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POEM: Hot City Part 2.0 (Becky Thatcher and Jean Marie)



I would that Tom Sawyer were dead. And
Becky Thatcher, too. If you don’t know the difference,
I am driving with Jean Marie and Larissa.
They’re not nymphs and
I want to fall, deep deep in love, I really do, but I’m too full of words.

       Most of the adventures in this book really occurred.

The radio is on as we cruse through a raging
thunderstorm that lasts but a minute. We all have to use
the bathroom. I’ll never fall in love;
the odd superstitions touched upon are all prevalent,
so it’s not possible to invoke nymphs or dryads.

     My book is intended mainly for the enjoyment of boys and girls.

That’s why we see a big pair of boobs bouncing,
over and about the room;
she puts them up and looks out under them.
Her stately pair, the pride of her heart,
built for style not service.

We’re dropping Larissa off before proceeding to Hot City.


This must be my seventh time going to the bathroom.
Must beware the strips of wood outside the can. There’s
a goat outside. A goat!!
Jean Marie: lying across from me on the other couch.
Hard to travel in the dark, I tell you, living room in shadow. She resurrects
nothing but the cat. My motion. Detected. Causes a cat to
leap on Jean Marie.
Shit! She says, swinging at the feline protagonist.
Larissa’s upstairs in her room. I’m bereft of any appropriate verbs.


Look at your hands. And look at your mouth.
They are definitely separate. Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher.
Larissa Golden and Jean- Marie. And me, yes, this time shaking
on the back of a truck.

Jean-Marie passes in a car; is this a dream?

Larissa’s room is cluttered, dim, smoky. When
whispering, she is endowed with a
talent for dark and mysterious diplomacy.


What happened?
Am I dead?
Maybe my coffin is too small. No,
this is a couch.

     That put the thing in a new light.

The goat keeps scratching.
We agree to go swimming.

      Behold, a new girl in the garden.
The fresh crowned hero fell.
Vanished out of his head and left not even a memory
of herself behind. He had thought he loved her to
distraction, he had only regarded his passion as adoration;
and behold it was only a poor little evanescent partiality.
And here, in one instant of time, she had gone out of his heart
like a casual stranger whose visit is done.

This poem isn’t really about anything.

On the wall in Larissa’s house, there is a photo of her.
On the wall. A photo of her in high school. Looking
much younger. Like a sunshine vanilla wafer. An incomprehensible set of visual clues.
A cheerleader, a majorette, a prom queen, a finger food, a series of
adolescent obsolete transparencies, flung against my watch.

They’re smoking again.
We’re singing a song about Jean-Marie.

      He returned now and hung about the fence
till nightfall, “showing off” as before; but the girl
never exhibited herself again.

A goat bays, or makes
whatever sound goats make, and I stare it in the eye. I
stare thru the eye of a goat.

I fade away, passing out.

      He knew that a yearning glance fell upon him
now and then through a film of tears, but he refused recognition.

Darkness. Locusts spinning in trees.
Who is that? That is Larissa,
I see one little girl who is looking out the window -
I am afraid she thinks I am out there somewhere ---
perhaps in one of the trees making a speech to the little birds.

I hide from a knock at the door.

      Now sir go and sit with the girls!
And let this be a warning to you!

They have another cigarette.

Am I supposed to have a theme?

      The harder Tom tried to fasten his mind on his book,
the more his ideas wandered.

I failed to exile myself
from this poem after that last fiasco in Virginia.
Chunks of this house/ these photos all over creation.

Larissa kisses me goodnight on the forehead.

     Kiss? What do you kiss for?

Please Becky
And he tugged at the apron and the hands
by and by she gave up
and let her hands drop
her face all glowing with struggle,
came up and submitted.
Tom kissed the red lips and said
Now it’s all done, Becky.
And always after this you know
you ain’t ever

she must have the consistent taste of nicotine.

Ahhhh, love is such a difficult word. Sucks.
I don’t know how to use it right. For the right emphasis.

     The child began to cry. Tom tried to put his arm around her neck.
But she pushed him away
and turned her face to the wall
and went on crying. She had no companions
but silence and loneliness. She
looks sunburnt. She wants the car.
And she seized the boy in a crushing embrace that
made him fell like the guiltiest of villains.

A body does just the same in a dream as he’d
do if he was awake. I tango around the pool,
and toggle the diving board. The water is lukewarm,
mild. The raft has clumps of dead gnats on it. Imagine if
the water were my fingers fondling your form. It’s a
game I’m making up. I’ll make gurgly

noises and

     he kept drifting about to find Becky
to lacerate her with his performance.

I don’t know anything about bathing suits.
We’re just shapes in the pool.

     At that moment a shadow fell on the page
and Tom Sawyer stepped in at the door, and
caught a glimpse of the picture.

Girls faces always tell on them.
They ain’t got no backbone. She’ll get licked.
Well it’s kind of a tight place for Becky Thatcher.

And Jean-Marie pounds her cigarette pack. When she
pulls out the cigarette, her lips are destroyed.

     Considering all the things
he did not want to pity her, and
yet it was all he could do to help it.

Over my remaining slice of bacon, Jean-Marie’s
nipples poke dents on the other side of her shirt. It’s
the first time I have noticed them.
Amazingly I wasn’t eyeing them while I was in the pool.
Smoke envelops their faces,

     A prevalent figure in these compositions
a nursed and petted melancholy
words until they were worn entirely out

I know who I would cast in the play, said Jean Marie. You
were there, weren’t you? Says Larissa.

      He sponged out lines and remade them; but
he only distorted them more than ever.

I’m afraid. I have to go to Hot City.

Good bye Larissa.

After I buy a pack of animal crackers
and we leave Larissa’s house, Jean Marie drives the wrong
way for an hour, and we wind up back where we
started from. So we move
on again, aimlessly ---
all we can do is keep moving, moving.
We turn around.

I’ll get you there on time, I promise, says Jean-Marie.

But Jean Marie...!
I must meet Bill Cole and the Queen of Microbiology at noon. I
Don’t think we’ll make it. When time has grown to be
so precious; moving
in some direction, in any direction. This, at least, is

progress and might bear fruit. I have no time for a shower;
to sit down is to invite death.

O, one minute past noon,
the car chugs fast, thrashing into the Hot City train station,
Traffic coming from behind, rushed to get out of the car- throwing on my Zaire hat,
slinging my bag, thanking Jean Marie,
kissing her cheek. She’s oblivious, turning away.
She drives away.

Goodbye Jean-Marie.
Somewhat silly, I wave at the disappearing car.

     The boy mused a while over the substantial change
which had taken place in his worldly circumstances, and then
wended toward head-quarters to report.

Turning towards the Train Station

Goodbye Tom Sawyer. Goodbye Becky.

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