To Carla With Love

To say that Carla had problems with men

Was like saying the Sahara

Was a tad bit dry.

She made light of them herself,

But the wounds ran deep.

She wore them like a second skin,

Numbing them now and then

In rivers of alcohol.

We found her once,

Barely coherent,

In a pile of Jim Beam bottles

On the kitchen floor,

Her little poodle teetering

As she licked the linoleum.

Calamity Carla was a sobriquet

She richly deserved.


Her love affairs went down

With a heavy dose of irony.

Ramon, her Puerto Rican lover,

Had broken all his vows

Yet could not bring himself

To leave the priesthood.

She had crashed the motorcycle

Of the crewcut lawyer, Bill,

Into his office building wall

Just as his wife pulled up.

Visiting Joe’s artist loft

To surprise him with

A pumpkin and a jug of cider,

She had caught him in flagrant

With a flannel-shirted plumber.

Her lovers were always on the verge

Of giving something up for her,

As if every month were Lent.

This one, his failed marriage with two kids,

That one, his addiction to the bottle,

A third, his racing car career,

But promises came and promises went,

And still she found herself alone.


So when she phoned from California

To say that Mr. Right, a stunning

Wunderkind from the Valley

Had shown up in his Porsche

To pop the question,

We were elated.

Then the day before the wedding,

His life flamed out

In a head-on with a drunk

Near San Jose.

The caterer stayed on

To feed the mourners at the wake.


The last we heard from Carla,

She was living in the Mission

With a golden boxer

And a hirsute biker, Rolf,

Whose name

In flaming four-inch letters

Was tatooed on his back,

Just in case you forgot it.


(originally published in Poet’s Haven)





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