Janet Kenning



We entered as dots in a sentence. Through turnstiles,
With badges, white noise, white paper,

Where old white men, animal in their desires,
Prehistoric in their longing, blank, bland,

Worried emptiness. We thumbtacked
Sunday's comics, lit a bright shrine

Where Lucy tempted Charlie Brown,
Pulled the football away, never gave him a chance.

Gone. Still you see her on the corner. Her voice,
Passes with a stranger. Lucy, off-key, sang hopeful in sitcoms,

Dyed her hair red for love; Madame X.
Broke and broken, a rift of congas,

A newspaper, a hat. Scientific, with
Goddess garb, straight from the stockbroker,

Wings burnt, trapped in the turn of a phrase,
Sold like a Barbie-doll, feeble, wrinkled,

American in her longing—her desire to succeed,
Proud in her rags, supping on peanut butter.

Later, a grocery parking lot, daylight and sleep,
And the dreaming sleep, the long sleep between

Night and darkness.
I am Eve.

Men blame tragedy on women,
Fed our fingers to the scaled-snake.

Mother of Cain and Abel.
I am Eve, rejecting the names Adam gave,

Naming all things anew.
I begin with Lucy.



for Suzie, another Lucy

A laugh trapped in granite, black dress,
Red flowers, daylight changes everything.

She said her one love
Married someone else. Before that,

In a garden, they whisper to a wall
Painted glow-in-the-dark.

They turn off the lights and kiss.
"But, you see," she said, "we had years of before and after."

She took pieces of us to her grave, like cake.
Either way

It will happen: the sun will burn out, fireworks,
Or the earth turn dead and dark.



In the back seat of her boyfriend's car,
Parked by a clay dirt field

In candy apple light,
A biplane overhead,

White wings, red stripes like fresh paint.
He's all red rose. His pink lips

Deepen the amber of cheap bourbon.
Her maroon dress stained, at sunset, an Indian red,

A hint of firebrick.
Crimson apologies again.



Turn right at the second
Streetlight, the one next to the old house,
Where the lady lived with all the cats,
Gone as a woman three days dead.

Put on your blue jeans,
Ride the rails, then
Fade into a forgotten town.
Marry an insurance salesman,
Make a living as a secretary.

Live with that scratchy voice,
The graying beard. Watch the fire grow cold.



The poems are loosely centered around various women named Lucy. Once I had encountered one Lucy, others began to accumulate like newspapers on a driveway, birds on a telephone wire. They seemed to want to talk to each other.

"Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead." —Lucille Ball