by Arielle Greenberg
Jaw-droppingly, like nothing since, this film understands, early 70s,
this thing that will be called, in the years to come,
by women sitting in consciousness raising circles and women’s studies classrooms,
and all the dimly-lit wide shots and medium shots capture it—
how heterosexual intercourse is sport,
with sides and versus and tallying,
and a man can win, or—
how thwarting the dream of big tits and perfect understanding—
a girl you can talk to and also feel up—
built, but not a tramp, you know—
or how Jonathan looks at every inch of the person opposite
as if she or he may be his next meal—
or how Sandy chews his cud—
or how girls who are overly bright are nonetheless graded in make-out math:
Susan, sharp as a hair comb in no one’s back pocket and laughing so hard
Bobbie, a black velvet painting who wants to make her own meaning—
Jennifer mutely crying and crying on the white sofa—
How can it be fun for you if I don’t want it?
(the film, in murky collegiate browns, attesting that even if it’s a white boy from a good college, a lawyer on a clay court, a hippie in a fur vest, this is still rape.)
The boys stand in the wind in belted trenches—
call each other bullshit artists with tight smiles—
because it’s possible that one or more men will lose—
You can’t make fucking your life’s work.
Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do.
And anyway, the winner wins zilch, becomes a prick in loafers,
with a groovy shag rug pad and a silver swing-over lamp,
lone with his bad vibrations—
can’t get it up without feeding lines to the worker—
a lie about his member(ship) she’s paid to utter as
a talisman against the ballbusters—
a spell about power so he can watch himself try to get hard—
You’re gonna be left holding those heavy-hearted Saratoga hand melons yourselves, boys, the film says.
No one is coming to be your love teacher.
No one is coming to teach you anything.
Arielle Greenberg is the Resident Poet at Bright Wall/Dark Room. She is the co-author of Home/Birth: A Poemic; author of My Kafka Century and Given; and co-editor of three anthologies, including Gurlesque. She lives in Maine and teaches in the community and in Oregon State University-Cascades' MFA; she is currently teaching a course in American cinema to insightful students at the Maine State Prison enrolled through the University of College at Rockland (hi, guys!). Arielle writes a regular column on contemporary poetics for the American Poetry Review.