Listen, Norma

over the ledge, there is a place colder

than a house built for men.

So what’s the rush, Norma Jean,

look at this apartment—

 

you haven’t earned

the stairs from which to throw yourself,

no flashes that’ll dart and sting

to capture your plunge like a shot

crane in a dress, soon to be loved

by all that thirsty, breathless red.

 

Stay, Norma Desmond,

you bet all of yourself on races

you didn’t run and kept a few bills

in the mattress like talisman—

now you haven’t even a coat

to attract a tabloid mention

or anyone to narrate your story.

 

Let’s face it, we are so far

from Hollywood, you’re Norma

Des Moines. Blame the hoodlums

from your childhood who kept

the street smarts from you, blame

the rusted head of a mother

who taught you nothing,

so you’d accept a solvent man

without reading the warning label.

 

You never had a use

for a martini glass—

in the dark with a cigarette, tuning

the charge in the air to give

your no-good husband the last

jolt he needs to know that this time

you mean business, you cross

your legs with a can of beer in hand.

 

Norma, come off the ledge.

Norma of the paranoid sea.

Norma of the dead ends.

Norma of the sour olives.

 

Before you threaten to jump

again, I’ll get you a gin, ruin

your makeup

properly, and you wait

for that rotten hubby of yours

(I call pop). What

is the rush, really—

 

what good is hell if no one comes

back to snitch on what she’s seen?

What are you looking for?