Judy Poem By Paul Allen

Judy Poem By Paul Allen

If it comes down to choosing sides,
choose Judy. She dies like nobody
else. Besides, her father
owns the theater.

Saturday before the matinee he makes deals,
bags coins in his little office
over the arc light projection room with its empty eyes.
He sits up there owning, a bald thought
in the brain of the building, rolling change.

Let the line outside get long. This place,
Palace, is ours: lobby, mezzanine,
WOMEN, MEN—partners, with Judy there we have it all.
She’s everything we ever wanted in an outlaw
—quick draw, wears her sidearm cross-ways, low
and loose, tied at the knee with real leather—not
some older brother’s sneaker lace.

She knows this place.
If she weren’t so good at dying she might even win.
But she is so good at dying.
Gut shot, she digs her fist in her stomach,
twists her own breath loose,
pulls herself up by the marble table with the dried
arrangement, drags her leg down the hall,
falls back against the gold mirror.

You move in to take her, dead or alive.

In the stand-off, behind her in the glass
you see your hat brim around her face
as though you were behind her,

facing yourself beyond her lolling tongue:
She grips the gold frame, swings
herself against the wall like a door opening,
and now you see exactly how you look
ready to plug yourself.

She rolls into the balcony, then…then
over! Over the balcony! Game over?
No. Below she’s taking your shots again,
coughing row by row. She takes you with her
as she goes down against the sandy white arroyo of the screen.
Is that dying, or what?

Her old man’s bumping around,
behind the eyes, loading the reels. This is the last killing,
before the doors open
—the final death of the day except the ones we live
through on the screen. They are free.

Si, mis compadres. See gringos?
If Judy doesn’t play, nobody plays.

Paul Allen
from American Crawl

Judy Poem By Paul Allen

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