Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tim Pfau

Marilyn Monroe's Villanelle

Norma Jean B. was the Artichoke Queen
down in the Artichoke Capitol’s world,
That's where our Norma Jean first made the scene,

At their first fest, in forty-eight, nineteen
with curves under blond tresses flowing curled,
Norma Jean B. was the Artichoke Queen.

Our Conductor announced, voice so serene
while through Castroville (see ay) our train hurled,
That's where our Norma Jean first made the scene.

Thistle flowers, eaten in high cuisine,
are cut off and cooked before they’re unfurled.
Norma Jean B. was the Artichoke Queen.

I write to honor her, not to demean.
There, in aroma of flowers, oil swirled,
That's where our Norma Jean first made the scene.

The heat and stink of joy and sin unseen
drifted through Norma’s life, twisted and twirled.
Norma Jean B. was the Artichoke Queen.
That's where our Norma Jean first made the scene.


Wyoming wind’s mean spirit is best seen
when it throws pins of ice into your face.
Nobody wants to look into that pain.

Trace and I turn backs to it and talk,
sitting on our old Fords, Jeeps or Plymouths.
watching words blow away to Nebraska ,
across dark prairie where no one listens.

The words are gone, drifting on snow fences
with random trash, heaped with aged dust from stones
pushed up through crust, riding wind to words’ graves.

Dig them up, brush dirt away. They’re still husks
buzzards wouldn’t eat from, only tight skins
stretched over dead white bone. Real meat, it seems
was just a temporary affliction...

We’re there, under the black-bowl nights, sitting
on unseen flat, but inclined, plains, waiting
to kill fish or deer when we have the light...

Full of the last liquor and a touch of
more exotic fuels, needing little light
because darkness, of some sort, is enough.
Words are too light to stand and face the wind.

Trace goes naked now, bare of words or songs,
only vanishing echoes ride along.


Eighty-two, purple bruises
bloom on her ivory skin.
Her thin hair is wisps, dyed straw
mixed in the old snow, melting.

Snow she fluffs and shapes with ten
small, too small, shining red nails.
Her hair is set and combed each
week in the same white salon

where she tips, “the girl”, two bucks
and leaves, both of them happy.

Thin too is her r-curved frame
once full, straight and beckoning
for what she, decent, and not
“that kind”, would refuse, smiling.

Her closet bound steps now strain
to clear life’s litter, lying
between her and the long rack
of, mostly yellow and green,

season-sorted ensembles,
which no longer fit in any way.

Her eyes are blessed now, with clouds
to dim her view of wrinkled
cheeks that carried eroding
tears down to hands for washing.

There are high shelves which those hands
can no longer touch, holding
service for eight. Memories
might come to dinner with friends.

Lower, on shelves still in reach,
wait cups for two, just in case.

Carrying Alfredo Garcia

Here I sit, writing
poetry with the grace of
Warren Oates singing
Guantanamera for tips,
in a dark border-town bar.

Tips enough to buy
a nice piece of a woman who
he knew a little bit,
a seven year drink, more shells
and a few spare magazines,

all accoutrements
for carrying-on with friends.
He did get a head.
Eventually, so will I,
(liquor-clear thinking and luck).

"Everybody sing!
Oh yes, “Guantanamera,
Sing! Guairá, sing!

Piano? Not worth a damn.

So instead, I write
poetry, with the grace of
Warren Oates singing
to Alfredo Garcia
while he carries him home and,
overcomes circumstances.


  1. Wyoming has always seemed a harsh place to me. This poem set there captures that well. Thanks.

  2. Thanks, Greg.

    Yes, Wyoming has a Spartan quality to it but if you lift your face into the weather, it also has sublime beauty.

    On balance, I recommend photographs.