Last Performance


for Frances Farmer

To satisfy each theater’s gilding, I stood for the intimate flesh
of the task. I had impulsed my name
and my volatile body was engined by many long looks.
This was actual lack. Glamorous fantasy. Don’t you get it? All my heat —

and each time come morning, I was scuffed
to another tension. How strapless
and hungry I was to be contour. What you saw in my eyes
was a rigorous need for the extravagant
white ceiling of future. This was my release from that dim town
of my birth. I eased my curves

into cultivated turns, but that was no excuse for the reach
of murmuring throngs. What they grabbed
was so tender. Such thieving as I moved into flatter and launch.

Now the spotlight’s a needle. A drink always, some proof
to shield and bitter myself.

Still draped in the mirror
of perseverance, I keep opening
newspapers to my revealed self. Can’t keep irresistible
at the far sheet of each bed. All the cues,
and my fermented breath fills more frames.

The lens plays its same game: solicitous, insolent
coaxing. The scene is repeated, sometimes applauded.

The repeat which lived first from my hips clings now
to anger, but I tell you I started off soft into battle. These days, strong
is the faith of my stumble for less
of this hounding. Look, I’ve split in the sleight of your glances.

After years configured from each velvet wage, each silk
signature, I am no longer bright nor whole
as a penny.  Sweet mouth
of those movies swallowed me right to the edges. These days,
I surface only to bellow, to strip off

my testimony at terrible speed. What comes next
is more turbulence. I tear out the light, survive in the leftover glint.