The Man is a Teapot

poetry carsFor those who favor such categorizations, Marge Piercy’s poetry can easily fall under the label “Feminist Poetry.” As such, her poetry wouldn’t be an obvious first choice to bring along during the famous Carmel Car Week in August. For some reason, though, her book “The Twelve Spoke Wheel Flashing” ended up in my carry on, and I read her poems while accompanying my husband during the car shows.  I will share a few of the pictures I took of the poems, framed by classic automobiles,  starting this week.

The poem pictured to the right is an excellent example of Piercy at her best, when she is clear, thorough and cutting. Below is the full text of the dystopian piece.

The Meaningful Exchange

The man talks
the woman listens

The man is a teapot
with a dark green brew
of troubles.
He pours into the woman.
She carries his sorrows away
sloshing in her belly.

The man swings off lighter.
Sympathy quickens him.
He watches women pass.
He whistles.

The woman lumbers away.
Inside his troubles are
snaking up through her throat.
Her body curls delicately
about them, worrying, nudging
them into some new meaningful shape
squatting now at the centre of her life.

How much lighter I feel,
the man says, ready
for business.
How heavy I feel, the woman
says: this must be love.

– Ana Maria Caballero, Zeteo Contributing Writer


  1. Daniel D'Arezzo

    By contemporary standards, this poem is well crafted. One might particularly admire the use of a transitive verb (pour into) intransitively. There are other neat verbs: sloshing, swings off, quickens, snaking up, curls about. The poem is, certainly, clear; but that’s the problem, because the poem expresses obnoxious gender stereotypes: men are bums, women are idiots. Sure, the stereotyping is pretty evenhanded, but it’s hard to miss that men are the victimizers and women the victims. Perhaps the poem should be welcomed as an alternative to the stereotype of the silent man, the one who won’t share his troubles; but I just don’t think stereotypes are helpful, in poetry or prose. What about the stereotype of the woman who pours her black brew of “damsel in distress” into the ears of gullible men? Do we need that? Maybe the poem wouldn’t be so irksome if it were phrased as “a certain kind of man” and “a certain kind of woman” are bums and idiots. Perhaps we are supposed to understand the poem in those terms. But, even so, such men and women would be unrecognizable to me, unless they were 14 years old. I do want clarity in poems and muscular writing (strong metaphors and active verbs) and I do want satire, so I feel a little regretful in carping about this poem’s subject matter. I shall be interested to see how Piercy deals with other subjects.


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