Marlon Brando Considers His Sex Appeal, in Glorious Black and White
I never met a dame yet didn’t know if she was good-lookin’ or not without bein’ told.—Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire
God, it feels like sun inside my skin:
sure and sharp as a fast shot of gin
or the bust-up charge tight-cocked in a colt
revolver or rodeo horse loaded to go.
’Fess up, honey, what you wouldn’t give
for the fat smugness of my tongue shoved in a cheek,
my rib-wide hands, my everything so thick—
lips, eyebrows, belt, cheekbones, and meaty
arms, and that drowsy sadness sweetly dense,
sadness mixed with sex and insolence
and the lazy stickiness of dusk
in Stanley’s New Orleans, or on the waterfront.
Do I shame you baby, with my jacked-up ego
that taunts I know I am enough for you
as I champ my gum and lick my gaze along a girl
with all the time in the world?
Poor kid, you hate the dime-store cig that swoons
between my heavy fingers like you will soon,
but how could you—wave-eyed, petal-limbed, and green—
have hope of staying safe beyond the screen?
God, baby, this is it: like sun, like gin,
like all the seedy spots you’ve never been—
take a hit. You’re all junked up on dream
and nothing’s quite so good, or quite so mean
believe me, sweetie. We all need that shove
down off the pedestal by want, or love.
My skinny T-shirt ripens with a slab of sweat.
“You love me . . . I want to hear you say it.”
Rachel Dilworth’s first manuscript, The Wild Rose Asylum: Poems of the Magdalen Laundries of Ireland, was chosen by Rita Dove as the winner of the 2008 Akron Poetry Prize. It will be published by University of Akron Press in 2009. Her poems are forthcoming in American Literary Review, Chautauqua, and Southern Indiana Review, and have appeared in TriQuarterly, Spoon River Poetry Review, Perihelion, CutThroat, and elsewhere. She has received, among other awards, a Fulbright Fellowship to Ireland, Yale’s Clapp Fellowship for poetry, commendation in the UK National Poetry Competition, and a Bread Loaf “Waiter” Scholarship. The last line of this poem is taken from the motion picture On the Waterfront. (10/2008)