Bettie Page

“I had less sex activity those seven years in New York
      than I had any other time in my life.”

 

She is always in a room,
which may be a dwelling of the dead
or the isolated cum-house of deviants

or rather, an apartment
with a disconnected telephone
where she is lured and tied
     to a chair
     with ropes

black her hair
and pale white skin,
the classic black/white,
“raven”   “porcelain”

black angel angle,
her black bangs
which would later be emulated
by hip strippers in their pinup crazes,
who aspired to appear in Vue,
     the pinup craze

everyone wanted to date her—
(she radiated blackly)
“Can I date you?”   “Yes...”
so she dated them and men dated her,
and they sat on benches in parks
and dated

at beaches also she became unclothed
but it was better in rooms
/always I refuse to be dead/
she said and took off her clothes
when the camera was alone

her skirt off and dresses and blouses
showing her underwear and mouth,
she was dating,
she could be very dark
     sexless

     so,
when from the mouth it radiates
and her eyes wonder who it is that’s watching,
when the tattered newsprint pages of Chicks and Chuckles
are blown down the winter alleyway,
when the clay collects in the cracks below the window
and the furniture begins to show its age—

Bettie Page,

          Bettie Page,

                    Bettie Page


Michael S. Begnal was formerly the editor of the Galway, Ireland-based literary magazine, The Burning Bush (1999-2004). His latest poetry collection is Ancestor Worship, published by Salmon Poetry in 2007. His first collection, The Lakes of Coma, was brought out in 2003 from Six Gallery Press, followed in 2005 by the long poem, Mercury, the Dime. He appears in the anthologies Breaking the Skin: New Irish Poetry (Black Mountain Press, 2002) and, in Irish, Go Nuige Seo (Coiscéim, 2004, 2005). He is also included in the recent essay collection, Avant-Post: The Avant-Garde under “Post-” Conditions (Litteraria Pragensia, 2006), and is editor of Honeysuckle, Honeyjuice: A Tribute to James Liddy (Arlen House, 2006).