Artwork © DL Polonsky

 

To Joan Vollmer

wife of William S. Burroughs
murdered by her husband at 28

They say it was an act of god
that left you there
balancing a glass of drinking water
on your head, your husband
brash and ludicrous
a cocksure William Tell
fondling a pistol.
It’ll be a cinch
like shooting fish in a barrel.

You winked, your pride the rope
you don’t remember over-
mentored and
under- sponsored all your years
pouring the drinks
biting your tongue
staring down the barrel of what you can
accommodate.
You didn’t think he’d do it.
Not really.
But death descended all at once
like locusts on the celandine flowers.
I imagine he stood there a while
cotton mouthed
watching the blood bend from your ear.
Your boy saw it too
his little fingers on the doorframe
like cattails peeking out of stale floodwater.

When the police came
Billy got off
easy.
Boys will be boys
and so on and so forth.
Untroubled and well to do
a diaspora destined to
build a house
and leave a footprint there.
To take their place at the head of the line.
To cash in their grim inheritance.
A man’s duty is to sprinkle little death
wherever he goes.
And Billy
is no different.
He’ll shed a tear and lay a flower
on your grave.
He’ll spend the next 60 years
staring down the barrel
of jack- pined ravines
alone and with good company
writing his articulate fables.
He’ll craft. He’ll narrow with syntax
the devil’s dark chronology
anguished
lurid
and significant.
He’ll leave his footprint
in the halls of genius
where we will never cease.
Where we will never cease
our worship.

 

Selene Frost is a surgeon by training who has recently returned to writing after a 10 year hiatus to finish her medical education and residency. She’s never been published but likes to write ghost stories and poems about feminism, surgery, and genealogy.

DL Polonsky is a Boston area artist, writer, and filmmaker. His caricatures have appeared in The Boston Herald and His written work includes the children’s book The Letter Bandits from T.B.W. Books.