True Hollywood Confessions
of 1932

My family, naturally, wanted more
for me than this. The blonde best friend
in a smart little hat. Vocal training employed
to chirp an anthology of yes.

The saddest thing about suicides
is we’re not the worst of the lot
not a talentless bunch.
The press always thought well of me

even when I was in awful shows
swaths of flesh-toned nylon catching
my wispy legs, trying to make me
something sensual, solid. They remember

the first attempt, back there in Brooklyn
when some young man had stopped calling.
I tried to let it out through the wrists but it would
not go. Clotting garnet dust on the gauze dressings.

When I woke in the cardboard bed, muslin curtains
of my minor fame drawn around me,
understand, when they gave me my body back
it was nothing that I wanted. A mess of sodden

wings that could not budge my weight.
Everyone said the stage was dying, that pictures were the thing
so I came west, but it was just the same,
no way to be together.

I went up there not planning anything
wanting the view of the city through the tall letters
there was a ladder there, leaning against the “H”
like someone knew I was coming.

Like someone had written “the end”
in feminine script across the darkening sky
I deserved a starring role, and all I have is this
sordid bit of Hollywood history

I’ll be the first that thought to jump from here.
They’ll have to put up fences.
No matter how sure you are
you spend the last moment clawing the air,

calling for mommy. Still, I’m not sorry that I came.
Soft Pacific sky like cotton balls soaked in foundation
streaking the horizon. I would rather this a thousand times
than be the beauty of some small town.

Then, my poor family, who had never understood it
thought the flashbulbs had been the enemy. The rubes.
They took me back to the calm pastures,
Emptied me out, a champagne flute full of smoke,

over the Ohio. The belle of some small place
just as I’d feared.