Dee Allen. African-Italian performance poet based in Oakland, California. Active on the creative writing & Spoken Word tips since the early 1990s. Author of 4 books [ Boneyard, Unwritten Law, Stormwater and his newest, Skeletal Black, all from POOR Press ] and 24 anthology appearances [ including Poets 11: 2014, Feather Floating On The Water, Rise, Your Golden Sun Still Shines, What Is Love, The City Is Already Speaking, The Land Lives Forever, Extreme and the newest, Civil Liberties United, edited by Shizué Seigel ] under his figurative belt so far.
“Game recognises game” Leather corsets Knee-high stiletto Popular saying Heeled boots Used in some Were kept out of Black people’s Those photo shoots. Conversations Bunny believed that Normally blurted out The female form When one sees Could stand on its own Their best qualities And that was no lie In another. Considering the sometimes Example given: Pin-up had Manhattan’s Reigning queen pin-up Back in the 1950s, Queen Bettie to work with. A Florida Potential best seller Cheesecake model Didn’t want to Who could flex Limit herself to being Into any pose, Before flashing cameras. In many guises: So she switched positions. The camera A housewife, Was in her hands A vixen, For a change. A splashing Beach bunny, The amateur A female Photographer Tarzan in In this tale—let’s Leopard skin, Call her Bunny— A fisherwoman Was found by On a boat reeling in Her other self: Her catch in the raw, A New York Decorating a small City model Christmas tree with just Visiting Miami A Santa hat & a wink-- On holiday—let’s Call that one Bettie— “Game recognises game”-- W: 4.25.18
He was allowed Underground favourite To have his Top model Miss Page Freedom outside Seductress—Saint Prison walls Naughty—Nice On the condition Paradox on That he destroy Spiked heels His life’s work, Under flames End his business Bubbling Of making & selling Melting Pics mail-order. Decomposing Such was the deal, Beauty and bondage Faustian bargain, Disappearing Irving Klaw Nowhere as searing Made with As the fire The federal government, Estes Kefauver Relentless, on the hunt Tennessee senator For perverts, Presidential wanna-be Juvenile delinquents And their Senate And menacing Reds Sub-committee Hidden under Built for poor Irving People’s beds. And his camera Glossy Snapping sister. Monochrome Three-fourths Four-by-fives, Of the photos, the Eight-by-tens, Worst of the worst, Film negatives Were ashes. “Harmful matter” Paula Klaw, fortunately, Disposable bait Kept the last fourth, Fed to Saw future The fire Selling potential. Roaring in Thank goodness for A metal rubbish bin. Crafty little sisters. W: Gay Pride Day 2018
LOS ANGELES 1945
20th Century Fox Took a chance On a fresh new face Visiting from San Francisco, By giving her a screen test, On the strength of A few cute photos.
For her entrance To big screen Immortality, Back lot Studio beauticians Hooked up Roy & Edna Page’s Dreamy-eyed daughter with
Parted black hair Pulled back severely, Too much red Slathered on her lips Near circus clown quality, Eyebrows pencilled in To Charlie Chaplin thickness
Just like Joan Crawford.
Performing hula dances and Playing movie star games With the other kids At the orphanage, Staging beauty pageants With her two sisters Outside their clapboard House in Nashville
Didn’t prepare Young Bettie for Cosmetic reconstruction Into a Hollywood mannequin
Whose looks Horrified her at first sight, Whose face She didn’t recognise As hers, Whose natural Southern drawl Left appalled Ears trained to accept Clear, unaccented English
And looking like The scariest actress On screen and off Didn’t win her Any studio contracts.
Disillusion Followed Bettie Back to S.F., Stayed with her for days. Her dream Of the actress’ life Didn’t end there-- W: Marilyn Monroe Birthday 2018
Armon Carlyle Walterson Her regret-- Couldn’t dance a step What a way to spend And he didn’t bother trying. The approach of 1959-- His new bride Bettie Walking along the beach Wanted to go dancing And White Street On New Year’s Eve 1958. Lonely and blue-- Neither of the two could Agree on a damn thing. Then her attention All Armon wanted to do Was drawn to Was stay home, eat A familiar emblem: Hamburgers & watch TV. The very sight Creature of routine. Of a bright And no ambition. Neon cross This picture of matrimony On a church roof. Contradicted Bettie’s To Bettie, it seemed Dreams of Key West life Her lord took her With her younger groom. By the hand, guided Her across the street She left her house Into the sanctuary In tears, knowing This was the end Led into For the newlywed couple. Full pews, This last argument. Choir singing, Suburban fantasy The preacher Curtain call. Calling his Her face, Congregation A lachrymose masque, Forward to repent The starry sky above, For Jesus Christ, Smeared blotches The front pulpit Of light And her Against black, Eventual Released in sobs Salvation. W: 7.25.18
The black-haired former Tennessee Tease Flashing country girl smile that could melt a man And a figure sure to please
Left New York City for cold Canada land-- So we’ve been misled-- Maybe slinging hash in a Texas diner was her plan
Or maybe she’d married a man royalty-bred. Wrong again. It’s much more uncouth. She died under fire from Mafia lead.
Becoming a Christian born again was the only truth Out of many swirling wild rumours. The cross she wore, Bible she held gave us sure proof. W: 7.30.18