Charity Balls

I had a fellowship, but lived poorly
On slices of pizza.
Later, a career of washing lettuce;
but I have always been the same.
It’s a question of acquiring a mastery of tone
Beneath the crystal chandeliers and champagne
on a glass table top.
At the age of five I thought Scarlett O’Hara
a fictional character. It was not until
The age of forty-eight I knew she was real.
Old clothes and bedroom slippers and a scarf
Wrapped around her head
In low cost tenement housing.
She began talking about my writing
And her sex life.
I’m curt by nature and dolorous.
But I knew if I worked hard I’d eventually make it.

From Supplication: Selected Poems of John Wieners, edited by Joshua Beckman, CAConrad, and Robert Dewhurst © 2015 John Wieners Literary Trust, Raymond Foye, Administrator. Reprinted with the permission of The John Wieners Literary Trust.