Friday, 29 June 2012

Oh Pretty Woman

I wrote the following some years ago about the thieving of my dad's Chrysler, self-published in a pamphlet called Years where various songs and the year of their recording prompted poetic rememberances. It's a poem I used to enjoy reading aloud:

Oh Pretty Woman - 1964
[Norfolk Nebraska]

the sister said

we took the car
just for a ride
and my boyfriend could drive
but it wasn't stealing, only borrowing
[with dad in Greenland
he'd hardly know]
and my brother would pay for the gas
with money from his paper round

so we headed out of town
with the Chrysler gliding up and down the long road
like it was floating on air
and in the black of night
speed wasn't really noticeable

then my boyfriend said something
which reminded me of
why Lenny Bruce was on trial
and my little brother was listening
so we should've been thinking
about getting home

her boyfriend said

whata cocksucker of a car
and we'd be on trial
if caught

so who's Lenny Bruce anyway
a real jerk
not tough like me
i got a razor blade and
carved her whole name down my arm
MELANIE in big letters
with the cigarette burns

we'll dump the car
and wipe it clean
like on TV

i said

this is neat
i'm with the boyfriend who
looks like James Dean
combs his hair back
and rolls up his t-shirt sleeves
i was in a car with him once
being chased and going around
a corner on two wheels

i got a razor blade too
and carved my girlfriend's name
but forgot the D
so have CINY on my arm

he reminds me of the pictures
on my sister's bedroom walls
Sal Mineo, Ricky Nelson,
Elvis Presley
i heard Roy Orbison's
Oh Pretty Woman on the radio there
what a song
as cool as being in this car

when we got home
i turned her bedroom light on
to tell them the car was missed
as they drove by

i was scared
the guys on that wall a lot
tougher than me

The reference to the missing D is a true story: trying to be a tough guy like the boys hanging around and chasing after my sister - though not going for the deliberate cigarette burns - I did carve my girlfriend's name in my forearm in front of her, but got it wrong. Had that misspelt scar for quite a few years, this future English teacher....


  1. Was Cindy impressed by your efforts?!

  2. No, she was more mature at 12 years old

  3. Well, it does take boys a long time to catch up....!