December 21st, 2011 / 11:23 am

woman reading Flowers of Evil on hanukkah night 1 has 22 thoughts

1. Baudelaire wants out like I want out–up and out.

2. Baudelaire wants god.

3. Baudelaire is looking for god in opium, hash, morphine and pussy.

4. Baudelaire is looking for god in god.

5. If ______ calls it Les Fleurs du Mal in a soft voice one more time I am going to kill him.

6. Would be cool to be a muse, but only if the poet is hot and good. Otherwise it would be gross.

7. Feel like I’ve only been a muse to yucky people.

8. Feel like if I behaved like Baudelaire it would be acting out.

9. Feel like if I behaved like Baudelaire it would seem stalker-y.

10. Would love to write a L’Invitation au voyage poem for ______, but it would be too stalker-y.

11. Feel like I need a stronger poetry clique.

12. Started calling it Les Fleurs du Mal in my head.

13. Wish Baudelaire wasn’t an Aries.

14. Afraid I am going to start rhyming if I keep reading this.

15. Can reading classic French literature ruin your work or does it always only make it better?

16. Could Baudelaire fuck after he got syphilis?

17. Did they have condoms?

18. Did the women know to pee after sex?

19. What would you do if you got a urinary tract infection? Would you have it forever?

20. People should just be allowed to go to prostitutes.

21. Prostitution should just be legal.

22. It’s fine.


  1. lily hoang

      Dear Melissa Broder: My college roommate told me about peeing after sex to avoid a UTI and I believed her. It’s been more than ten years, and I still obsessively pee after sex. But then I heard it’s an old wives’ tale, which doesn’t change my behavior (because it would suck to get a UTI). Is it true or not? And does it apply to masturbation? (Logically, it should, right?) Thanks, Lily

  2. Melissa Broder

      Dear Lily,

      Thank you for your honesty, your ernest question.

      I am no doctor. I am no old wife. I speak from personal experience alone that peeing after intercourse does in fact preclude a UTI.

      Regarding masturbation: it can’t hurt to hit the loo, right?

      Keep peeing,


  3. Adam Robinson


  4. mimi

      i think it depends on how you masturbate  
      and also, drink lots of water, always!

  5. Scottmcclanahan

      Numbers 6,7, and 16 are classic.

  6. Melissa Broder

      Thanks Scott.

      This regarding #16 (from the Penguin Classics addition, which I enjoyed more than the New Directions edition ’cause it’s less forced-end-rhymey):

      “And here, [in regards to his mistress/muse Jeanne Duval] perhaps, one should raise the question of Baudelaire’s sexual needs and abilities. One wonders if venereal disease had its effect on his virility. The poems he wrote for Jeanne Duval are passionately sensual; but they never speak of the act of love, or of the fulfilment of desire. They suggest a man who was not normally satisfied [who is?]: a man whose most intense satisfaction came perhaps from visual admiration, from the exotic fragrance of his mistress’s hair, from the vivid dreams which she inspired. Even in her bed, which he praises in his poetry, his pleasures seem to have been very largely those of the imagination [best kind!] [though would be awful not to be able to consumate.]”

      and this…

      “It has been said that, for a night, she [Appollonie Sabatier–his other muse–the Betty to Jeanne Duval’s Veronica, if you will] became his mistress [this was after he sent her love poems anonymously] [of course she totes knew they were from him]. We shall never know if he was her lover, or if he could not bear the shame of admitting his disability.”

  7. goner

      “Can reading classic French literature ruin your work or does it always only make it better?”

      Jim Morrison, that sexy beast, proved that it makes it way,way better.  

      Doin’ a blue rock

      C’mon, yeah

      Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill

  8. jesusangelgarcia

      This is why I still read HTMLGIANT. Thank you, ladies.

  9. barry

      why does everyone spell hanuka differently? 

  10. Melissa Broder

      b/c it’s experimental

  11. jesusangelgarcia


  12. Anonymous

  13. Shannon

      I love this whole list. Re: 18. Did the women know to pee after sex?- I believe women then did know to pee after sex given how often a “toilet” practice is mentioned in a lot of literature. I doubt that only referred to douching after sex.

       Fun fact: one of the earliest methods of birth control was to use lemon. If I remember right (I could be wrong) the concept is attributed to Casanova and/or the Talmud. Feel free to drop that knowledge at your holiday dinners. 

