by Michael Harty
Wild Poetry Forum
Honorable Mention, January 2010
Judged by Dorianne Laux and Joseph Millar

She lay dead-white and perfect
blanketed in paint and lilies. Incense died
around our ankles. The hair, stiff
with spray, too quiet to be her own.
Never mind the little priest, what could he know
of her falls and rises, of dime dances
and lucky breaks, mink-wrapped evenings
in Columbus Circle, New Year’s canapes
on the Queen Mary. The shining lies
of tuxedoed men, the dead faithlessness
of diamonds. High life in the Loop, low life
a block from Venice Beach. How to put
twelve years of dents in the same Cadillac.
How one enunciates while holding
one’s fourth manhattan of the afternoon.

Yes, it was fate or serendipity
when the late-arriving nephew staggered
into the wreath from the Library Guild,
knocking it into the coffin,
which tipped the wig over her eyes
and smeared her lipstick for the last time.
Now that was more like it. Finally
we could say goodbye.