(Peggy believes “Figs ARE the flushest fruit and Tango is
“Scarlet Billows Start to Spread”
I grew up learning to eat properly
at the Brown Derby, the Duck
Press, and the Pacific Dining Car.
We always sat next to the dance
floor, the sound of the kitchen un-
pleasing to father’s ear. Likewise
there was a wrong angle looking
into a mouth on a tv commercial
that made him cringe. I learned
how skin could crawl from my father.
I grew up singing lounge music,
making up for Daddy’s infractions
at the Palladium after the war. He
wanted to dance himself to death,
but mother never broke a sweat.
I grew up with Duke and Josie at Dino’s
on the strip. I drank Shirley Temples
with my three perfect sisters in patent
leather shoes, crinoline itching elbows,
grosgrain waist bands cinching our
smiles into place.
I grew up fearing Duke’s lizard grin,
frozen in time between verses of
Sukey Tawdry, and Miss Lotte Lenya,
I was always waiting between sets
for the shark to bite, with his huh huh
pearly teeth big. Look out old
Macky’s back in town.
*The title of this poem and italics at the end are originally from “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer”, a song composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for Mack the Knife.