KITTY CARLISLE IS DEAD!
by Steven Riel
I’m lonely without her. I’m lonelier without
a pal at work to tell I’m lonely,
but no colleague who’s also male
modeled his poise on hers, &
there’s no sense scaring the probably
with the tizzy this news flash has wreaked.
He hugged the chill out of me one bleak morning
while we waited for the office
Sumatra to brew. I guessed our contact
through sweater vests meant more to him,
that he was more cubicle than I.
Sometimes he tells me about obscure
French novels. At least I’ve heard of
les écrivains who captivate him;
that’s my cachet. I picture
his wife & him on facing love seats,
reciting passages back & forth.
With whom can I commune about Kitty’s
fitted shoulders, taffeta, how lipstick shone
in black & white? She set standards for any
conversation necklace & neckline should have,
enunciating questions with the elocution
of the Miss Porter’s alumna I half-wanted to be:
never flummoxed, always an exponent
of the virtues of fine fabric, good breeding.
I read about a Forth Worth boy
whose turning point arrived as he came
face to face with Cruella de Vil on screen.
Did the same milkweed seed drift across the nation
to sprout fluff inside both of us?
Are we lost twins, yin & yin, that boy & I?
Is he mourning Kitty, too?
What if I’d never found a fellow
odd fellow? Spent my life composing
baroque postcards from La-La Land
with no one to mail them to?
When no one was around,
I looked up one “H”
word in a dictionary
so I’d know what “I” I was:
a boy who practiced comportment
over Hamburger Helper. I’d pretend I was royalty
or a regal panelist on a game show
where, for every contestant who told truth,
two lied skillfully as they could
about being Eisenhower’s barber
or an actor playing an ape.
This morning’s Dispatch upped
caffeine’s usual emotional ante:
obituaries don’t fib about death.
I long to parade through modular pods,
interrogating in a genteel voice
control panels & the networked
printers they regulate,
Kitty Carlisle is dead! Aren’t your settings
feeling a bit queer today, too?
Copyright © 2010 by Steven Riel.