Self-Portrait as Lines Taken from the Autobiography of Tallulah Bankhead
I started out as a bogus Pocahontas
in British Columbia,
wound up a ballerina in Paris,
doing a duet with the perpendicular pronoun.
Never a bridesmaid, always a bride—
always Jekyll, never Hyde.
Ill-begotten daughter of Medusa
and the Marquis de Sade:
my voice has been likened
to the mating call of the caribou.
Charged with double daiquiris,
I’ve churned with the conviction
I can do the Indian rope trick.
Who cares if a politician, policeman,
or actor comes to work late?
A poet is a slave to the clock.
Searing my larynx, or sipping champagne
from a slipper, I’ve milked that
wooly mammoth, and christened
an electric rabbit with a jeroboam,
but never rode in a patrol wagon.
Despite what you’ve heard
to the contrary:
Cleopatra was a blonde.