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This is Jacket 16, March 2002   |   # 16  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |    

Ron Koertge: Three poems


Dolores Del Rio takes a walking tour
of my body. Unlike most vagabonds
in sturdy boots and a stained rucksack,
Dolores wears a red dress and slingbacks.

She hums the arsonist’s theme
as she taps one coy organ after another
and makes them tawdry with flame.

When she gets a little tired,
she sits on my spleen and smokes.
If she glanced up, she’d see
two aspirin careening toward her

like the lights of a very small car
destined to disappear in a fiery crash.

The End Is Near

When my department head calls and asks
me to turn in my keys, it is as if one of those
bearded visionaries had opened my office door
and thrust his famous sign right in my face.

I go back to the poems from my last
workshop, and reaching into the anonymous
pile extract one with a photograph attached.

That man in the pea coat could be me
in bell-bottomed pants, me who knows port
from starboard and has inside his locker
a blond pin-up in a blue Jantzen, the kind

my girlfriend wore the first time we went
to the river together, the first time my father
gave me the keys to the DeSoto and told me
to come back in one piece.

The Consolations of Cinema

Some people drown in vodka or jazz. I like
an enormous eyeball first.

This one travels in a cloud, no doubt to make
a better first impression, like a fat man
in vertical stripes. At first there’s just
a lot of hikers saying, ‘Gosh, what’s that?’
Then blood-curdling screams.

Eventually we see the monster. And it’s huge
and icky but is, after all, just an eye.
You’d think a handful of sand or a really bright
light would do the trick. Much less running
at it with scissors.

But I’ve forgotten the radioactivity, a staple
in 50s horror films. So Mr. Handsome has to call
in the air force and the menace writhes and dies.

They always writhe and die. Or melt or slink
back into the depths, mortally wounded.
There’s never a funeral for monsters.
The dreadful never stand in the rain singing
‘Come, ye Disconsolate.’

I need to get out of these dark clothes.
I need to get out period. Somewhere
there’s a waitress with beautiful knees,
Stoly straight up, Anita O’Day
on the best jukebox in town.

Jacket 16 — March 2002  Contents page
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