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Jill Alexander Essbaum

              (a definition)

A woman in black with a wasted face,
              Small, bleak girl in a blue satin dress,
                            A nervy girl with a rabid pulse,

A loose-of-life lady, a beggar in skirts,
              A kitten at your keys, the witch who wouldn’t burn,
                            The red spot on Jupiter that could swallow the Earth,

A cavern into which you climb,
              The gangplank bridging swoon and sigh,
                            That wee bit of lust you drag alongside,

Who you cast like a pearl before a pig,
              Who you clothe as a housemaid in your wife’s rags,
                            Who frotts your thigh and bums your fags,

Who cooks the supper and works the avenue,
              Who has a different name each time she knows you,
                            And swears that she would kill for you,

The early bird that eats the worm,
              An orphan of the universe,
                            The coed seducing her teacher mid-tern,

She’s miracle, spectacle, pinnacle, side-show,
              Manacle, clavicle, tabernacle, afterglow,
                            A little button made of bone,

Who lodges in the heart’s hotel,
              Who people demand of what they will,
                            Who’ll do you in the swimming pool,

And play Cockney nurse to your Scottish physician,
              A cock-smitten gin-Molly with a sottish disposition,
                            The groupie who’s made it with all the musicians,

A wily mistress, Zion’s daughter,
              That stupor in the gaze of mourners,
                            Gravedigger, stonecutter, hearsedriver, shroudmender,

Who lies beneath you like a whore,
              And puts good use to sullen hours,
                            And blinks back tears of raving terror,

Your whole life’s happiness, grey as ash,
              Your piece-on-the-side, your secret stash,
                            A hot sauce and a tasty dish,

Who will dance until God falls out of his sky,
              And allow you to handle the merchandise,
                            But will engine your Titanic to an iceberg demise,

And will screw you to the wall with scant ado,
              Darkness done, she casts no shadow,
                            Fuck all, she’ll say, I’m having issues,

She’s the fiction invented for your arousal,
              The serpent you take up and the poison you suckle,
                            A frivolous income at your disposal,

And her weary nights wear on worriedly,
              And she fears she may die from lack of sleep,
                            And her wide-alive eyes are Eau-de-Nil green,

And her Free States masquerade as Confederate,
              And her tastes run noble, but her talents, proletariat,
                            Who flirts with trouble and trouble returns it,

She’s your Sanctum Sanctorum and your Hocus Pocus,
              Whole cities spring up from the ruin she once was,
                            She is insane, and she is in sadness,

Who will stick to you as a burr to cloth,
              Who blends her Stoli with Seconal,
                            The she-wolf with your crotch in her jaw,

Intransitive verb without an object,
              And if you loved her you should have said it,
                            And if you said it, you ought to have meant it,

Rahab, Tallulah, Joan of Arc,
              Hooker, Strumpet, Strap-on, Tart,
                            She’ll go up like a goddamn spark,

And singe your linens and char your plaster,
              And traumatize your mother and appall your pastor,
                            And she will do whatever you ask her,

The gangly book-mouse who cowers a bit,
              That soft-bottomed Ma with a child on her tit,
                            A concubine damp from her sash to her slit—

              Yeah. That’s about it.

Jill Alexander Essbaum

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