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Anne Sexton - Hurry Up Please It's Time

What is death, I ask. 
What is life, you ask. 
I give them both my buttocks, 
my two wheels rolling off toward Nirvana. 
They are neat as a wallet, 
opening and closing on their coins, 
the quarters, the nickels, 
straight into the crapper. 
Why shouldn't I pull down my pants 
and moon the executioner 
as well as paste raisins on my breasts? 
Why shouldn't I pull down my pants 
and show my little cunny to Tom 
and Albert? They wee-wee funny. 
I wee-wee like a squaw. 
I have ink but no pen, still 
I dream that I can piss in God's eye. 
I dream I'm a boy with a zipper. 
It's so practical, la de dah. 
The trouble with being a woman, Skeezix, 
is being a little girl in the first place. 
Not all the books of the world will change that. 
I have swallowed an orange, being woman. 
You have swallowed a ruler, being man. 
Yet waiting to die we are the same thing. 
Jehovah pleasures himself with his axe 
before we are both overthrown. 
Skeezix, you are me. La de dah. 
You grow a beard but our drool is identical. 

Forgive us, Father, for we know not. 

Today is November 14th, 1972. 
I live in Weston, Mass., Middlesex County, 
U.S.A., and it rains steadily 
in the pond like white puppy eyes. 
The pond is waiting for its skin. 
the pond is waiting for its leather. 
The pond is waiting for December and its Novocain. 

It begins: 

Interrogator: 
What can you say of your last seven days? 

Anne: 
They were tired. 

Interrogator: 
One day is enough to perfect a man. 

Anne: 
I watered and fed the plant. 

* 

My undertaker waits for me. 
he is probably twenty-three now, 
learning his trade. 
He'll stitch up the gren, 
he'll fasten the bones down 
lest they fly away. 
I am flying today. 
I am not tired today. 
I am a motor. 
I am cramming in the sugar. 
I am running up the hallways. 
I am squeezing out the milk. 
I am dissecting the dictionary. 
I am God, la de dah. 
Peanut butter is the American food. 
We all eat it, being patriotic. 

Ms. Dog is out fighting the dollars, 
rolling in a field of bucks. 
You've got it made if you take the wafer, 
take some wine, 
take some bucks, 
the green papery song of the office. 
What a jello she could make with it, 
the fives, the tens, the twenties, 
all in a goo to feed the baby. 
Andrew Jackson as an hors d'oeuvre, 
la de dah. 
I wish I were the U.S. Mint, 
turning it all out, 
turtle green 
and monk black. 
Who's that at the podium 
in black and white, 
blurting into the mike? 
Ms. Dog. 
Is she spilling her guts? 
You bet. 
Otherwise they cough... 
The day is slipping away, why am I 
out here, what do they want? 
I am sorrowful in November... 
(no they don't want that, 
they want bee stings). 
Toot, toot, tootsy don't cry. 
Toot, toot, tootsy good-bye. 
If you don't get a letter then 
you'll know I'm in jail... 
Remember that, Skeezix, 
our first song? 

Who's thinking those things? 
Ms. Dog! She's out fighting the dollars. 
Milk is the American drink. 
Oh queens of sorrows, 
oh water lady, 
place me in your cup 
and pull over the clouds 
so no one can see. 
She don't want no dollars. 
She done want a mama. 
The white of the white. 

Anne says: 
This is the rainy season. 
I am sorrowful in November. 
The kettle is whistling. 
I must butter the toast. 
And give it jam too. 
My kitchen is a heart. 
I must feed it oxygen once in a while 
and mother the mother. 

* 

Say the woman is forty-four. 
Say she is five seven-and-a-half. 
Say her hair is stick color. 
Say her eyes are chameleon. 
Would you put her in a sack and bury her, 
suck her down into the dumb dirt? 
Some would. 
If not, time will. 
Ms. Dog, how much time you got left? 
Ms. Dog, when you gonna feel that cold nose? 
You better get straight with the Maker 
cuz it's coming, it's a coming! 
The cup of coffee is growing and growing 
and they're gonna stick your little doll's head 
into it and your lungs a gonna get paid 
and your clothes a gonna melt. 
Hear that, Ms. Dog! 
You of the songs, 
you of the classroom, 
you of the pocketa-pocketa, 
you hungry mother, 
you spleen baby! 
Them angels gonna be cut down like wheat. 
Them songs gonna be sliced with a razor. 
Them kitchens gonna get a boulder in the belly. 
Them phones gonna be torn out at the root. 
There's power in the Lord, baby, 
and he's gonna turn off the moon. 
He's gonna nail you up in a closet 
and there'll be no more Atlantic, 
no more dreams, no more seeds. 
One noon as you walk out to the mailbox 
He'll snatch you up -- 
a wopman beside the road like a red mitten. 

There's a sack over my head. 
I can't see. I'm blind. 
The sea collapses. 
The sun is a bone. 
Hi-ho the derry-o, 
we all fall down. 
If I were a fisherman I could comprehend. 
They fish right through the door 
and pull eyes from the fire. 
They rock upon the daybreak 
and amputate the waters. 
They are beating the sea, 
they are hurting it, 
delving down into the inscrutable salt. 

* 

When mother left the room 
and left me in the big black 
and sent away my kitty 
to be fried in the camps 
and took away my blanket 
to wash the me out of it 
I lay in the soiled cold and prayed. 
It was a little jail in which 
I was never slapped with kisses. 
I was the engine that couldn't. 
Cold wigs blew on the trees outside 
and car lights flew like roosters 
on the ceiling. 
Cradle, you are a grave place. 

