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About this Poem 

“According to Barbara Leaming’s biography of Marilyn, Dietrich invited Monroe up for a drink at her Park Avenue apartment that night and found the sight of a lipstick trace on the collar of Marilyn’s white fur ‘maddeningly erotic.’ Dietrich’s voice lent itself well to the villanelle, perhaps the most ‘maddeningly erotic’ of the poetic forms.”
—Matthew Hittinger

I Am Not a Myth

Marlene Dietrich remembers the night of the Marilyn Monroe
Productions press conference, New York City, January 1955

I wanted to be that trace of scarlet lipstick
when you arrived, tipsy, a bit chartreuse
a subdued platinum angel, a white mink

stole. I am at heart—Come up for a drink
a gentleman. You, a question here to seduce,
a pink thought traced by scarlet lipstick

a deer drawn to a salt lick. I am the brick-
back, brick-thrown widow of a caboose.
I lift my black veil. I drop my black mink.

To the bird, flown—we toast with a clink.
You created '‘the girl.’ “Their golden goose
is now a scarlet smudge.” Your lips stick

to the wine glass and all I can do is wink
out a song, the tricks of an aging chanteuse.
You call a cab and grab your white mink

while I play my saw, and all I can think
is I am not a myth a recluse who will recuse
you to remain a trace of scarlet lipstick
caught on the collar of a white mink.

Copyright @ 2014 by Matthew Hittinger. Used with permission of the author. 

Copyright @ 2014 by Matthew Hittinger. Used with permission of the author. 

Matthew Hittinger

Matthew Hittinger’s most recent book is The Erotic Postulate (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014). He lives in Queens, New York.