Ana “bought” (supported? inspired? incentived?) a poem from Molly Gaudry – it rocks! Worth the cash-o-line? You decide:
YOU ARE ONE BAD MAMA JAMA, MISS ALABAMA
for Amy King and Ana Božičević
Hitching home, I hear her holler and honk, and when I turn
she pulls over and parks, levels her gauzy eyes on my face, says,
Where ya headed, Doll? I’d like to try on that tiara sometime.
So I get in, still wearing my suit and sash, which she tells me
to take off and tie to her antenna. Baby, you got a flag, fly it.
I lean back and close my eyes, recalling the onstage question
I’d answered about whether Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass
should be banned from public school libraries. My mother,
I’d said, and her mother, and her mother, before her, were librarians.
Is this America, I asked, or were freedom of speech and democracy
and art and free expression and love things that we no longer
cared about? And how was this the message we were sending
to our children? And if you really wanted to ask a question
about moral decency then why were they asking women onstage
who had just changed out of bikinis before the watching gaze
of all of America? Was voyeurism American? Which is when
I realized I’d said enough, so smiled and went back to my place
marker. I liked your talent. What? Your talent. I cracked a grin.
Oh yeah? Yeah, I said I did, didn’t I? How’d you learn to do that,
anyway? I looked out the window, past the kudzu and wildflowers
whipping by, into the distance where it seemed so cool and quiet
in the darkness of those far-off trees. Benny, I say. Benny the
Wonder Bunny. He was a housewarming gift from my father
to my mother when they bought their first home. I was six.
Till then we’d lived in apartments. They were working more
because the mortgage was higher than rent ever was, so what
I did was wait for them at the door, and when they came home I’d
show them whatever trick we’d perfected. It was a long time before
I was any good. Well I thought you were great, just great. I thought
you said you weren’t going to come, you couldn’t support pageantry.
She shrugs. So I came to support you, okay? Why are you in your suit?
I thought I needed a ride. In the backseat, Benny XIV nibbles a carrot
in his cage. Good doggie, I say, reaching back to stroke his ears.
She doesn’t get it, and neither do I. Sometimes we just say things,
I guess, because why not. You are one bad mama jama, Miss Alabama.
She places her hand on my thigh and I sigh, lace my fingers in hers.
At this rate, she’s gonna write a book soon… perhaps she’ll write one for you too.
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.