Complaint of Isadora Duncan's Scarf

Charles Jensen

My only glory was in beauty,
how I reached from her slender neck
toward the sky, ravaged by wind

the way a rough lover handles
you: dizzying, powerful,
unpredictable, but with joy,

joy in touching you,
joy in seeing you disheveled. The cool
night air ran its lips on my silk skin

to make me dance. I danced,
long and lean, with perfect
extension and seamless flow.

I had no bones. Not one bit of me
was firm or harsh. I was air
itself. I was becoming

pure performance. I could
see the tire's eye watching me.
The car at the sidewalk with its

inflexible frame—it hated
my freedom, my lift, my flight.
The car, gravity's great love,

envied me. The wind, for a moment,
set me down with ballet grace.
I lit upon the cold steel spokes

striking out from the wheel
like the arms of great Kali. She
tangled me, and when the car

drove off the wheel pulled me
tighter. I wound around its neck
the only way a scarf knows how,

pulling my whole silk body
and everything that anchored me
into the mouth of never.

Copyright © 2012 by Charles Jensen. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2012 by Charles Jensen. Used with permission of the author.

Charles Jensen

by this poet

poem
        —The "Miranda Rights," established 1966


You have the right to remain
anything you can and will be.

An attorney you cannot afford
will be provided to you.

You have silent will.
You can be against law.
You cannot afford one.

You remain silent. Anything you say
will be provided to you.

The
poem

Everyone’s so quick to blame my
tenderness. My wound opening like a mouth
to kiss an arrow’s steel beak.

A beautiful man, now, plants his face
in Trojan sand while I tell
the secrets of his body—

make the ground red with truth.
Red with the death of Achilles, felled