Ode to Lil’ Kim in Florence

Barbara Hamby

 
We’re in a taxi on the way to see Andrea del Sarto’s last supper,
          which was in the country when it was painted
but is now in the suburbs beyond the old city wall in an ex-convent,
          and our driver turns the radio to an English station
playing an American song, yes, Lil’ Kim’s “How Many Licks,”
          and Miss Kim, you are not singing about throwing punches,
but for a while I don’t notice because my husband
          is talking about where we will eat dinner, but like a bullet
the lyrics penetrate the armor of the city, the fresco, the tagliata
          and punterelle I’ll eat later, and I’m crossing my legs twice,
once at the knees and then at the ankles, but what do I know,
          because my dad never threw me out of the house,
and I’ve never lived on the streets, and your life, Kim, is like an opera,
          Lucia di Lammermoor maybe, but you’re not taking Enrico’s shit,
and when Edgardo breaks into your phony wedding you grab him
          and run off to Paris but not before you sing the mad scene,
because what’s Lucia without it, all the blood and tattoos, and you
          could never sing Mimi, because she’s such a simp. No, Musetta’s
your gal, so Lil’ Kim put on your Queen-of-the-Night gown,
          the corset and headpiece with shooting stars, or your Lulu rags,
Jack the Ripper leading her to his knife, or your Lil’ Kim hot pants,
          but remember, Kim, we girls need some secrets while we fix
our lipstick, straighten our push-up bras and little black dresses,
          because we’re riding the lonely streets in taxis, limos,
buses and sports cars, hair a little messy, dying for the night to open up
          dark and mysterious like a song only time can sing.
 
Copyright © 2013 by Barbara Hamby. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on August 26, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

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Further Reading

Poems about Music
08/22/08
by David Lehman
A Book Of Music
by Jack Spicer
A Score for Tourist Movies
by Mary Austin Speaker
A Violin at Dusk
by Lizette Woodworth Reese
Alexander's Feast; or, the Power of Music
by John Dryden
B-Sides from my Idol Tryouts
by Harmony Holiday
Beagle or Something
by April Bernard
Fiddler Jones
by Edgar Lee Masters
Get Up, Please
by David Kirby
Go Greyhound
by Bob Hicok
Here and Now
by Stephen Dunn
Honky Tonk in Cleveland, Ohio
by Carl Sandburg
Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness
by John Donne
Hymn to the Night
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Interlude: Still Still
by Robin Behn
Latin & Soul
by Victor Hernández Cruz
Little Fugue
by Marianne Boruch
Lost Fugue for Chet
by Lynda Hull
Lullaby in Blue
by Betsy Sholl
Mozart
by Caroline Knox
On 52nd Street
by Philip Levine
Passing Through Albuquerque
by John Balaban
Poem for You
by David Shapiro
Record
by Katrina Vandenberg
Street Music
by Robert Pinsky
The Banjo Player
by Fenton Johnson
The Day Duke Raised: May 24th, 1974
by Quincy Troupe
The Everyday Enchantment of Music
by Mark Strand
The Guitar
by Federico García Lorca
The Last Evening
by Steven Kronen
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
by Edward Lear
The Supremes
by Mark Jarman
The Waltz We Were Born For
by Walt McDonald
The Weary Blues
by Langston Hughes
The World Doesn’t Want Me Anymore, and It Doesn’t Know It
by Sean Singer
Two Pages, 122 Words on Music and Dance
by John Cage
Untitled
by David Meltzer
Water Music
by Robert Creeley