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from the June 2012 issue

The Marilyn Monroe of Santo Domingo

I’m the Marilyn Monroe of Santo Domingo.
I’m six foot four.
Two inches more when I wear high heels.
I have a beauty spot on my butt.
I date poets from the eighties.
I date handymen, security guards,
models, engineers, visual artists,
weight lifters, lawyers, white boys,
paper pushers, heavy hitters, car valets.
I’m a regular at the bingo parlor,
the woman who puts Leaves
of Grass in her pocketbook
and gets lost in space.
The woman who drinks coffee at bus stops,
the man-eater, the pythoness, the megapoet,
the woman who cries when the movie ends
and nobody gives her a hug. 
I’m a menstruating monster,
the woman who sits in the dancejoints and drinks,
who ties one on and makes the whores
look disgusted and burns their miniskirts
with cigarettes when they go by.
The woman who wanted to kidnap Anthony Ríos.
The woman who injects hormones in her legs.
I’m la Cicciolina.
I’m Tiresias.
The woman who writes buck naked.
That big-boned woman who’s
multiplied by the motel mirrors
when they do her doggy-style.
The woman who sits in the back pew
of the church with a black eye.
Miss Boca Chica nineteen-ninety-four.
That woman who smokes on the ocean boulevard
watching the ships with their lights turned on.
The second semester nursing student.
The white girl who drives ambulances, city buses,
passenger vans, trailer trucks.
No, no, that thing was still there.
I hadn’t chopped it off.
I didn’t have the money to do it with.
So one day I thought I’m gonna do readings
to raise the money and have that operation.
I called all my poet friends on the telephone.
I remember how they passed a basket around
like they do at Masses
and there I was standing on the stage
the pur-tee Marilyn Monroe of Santo Domingo
reading my verses and grateful for the applause.
Thank you poet friends.
Thank you Mr. Minister of Culture.
Thank you very much.
A mob follows me with rocks.
They stone me in the Mella.  They stone me
at the Car Wash in San Isidro,
the ones in Los Mameyes, the Charles and Villa Mella.
Behind Quisqueya Stadium.
They beat me, humiliate me, shout at me.
They give me a thrashing.
They pile on top of me one by one.
I’ve lost myself.
I’m no longer here.
I repeat:  I’ve lost myself
and don’t know how to find myself.
I go to the four cardinal points looking for myself
in a procession with all the women I’ve been
and those that I’ll be and those that I can’t be.
I sleep in hospital beds,
guesthouses, motels, parks.
I take showers.  Lots of showers.
The dye runs down my face
and down my makeup.
I feel like I’m coming apart
and pieces of me keep falling one by one
taking the shower water with them
the water keeps falling and taking me with it
down to the drain.
Here I am on the rear of a Setenta motorbike.
Dancing with three men on a patio.
Walking on a busted high heel.
Massaging Italian tourists.
Sitting on my suitcase at an intersection
trying to hitch a ride.
Two guys in a Toyota pull up.
The one who’s driving asks me
Hey white girl where you goin’ babe
and I answer goin to LA
all the way down to LA
you know, Los Alcarrizos.
They leave me thirteen kilometers further on.
I walk to the other side of the road
and they hang around looking at me 
till on this side a Leche Rica
milk truck stops
and I climb in.
(Here I open a parenthesis to advise you
you need to get an AIDS test.
I do one every year.
They give it to you in a week at most.
A hundred and eighty pesos near the UASD.)
I go with divorced guys, widowers, atheists, priests, art critics,
psychoanalysts, ex-suicides, salsa-lovers, scooter-drivers,
Haitians, Protestant pastors, clowns, the terminally ill,
schizos, broke boxers.
I wake up in Puerto Plata.
I have visions in Azua.
I see the Pope dancing salsa.
I see igloos in Haina and Tres Brazos.
Eskimos in mom-and-pop stores.  Penguins in Mao.
St. Augustine with eyelashes like Charityn.
UFOs abducting senators and congressmen.
There’s a country in the world placed in the sun’s very path. 
There’s in the world a very country placed in the sun’s path.
There’s the sun’s very path placed in a country in the world.
There’s the sun’s path in the very world placed in a country.
I travel to New York with a fake passport.
MARILYN MONROE walking down Fifth Avenue again.
I have breakfast at Tiffany’s.
I drink Champagne in limousines.
I run for my life in Corona.
I play the accordion at a corner.
I fight in SoHo.
I cry in front of the Hudson.
I give a reading at the Nuyorican Café.
Rhymesters, poets, and rappers
toss me sprays of flowers.
I sign autographs.
I spread kisses all around.
Suddenly the doors bust wide open.
The INS guys put me in handcuffs.
They push me and meanwhile
the audience boos them and throws bottles.
Shots are heard.
They deport me.
I’m the Marilyn Monroe of Santo Domingo.
I get a waxjob all over.
Powder myself.  Do my make-up.
Put on a fur coat
ready for my next reading.
What’s a girl to do?
© Frank Baez. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2012 by Hoyt Rogers. All rights reserved.
Read more from the June 2012 issue
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