Saturday, June 4, 2011

James Maverick

Marilyn at 85

She has a favorite hat
She wears when she goes out
Which is not so much anymore
Only certain days
Between June and September

It’s a flouncy hat
Faded pink, adorned
With a white satin rose
The hat’s brim is wide and slouchy
To keep out the sun
And curious admirers

She pairs the hat
With her favorite shades
Designed by Louis Vuitton
And reaches into her handbag
(A gift from Jackie O)
Retrieving her one concession

To what Army and Louella
Called her salad days
A lipstick
From her number one fan
At the Mac counter

Carefully she paints
Her lips red
With hints of coral and plum
And it reminds her
Of her last kiss with Sinatra

He was weak
And could barely talk
But his lips were still
As gentle and demanding
As the first time.

She sighs in remembrance
And notices her breath
Hurts more than usual.
It must be the New York air
She thinks
Still heavy with
Remnants of fallen skyscrapers.

Her assistant
A former film student
Helps her to her wheelchair
For an elevator ride
A stroll down Times Square
And a day at the park.

The elevator descends as quietly
As her birthdays have become.
Once loud and raucous affairs
Thick with laughter
Cigarette smoke
And the sounds of old Harlem.

They were all
joyous and playful celebrations
Until the last one
She spent with Bobby
He died later that week.
She stopped enjoying birthdays then.

Her assistant speaks dotingly
Escorting her past windows
Where she still sees Hollywood
Just beyond her reflection.
Occasionally, she spies a woman
(and sometimes a man)
Who looks just the way
she did back then.

She wants to stand up
Arch her back
And purse her lips
To blow a kiss
But the most she can do
Is curve a smile of red
With hints of coral and plum.

And that’s okay.
She doesn’t miss her celebrity
And today, she’d rather
Be called “Norma” or “Jean”.
But sometimes
She looks at this world
And wonders why she’s still here.


  1. Wow! And I saw Teddy from twenty feet away in the Senate chambers before 9/11 so there are only two or three degrees of separation from my Celluloid heroine. I remember dinner at the Beverly Wilshire 25 years ago and there was such an old lady there eating alone but I could tell she had been beautiful when she was young and was surely still rich, she probably lived upstairs,and I wanted to speak to her but I was reminded, "don't tread on dearest Marilyn, for she's not very strong...." as I somehow sensed that this was how Norma Jean would have ended up had she lived to a hundred.

  2. Great conceit, well-executed. Delightful poem.

  3. Delightful poem. A good conceit, well-executed.

  4. from Michelle Angelini: What a beautiful character sketch of on of Hollywood's favorite "daughters." She made us laugh, love, and cry. I have a feeling there was quite a bit of imagination injected into this poem and it makes it all the more delightful.

  5. from Mary Torregrossa @ 8:54am > Great idea for a poem "what if Marilyn Monroe..." I really like the detail about 9/11. I often think of the current world history like that- before 9/11 and after 9/11.