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Big Hair Analysis

Author: poem of David Lehman Type: poem Views: 4

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Ithaca, October 1993: Jorie went on a lingerie

tear, wanting to look like a moll

in a Chandler novel. Dinner, consisting of three parts gin

and one part lime juice cordial, was a prelude to her hair.

There are, she said, poems that can be written

only when the poet is clad in black underwear.

But that's Jorie for you. Always cracking wise, always where

the action is, the lights, and the sexy lingerie.

Poems, she said, were meant to be written

on the run, like ladders on the stockings of a gun moll

at a bar. Jorie had to introduce the other poet with the fabulous hair

that night. She'd have preferred to work out at the gym.

She'd have preferred to work out with Jim.

She'd have preferred to be anywhere

but here, where young men gawked at her hair

and old men swooned at the thought of her lingerie.

"If you've seen one, you've seen the moll,"

Jorie said when asked about C. "Everything she's written

is an imitation of E." Some poems can be written

only when the poet has fortified herself with gin.

Others come easily to one as feckless as Moll

Flanders. Jorie beamed. "It happened here,"

she said. She had worn her best lingerie,

and D. made the expected pass at her. "My hair

was big that night, not that I make a fetish of hair,

but some poems must not be written

by bald sopranos." That night she lectured on lingerie

to an enthusiastic audience of female gymnasts and gin-

drinking males. "Utopia," she said, "is nowhere."

This prompted one critic to declare that, of them all,

all the poets with hair, Jorie was the fairest moll.

The New York Times voted her "best hair."

Iowa City was said to be the place where

all aspiring poets went, their poems written

on water, with blanks instead of words, a tonic

of silence in the heart of noise, and a vision of lingerie

in the bright morning -- the lingerie to be worn by a moll

holding a tumbler of gin, with her hair

wet from the shower and her best poems waiting to be written.


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