— Mary Jo Salter

Upon First Viewing Ball of Fire

           Oh, Barbara Stanwyck, strike

          My fancy, stoke my fire

With one fell stroke revoke my self control—

Come be the dancing mistress of my soul!

          I’ll never meet your like

          Now that most flicks require

Two topless shots for every minor role;

         You couched your sex appeal

          In what you could conceal,

          A trick that wildly trumps

          Modern celebutantes’.

Your smirk and three dry words could flood a room

With oomph! with awww! with vah-vah-voom!,

          To quote those Forties chumps.

          I guess a real man wants

The panoramic rack and nipple-zoom;

          I want the wit, the verve,

          And every subtle curve

          Of your elaborate con-

          versation. Steal my heart,

Toy with it, torch it; mesmerize me; come,

Your slim hips swinging like a pendulum;

          And once—no, now—you’ve gone,

          Let me play Krupa’s part,

Tapping “Drum Boogie” on a matchbox-drum

          With (greatest of his tricks)

          A pair of matchstick-sticks.

>> — Mary Jo Salter

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Author: The Best American Poetry