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Anne Sexton

(9 November 1928 – 4 October 1974 / Newton, Massachusetts)

The Ballad Of The Lonely Masturbator


The end of the affair is always death.
She's my workshop. Slippery eye,
out of the tribe of myself my breath
finds you gone. I horrify
those who stand by. I am fed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Finger to finger, now she's mine.
She's not too far. She's my encounter.
I beat her like a bell. I recline
in the bower where you used to mount her.
You borrowed me on the flowered spread.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Take for instance this night, my love,
that every single couple puts together
with a joint overturning, beneath, above,
the abundant two on sponge and feather,
kneeling and pushing, head to head.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
I break out of my body this way,
an annoying miracle. Could I
put the dream market on display?
I am spread out. I crucify.
My little plum is what you said.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Then my black-eyed rival came.
The lady of water, rising on the beach,
a piano at her fingertips, shame
on her lips and a flute's speech.
And I was the knock-kneed broom instead.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
She took you the way a women takes
a bargain dress off the rack
and I broke the way a stone breaks.
I give back your books and fishing tack.
Today's paper says that you are wed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
The boys and girls are one tonight.
They unbutton blouses. They unzip flies.
They take off shoes. They turn off the light.
The glimmering creatures are full of lies.
They are eating each other. They are overfed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.

Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010

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  • Rookie A.J. Chilson (11/9/2011 3:35:00 PM)

    This poem appeared in Anne Sexton's book Love Poems (1969) . I ordered a copy of it years ago at, get this, a Christian bookstore. The Cup Filler, in McKinney, Texas (in case you're curious) . And, ironically, they had one in stock.

    But never mind the story behind how I got the book, though. The Ballad Of The Lonely Masturbator is definitely my favorite Anne Sexton poem. I totally relate to the subject matter and how she speaks, even though I happen of the other gender.

    It's a shame there aren't too many good authors around today that can write the kind of stuff Anne Sexton wrote. She certaainly was one of a kind. Her kind, that is! (Report) Reply

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