English Classes I Have Known


Jackie did not have to write a word

Or read a word

She was the Word


With a dozen joints in a gilded cigarette case, incipient anorexia, severely short hair, itty

bitty tits, affairs with dozens of men and incessant allusions to imagined lesbian trysts

She was Bloomsbury of Long Island

Lady Jackie of Great Neck

Virginia Woolf on electric guitar


Her Alpha Romeo raced like dactylic meter

Her color coordinated clothing shone with alliteration

And the constancy of her howls and shrieks and yelps

Gave us the vowelled certainty of an inexorable running rhyme


Running her cars into the ground like men,

When she was mad she’d screw with the ignition key and

Kill the car’s starter


But Daddy would pick her up and buy her a new car

And she felt just as special as somebody on Masterpiece Theatre

Screaming at the servants and eating tea and crumpets


Her tantrums at Bagel Nosh were the stuff of legend

She yelled herself into Laurence Olivier doing Richard III

Doped herself into Coleridge and became a Caribbean Mariner

Mushroomed into Lewis Carrol and became John Lennon in drag


And then John Lennon got shot

And Jackie married a lawyer and moved to Westchester

And I’m sure she’s never written a word since


David Gottfried, Copyright, 1998



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