12 February 2015



"Miss Huberman is first, last, and always not a lady.
She may be risking her life, but when it comes to
being a lady, she doesn't hold a candle to your
wife, sitting in Washington, playing bridge with
three other ladies of great honor and virtue."

We sensed it was dangerous to get in
to bed together; we kept our clothes on.
But power rose anyway—his first—so
it was plain to all I belonged to him.

I was of tyranny’s camp, carried its
smell so not to be trusted.  How long till
skunk scent wears off?  How long must
I drink in the poison to be useful?

Can you smell innocence and passion as
well as evil?  Can you smell the perfume
of sacrifice despite the bed clothes and
dirty sheets I have wrapped around myself?

Deep in the enemy’s stronghold, I am
seduced by seduction and moves more cat-
like than rodent, more slick and musical
than duets require, stripe hidden inside. 

I will die in service to my country;
if no one comes to my rescue, I die.
Married to him, I die.  Drinking my tea
with spoons of arsenic sugar, I die.

Hear me through my silence and inaction;
Hear me through my absence, your detection.
Hear me through his skunk spray and distraction.
Though notorious, I will wait for you.

Inspired by Grace's Sunday's Mini-challenge: Carilda Olivar Labra at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, though not a role that the great poet would play.  Posted at Poets United Poetry Pantry #239.

Copyright © 2015 S.L.Chast


kaykuala said...

How lovely! A love so true with little ups and downs thrown in! Great lines Susan!


Sherry Blue Sky said...

Wow, this is a strong write! Great work, Susan. I can see her, huddled in the sheets, yet strong as can be. The "I will die" stanza is especially powerful. Great response to the prompt.

Outlawyer said...

That is such a great movie and very impassioned poem. Thanks. K. Manicddaily

Gabriella said...

Very powerful lines, Susan! I like how you mixed the quote, the story behind the photo and your own words. Your poem definitely conveys sensuality, passion and exclusiveness.

Mary said...

Sometimes there is an element of danger in relationships. There are risks involved....and sometimes the answers aren't easy when it comes to seduction.

Brian Miller said...

heh, get into bed with a skunk and you are sure to smell for a bit...even if you are doing it for the cause...it is a dangerous game we play...i am not sure that i have seen this hitchcock film....we used to watch them at my gramma's house on sunday afternoons....

brudberg said...

Oh I wish I had seen the movie when you write your lines.. Moving more catlike than rodent especially caught my attention.

Sumana Roy said...

Life of (s)py is hard, very hard....so well written Susan...

Poppy said...

Powerful, passionate, and intense. The last stanza is especially gripping, to emphasize and complete the ones before it.

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.


Old Egg said...

Power corrupts even those who just sleep in their beds or whatever. What a brilliant response to the prompt.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...


Jae Rose said...

What a battle love can be...those dirty sheets seemed to epitomise the self betrayal she felt..and resonated on many levels

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Very powerful. An intriguing read.

Kerry O'Connor said...

You have presented your theme in a very strong narrative voice, Susan. There are many nuances of cause and effect between lovers.

Scarlet said...

Is she sleeping with the enemy? I feel her torn devotions, all seeming to lead to her death ~

That last stanza is full of energy and contrast (Like innocence and passion) ~

A different slant to Carilda's poem, I love it Susan ~ Thanks for participating ~


Magaly Guerrero said...


This stanza reads like a poem all by itself:
" Can you smell innocence and passion as
well as evil? Can you smell the perfume
of sacrifice despite the bed clothes and
dirty sheets I have wrapped around myself?"

So much need to be understood, to seen truthfully even when camouflaged under lies. Yes, "innocence, passion" and honor can be sensed... by those who care to want to see. ♥

Dr. Pearl Ketover Prilik (PKP) said...

haha - great response

Dr. Pearl Ketover Prilik (PKP) said...

This is a definite -"WOW!" piece Hitch - waxes poetic !

humbird said...

Oh, thanks for letting me in...or under the cover of 'Though notorious, I will wait for you.' :)

ZQ said...

Not much to add here... in agreement with all that has been said about this piece :-)

Loredana Donovan said...

Oh, I love Hitchcock movies. I did see Notorious and you captured the element of danger and betrayal in your poem. Strong imagery! :)

SuyashJ said...

such an intriguing read

Unknown said...

Great job. Now I want to curl up & watch thrillers

Truedessa said...

One must move cat-like within enemy arms..good thing cats have nine lives..interesting poem!

Unknown said...

Notorious, indeed! You make those thrillers and forbidden romances seem entertaining and exciting (at least from this side of the screen!)

Laura said...

I feel wrapped up in each line of this poetic tale.

Myrna R. said...

This poem has the strength that so many women have had. No ladies allowed, in this type of passion. It makes me think of war, but not only the wars between countries, but the wars and sacrifices many women make daily to protect themselves and their families. Superb poem Susan.

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

arsenic sugar--I can see her lying there as strong as can be--Really a strong write Susan!

kelvin s.m. said...

The movie you referenced here was def quite old for me to know about but it'd be nice to watch it today, i guess. However, for some reasons her character reminded me a bit of Angelina Jolie in a film with Antonio Banderas, Original Sin. My fave part in this piece would be:

"I will die in service to my country; / if no one comes to my rescue, I die. / Married to him, I die.  Drinking my tea / with spoons of arsenic sugar, I die."

This particular stanza speaks of conviction & courage allowing us to feel some sense of duty & love. Great write, Susan!

- ksm

Unknown said...

"Can you smell the perfume
of sacrifice despite the bed clothes and
dirty sheets I have wrapped around myself?"

Very powerful writing here, Susan, absolutely loved it....

Torie said...

Folks have left you an abundance of wonderful comments and I heartily agree! Not much to be said that you haven't already read :) I was reeled in at the sight of Cary Grant and then hooked on your powerful words! Great writing, Susan!!

Gen Giggles said...

Yes, we don't often get to tell the truth and simply smell by assumed association.

Drew Doyle Storm Snyder Minow said...

being honest is cool.