Peggy Dobreer

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(Peggy believes “Figs ARE the flushest fruit and Tango is

absolutely necessary.”) 

“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.

– Peggy Dobreer

Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher

 

*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.