Three from Hamlet Off Stage by D.C.Berry
The Art Show Lawdy Mamas
The annual spring art show by the women
of Ocean Springs featured flowers, every
canvas — irises, roses, magnolias —
especially roses. I’d have liked them more
if they’d had thorns. I love the rosy thorn,
what a mellow, hard-ass, take-no-shit stoic.
Saw a few spikes, but spied lots of leg gliding
around, correcting the air with Chanel,
Obsession, Eau de Peu, and nylon swish,
heels tapping nuclearizing the void.
Ophelia, five red roses in her hair,
each a poked hole for Jesus on the cross,
showed up. The middle rose squirted water,
hit people glanced about like startled cats.
I came on strong in my amnesia swank —
white linen suit, white shirt, white tie, white shoes.
And some grand dame about as old as Gertrude,
minus twenty years lipo-suctioned off,
offered to flourish me in her new flower bed
made of barbed wire and bullwhip vines. I scrammed,
too much poetry leaking from her bad breath.
When I got back to pick up Ophelia,
she’d cut herself a new bouquet of roses,
had sliced them right out of several paintings,
said they were real roses, wouldn’t turn brown.
I thought about the barbed-wire flower bed
I’d been offered — my body lacerated
in a rose dream, the bloody barbs rusting,
the gynopoet getting it on video.
And my fraud about thorns hit me as fraud,
a pose like my amnesia swank get-up.
Posing’s okay. It’s the real that’s too real.
Ophelia’s too real. Each day she’s sweeter,
but each day she turns wilder and wilder,
talks of climbing the willow at the creek,
straddling a crotch, wearing a rosy cap.
Polo, The Man
Couture, haberdashery — maybe that’s my
weak link: I’m too sooty, wear too much black.
Look like a chimney sweep, you think like one.
Think life’s a black Sing Sing, then there’s no way
Santa Claus can shimmy down your chimney.
Not the man of red velvet. I’m saying I see
linen makes the man, forget genes and jeans.
So, I picked Good Friday to make my change:
throw out the Richard Burbage biker grunge
and dress like Betterton, be a modern
courtier-knight, a lean horseman, and not
a grease-hog. Take a hint from Ralph Lauren
and go purely Polo, the horseman on
my socks, there swinging his mallet as if
life’s all Merry England. Same rider on
my underwear, my slacks, my shirt, my cap
and belt. Stand back I’m one whole cavalry.
No better way to make people bow down.
We humans use clothes like tigers use piss,
to mark the territory. Clothes snarl for us.
Clothes shout you’re country ass or Country Club.
Cats flash urine for get back, we flash clothes.
So, I’m burning my nightful, mourning rags,
turning into a tweedy earl errant.
That’s my plan. And? Good Friday morning I
step off the porch, and Puff Daddy’s purring,
his black tail lashing like a lion tamer,
slapping down my interest in snoot couture.
Puff’s got a mockingbird, and it’s all dressed
southern suave in its Confederate fly-suit,
tail a bit shredded. Puff’s making it play
hop-scotch, though it skips only in circles,
slowed by the bent leg and the out black eye.
Puff also struts with the bird in his mouth,
looks like he’s wearing an Ole Miss ascot,
its blue-gray understating Puff’s black coat.
Think of a black four-legged Colonel Reb,
naked except for the rebel neckwear,
and you got Puff’s latest fashion statement.
The bird, up close, reveals his elegance
as well — his beak buffed clean, his toenail sheen,
dandy with the black pearl stuck on his wing.
Horse or Arse
Rumor has it that Claudius has AIDS.
Tell Gertrude? Or hope she catches it, too?
Punishment for being his sex sewer.
So, should I murder Claudius quickly
or let my new friend AIDS slowly wax him?
My head says let God’s AIDS waste this turkey.
My heart says Claude’s a goose, rip off his beak,
stab him from asshole to his shit-for-brains.
My head says he’s on the spit already,
be a Christian and turn his other cheek.
Either’s good for this goose Gertrude calls Zeus.
Do I let both go belly up with rot?
Or have pity on Gertrude. She might have
punctured her brain with the stud in her tongue
and the dozen rings in her ears, dressing
like Ophelia — sandbag breasts for a flood,
enough lead in her face to shoe a horse.
Can one’s own mother be a braying ass?