Dietrich in Heaven


In honor of Marlene Dietrich’s birthday (December 27th), my poem “Dietrich in Heaven.” Listen to the spoken word/music track here.
Today I went to Heaven,
just for a brief visit.
It was a nice joint:
tangerine-fleeced runways,
and tufts of flamingo-pink
cloud, mascara-outlined,
curling softly
round the edges.
There were lots of girls
there, a chorus-line of rib-sculpting
corsets, bright wigs, rouge, dark heels
like panthers, flashing sharp teeth
and puffed toes.
The brass section blared
woozy notes, as if too many dives
into the drink tank, had corrupted
the cleanest purest
Legions of their lungs
and blows.

And the smoke,
thickening Heaven,
of deep blue and ash-gray,
rose and spiralled
upupup in tight
denim streams.
Heaven, it seemed to me,
was like Berlin in the twenties.

Maybe cuz I met
the Bluest of blue angels,
Ms. Cool
freezeframe herself,
Marlene Dietrich.
Her voice, a pack of huskies,
after years of too-much-nightclub
smoking, pulling a sled over a slick
below-zero tundra, when she said:
Hullo, dahling. Did you bring a microphone?
The intonation of her words,
clotted peaks and dips: MICroPHOne.
No, Miss Dietrich,
can’t say I did.
I was hoping
since we were in Heaven,
together, that she’d say:
Please, call me Marlene–
but she didn’t.
Too bad, she said,
I was going to sing you
an old German lullaby.
I didn’t want to be presumptuous,
but had to ask: Can’t you sing it
without a microphone?
Deitrich’s head snapped-back,
viciously, as if phantomhands had
yanked on her hair,
the punishment for an offense
she had committed

and out burst
a raspy metallic
yet buttery-smooth
laugh, which went on
and on, its volume
filling the whole of Heaven.
When the laughing stopped,
her head snapped-back to upright,
and she said: I don’t know about
other women, but I require
a microphone from Earth
to sing in Heaven.
She pinched my cheek,
a little too hard.
But that’s your loss, kid,
she said, her voice suddenly
taking a turn toward Bogart.
I wanted to be near Dietrich,
her ice-queenliness
making my blood run
a special kind of warm,
but I was also
scared of her, and said:
It was very nice meeting you,
Miss Dietrich, but I’ve got to go now.
She gingerly fingered
the ruffles,
which looked like petaled white pastries,
on her silk blouse,
and the freeze in her eyes
became daggers and knives,
cutting swiftly
into every one
of my nerve-endings.
I was paralyzed.
Dietrich’s tone,
heavy cream, curdling,
when she said: Why, dahling,
donntt you lovveee me anyymmmorrre?
Without batting an eyelash,
she wrapped both
her bare legs
around my torso, and became
a floating rightangled
vicegrip, ankles twined
ribbonstyle, to keep me
sealed-in and barely breathing.
Far from being my introduction
to sex in heaven
with Marlene Dietrich,
her legs grew longer
and longer, two smoothly shaved
and supple beanstalks,
sprouting out, vertically,
until her toes
became tiny foothills
in the distance.
Then, Dietrich parted her legs,
slightly, so I could wriggle free,
and said: Take my legs
until you can’t take them anymore.
I nodded, and started walking along
Dietrich’s legs, parallel tracks
that went on and on,
past the horizon,
and when I finally reached
the point where
Dietrich’s legs cut off,
I fell back to Earth

About John Biscello

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, performer, and playwright, John Biscello, has lived in the high-desert grunge-wonderland of Taos, New Mexico since 2001. He is the author of four novels, Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale, Raking the Dust, Nocturne Variations, and No Man’s Brooklyn; a collection of stories, Freeze Tag, two poetry collections, Arclight and Moonglow on Mercy Street; and a fable, The Jackdaw and the Doll, illustrated by Izumi Yokoyama. He also adapted classic fables, which were paired with the vintage illustrations of artist, Paul Bransom, for the collection: Once Upon a Time, Classic Fables Reimagined. His produced, full-length plays include: LOBSTERS ON ICE, ADAGIO FOR STRAYS, THE BEST MEDICINE, ZEITGEIST, U.S.A., and WEREWOLVES DON’T WALTZ.
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