Power Coupling

The ancient diva had been sitting there
For years. Her lines were painted out with pancake
The shade of slate—a grayer diva now.
The dull, dry eyes were dimmed by polarizing
Sunglasses; slit-like lips spread wide with lipstick.
The turkey neck was camouflaged with silk.
The wrinkled breasts were bound inside a bodice;
The rest hid underneath a pile of skirt
As richly red as fresh-spilled human blood.
It wasn’t hers. No heart beat in that chest,
Instead a metronome, its steady click
A proof that someone once had been alive.
Her efforts to construct a winning smile
Could make the most courageous disappear
For fear that her cracked cheeks would crumble, fall
And leave behind a graveyard full of teeth
That, as they tumbled to the floor, would seed
Two gleaming rows of shrieking sycophants.
The diva could no longer hide herself
Behind a veil of rhetoric. So, she sat,
A living monument to frailty’s power
To steal our days. Vulnerable fakery,
The subject for a costume ball for victims,
Rustled its petticoats and bone brassieres.
A gasping mob of followers approached
To beg for her indulgence. They were scorned
To favor her Lothario, a scamp
Who bore the image of a wanton squirrel,
Big teeth, his ample cheeks filled up with nuts.
This pair of baldfaced liars dominated
The room, their faces filling every window
Through which their subjects watched—a bovine crowd
Of bored hysterics, mooing their passive cheers.
What’s to be done with such a hapless group,
Who’d give their everything for a cup of soup?

Arthur Mortensen of Brooklyn has appeared in many journals and has three collections: A Disciple After the Fact, a novel in verse (Kaba Press); Life in the Theater, sequel, and Why Hamlet Waited So Long (San Sebastian Press). Upcoming is After the Crash, currently in submission. He has been editor & publisher of Somers Rocks Press, Pivot Press, and is Webmaster of www.expansivepoetryonline.com.