“you it’s all ways you it will all ways be you it is you it’s all for you it’s all ways you it will all ways be you it’s all i do it’s all ways you all the little things it’s all the scary things i do are for you like you you you and I never tell you it’s actually pretty creepy god and maybe you like maybe you and maybe already know and maybe that’s why you keep me around but what do any of us do is this the way the only thing I do I guess it’s what I do like you you you” – Alexandra Naughton, from My Posey Taste Like
The first thing that comes to mind when reading the above poem by Alexandra Naughton ‘you it’s all ways you…‘ is how relationships are like awkward power trips and once you get on one side of the balance that person always remains either recessive or dominant. There is something about them that makes us admire them, they demonstrate mastery of our weaknesses or where our mastery is reflected by the greater content of life as insignificant.
As a poet, I often feel inferior. Everything about life seems to shake its head at me; what a sorrowful indulgence poetry is. But, then I think as with Naughton’s poetry, I can relate to it. It means just about everything in this time and place. It colors life with meaning and intensity. Poetry, literature, art makes life worthwhile. Without it, there would only be the breeze, the leaves, the stillness of architecture, and the movement of shapes. There would be no inward response, no shared understanding, just shadows and shapes, the dance of light and dark outside of the cave.
I’ve been in relationships like Naughton describes. In this poem, even now, I know this person, who I will probably never see again. There is no point. I feel so far from grace, that I can never be saved in her eyes. I don’t think we can ever meet even as passing ships because we travel in different waterways. She is exactly aligned with the every day, and I am enshadowed by the curse of trying to bring beauty and truth. Even at this I am weak, immature. She would walk into a room and command it. She was the perfect external manifestation of my beauty and truth, my hidden meaning. Thus, “it’s always you… it’s actually pretty creepy… and maybe [she] already [knows this] And why [she] kept me around…” But, to keep someone around only lasts as long as you can figure out what it is about yourself that the other person finds fascinating and then their use is gone. They no longer have anything to offer; in effect, we don’t need them, whereas in the case of the dominant paradigm it keeps reminding us of our weakness until we address the issue. Some of us can never change. Eventually, it drives us crazy. The spirit gives up. We can’t sit on our laurels. We have to confront our fears, become stronger.
I also want to address Naughton’s use of lower case, the words “all ways,” as well as “you you you,” or the phrase: “like do you.” I also note that the running together without punctuation can create different meaning or emphasis.
Lower case exudes a lack of confidence, a wanting to remain under the radar. The lack of punctuation implies a lack of commitment but also of the poet to imply any number of statements.
“All ways” refers to all the ways that this person is the focus of her attention. “All” of it is for him/her. “All ways” by definition refers to “by all routes,” thus, as with the first statement: “you it’s all ways you,” it means that “you it is by all routes you.” There is a centrifugal or central focus, where the protagonist from any direction moves toward her beau. “it’s all ways you,” means “it is by all routes you.” This is versus “always,” which means “at all times; all the time and on every occasion.” So, there is a qualification where it is not all the time(s) him, nor on every occasion, but she is talking about how everything leads to him. This is an interesting assignment, where for example, this person seems to be a cause in her life, something that leads her back to the same place and time. He is the embodiment of something, an event perhaps, that brings her right back. She is not concerned at any point in “at all times; all the time and on every occasion,” just with by all routes.
The use of “you you you,” is to repeat in echo, in overabundance, to the point of ad naseum. In the section: “it’s all the scary things i do are for you like you you you and i never tell you that it is actually pretty creepy god and maybe you like maybe you and maybe already know…”
She does scary things for him, which are like him (in the way he does them) and like him (as in becomes him), and with the redundancy, it is like a reminder, a nagging, everything is an egotistical romp for him, it feels like he victimized her and is a psychopath. It has been said that psychopaths keep people around to victimize them like cats play with mice as in a “parasitic lifestyle.”
The phrase “and maybe that’s why you keep me around but what do any of us do is this the only thing I do i guess it’s what I do like do you you you,” says she is kept around to serve the victimizer’s purpose, while she is questioning what do people like them do, as she seems to have become him: “is this the only thing I do?” and then she says: “i guess it’s what I do like,” and it seems like it is what she does, she likes him, but it is like an unwelcome response, as in, “so then this happens?” And there is a sense that she likes to make love to him (“do you”) as an effect, where she cannot control herself and she is blaming him: You did it. You, you you as in scolding him, but also as I mentioned earlier all roads lead to him. He is the cause and effect of her behavior. She has become him. The abused abuse.
What appears on its face as a romantic love story is actually a take on victimization and dependency. What do you think? I have also wanted to address the Robert Frost poem “The road not taken,” as it relates to external direction/environmental influence. For the main character in Naughton’s poem, we have learned that while she seems to like the road ahead, and where she was interrupted and forced to travel a dark one she could never see “to where it bent in the undergrowth.”
What does it mean not to have been given two roads from which to choose? Has she become someone else and thus like him she is inclined to upset someone else’s direction? Is she like a vampire, whose life now becomes one where she sucks the blood from others just as unlucky?
Frost writes that there were two roads and he wanted to travel both and sought to decide, where both roads were worn about the same and realized he probably would not have time to travel both. He figures looking ahead in time that having taken one he would have been distracted and never make it back, and so with the two roads ahead, he decided to take the less traveled one, and for him that made the difference. The persona decided to be different than most, like a poet perhaps, where his life, in general, began with his father dying when he was eleven, the family moved to New England, where his mother supported them as a teacher. For twenty years, after graduation as valedictorian, an honor he shared with the woman he married, casual attendance at Dartmouth and Harvard holding a variety of jobs, and having failed at running a farm. He and his wife had four children, they lived in poverty, he abused his family, his son committed suicide, his daughter had a complete mental collapse. Frost was not the man depicted in his poems. (Taken from the introduction of Robert Frost’s poems in The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Third Edition Shorter, 1989.)
So, in a sense, Frost was like the persona in Naughton’s poem. “Frost, perceiving in himself some of his father’s tendency to vent distress by abusing his family, became deeply distressed, even suicidal.” (Ibid.)