In my seventieth year, on the crazy cusp
with two bright girls and a tower view
it’s time to have my say and this is it:
Nothing but what I can hold in my hand
like the tarot pack or a book of signs
a child’s bottom and a glass of gin
these hands holding mine in hospice bed
hardest damn thing to let go
and yet there was life before these:
the tumble of dark curls in the boardwalk breeze--
fifteen my god a cigarette dangling from my lips
and the men who wanted my photograph
and plenty of them cropped up in the magazines:
See the sleek silk sliding over my hips,
see my eye for the main chance, the mystery glance.
You would know me anywhere, the handsome one
but dye your hair he said, you look like a witch
but the real shame is having good legs and not
knowing it, careless how to use them.
This I’ll tell you since you’re not family
and I cannot hurt you the way I might have done:
A man, a bank, a mansion on the links
a man, a woman, sobbing in the night
and the hard suck of a child at the heart
and the emptiness of certain forms of love.
They said nothing I could hold
when they siphoned me wracking green
two times needling the ocean in my lungs
and even know I’d kill for a smoke
vomiting into the grinning pan.
Make poetry of that if you can.
Then I told them no, no more
and wrapped my cloud of hair
and in my white imperial robes
Take a chocolate from the box,
place it deep within my dry
I say how this goes
I say how this goes.