Interrogator: 
What color is the devil? 

Anne: 
Black and blue. 

Interrogator: 
What goes up the chimney? 

Anne: 
Fat Lazarus in his red suit. 

Forgive us, Father, for we know not. 

Ms. Dog prefers to sunbathe nude. 
Let the indifferent sky look on. 
So what! 
Let Mrs. Sewal pull the curtain back, 
from her second story. 
So what! 
Let United Parcel Service see my parcel. 
La de dah. 
Sun, you hammer of yellow, 
you hat on fire, 
you honeysuckle mama, 
pour your blonde on me! 
Let me laugh for an entire hour 
at your supreme being, your Cadillac stuff, 
because I've come a long way 
from Brussels sprouts. 
I've come a long way to peel off my clothes 
and lay me down in the grass. 
Once only my palms showed. 
Once I hung around in my woolly tank suit, 
drying my hair in those little meatball curls. 
Now I am clothed in gold air with 
one dozen halos glistening on my skin. 
I am a fortunate lady. 
I've gotten out of my pouch 
and my teeth are glad 
and my heart, that witness, 
beats well at the thought. 

Oh body, be glad. 
You are good goods. 

* 

Middle-class lady, 
you make me smile. 
You dig a hole 
and come out with a sunburn. 
If someone hands you a glass of water 
you start constructing a sailboat. 
If someone hands you a candy wrapper, 
you take it to the book binder. 
Pocketa-pocketa. 

Once upon a time Ms. Dog was sixty-six. 
She had white hair and wrinkles deep as splinters. 
her portrait was nailed up like Christ 
and she said of it: 
That's when I was forty-two, 
down in Rockport with a hat on for the sun, 
and Barbara drew a line drawing. 
We were, at that moment, drinking vodka 
and ginger beer and there was a chill in the air, 
although it was July, and she gave me her sweater 
to bundle up in. The next summer Skeezix tied 
strings in that hat when we were fishing in Maine. 
(It had gone into the lake twice.) 
Of such moments is happiness made. 

Forgive us, Father, for we know not. 

Once upon a time we were all born, 
popped out like jelly rolls 
forgetting our fishdom, 
the pleasuring seas, 
the country of comfort, 
spanked into the oxygens of death, 
Good morning life, we say when we wake, 
hail mary coffee toast 
and we Americans take juice, 
a liquid sun going down. 
Good morning life. 
To wake up is to be born. 
To brush your teeth is to be alive. 
To make a bowel movement is also desireable. 
La de dah, 
it's all routine. 
Often there are wars 
yet the shops keep open 
and sausages are still fried. 
People rub someone. 
People copulate 
entering each other's blood, 
tying each other's tendons in knots, 
transplanting their lives into the bed. 
It doesn't matter if there are wars, 
the business of life continues 
unless you're the one that gets it. 
Mama, they say, as their intestines 
leak out. Even without wars 
life is dangerous. 
Boats spring leaks. 
Cigarettes explode. 
The snow could be radioactive. 
Cancer could ooze out of the radio. 
Who knows? 
Ms. Dog stands on the shore 
and the sea keeps rocking in 
and she wants to talk to God. 

Interrogator: 
Why talk to God? 

Anne: 
It's better than playing bridge. 

* 

Learning to talk is a complex business. 
My daughter's first word was utta, 
meaning button. 
Before there are words 
do you dream? 
In utero 
do you dream? 
Who taught you to suck? 
And how come? 
You don't need to be taught to cry. 
The soul presses a button. 
Is the cry saying something? 
Does it mean help? 
Or hello? 
The cry of a gull is beautiful 
and the cry of a crow is ugly 
but what I want to know 
is whether they mean the same thing. 
Somewhere a man sits with indigestion 
and he doesn't care. 
A woman is buying bracelets 
and earrings and she doesn't care. 
La de dah. 

Forgive us, Father, for we know not. 

There are stars and faces. 
There is ketchup and guitars. 
There is the hand of a small child 
when you're crossing the street. 
There is the old man's last words: 
More light! More light! 
Ms. Dog wouldn't give them her buttocks. 
She wouldn't moon at them. 
Just at the killers of the dream. 
The bus boys of the soul. 
Or at death 
who wants to make her a mummy. 
And you too! 
Wants to stuf her in a cold shoe 
and then amputate the foot. 
And you too! 
La de dah. 
What's the point of fighting the dollars 
when all you need is a warm bed? 
When the dog barks you let him in. 
All we need is someone to let us in. 
And one other thing: 
to consider the lilies in the field. 
Of course earth is a stranger, we pull at its 
arms and still it won't speak. 
The sea is worse. 
It comes in, falling to its knees 
but we can't translate the language. 
It is only known that they are here to worship, 
to worship the terror of the rain, 
the mud and all its people, 
the body itself, 
working like a city, 
the night and its slow blood 
the autumn sky, mary blue. 
but more than that, 
to worship the question itself, 
though the buildings burn 
and the big people topple over in a faint. 
Bring a flashlight, Ms. Dog, 
and look in every corner of the brain 
and ask and ask and ask 
until the kingdom, 
however queer,
will come.


Submitted by Dan Hayes

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Added: Feb 20 2003 | Viewed: 16030 times | Comments and analysis of Hurry Up Please It's Time by Anne Sexton Comments (37)

Hurry Up Please It's Time - Comments and Information

Poet: Anne Sexton
Poem: Hurry Up Please It's Time
Poem of the Day: Mar 19 2009

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Comment 35 of 37, added on May 12th, 2014 at 5:39 AM.
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