---WHAT IF IT DOESN’T MATTER? THEN WHAT?
…Here are some poems I wrote for a journal whose theme was celebrity:
Starlet of a Different Kind
My mother’s face on the screen
looms like a costume
as she handles one man after the other
art imitating life
one step up from prostitution
contrived passion screened and airbrushed.
Her fans love it.
None of them knows
she was a woman once
proud and educated
with two sons and a future.
Now she’s archived on the internet
cataloged under the heading MILF
a starlet of a different kind.
Klieg lights sweep the rims of skyscrapers
as the entourage arrives
tuxedoed men and gowned ladies who look like
a displace fairy tale.
The man in the middle once called me brother.
Now he wears a George-Cloonet-grin and dimpled bow tie.
At the door I say, “Hey,”
but he’s busy signing autographs.
By evening’s end I’m still the doorman
and he’s still famous.
As the perfect posse drives away
the Klieg lights blink off.
Someone rolls up the red carpet.
Someone else says, “Hey, give me hand with this garbage,”
and I oblige because I’m paid by the hour.
Call Me Gwyneth
We tour homes of the rich and famous
instead of taking in Disney.
The kids fuss and squeal
in the back of the tour bus
as my wife asks takes down
notes about O.J. Simpson.
She’s the happiest I’ve seen her in years.
In bed at our hotel that night
we make love while listening to Madonna.
My wife tells me to call her Gwyneth or Marilyn,
whichever works for me
and when I do, we break through to another side of us
the room a toaster
air thin as needles
sheets soaked with sweat
Colbert yammering on the muted TV.
For breakfast we eat waffles shaped like Mickey Mouse.
Daffy and Donald Duck come by our table,
Ariel as well
and photos are taken.
There are more meals and more machination involving people
we’ve only seen inside a box
or lathered in glossy magazines,
The town smog-laden is ripe with celebrity.
On the plane home my wife cranes her neck
believing Leonardo DiCaprio is in the seat in front.
She swears it’s him.
She squeezes my wrist
and tells me he’s her favorite,
always has been,
always will be.
My daughter holds her People magazine as if it’s a bible
pages splayed and dog-eared
notes scribbled along some of the margins.
She says she’s going to be famous when she grows up
and for me not to worry because
I’ll be famous because she’s famous.
When I chuckle she tells me she’s serious.
Before this she only wanted to be my daughter.
Then came Beyoncé and Katy Perry kissing a girl and liking it.
One evening I say, “How about I tell you a story. I used to do that all the time.”
She fakes a yawn, says she’s beat.
Outside her door I hear
“If you like it then you should have put a ring on it”
blaring, the floor bouncing
as my daughter practices dance moves
mimicking an idol
and future foe.
The make-up comes off like a sheet of milky paste.
Eyelashes are plastic cilia curled to resemble the ass of a full moon.
Lipstick smears away the same as those berry-stained hands of yours
from years ago
when you were nothing
but a fruit-picker.
You watch the dye bleed black into the sink,
your hair a muss of bark and moss now.
You ask the woman in the mirror who she is.
She looks familiar,
A cadaver after a last breath.
Tomorrow you’ll arrive on set at the same time
and the make-up artists will work their magic again
and you’ll become something you’re not,
the something everyone else loves.
We toast our twenty-first with stems held high.
Angelina applauds the thinness of your wrists.
“Wear bangles,” she suggests. “They slenderize.”
Mickey Rooney—still alive—leans over,
telling racist jokes about Mexican blankets
loaned to drug mules on a sweltering day.
“It’s never easy being a woman,” Dustin Hoffman says.
We listen to it all,
even the drunken mutterings
which are impossible to decipher.
Back in Seattle,
rainfall as thick as sludge pours from the sky.
You light a fire, pull me to the couch,
and whisper in my ear,
“I don’t ever want to be famous.”