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Analysis of My Wicked Wicked Ways by Sandra Cisneros

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“My Wicked Wicked Ways” is a simple poem if you read it quickly, but after reading every stanza and analyzing it you feel the complexity of it, every line of every stanza adds a different taste to the poem, completes the painting, and with the last stanza the poet puts its magical touches to it. I will start by identifying the subject of the poem, and then like every poem I will discuss the meter of the poem, with the rhyme schemes and any figurative language if the poet used them. The poem starts with “This is my father” which shows the poets connection with her father, her past, her childhood “See? He is young”, while reading this stanza, you start to imagine the poet holding a small, old and non-colored picture of her as a child, defining every detail of her father’s looks “He looks like Errol Flynn”, Errol Flynn was a handsome actor, he was known as a womanizer, which is what she thinks her father was, in the picture her father is wearing a hat, that leans over one of his eyes, a well suited suit, and some tow-toned shoes.

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Not only is Cisneros an accomplished short story writer, but she is also an excellent poet, as this poem makes clear. The speaker is describing an old photograph of her father and herself as an infant. The speaker describes her father in the first stanza–a handsome man, dressed in the fashionable clothes of the 1950s, with a hat rakishly tilted over one eye and wearing two-toned shoes. In the last line of the second stanza, the focus shifts to the mother, who is then described in the fist half of the following stanza. The four lines devoted to the mother describe her expression, which might be mistaken for crying but in fact was caused by the sun’s glare. The relevance of the this explanation is immediately apparent in the following four lines about “the woman,” who “does not come till later” (lines16 ff). With the reference to this woman, the short, declarative, mostly simple sentences begin to take on an emotional freight and significance all the more powerful because the staccato style at first seems to be devoid of passion. The description of the father in the opening lines–the man who looks like Errol Flynn (who was not only a famous actor but also a notorious womanizer)–now takes on more significance; so does the mother’s hatred of the two-toned shoes, as part of the portrait of a handsome philanderer. The fourth stanza quickly sketches in the aftermath: the angry scene over the other woman, then the emotions ebbing into forgetfulness as the years go by. Throughout the poem, the iceberg of rage and unhappiness concealed beneath the surface is implied by the dry and rapid details. The speaker claims that “after a while everyone / will forget it (lines 24-25), suggesting that the scandal was widely known within the family and over the years took its toll. The concluding lines effectively return to the photograph and focus on the infant speaker in the arms of her mother

In the final line, the speaker seems to identify with her errant, “bad” father, not in defiance of her mother but in the sad and now retrospective realization that the path of goodness is difficult to stay on. The title of the poem is the title of Cisneros’s third volume of poetry, which contains other poems suggesting the sexual guilt of a writer brought up in a strict Catholic environment.

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In sum, Sandra Cisneros sits down with Studs Terkel and provides behind the scenes commentary on poems from her new book "My Wicked Wicked Ways." She provides an enlightening history to them. "Curtains," "Velorio," "Arturo Burro," "I Told Susan Reyna," "Traficante," "In a redneck bar down the street," The Poet Reflects on Her Solitary Fate," "His Story," "Letter to Ilona from the South of France," "New Year's Eve" have been removed due to copyright restrictions.

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