Hair hot-ironed to a waffled platinum,
corrugated mane that gave off light,
she'd strut her stuff, half girl-of-our-dreams,
half harlot, plump and khol-eyed
as an Egyptian queen. She out-vamped Dietrich,
and didn't care for niceties, screen
sophisticates gussied-up for a ball.
Most divas lounged in luxury, heavy
lidded sirens smoldering in style.
She beat them all, our beautiful frump
who could snarl like a gangster's moll,
an American twang we loved
that cut the crap and got directly to the point:
"I like to wake up each morning
feeling a new man." In certain lights
her face looked bruised, almost
lumpy, an aging boxer's boozed-up mug.
Slapped, she shot back "Do it again,
I like it!" And we liked it too,
all that spunk confronting a muscled goon.
Lizard-sleek in gold lamé, she slunk
across the set to pout, a petulance
made famous for the way she picked
at bon bons while the nation starved.
At twenty six she died on cue, first
of the bombshell beauties, as though her sassiness
were toxic and her sins unexcused.
But those sins were virtues to us,
a bunch of horny Adams ripe for a fall.
Her exit line? From Red Headed Woman:
"I don't need a guide," she sneered.
"And don't call me madame."