Wednesday, May 21, 2014


…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.


                                                             Still Famous

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.


                                                      Awards Ceremony

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.

DeNiro chortles.

Pacino chuffs.

Nicholson cackles.

“It’s never easy being a woman,” Dustin Hoffman says.

We listen to it all,

every bit,

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.”

No comments:

Post a Comment