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Happy Fucking Valentine’s Day

It’s a tradition of mine to read a little – okay, a lot – of Dorothy Parker on Valentine’s Day. It grounds me, and reminds me of all those Valentine’s Days spent without a Goddamn Valentine – but in a healthy, independent, if slightly-bitter, way. And even though I’ve had a Valentine for the last dozen years, I still read a bit of Ms. Parker on this Hallmark holiday because it never hurts to be reminded from whence we came. Besides, this one goes out to all my single friends, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being single. Nobody knew that better than Ms. Parker, in her own way.

A Portrait

Because my love is quick to come and go-
A little here, and then a little there-
What use are any words of mine to swear
My heart is stubborn, and my spirit slow
Of weathering the drip and drive of woe?
What is my oath, when you have but to bare
My little, easy loves; and I can dare
Only to shrug, and answer, “They are so”?

You do not know how heavy a heart it is
That hangs about my neck- a clumsy stone
Cut with a birth, a death, a bridal-day.
Each time I love, I find it still my own,
Who take it, now to that lad, now to this,
Seeking to give the wretched thing away.

~ Dorothy Parker

Ballade at Thirty-five

This, no song of an ingénue,
This, no ballad of innocence;
This, the rhyme of a lady who
Followed ever her natural bents.
This, a solo of sapience,
This, a chantey of sophistry,
This, the sum of experiments, —
I loved them until they loved me.

Decked in garments of sable hue,
Daubed with ashes of myriad Lents,
Wearing shower bouquets of rue,
Walk I ever in penitence.
Oft I roam, as my heart repents,
Through God’s acre of memory,
Marking stones, in my reverence,
“I loved them until they loved me.”

Pictures pass me in long review,–
Marching columns of dead events.
I was tender, and, often, true;
Ever a prey to coincidence.
Always knew I the consequence;
Always saw what the end would be.
We’re as Nature has made us — hence
I loved them until they loved me.

~ Dorothy Parker

 

Chant For Dark Hours

Some men, some men
Cannot pass a
Book shop.
(Lady, make your mind up, and wait your life away.)

Some men, some men
Cannot pass a
Crap game.
(He said he’d come at moonrise, and here’s another day!)

Some men, some men
Cannot pass a
Bar-room.
(Wait about, and hang about, and that’s the way it goes.)

Some men, some men
Cannot pass a
Woman.
(Heaven never send me another one of those!)

Some men, some men
Cannot pass a
Golf course.
(Read a book, and sew a seam, and slumber if you can.)

Some men, some men
Cannot pass a
Haberdasher’s.
(All your life you wait around for some damn man!)

~ Dorothy Parker

 

Distance

Were you to cross the world, my dear,
To work or love or fight,
I could be calm and wistful here,
And close my eyes at night.

It were a sweet and gallant pain
To be a sea apart;
But, oh, to have you down the lane
Is bitter to my heart.

~ Dorothy Parker

 

Inscription for the Ceiling of a Bedroom

Daily dawns another day;
I must up, to make my way.
Though I dress and drink and eat,
Move my fingers and my feet,
Learn a little, here and there,
Weep and laugh and sweat and swear,
Hear a song, or watch a stage,
Leave some words upon a page,
Claim a foe, or hail a friend-
Bed awaits me at the end.

Though I go in pride and strength,
I’ll come back to bed at length.
Though I walk in blinded woe,
Back to bed I’m bound to go.
High my heart, or bowed my head,
All my days but lead to bed.
Up, and out, and on; and then
Ever back to bed again,
Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall-
I’m a fool to rise at all!

~ Dorothy Parker

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