T.S. Kerrigan

Five Views of an Actress

           I

Opening Night

My longing passage to your lips,
I traced the long cascade of hair
That trailed along your breasts and hips.
What man who saw such beauty there
Would take a breath, appraise the cost
Of sullen, half disdainful eyes,
Or sense what he’d already lost?
Whoever called Athena true,
Her sister Aphrodite wise?
If goddesses are rarely good,
What more could I expect of you?
So much to come I didn’t know,
So much of you misunderstood,
The Judas Kiss, the crushing blow.

          II

On Holiday

We took the waters late that spring
At Baden Baden, you and I
(A place where nudists come to play)
Along our mostly unplanned swing
From Frankfurt west to Bonn, Versailles.

So quick to drop your pants and bra
In films a million men took in,
You balked at taking off your clothes,
Equating it with mortal sin
To show to Hans what Harry saw.

          III

Reflecting on her Life in “Another World”

That other world’s beyond recall,
Your former young and restless days
When Messrs. Smith and Jones would call,
Pornographers would send bouquets.
Now life resembles bad TV,
The pilot for some day time soap
Or situation comedy.
It’s long past time you gave up hope,
Forgot the old camaraderie,
     The banter, gossip, actor’s notes.
They wrote you off at 33.
Now nothing’s left but anecdotes.
They’re gone: the friends, the coke, the fun.
What actress has an endless run?

          IV

Closing Night

Don’t ask me to enumerate
A list of all you took from me.
I’ve lost the skill to calculate.
Besides, it started long ago,
A quarter of a century;
I doubt that even you still know.
Don’t ask me to recount your lies,
The sum of all your perjury.
My mind is blank with wherefores, whys.
My grievance numbers, nothing real,
A loss the years obliterate,
The layers of the years conceal.
Insolvency is such a fall
It takes away a man’s recall.

          V

On the Telephone

You used to call my number late, to hear
My voice, you said, but never spoke a word.
I never met a woman so obsessed,
Though what you saw in me was never clear.
Your breathing was the only sound I heard.
I only knew the truth when you confessed.

The phone still wakens me sometimes these nights.
More telephonic games of hide and seek?
Its clanging sounds like you, insistent, mad.
I let it ring awhile, leave off the lights.
I hear you question why we never speak.
It’s clear, my love, our old connection’s bad.

T.S. Kerrigan is the author of My Dark People, which was a finalist for the Borders Books New Mexico Book Awards. It’s been nominated for a Pulitzer, and XJ Kennedy said in Light Quarterly a few months ago that he considers Kerrigan “one of the finest and most entertaining poets alive.” The Midwest Book Review said, referring to Kerrigan’s dual Irish and American citizenship, “A man of two cultures, T.S. Kerrigan blends all the insights of wisdom of both.”

Advertisements