Poem a Day – 09-16-2014

Poem a Day: New and classic poems provided by the Academy of American Poets

I Am Not a Myth

Matthew Hittinger

Marlene Dietrich remembers the night of the Marilyn Monroe
Productions Press Conference, New York City, January 1955

I wanted to be that trace of scarlet lipstick
when you arrived, tipsy, a bit chartreuse
a subdued platinum angel, a white mink

stole. I am at heart – Come up for a drink –
a gentleman. You, a question here to seduce,
a pink thought traced by scarlet lipstick

a deer drawn to a salt lick. I am the brick-
back, brick-thrown widow of a caboose.
I lift my black veil. I drop my black mink.

To the bird, flown – we toast with a clink.
You created ‘the girl.’ “Their golden goose
is now a scarlet smudge.” Your lips stick

to the wine glass and all I can do is wink
out a song, the tricks of an aging chanteuse.
You call a cab and grab your white mink

while I play my saw, and all I can think
is I am not a myth a recluse who will recuse
you to remain a trace of scarlet lipstick
caught on the collar of a white mink.

About this poem: “According to Barbara Leaming’s biography of [Monroe], Dietrich invited Monroe up for a drink at her Park Avenue apartment that night and found the sight of a lipstick trace on the collar of [Monroe’s] white fur ‘maddeningly erotic.’ Dietrich’s voice lent itself well to the villanelle, perhaps the most ‘maddeningly erotic’ of the poetic forms.” – Matthew Hittinger

About Matthew Hittinger: Matthew Hittinger’s most recent collection is “The Erotic Postulate” (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014). He lives in Queens, N.Y.

The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience. Email The Academy at poem-a-day@poets.org.

(c) 2014 Matthew Hittinger.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate


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