Seventy-Five Lines for Dolly’s Seventy-Fifth

 

It costs me lots of money to look this cheap.
I’ve blown the budget on sequins before. 

But I made a vow: I am not a sheep— 

  

I am a shepherd writing songs galore, 

once, two hit singles in a single day. 

“Yup, that was a good night,” I said and swore 

  

off Corona. Now I drink Beaujolais 

and run lines for the 9 to 5 sequel. 

I've got big dreams the boss can’t take away— 

  

can’t “the man” see we ladies are equal? 

I still carry a pistol in my purse, 

but my grin’s sincere, my heart’s peaceful 

  

as Baby Jesus in that Bible verse. 

If I still had my many-colored coat, 

I’d wrap it tight around the world, rehearse 

  

as though the whole earth was my stage, then float  

freely home to those Appalachian hills, 

my beloved Smokies, where I co-wrote 

  

“Rainbowland” with Miley Cyrus. Her skills 

remind me of my own at twenty-four 

when I touted Avon, and the cheap thrills 

  

of cheap perfume traveling door-to-door. 

I wrote “You Ask Me Not to Wear Cologne.” 

I wrote “Two Sides to Every Story” 

  

with Porter before I went on my own. 

After, I wrote “I Will Always Love You” 

which you-know-who (Elvis) hoped to co-own. 

  

"No way," I said. Elvis stuck to his blue 

Christmas, fever, and cold Kentucky rain, 

and in the end, I kept that platinum tune. 

  

I have big hair and a big business brain. 

Long ago I turned those busty blond jokes 

on their busty blond heads and broke the chain 

  

on my ten-speed as I sped away, spokes 

spinning like the 8-tracks of my first songs. 

Then came my parade of wigs and dumb pokes 

  

about my accent. Producers prolonged 

my dependence on them. It took me years— 

in fact, it almost took my life. What’s wrong 

  

with Romeos—songs that gave me my career— 

or hit duets like “Islands in the Stream”? 

We relied on each other, ah ha, steered  

  

me to fame. Then Lily’s and Jane’s scheme  

to make a women-in-the-workplace film 

exploded in solidarity and team 

  

play. The theme song was an anthem, a hymn 

homage to heel-clicks and typewriter keys, 

a companion piece for Abzug and Steinem 

  

and all those sick of saying pretty please. 

I’ve never called myself a feminist, 

but I’ll wear it if it means equality 

  

for cowgirls, nurses, and receptionists. 

I’m a Christian ally—no conflict there— 

but I won't claim I’m fundamentalist 

  

on any subject except footwear. 

I once dubbed myself a “Backwoods Barbie” 

and I’m okay with that. I'm debonair 

 

on the inside. There’s a yang you can’t see 

alongside my ultra-bedazzled yin, 

or there’s a jolt and an epiphany— 

 

my ladylike boots are made of buckskin.  

A cowboy in tight jeans might turn my head, 

grab me to dance at Dollywood. Even  

 

so, Dean’s the only one who’ll share my bed. 

What’s the secret to our 54 years? 

Well, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em” 

 

like Kenny says. But we’re all amateurs,

I’ve learned, and “ama” is the root of love,

all those Tennessean hoots and hollers.

 

My dark roots, split ends, push-up bras out of

style, second chances as snips and tucks—

everyone knows I’m neither blonde nor dumb.

 

You say you like my pipes. I say “Aw, shucks.

I sing what I feel, and I feel it deep—

my joie de vivre, puissance, and WTFs.”

Denise Duhamel

Pictured Left
Pronouns: She/Her

Julie Marie Wade

Pictured Right
Pronouns: She/Her

Pictured Middle
Pronouns: She/Her

Maureen Seaton

Pink%20Guitar_edited.png

Denise Duhamel’s (she/her) most recent book of poetry is Second Story (Pittsburgh, 2021). Her other titles include Scald; BlowoutKa-Ching!Two and TwoQueen for a Day: Selected and New Poems; The Star-Spangled Banner; and Kinky.She and Maureen Seaton have co-authored, most recently, CAPRICE (Collaborations: Collected, Uncollected, and New). She and Julie Marie Wade co-authored The Unrhymables: Collaborations in Prose. She is a Distinguished University Professor in the MFA program at Florida International University in Miami.

Screen Shot 2020-10-03 at 9.44.42 PM.png

Maureen Seaton (she/her) has authored twenty-one poetry collections, both solo and collaborative, most recently, Sweet World (CavanKerry, 2019), winner of the Florida Book Award for Poetry. Other honors include the Lambda Literary Award, Audre Lorde Award, NEA, and Pushcart. Her memoir, Sex Talks to Girls (University of Wisconsin, 2008, 2018), also garnered a “Lammy”. She teaches creative writing at the University of Miami.

  • Twitter
Screen Shot 2020-10-03 at 2.34.42 PM.png

Julie Marie Wade (she/her) teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University in Miami. She has published 12 collections of poetry and prose, most recently the book-length lyric essay, Just an Ordinary Woman Breathing (The Ohio State University Press, 2020) and the hybrid-forms chapbook, P*R*I*D*E (VCFA/Hunger Mountain, 2020). A winner of the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir, Julie makes her home in Dania Beach with her spouse Angie Griffin and their two cats.

  • Twitter
Screen Shot 2020-10-03 at 2.34.42 PM.png
Pink%20Guitar_edited.png