Stripper’s Carnival
(for the critic who spoke without knowing)

featured in the poetry forum October 15, 2013  :: 0 comments

I never thought about the morality of strippers in my town.
I was a woman child, seventeen
Running away from the baby,
Running away from sadistic sailors,
Running away from welfare workers –

No good
No good
No good

No job, no school, no money, no chance,
I dreamed and I ran.
I ran and I dreamed.
I hitchhiked to Hollywood.

Why not?

I had sweaters.
I knew about Lana Turner.
(In 7th grade, twelve years old, blond hair – bleached by accident
It was Maria’s idea, but my mistake:
She wanted my chest.
I wanted her hair.
She bought falsies.
I bought black hair dye.
She looked pointy –
Had pouty lips and curly black hair.
I looked like Dracula’s adolescent concubine,
Skin too white for black hair,
Hair too straight.
We tried red lipstick.
Dracula would have loved me,
Built but ugly.
I decided I’d rather be blond
Like Marilyn Monroe.
I already had her body
36 – 24 – 36.)
At seventeen, I still had blond hair and her body,
Why not Hollywood?

So there I was
No job
No school
No money

They weren’t looking for Lana
At that drugstore anymore.
The want-ad read “wanted –
Dancers and models –
No experience necessary”
I had a choice
How to earn a living –
Lying down
Or standing up.
I made my choice,
Put my bathing suit on under my sweater
(they might want to see my figure
I wanted to be prepared.)

“Take your clothes off,” he said
And stared.
“Ha, Ha,” he said.
“Ha, Ha, Ha,
Take that off too.”

I did.

He sent me to
San Francisco’s
Mission District
Burlesque house.
(The carnival came later.)

I got drunk the first time
On Pink Ladies and Grasshoppers.
(I was a sweet kid.)
I walked around the stage
Took it off, down to panties and pasties.

Cops were backstage every show.
They were young and horny.
I was young and scared of jail –
They liked my show, they said.
Afterwards, we all went out
And got drunker.
Still drunk, much later,
No school, no chance,
Why not a carnival?
I was still standing up.

The barker is an asshole.
“Balley, Balley, Balley,”
He screams. Every twenty minutes,
He screams.

Six of us in a one room trailer
Behind the tent, no toilet,
Twelve hours a day.
Put it on, take it off,
An ugly dwarf plays records.
For this they pay us
$150.00 a week.

People bring their kids in the tent.
The cops don’t like us.
The food is rotten.
And the goddam barker screams,
“Balley, Balley, Balley!”

What you saw, Mr. Critic,
Was a stag show.
That happens after carnivals,
At respectable, traditional
Bachelors’ parties,
At the Elks, the Eagles, the Moose –
Old strippers do that.
Tired, slow moving strippers.

No job
No school
No money
No chance
To do but
Lay down.

editors note:

From a poet who landed on her feet – criticize that! – mh

Always Put off.

featured in the poetry forum August 9, 2013  :: 0 comments

Always put off till tomorrow
what you should do today
ironing bored, cut the cord
ignored the childish fray
put everything off till tomorrow
curl up in the cot instead
explore the case for wearing white lace
and check that your mother’s in bed.

© 2013

editors note:

Recommend silk-stockinged feet to go with the lace; they’re stylish and won’t wake Mother as you pose before your mirror. – mh

La fourmi

featured in the poetry forum March 16, 2012  :: 0 comments

we will dance over
your dead bodies,
an ant told me.
I’m already dead
dance, dance, dance
all over me.

editors note:

Ant dance and worm wiggle; we’ll all be happy at the last grand ball, evident by our polished bone smiles. – mh

Colorful advice

June 12, 2010  :: 0 comments

you walk
on a blue
brick road
you are in
red zone
filled with
a sinking
pink feeling
then grab
up as much
yellow from
the sun
as you can
try not
to stand
raining gray
and then grab
white chalk
and draw
a simple smile
on midnight’s


January 7, 2009  :: 0 comments

Dark songs sung in the ghetto sky,
private lyrics, eerie beats,

a Bronx rhapsody sweeping across
the winter dreamscape,


screeching seagulls swooping down
on the multicolored landscape,

sailing across the seething waste land
in The Boogie Down Bronx,

a cornucopia of raw emotions,
trapped in a Bronx rhapsody

in red, blue, & white
in The Boogie Down


reverberating rhythms sweeping
across the South Bronx,

hip hop beats swooping down,
blood gushing from the crimson sky,


ghetto folks singing the blues or listening to
D.J. Clive Kool Herc Campbell,

Creator of Hip Hop,


Hip Hop emerged in the South Bronx,
in a Bronx rhapsody

in red, blue, & white
in The Boogie Down

where the Bloods wear red,
the Crips wear blue,


dreamers wear pristine white
until they’re shot dead in a

186 or 187 (murder or homicide).

Dark songs sung in the ghetto sky,
reverberating beats in The Boogie Down,

seagulls descending, gunshots flying,


Hip Hop gave birth to a Bronx rhapsody,
a red rhapsody of blood,

a blue rhapsody of despair and soul death,
a white rhapsody of hope and dreams,


ghetto folks buried the dead in a white coffin
for eternal rest.


June 25, 2008  :: 0 comments

Green frogs
like ghosts
my  name. They splash
in my
bath water
and ask
if I’m
alive. Green frogs
won’t stop
me fear
for my
sad life. They talk
They want
my death.
I heard
them  talk.