Delta Flight 659
—to Sean Penn I'm writing this on a plane, Sean Penn, with my black Pilot Razor ballpoint pen. Ever since 9/11, I'm a nervous flyer. I leave my Pentium Processor in Florida so TSA can't x-ray my stanzas, penetrate my persona. Maybe this should be in iambic pentameter, rather than this mock sestina, each line ending in a Penn variant. I convinced myself the ticket to Baghdad was too expensive. I contemplated going as a human shield. I read, in open- mouthed shock, that your trip there was a $56,000 expenditure. Is that true? I watched you on Larry King Live—his suspenders and tie, your open collar. You saw the war's impending mess. My husband gambled on my penumbra of doubt. So you station yourself at a food silo in Iraq. What happens to me if you get blown up? He begged me to stay home, be his Penelope. I sit alone in coach, but last night I sat with four poets, depending on one another as readers, in a Pittsburgh café. I tried to be your pen pal in 1987, not because of your pensive bad boy looks, but because of a poem you'd penned that appeared in an issue of Frank. I still see the poet in you, Sean Penn. You probably think fans like me are your penance for your popularity, your star bulging into a pentagon filled with witchy wanna-bes and penniless poets who waddle toward your icy peninsula of glamour like so many menacing penguins. But honest, I come in peace, Sean Penn, writing on my plane ride home. I want no part of your penthouse or the snowy slopes of your Aspen. I won't stalk you like the swirling grime cloud over Pig Pen. I have no script or stupendous novel I want you to option. I even like your wife, Robin Wright Penn. I only want to keep myself busy on this flight, to tell you of four penny- loafered poets in Pennsylvania who, last night, chomping on primavera penne pasta, pondered poetry, celebrity, Iraq, the penitentiary of free speech. And how I reminded everyone that Sean Penn once wrote a poem. I peer out the window, caress my lucky pendant: Look, Sean Penn, the clouds are drawn with charcoal pencils. The sky is opening like a child's first stab at penmanship. The sun begins to ripen orange, then deepen.
From Ka-Ching! by Denise Duhamel. Copyright © 2009 by Denise Duhamel. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved.