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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Celebrity Poem Assignment Using Dorianne Laux's "Cher"

After I posted about Twiggy, I thought I might try to write a poem about her, but I just couldn't get inspired. Dorianne Laux has an amazing poem about Cher--one of my favorites of hers.

If you're looking for a writing prompt, how about writing a poem about a favorite (or least favorite) celebrity? It could be Van Halen, Aretha Franklin, Leonardo DeCaprio, Johnny Rotten, Tom Hanks, Prince, Meryl Streep, Madonna, Eminem, Lady Gaga--but definitely someone you're obsessed with or perhaps have a bone to pick with (in Laux's poem, the bone is the missing bump on Cher's nose), and the obsession is her near-lifetime longing to be like her. Oh, one other thing: think about how you want to shape your poem-Laux's is long and thin, just like her fav ladies long tresses.

I don't think I'll be doing my celebrity poem about Twiggy, so if you want to write about her, she's all yours.


I wanted to be Cher, tall

as a glass of iced tea,

her bony shoulders draped

with a curtain of dark hair

that plunged straight down,

the cut tips brushing

her non-existent butt.

I wanted to wear a lantern

for a hat, a cabbage, a piƱata

and walk in thigh high boots

with six inch heels that buttoned

up the back. I wanted her

rouged cheek bones and her

throaty panache, her voice

of gravel and clover, the hokum

of her clothes: black fishnet

and pink pom-poms, frilled

halter tops, fringed bells

and her thin strip of waist

with the bullet hole navel.

Cher standing with her skinny arm

slung around Sonny’s thick neck,

posing in front of the Eiffel Tower,

The Leaning Tower of Pisa,

The Great Wall of China,

The Crumbling Pyramids, smiling

for the camera with her crooked

teeth, hit-and-miss beauty, the sun

bouncing off the bump on her nose.

Give me back the old Cher,

the gangly, imperfect girl

before the shaving knife

took her, before they shoved

pillows in her tits, injected

the lumpy gel into her lips.

Take me back to the woman

I wanted to be, stalwart

and silly, smart as her lion

tamer’s whip, my body a torch

stretched the length of the polished

piano, legs bent at the knee, hair

cascading down over Sonny’s blunt

fingers as he pummeled the keys,

singing in a sloppy alto

the oldest, saddest songs.

Dorianne Laux


Kistulentz said...

I'm pretty sure the Van Halen thing has been done, at least the David Lee Roth me :)

David Graham said...

Found the following on a blog. Interestingly, Laux evidently wrote HER poem originally from a prompt!

"Laux wrote "Cher" after he husband Joe Millar gave her 10 words and told her to use them while saying something she'd wanted to say but hadn't. Laux took the chance to talk about her Cher envy."

Martha Silano said...

Steve: I know you've been writing about rock bands/stars since way back. Always loved your Bay City Rollers poem.

Great story, David--thanks for sharing. Sometimes the best poems begin from exercise challenges.

knott said...

Laux's is better, but here's mine:

Martha Silano said...

Bill -- I loved your Song to Cher. Check it out, everyone!

David Graham said...

Here's an old one of mine--

Ray Charles On Late Night TV

That nonstop rhinestone grin
undimmed by the decades,
though the hair is frosty gray
and the face a bit grizzled--

he whips out the intro
to What'd I Say, as
the latest Raeletts
sway against their tambourines,

and I nearly forget how many
thousands of nights
he's leaned into the mike
to growl I want to know,

how many car radios
have pulsed with his cries
in Michigan, in Tennessee,
unhh and ohhh--what Ray said.

Tell it, brother. We're not
really listening. We're
squirming across the back seat
in a hilarious tangle

of unbuckled belts,
bra straps, and frantic hips.
We're doing the backbeat,
we're wailing the blues

right into rock-and-rollville.
And Ray's still presiding,
with demon grin and mirrored shades,
like he sees it all.

--David Graham. Egg (Spring 1997).

Martha Silano said...

David: thanks for posting. This one gives me a good kind of chills.

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