Runner-up

I Blame the Ronettes

Listen

that’s my heart’s hot stutter— a boy invites

his first girl to the dance— my heart is shacked

up with my tongue, its boudoir walls

 

are painted red & black. This is my torch

song, stage to stalk, white gardenia already gone

dark around its paper edge, tucked behind my diamond

studded ear, my throaty lark, my snare

 

drum wrapped in cotton wool, tambourine to shake

your patent leather party flats. & if you want

a cliff to leap from, honey, I can grant you that— look,

your raven hair (what raven hair?) two steps

 

on the ancient, Grecian air… Oh, no

it’s really happening, oh, yes, I wanna

be another woman, just this once, I’ll go

down South to 1963, where there’s a dance hall

 

& a jukebox & a weedy boy with glasses

& a drawl & he just hooked

his hand in my back pocket, oh, it’s tricky,

baby, here’s where it could fall

 

apart. Every time that dance hall steals

its way into this song, the record scratches, skips

& then I’m back to my insipid, bare bones

start. Desire. & desire & again. When I found

 

 

out, when I found out, when I found

& you were there, & you, & my mother’s

in there, too, I’ll never be the beauty

she is, never have that voice, its hot sweet

 

shot of honey Scotch, never win my father’s

absolute ardor. If I make it back

to 1963, then I know— my mother beat

me to it, look, she’s oh-so-cool, sipping whiskey

 

with two cubes.  She just jumped on

the table in her wiggle dress, electric

blue, her figure eight hips cha-cha, twist & switch. My moon-

faced fellow wolf-whistles & stares. & there

 

I go again, I can’t shut-up. Today, I woke

& knew— my faded heart had switched

back on, a hot pink neon

light.  OPEN

 

it buzzes in perpetual midnight while those three

girls (oh lined black eyes, oh sweet beehives) heave

& sigh, c’mon & please, be my baby, say you’ll be

my darling, oh just this once, I swear it,just give in.

 

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