back toJacket2

Jacket 16 — March 2002   |   # 16  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |    

Overland magazine feature

Noelle Kocot

Sestina for Lizzette

I’ve always wanted to write a poem about San Francisco,
But I was only there once, and on my honeymoon
No less, and to tell the truth, it sucked.
No, not because I had supposedly just sold my soul
For heterosexual privilege (which, ironically
Enough, I’d had much more of with you, what with your decent parents,

Unlike someone else’s parents
Who I am forbidden by law to mention in a poem). San Francisco
Just felt bad to me, even with City Lights and all, Michel Foucault ironic
In his kimono, peering from the mirrored cover of his recent honeymoon
With that foppish, prurient, straight-as-an-arrow soul
Of an American professor. The year was 1992, and I was a sucker

For anything purple. Even my wedding dress was as purple as a well-sucked
Patch of neck a teenager tries to hide from the parents
With a bandanna or a flimsy scarf. In my soul
I knew I was still holding onto our flaccid dream of San Francisco,
Of being honeymoonless
Lesbians together, you the Southern and sinewy and sweetly unironic

Muse of my desires, and I the ironical
Expatriate Jew lovingly sucking
The rest of the poison from the macabre remains of the honeymoon
Of signifier and signified. And both sets of parents
Wholeheartedly approved. But in all the San Franciscoes
We could conjure in our souls,

Always there was the debris left perhaps by the quake of chiding souls
In the intermediate world, or by some ironic
Sandman reminding us that we were still asleep. San Francisco
Fantasy aside, you have to admit we sucked
As a couple, and weren’t able to get anywhere near the havoc our parents
Had unintentionally and intentionally wreaked. The honeymoon

Was over for us long before it began. Yet it was this honeymoon
That kept and still may keep my sad and blue-eyed soul
Alive, ‘a simple garden with acres of sky’, and the dream of being parents
Together, you and I, which ironically
Will never happen for me now, as it will take a lifetime to suckle
All the drowned and murdered infants who live in him and me, still
    cradled by a hell worse than my worst projections of San Francisco.

I don’t understand it when parents say ironic
Things about their children. It seems an extended honeymoon of souls
Sucked through an oblivion of bad land. Good-bye Mom, Dad.
   Good-bye San Francisco.

Noelle Kocot was born, raised and still lives in Brooklyn, New York. She has a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. from the University of Florida. In 1999 she won the Levis Poetry Prize for her poetry collection 4. This poem is reprinted from 4 with permission of Four Way Books, New York, 2002.

— The ‘American professor’ at the end of stanza two is James Miller, who wrote the biography The Passion of Michel Foucault.
— The quote ‘a simple garden with acres of sky’ is from Cat Stevens’ song Into White

Jacket 16 — March 2002  Contents page
Select other issues of the magazine from the | Jacket catalog | read about Jacket |
Other links: | top | homepage | bookstores | literary links | internet design |
Copyright Notice: Please respect the fact that this material is copyright. It is made available here without charge for personal use only. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, or used for any other purpose

This material is copyright © Noelle Kocot and Jacket magazine 2002
The URL address of this page is