Diagramming the Plot

“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof,
shit detector.”  ― Ernest Hemingway

I should have seen it coming before
you ever said it. I studied foreshadowing
in school. Taught it to my students.
All the clues were there. So obvious
now. I missed the denouement.  All conclusion.

Ordinary Time

We have been living in ordinary time.
Not green days between Easter and Advent,
but gray days without color or romance.
I count the days, pray for intimacy,
want to rewind time to our spring.

Photo by Dimitry Anikin on Pexels.com

Ordinary Time (Latin: Tempus per annum) is the part of the liturgical year in the liturgy of the Roman Rite between Christmastide and Lent, and between Eastertide and Advent. The liturgical color assigned to Ordinary Time is green. The last Sunday of Ordinary Time is the Solemnity of Christ the King. The “ordinary” cames from “ordinal” for the numerals that mark these weeks of the seasons of Christmastide and Eastertide starting with the 1st week of Ordinary Time in January to the 34th week that begins toward the end of November.

This Garden of Earthly Delights

Hieronymus Bosch 037.jpg
Detail from Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, Link

The garden of earthly delights is vast.
I can’t take it all in immediately.
No one can. And so many delights
seem like horrors. Is that like Life?

Is one’s delight just another person’s horror? 

The manacled blue flutist and the devil
sitting on his night chair eating someone,
rightfully frightened me as a child and
that hasn’t changed. Is this Earth or
Hell? I do not want either place.


The Garden of Earthly Delights is the modern title given to a triptych oil painting on oak panel painted by the Early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch, between 1490 and 1510. It is kept at the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

The painting is an inspiration for this poem, but what really triggered it was seeing a group of figures from the painting made 3D into small sculptures.

The painting must be viewed at a much larger size than shown here to be appreciated, but in the detail at the top of this post, you can see a group of nude females from the center panel.  The head of one female is adorned with two cherries—a symbol of pride. To her right, a male drinks lustfully from an organic vessel. Behind the group, a male carries a couple encased in a mussel shell.

Little is known of Bosch’s life or intentions. The symbolism is intricate. There have been many scholarly interpretations over the centuries. Modern interpretations still wonder if (particularly the triptych’s central panel) is meant to be a moral warning or a panorama of a paradise lost. Is this an admonition of worldly fleshy indulgence? Is it a warning on the perils of life’s temptations? Is it an evocation of ultimate sexual joy?

Joy is the furthest from what I feel looking at the painting. Earthly is also far from what I see. As a young person, I thought it depicted some kind of Hell.

The_Garden_of_earthly_delightsclick this link to see a larger version of the painting

On Sylvia’s 30th Birthday

October 27, 1962, she writes about “Ariel.”
An airy spirit from Shakespeare’s The Tempest
and the horse she would sometimes ride.
All captured, trapped, until “Then to the
elements, be free, and fare thou well.’


Prospero commanding Ariel by John White Abbott (1763–1851)

The following February after writing the poem – on February 11, 1963 – Sylvia would commit suicide. The poem was published after her death.

You can read Plath’s poems at poetryfoundation.org and see her original handwritten copy and learn more about the poem at uk/20th-century-literature