Anne Babson

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Sestina with Commercial Breaks


That surreal episode of Rosie O’Donnell’s show
Where Barbra Streisand comes on, and Rosie weeps,
I just played it again, and I cried, too. Her mother died
Of cancer when Rosie was a kid, and mom loved Barbra,
So Rosie having her there, it was like her resurrection
On the sound stage in front of a live studio audience.

How many dogs have you dunked today?
How many dogs have you dunked today?
How many dogs have you dunked today?
Try dog Duncan Doggie Hair Spray!

I think all her sobbing must have made the audience
Sob, too. I mean, Rosie was the star of a syndicated show,
A star in her own right, and this episode resurrected
By late night television, filled with hard grief-weeping
And joy-tears, all over fifty-something year-old Barbra,
Who didn’t even sing to remember her fan who died,

My ham sandwich has a name; it’s Fame!
Try a ham sandwich that plays the name game.
My ham sandwich has a name; it’s Fame!
It’s not who you know. It’s who you eat.
Eat the best cuts. Eat Fame, the other white meat!

(She just let Rosie open a bottle of wine to toast the dead
Woman), who just sat there, a member of the audience
Herself to Rosie’s profound emotion, howling “Barbra!”
Between other less intelligible things -- you could tell the show
Of extreme feeling was just too much for her. I mean, who weeps
Like that in the television industry, who whispers resurrection,

At Mutual Fidelity of Long Island, we put your business first.
Where other banks offer monkey business,
We offer low interest rates, no-load funds, no-holds-barred,
So don’t monkey around. Don’t be a monkey’s uncle.
Mutual Fidelity of Long Island -- your business -- not monkey business!

Much less shouts it with, “Little girls, dreams do get resurrected,”
Who does that? The show was like Rosie’s breakthrough on dead
Sigmund Freud’s couch. It was reality television. Call it “Weep
Factor,” with actors who cry real tears all over the audience,
Like encounter theater in the round, only it’s a stupid TV show
Jumping out of the black-walled box and wailing “Barbra!”

Only a perfume this timeless...
Rappelle-toi Barbra, il pleuvait sans cesse sur Brest...
...could turn an ordinary woman into a dragonness!
...Rappelle-toi, Barbra, toi que je conaissais pas, toi
qui ne me conaissais pas, rappelle-toi, rappelle-toi...
...Dragonesse --from Parfums La Gonzesse.

Leaping out in the middle of your Monday coffee with “Barbra!”
And, “Hey, you! Shake yourself awake! The resurrection
Of Lazarus, it wasn’t a David Copperfield trick! This shows
How the early morning zombies like you wake from the dead
Even if you stink from days of decay, you brainless audience
Of the Nielsen or Manson families! We command you, Weep!

Mommy, my hair is all knotty!
Don’t fret, honey, we’ll fix that with
Tearless Detangler from Abraxus!
Mommy, mommy! My hair is pretty now!
That’s right sweetheart. With Tearless Detangler from Abraxus,
You’re not a knotty girl any more!
Ha ha ha hah ahhahahahahahahahahahahahahah!

“For your long detachment in front of this box, weep!
Because you don’t know your neighbor’s first name, Barbra,
Weep! Because you’re a product-hungry target audience,
Weep! Because you’ve never known the resurrection
Power, weep! Sit shiva for your stinky, moldering dead
Commercial-free selves. This is your life! It is not a show,

Not a test of the emergency broadcast system! Weep, audience,
You Bobs and Barbras, for the living death of season sweep shows,
Kneel before a switched off box and pray for resurrection!



Anne Babson's poetry appears in four chapbooks: Counterterrorist Poems, Dictation, Uppity Poems and Commute Poems. She won the 2000 Working People's Poetry Prize, and her verse has appeared in such journals as The Atlanta Review, The Grasslands Review, California Quarterly, Plainsongs, Taproot Literary Review, and The Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, which nominated her for the 2001 Pushcart Prize. Her poetry has been featured on both regional and national radio programs. She sits on the board of Women's Studio Center and on the Literary Committee of the National Arts Club, and she runs a poetry reading series called the Holy Trinity Poetry Forum.