December 12, 2010

Jeannine Hall Gailey

I FORGOT TO TELL YOU THE MOST IMPORTANT PART…

Without this knowledge, you’ll never make it:
it’s one part fashion advice and two parts survivalist.
Learn to talk to people so they think you’re honest
but never be honest. Cooking eggs may save your life,
so crack them, neat and firm, pour into the skillet,
stir gently. Forget about your shoes; people will judge
you by your shine, the imminent light you offer them.
Be a lamppost in wilderness, be the elephant
in the showroom. If you steal the idol, make sure
to carry a weighted bag of sand. No surprises: we’ve lied
about having it all. It’s either the piano or the pit viper.
Cinderella’s shoe came off at midnight because it hurt,
and Red Riding Hood’s real story involves cannibalism and a striptease.
Don’t wear red lipstick, don’t you kiss your mother with that mouth?
Long bangs hide a multitude of sins. Ask your grandmother
about the herbs she used to swallow while pregnant.
The butterflies here didn’t start out black, they were white
as onion skin—and the forest was more ominous
before the smokestacks. Well, here’s your little basket
and coat, sweetheart, sweetmeat, smile like you mean it,
shake what you’ve got while you’ve got it,
go out into the world and knock them dead.

from Rattle #33, Summer 2010

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