Anne Sexton

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

The Stand-Ins - Poem by Anne Sexton

In the dream
the swastika is neon
and flashes like a strobe light
into my eyes, all colors,
all vibrations
and I see the killer in him
and he turns on an oven,
an oven, an oven, an oven,
and on a pie plate he sticks
in my Yellow Star
and then
then when it is ready for serving—
this dream goes off into the wings
and on stage The Cross appears,
with Jesus sticking to it
and He is breathing
and breathing
and He is breathing
and breathing
and then He speaks,
a kind of whisper,
and says . . .
This is the start.
This is the end.
This is a light.
This is a start.
I woke.
I did not know the hour,
an hour of night like thick scum
but I considered the dreams,
the two: Swastika, Crucifix,
and said: Oh well,
it doesn't belong to me,
if a cigar can be a cigar
then a dream can be a dream.
And went back to sleep
and another start.

Comments about The Stand-Ins by Anne Sexton

  • Gold Star - 5,614 Points John Richter (5/5/2015 7:01:00 AM)

    You know what? OMG, how powerful Anne was with her words.... How compassionate this lovely soul was.... And such a pioneer in modern poetry movement. When I think of modern poetry, or another style Anne helped to develop called confessional, I think of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath..... Two very unique and talented individuals and yet so very different from one another... Both killed themselves eventually.... Why are we artists so incredibly emotional? I read other attempts by 'modernistic' poets and wonder what are they doing? There's so much gibberish in their work and the kicker is that it receives accolades from all over.... That is a conundrum I will never understand. To me it's like the partially deaf child who pronounces certain syllables incorrectly because that is how he hears them and therefore thinks that is how they are supposed to sound. These poets in today's modern movement - I believe - are not comprehending what these powerful and masterful pilgrims of the craft are writing about. I think to them it is gibberish, but people seem to like it for some reason, so they write gibberish. And I will go to my grave completely flabbergasted that other people actually like it! Anne is talking about Nazi murderers here, putting Jews in ovens, killing them. The yellow star is referring to an insignia all Jews were forced to wear to differentiate them. The cigar is Freudian, who even in his great wisdom can not explain this 'dream' she is having.... Freudian psychology and Jung's dream interpretation were huge things in the 50s.... Which was just a few years after the atrocities in Europe..... Young poets, every line in this poem makes sense if you are familiar with the poets timeline. If you want to study poetry please start there, first by understanding the life of the poet himself.... It is not gibberish just because it is outside the realm of your direct knowledge... Make it part of your knowledge..... Become the life of that poet. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010

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