This is a fine example of the potency and potential of concrete image.

The poem shows so many 'things', but tells almost nothing. The best aspect of the piece, to me, is that the poem has less to do with what I've been shown than what I haven't been.
 — jArE_hAwK

there isn't a word i can think of to support my feelings for this

'beautiful' just doesn't do it
 — dvdsxr

 — unknown

Not bad.

Some lines are better than others.
 — wolflarsen

I'm just glad I was (almost) the first to comment on this gem))
 — mikkirat

I love this,  it's a favorite of mine.
 — PatriciaSan

I'm reading this again, and still love it.

It's a bit hard to bring up any nits to such a well-loved poem.
I think it could be even stronger, without some of the adjectives.
There are a few too many, making it dense in places. I would:
remove "aged" from bread crust..
take away "glowing" from coal.
 — PatriciaSan

This reminded me of the new Bond ("Spectre").  It's a good one! (like this poem)
 — aforbing