Scene4 Magazine — International Magazine of Arts and Media
Scene4 Magazine-inSight

september 2007

Scene4 Magazine-The Steiny Road  To Operadom
with Karren Alenier

While the Steiny Road Poet has gone to New Hampshire to work on a second opera libretto, she offers her dedicated readers this poem in the voice of fiction writer and composer Paul Bowles. Bowles had a good ear for poetry and helped the Steiny Road Poet with her poems about Gertrude Stein.  The SRP recommends reading Next to Nothing the poems of Paul Bowles. She thinks his poems are quite powerful.




If I tell you

Gertrude Stein wrote to my mother

to say Rena's son Freddy — that's what the great

Buddha called me — was a self-indulgent savage

who augured the end of civilization

and Mother cheerfully sent "poor old

Sophie and Alice B. Luckless"

family recipes...

If I tell you

the Mama of Dada dressed me

in lederhosen so her great white

poodle Basket, wet from his daily

sulphur bath — the French countryside

vermin otherwise crawling into the dog's

curls to suck his skin red — could chase

me and scrape his sharp long nails

into my bare legs while his master

shouted from the second story

window, "Faster, Freddy, faster..."

If I tell you

Transition — a Paris magazine

that published Ezra Pound — printed

"Spire Song" by Paul Frederick Bowles…

I was only sixteen. When I was twenty,

the iconic Miss Stein said, "Freddy,

you don't write great poetry." I believed

her and left the City of Light

for the filth of Tangier.

If I tell you I traded the truth

of poetry for the invention

of prose. If I tell you I lived

loving a wife who filled

my dry pen while hers

spurted blood

like a shotgun wound.

If I tell you my stories,

greater than the lives

of people I knew…

if I tell you my stories,

how many times

would you say I lied?


First published on Ars Poetica at


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About This Article

©2007 Karren LaLonde Alenier
©2007 Publication Scene4 Magazine


Scene4 Magazine — Karren Alenier
Karren LaLonde Alenier is the author of five collections of poetry and, recently, The Steiny Road to Operadom: The Making of American Operas

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september 2007

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