“Shun” © Edward Michael Supranowicz


Elegy for a Former Stripper
In memory of Lynn Frances Earley, who died of COVID-19 in late December 2020

The incident report said
they found you facedown
on your bedroom floor,
next to a litter box
wearing a gray hoodie
and black pants
pulled down past your knees.
Rigor mortis was in its early stages.

I hope you didn’t suffer.

Your final posts on social media
were so heartbreaking;
it was like watching a slow-motion death.
Why didn’t you get help?
Why didn’t any of your other “friends”
have the North Bergen police
do a wellness check before I did?

Lynno, you were a grumpy, old woman,
complaining about everything,
even when people “liked” your posts too much.
But I knew you when you were “Libido,”
a raspy-voiced, busty, red-haired exotic dancer
with legs that went on for days.
I wonder, did the men you danced for
even know what “libido” meant?

But you were so much more than a stripper,
at least to me.
For one, the founder and director
of Zero Proof Party Zone,
a place where people could dance
and enjoy live music
without getting shitfaced.

Over thirty years ago,
you and I became fast friends,
two former Catholic school girls
gone wrong
but right in each other’s eyes.

In your handwritten will,
you left me a manuscript,
the story of your life,
perhaps your only legacy.
You called the book “Sextuple”
and said it could be found
by your desk, a messy jumble
of grocery receipts, scratch offs
and a notecard that read: “ooh-la-la.”

In the end,
you were an aging wild child,
more than three decades sober.
You died a few weeks after
your seventy-second birthday,
all alone,
except for your three cats:
Isadora, Colette and Bardot.

I wonder if I could have saved you,
had I called the authorities sooner.
And I wonder, with all you’d been through—
abuse, poverty, addiction, eviction, loss—
did you even want to be saved?

I’ll never know the answer.


Catherine Gigante-Brown’s poems have appeared in publications like Ravishly, Art & Understanding and Downtown Express. She haswritten extensively about my experiences as one of Audre Lorde’s students when she briefly taught poetry at Hunter College in the 1980s. Her novels, The El, The Bells of Brooklyn, Different Drummer and Better than Sisters (which includes several poems) are published by Volossal.

Edward Michael Supranowicz has had artwork and poems published in the US and other countries. Both sides of his family worked in the coalmines and steel mills of Appalachia.