The Barbie Cycle

The Barbie poems were composed - are being written - over a period of more then twenty years.  Each poem builds on references to earlier ones as well as being an individual piece.  In order to prevent them being lost in the dark corners of blog archives, I have decided to bring them all together:  a Barbie House party, as it were.

The Barbie Cycle 1


we were launched in the same year, you and me:

my legs are not madly elongated: like yours
nor do my breasts proclaim the pyramids
I hope my stare is thoughtful not vapid
and bless me, my hair is more manageable.
I can grasp objects and work
my arms bend too and
I can wear flat shoes

but Barbie O Barbie
how I envy your crutch:
smooth crack- and hair- less
with only the suggestion of a declivity

are you not racked by lust or guilt
eternal virgin
priestess of the impossible fuck?

The Barbie Cycle 2

Barbie, O Barbie, now we are fifty

they are writing about you in the paper
I get to age in private
poor you

they say you would have back pain
yup, me too

they say you would have osteoporosis
girl, let’s keep the blinkers on and drink more milkshakes

they say you would wear glasses
I’ve worn them for years, very sexy ones

they say you would have grey hair
a girl like you, no problems with the dye
me, I’m relishing every strand of earned silver

they say you might be shorter
darling, I’ve spent my life down here

they say you would have trouble standing up
what with your impressive breasts and waist
they just don’t know do they?

my tits have shrunk and sunk into my waist
fast-growing to support them

but, Barbie
you’re still kicking ass, right?
still in love with lust?
still no fulfilment – the eternal virgin?

poor you

The Barbie Cycle 3

Barbie the Mole?

have you swapped sides, you invidious chameleon? 
now equipped with a video camera
 on your chest – of course 
and play-back screen, cunningly inserted in your
electronic back
if becoming Barbie is what girls dream of,
are we now bionic spies of ourselves?
is Barbie the paedophile’s ideal toy
and how long before we are all wired
and monitored
and down-loadable

chipped           coded              digitised 
the perfect tracking toy

The Barbie Cycle 4

Barbie, the Icon of our Dreams

if you were a feminist, in suit and tie
or a plumber in overalls,
would you wear pink?

can a plaything be a feminist person?

all our hate and frustration is
focussed on you, small plastic

if you can’t have it all –
hairy armpits, purple stubble,
the tattoo,
the lesbian lover
the broken-hearted Ken
and the PhD in the gender implications at the Quantum Point

what hope do we have?

the pink Cadillac

The Barbie Cycle 5

Tattoo Barbie

I hear you’ve been pregnant
I hear you had a tat on your tum
body piercings next?

love, washable baby tattoos
hearts and flowers and bambi
Oh no!

Barbie-wire, a dagger
a bleeding rose
a crumbling skull
and your foot on Ken’s face

fifty means freedom girl

The Barbie Cycle 6

New Jewels for Barbie

your most expensive look
your newest incarnation
Argyll pink diamonds in a collar of glitter 
darling you’re wearing well
at 51, with youth fading past
we all know the answer is bling! 
Stefano’s black frock
a face lift                     and diet 

are you getting any yet?


The Barbie Cycle 7


Time    stands still
                        for style icons.   Take
                                    turning 50 this year
Back in the day                       Ken
            lush blond locks

                        My guess
Ken works out
            He is wise                    strong
melt factor
he slips away

Gone are the days
he doesn’t want to look like a loser

Ken is gay                   a handbag                    draws a blank

Is that why Barbie dropped him?
            because Ken started    relaxing            his prostate
her pink                       the pink           the pink            the pink

Ken has developed a taste

Found poem, after an article in The Age, January 2011

The Barbie Cycle 8

Plastic Love

Let the public vote!  no mind beats in the vacant chest of that malleable coy mistress
how can we call it
projected onto those guardians of our childish hearths 
the Lares and Penates of the Pink World?

Love does not bend unless it’s plastic: 
worth unknown but price precise, with discount, tax and shipping

Barbie’s not Time’s fool:  her fuchsia lips and cheeks
blanche only to fashion’s dictate
and alter to match the marketing brief
 – even to the edge of taste and decorum

Ken dallied with the Toys
while Barbie surfed the dating game
now he’s asking us to choose for her  

what hope do our full-sized selves have if elections determine love?

The Barbie Cycle 9

Letter to Ken

There you are in the news again
I don’t want to write another poem about you
I am bored Ken, tired of your games, filled with ennui,

a new face – you certainly needed it but I’m not sure it’s an improvement
a new ‘internet reality show’ – that’s an oxymoron I think? 
your backers want you to compete with Her in the fashion-plate stakes – what?
‘the ultimate boyfriend for every occasion’ 

so you are to be enhanced to resemble
a neck-less, brain-less booby
pumped with iron and steroids  
hairless and toothy (they report nothing of your crutch so I can only guess) 
full of romantic gestures 
you have gone from plastic mannequin to plastic god-freak 
truly a fitting consort to that diva in pink
I think they are lying:  you are not built to celebrate boyfriend-hood
rather the ultimate genie of
The Man


Friko said...

I can't believe nobody has left a comment on these. What are people who follow doing?

These are brillliant.

Willow said...

They are brilliant, Friko...I have never purchased Barbie or Ken for any child, mine or someone else's. The Barbie's only get worse with each addition...and now Ken! Well written, angry treatise on de-evolution of the human species. Brava Isabelle!

jabblog said...

Wonderful! Barbie, the eternal page three girl, plastic, pneumatic, vacuous doll. I have never bought Barbie dolls for daughters or granddaughters - or Sindy dolls. I think they're a bit creepy:-)

Jinksy said...

Friko said it all - these are brilliant. Are there ones that go further back in time, I wonder? Or are these nine the sum total of your genius? LOL I hope not...♥

Elisabeth said...

I'm late in the piece to read these, Isabel, but they are stunning. I'm glad to have chanced upon them before our meeting. They say so much.

Kathy Bischoping said...

I just read Poem 4...FUN! And striking a deep chord with me as a Sociology prof. who just made (at 47) a New Year's res. to wear some pink, damnit. s