gershon hepner

Rookie - 10 Points (5 3 38 / leipzig)

All That Women Want - Poem by gershon hepner

Attention, conversation, passion, whimsy
are all that women want, and so do I,
although my negligée is hardly flimsy,
and I am, as perhaps you guessed, a guy.
It isn’t just a woman thing to want
attention, conversation before passion,
with lovers who of wisdom aren’t the font,
yet serve their purpose in their faulty fashion,
it’s something that gregarious guys consider
important when they try to entertain
in their apartment, penthouse or bed-sitter,
before the beast is backed, becoming twain.
So next time when you’re with me, pay attention,
show passion, whimsy when we both converse;
it really does help to relieve the tension -
don’t bother, though, if you have got the curse.

Janet Maslin reviews “Disobedience” by Jane Hamilton (Doubleday) in The New York Times, October 19,2000 (“Family’s In-House Haxker Gets an Eyeful”) . The book describes the way that the seventeen-year old Henry Shaw discovers that his mother is having a torrid e-mail romance:

The Shaws are a family of strong, eclectic interests, as witnessed by the choice of the younger child, Elvira, to attend a wedding dressed in a First Maine Artillery uniform complete with saber (she thinks of herself as Elviron at such times) or Beth's career as a pianist versed in folk traditions like English clog dancing. Until the point at which the story begins, Henry has perhaps allowed himself to think that these insular tastes are enough to bind them together. But when he discovers his mother's secret and realizes that at least part of what she yearns for is a life free from family domesticity, he falls into a well-described morass of anger and frustration. 'I was 17 and did not know very much, ' he explains, 'although I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I thought that if I'd been a pet, I would have barked and barked at my mistress's heels, trying to keep her from drinking the poisoned water, keeping her from danger. In those days my heart, I guess it was, sank more or less every day. I was no longer a boy, not yet a man, nowhere near as industrious as a dog. I had nothing in me then but useless sorrow.' That lovely, resonant passage captures Ms. Hamilton at her brooding best. And there is much writing of similar gravity and beauty here. But 'Disobedience' is also a miniaturist's story, gripped by inertia and tightly focused on the Shaws' particular forms of restlessness. Without the wonderfully quirky, single-minded details of Elvira's Civil War obsession ('Elvira made hardtack when it was her turn to provide the snack') , and without the convenient parallel of a first love for Henry just as his mother's heart goes astray, the book's central crisis seems thin and even treacly. 'Richard gives me exactly what I need, conversation and whimsy and passion and attention, ' Beth tells a friend, sounding an awful lot like a personals ad in a literary magazine.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 11, 2008

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