Manic-depressive Jimmy Stewart,
like a drunk girl who fell off the giddy couch
my father must have seen you,
learned from you
the value of a melodramatic suicide.
In New England if they saw you
running through cornflakes snow
like that they would stop
and offer you a lift
and the negro maid
would not get the best lines.
At the back of the throbbing room
at midnight the percussionist
told the girl to hit the jazz bell harder,
and I thought this is what you live for
but you were gone by then,
crazy black steed, rushing
through the snow into oblivion.
Roger Atwood’s poems have appeared in Town Creek Poetry, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Potomac Review and Linden Lane Magazine. He is the author of a non-fiction book, Stealing History (St. Martin’s Press, 2004). His essays and articles are widely published, including in National Geographic, The Times Literary Supplement, The Massachusetts Review, Latin American Research Review and Mother Jones. He is a Contributing Editor at Archaeology magazine and teaches writing at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, where he lives.