For Jean Seberg Whenever I find Her by Alan Catlin

“Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc
as she came riding through the dark.”
  Leonard Cohen

She is the handmaiden to
a king who would have her
head on a pike unless there
is a story to beguile him.

Every night she must transform
herself into something new
to satisfy his urges, becomes
a dream object in someone else’s
mind as flammable as celluloid,
as flimsy as gauze.

A sword is her chosen weapon
but when that fails to please,
she uses it to end her life.

A severed head on a platter is
a role that can only be played
once, like dreaming of seeing
your perfect body reflected in
a pool and drowning trying to
reclaim it.

Play acting as a saint, as the chosen
one, becomes less of a reward than
a sacrifice, like being burned alive
twice, once on the screen, the other
in the tabloids.

Denied her essence, even a child,
her birthright, herself, she becomes
a back seat baby in an abandoned
car, a woman everyone sees only
when she becomes invisible.

Alan Catlin
Alan Catlin is the poetry editor of His latest books of poetry are American Odyssey from Future Cycle and Last Man Standing from Lummox Press

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