  14. mimi

      i’m imagining Too Many different ways that (a) lemon could be used as contraception

  15. deadgod

      “never speak […] of the fulfilment of desire”

      The poems known to be ‘about’ Duval don’t speak directly of orgasm, but there’s plenty of, eh, carnal satisfaction:  ton cher corps (‘your cherished body’), les minutes heureuses (‘the happy minutes’), baisers infinis (‘infinite kisses’) (from The Balcony); charmants climats (‘charming climes’) to which he’s guided by l’odeur de ton sein chaleureux (‘the aroma of your ardent bosom’) (in Exotic Perfume); L’elixir de ta bouche ou l’amour se pavane (‘The elixir of your mouth where love parades itself’) (in Sed Non Satiata (Latin for ‘but not satisfied/satisfiable’, to be sure)).

      Poets sometimes don’t write about things that aren’t bothering them (or somehow attracting their brood of language).  I think Baudelaire, in writing what he means by “evil” (‘deliberate rejection of succor’ (??)), at least might have been simply eliding from his poems something as misdirecting-from-“evil” – or trivial? – as ‘squirting spasms of pleasure’.

      Reading A Carcass ( ), I see not the conventional deconstruction of desire — ‘if one gets what one desires, one no longer ‘desires’ it – at least purely – , so “desire” is the making-present of a persistent withdrawal’ — , but rather, an attempt to force desire to be ‘for’ what repels – or kills.  –not a sensationalizing, a mere glamorizing, of morbidity (‘goth’; much ‘horror’), but an erotic relation to the impossibly beyond.

  16. Guestagain

      Baudelaire might have been looking for god’s pussy

  17. Guestagain

      in that god would have to be godless, obviously

  18. Veronica


  19. Shannon

      If done right as a barrier method backed up with all that acid. 

  20. Veronica

      I filled my pussy with Coca-Cola once after sex with a stranger. I’d just read that whores in 1930s New Orleans did it in a Nelson Algren novel.

  21. Laura Carter

      Good one. 

  22. mimi

      i’ve also heard of vinegar being used (acetic acid)  

      but back to (a) lemon  
      a whole lemon would indeed be a barrier, if . . . .  

      or do you mean a halved lemon, reamed (juiced) and used like a diaphragm?  



  23. deadgod

      one “l” too many

  24. Shannon

      I would think if you sliced or had sliced by a nurse type (in some times a witch of course) to size it could act like a diaphragm and then the acid (I am tired and forget the actual science of it) would take care of the sperm. A practiced midwife type could probably easily and accurately measure correctly with her fingers.

      It would hurt like a bastard though.
      I read that Coke thing too. No better than using a lemon I imagine that doing that would lead to epic yeast infections.

  25. Laura Carter

      Baudelaire is actually kind of wonderful, and I like your distinctions.

  26. Anonymous

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  28. Melissa Broder

      I’m not super hung-up on whether he came or not (though whether he could, or not, may reframe the “impossibly beyond”). Sometimes a fellow human, or one’s projection on a fellow human, can seem as “impossibly beyond” as the experience of death (until death is experienced). 

      I like this: “an erotic relation to the impossibly beyond.” There are theories that Baudelaire never consummated w/ Appollonie, because he constructed his own reasons for abstaining: one of which was that she was his friend’s mistress. If a poet does need to brood (and if any poet needs to brood it’s Baudelaire)–if he or she needs that distance from an object, that tension around an object in order to create around an object–then consummation could kill the muse. Perhaps Baudelaire knew this.Eventually, Baudelaire and Appollonie became friends. I wonder if he was able to splinter off Appollonie as muse from Appollonie as friend, and preserve that, or if their friendship killed the muse.It’s difficult for me to grasp, or narrow down, what Baudelaire means by “evil.” I don’t know that there is a need to. The meaning shifts from poem to poem. Sometimes evil is the ennui of the pedestrian–the boredom he so despises (me too Baudelaire). Sometimes, he revels in evil as a heaven that is the antithesis of the Christian heaven. Here it seems pretty clear (from To a Madonna):Then I shall put the Serpent which my entrails eats awayBeneath your feet, so that you trample down, in mockery,Sovereign victorious, full of redemption,This monster all swelled up with spit and detestation…And so that you fulfill your role of Mary perfectly,So that at last I mingle passion with barbarity,O sombre ravishment! I shall the seven deadly Sins,Remorseful torturer, turn into seven javelinsWell honed and sharpened, and — a juggler skilled and passionless –I shall take aim, and make my target all your love’s largesse,And I shall plant each one of them where you most feel the hurt,Within your sobbing, breaking Heart, within your streaming Heart.

  29. Anonymous

  30. deadgod

      Much to say about Bawdylaire.  Let me tax you only by sort-of insisting that “evil”, for a reader of Les Fleurs du Mal, without yielding to a single, simple nail-down, is an overarching word that gathers – as he uses it – such disparities as ennui, jealousy, pretty conventional fantasies of exoticism, real blasphemy, and imaginative luxuriation in carrion.

  31. Melissa Broder


  32. Anonymous

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  37. Melissa Broder Online