Monday, August 22, 2016

The One About Dorothy Parker

As depicted in Al Hirschfeld's famous caricature: Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin Round Table (lower left) surrounded by Robert Benchley, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, Frank Crowninshield, Alexander Woollcott, Heywood Broun, Marc Connelly, Frank Case, Franklin P. Adams, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman and Robert E. Sherwood.

I ran my fingers through your hair
as you ran through Dorothy Parker's words
"Why is it that your poems don't rhyme?"
You cooed while gently twisting
the dagger in my heart.

What was it that Ms. Parker wrote?
"Scratch a lover, and find a foe."
It was in a ballad I think,
A ballad of great weariness.

Myriam plucks her strings
as I'm reduced to tears
of reading very short songs
and other places
where words have been.

Up half the night reading verse
drinking straight tequila
My body says I am by the sea
My thoughts say I am elsewhere.

That winter long ago
when I was briefly a New Yorker
Stamping snow from upon my shoes
when entering that hotel —
you know the one —

Saw the table, saw the cat
While drowning in its history
Coming up for air and cocktails
Among the Christmas chaos

I stuffed a caricature in my coat
and checked a mental box
Scratched myself a two line note
"Go home. Change the locks."

I shook my head then held it high
As her words came back to haunt me
I had a thought and heaved a sigh
Would you love me should I rhyme like Dottie P?


— Mark Butkus


Born this day in 1893, Dorothy Parker was a poet and critic known primarily for her wit. She is remembered as one of the founders of the fabled Algonquin Round Table literary group. One of her better known quips is, "Men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses." So, she never wore hers in public!

While this poem is a flight of fancy, the author did pick up a postcard at the Algonquin Hotel of Al Hirschfeld's famous caricature. It sits framed in the author's home in California.