Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Night Had Begun with Barbie Getting Angry at Finding Ken's Blow Up Doll, Folded and Stuffed Under the Couch


Denise Duhamel

They decide to exchange heads.
Barbie squeezes the small opening under her chin
over Ken's bulging neck socket. His wide jaw line jostles
atop his girlfriend's body, loosely,
like one of those novelty dogs
destined to gaze from the back windows of cars.
The two dolls chase each other around the orange Country Camper
 unsure what they'll do when they're within touching distance.
Ken wants to feel Barbie's toes between his lips,
take off one of her legs and force his whole arm inside her.
With only the vaguest suggestion of genitals,
all the alluring qualities they possess as fashion dolls,
up until now, have done neither of them much good.
But suddenly Barbie is excited looking at her own body
under the weight of Ken's face. He is part circus freak,
part thwarted hermaphrodite. And she is
imagining she is somebody else—maybe somebody middle class and ordinary,
maybe another teenage model being caught in a scandal.

The night had begun with Barbie getting angry
at finding Ken's blow up doll, folded and stuffed
under the couch. He was defensive and ashamed, especially about
not having the breath to inflate her. But after a round
of pretend-tears, Barbie and Ken vowed to try
to make their relationship work. With their good memories
as sustaining as good food, they listened to late-night radio
talk shows, one featuring Doctor Ruth. When all else fails,
just hold each other, the small sex therapist crooned.
Barbie and Ken, on cue, groped in the dark,
their interchangeable skin glowing, the color of Band-Aids.
Then, they let themselves go— Soon Barbie was begging Ken
to try on her spandex miniskirt. She showed him how
to pivot as though he was on a runway. Ken begged
to tie Barbie onto his yellow surfboard and spin her
on the kitchen table until she grew dizzy. Anything,
, they both said to the other's requests,
their mirrored desires bubbling from the most unlikely places.

I found that gif yesterday on Ken's playlist when he played that Roxy Music song and it made me immediately think of the Duhamel poem and shazam! a shitty blog gag in which I nonetheless insist fine metaphors abound. I bullied Ken. Eradicator. Christ, does Bruce look like Elric. Liberal drone hypocrisy. Schema. Ten years later. This is not an argument. A very practical post. Is this fucking AfghanistanDorner, shootings, socialism. What really happened to Dorner? Boatload of links. BrandingMy future hell. On the stovetop of sleep: I used to think that it was a bad thing to mention dreams in fiction. I’d read an essay by John Leonard, I believe it was, in The New York Times Book Review sometime in the late Seventies, in which he said that dreams in novels were a mistake. But I rejected that notion ages ago. Dreams are part of the truth of life and the job of a book is to feel its way forward through a character’s days and nights. In the book I just finished writing, I included a dream in which my narrator finds an old bicycle horn on a set of subway stairs somewhere near Columbia. Why not? It’s a dream I actually had a few years ago. I've always thought, oh fuck, not another fucking dream when encountering one in a novel. Work on your novel in Bamgier this summerConcrescence of linguistic intentionalityBaudrillard (or not), for those of you who do. Silliman's always generous litlinks. True death-temper. Wildcatters and strip mines, spoil piles. Of course I thought of this song:


  1. Me and a couple friends of mine from high school invented a character named "Lemon Chill" who was a female bodybuilder that looked like a Ken doll with a Barbie head. I was totally reminded of that with that poem.

    Also, I had an ex who loved Aqua without any irony whatsoever. I think that in part was why we didn't last very long.

  2. Wisdaughter (who's unfuckingbelievably graduating from Omery this semester!) had the Aqua CD when she was a kid. Played it over and over and over. Frankly, the damn thing grew on me. Well-done pop.

    In fiction, IMHO, dreams can work or not work in any given piece. No general rule. They should provide, e.g., color, context, character, perhaps insight, perhaps prophecy, perhaps synthesis of things that don't seem otherwise to mesh. That sort of thing.

    As a general rule, general rules aren't necessarily helpful when dealing with art.

    Frankly, that the writer actually had the dream is weak tea. The dream should serve the fiction. Full stop. Unless the writer's character is specifically at issue in the referenced work, then the dream would seem irresponsible and irrelevant. Probably doesn't work. Then, again, it might.

    Then there's the dream that was an entire season of the TV show Dallas. Lame.

    Jim H.