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Baby Jean Collins (rv)


dedalus
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I'm so very sorry ...

I've been prancing and dancing

and even romancing the memory

of Baby Jean Collins,

the silent star,

until she died last week

of senility, anger, old age, or some combination

of the three, and left me

desolate, consigned to mourn alone

without any solace, no telephone,

because nobody, nobody can remember.


It was in December '63

shortly after the Kennedy assassination,

that I flew to the West Indies:

wide horizons, sunsets, tropical seas,

to meet a dodgy prick called Ian Fleming.

My father would have been amazed

to see the sunlight and turquoise seas

after the grey rainy returns

of coal mines in Northumberland,

and the muddy slog for Paschendaele.


He was still alive then, heaving phlegm

from out his shattered lungs, telling me not to wear

tight trousers or gaily coloured shirts,

and I never once listened to this gasping bastard,

my father, who by his honesty and courage

had stopped the whole bloody world from caving in.

You regret it as you get older, you certainly do,

but all this, as usual, comes about too late.


We descended and we landed, and I perspired in the heat

of the Immigration Hall; vaguely and rather typically unsure,

but there was no Mr. Ian Fleming to meet or greet me.

He stayed out of the picture for the next three weeks,

during which I went to ground in the Maisybelle Hotel,

just a few steps from the beach and my morning swim,

followed by the MB pick-me-up with three kinds of rum.

I was having a rather good time, under instructions

to remain in place from London Station.


After a while, I was meeting a few local people,

buying them drinks, getting smaller drinks in return,

when I met Zoltan Hardracyni,

pre-War an Austro-Hungarian diplomat

who had been once a renowned Hollywood director

until kicked out of the country by the usual trail of deceit and tragedy

devised by business rivals and 'dem fuckin Germans'

according to the volatile Zoltan. In fact, I believed him,

and under the palms and hairy coconuts

my life was irrevocably transformed.


Films disappear, they are forgotten,

and some of them simply rot in unremembered reels,

but some of them - Voila - are saved!

I have the films, the complete collection

of Baby Jean Collins. Only me, haha !! Come to my house

tomorrow evening. Bring a bottle of whiskey,

and I will supply the water. You think I joke?

I joke with my enemies, never with my friends.


I forgot all about Ian Fleming. Puffed-up nancy-boy, really.

She was magical, that is all I can really say.

I watched the films over at Zoltan's and I was transfixed,

I was impaled with a silver spike within my heart.

I have to go to America, I cried, I must meet this woman!

They will throw you out, said Zoltan, head over heels.

He was a glum old chap, perhaps with reason.


I had to return to London, but with warmth and the summer season

flew out to LA, all happy and gay, feeling OK, feeling ...

idiotically, as it transpired, maybe able to do something.

Not a damn thing happened, not a thing, for maybe

seven, eight years, you know, and I began to feel like Zoltan

before his collapse on the crushing expulsion order.

He'd been in love with Baby Jean. That much was totally obvious

to his friends with whom I talked (but never to her). Towards the end,

the boys , quite elderly by now, said she had no idea where she was

or who she was, or even who she had been with.

She was totally out of it, man, said Paco, and I believed him.

Zoltan was long gone by then, poor pilgrim, perhaps just as well


... and she lived on for another 20, 30 years?


I recall the grey and white images seen in Nassau,

now more than fifty years in the past,

the black puckered lips, then red,

the slim bust and rather heavy thighs,

the sexual ideal of our great grandfathers ...

and I think of the anorexic girls of today,

all skin and bones and thrusting bosoms,

and I wonder how far we have travelled

along this long and never-ending road.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Pleasant but bitter introspection of the changes of culture everywhere. You do seem to have been everywhere, to our gain. Ian could not hold a candle to Graham Greene. (I visited Haiti when school children sang, "Papa Doc, Duvalier, President for life," while the Ton-Ton Macou closely watched this American captain.) Well, you still have Baby Jean. Enjoyed, and still learning. Thank you.

Paco

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I joke with my enemies, never with my friends.

 

That is so strong it is transferable to any kind of situation.....Wide in its topical scope, this part draws me:

 

who by his honesty and courage

had stopped the whole bloody world from caving in.
You regret it as you get older, you certainly do,
but all this, as usual, comes about too late.
I think this is a MULTI layered piece.....actually, fairly difficult.
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Powerful voice. Powerful Poem. Found it to be At once moving and bitter, and yet, beautiful.

 

I find it well, well, done;-)

 

Juris

thegateless.org Come on over and check out my poetry substack y'all;-) Or if your bored, head to the Zazzle store: https://www.zazzle.com/store/gateless. If you buy anything I lose a bet, so consider that before you violate the digital rules.

 

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