from Courtly Love (for Courtney Love)

I. ALL YOU WHO HEAR

I’m a good lady
I’m a good lay
I sing a good lay
Voi che sapete
che cosa è amor.
Some day
you will ache
like I ache.

Listen to the strum,
to the feedback’s guitar-hum,
and though you call me strumpet,
bitch, bleached-blonde itch-
satisfier, I rise. I climb
the charts like a live wire.

II. PRECEPTS

You must have sun-eyes, they said,
and hair to match, a head
full of sunflowers, and a hand-
ful of arrows, self-command,
and voluminous skirts.
You’re allowed to flirt
with one and all, provided
you’re muse to only one, undivided

attention on the page. Love-child,
be anything but wild,
be mysterious and dull, they chided.
Be coy and refuse—both dessert
and advances. Let go of your firebrand
ways, hold onto your maidenhead.

III. SHE REPLIES

I am my own sun, and peroxide
makes me blond enough, I guess.
Ferocious as Diana, I tried
archery in high school gym class.

I’ve got a closet full of mini-
skirts, and I love to flirt, but I write
my own story: better to be skinny
than fat, better to bite

than be bitten. I’m the honey
in your tea, the smitten girl
with more on her mind than money
(nice pecs), the mother-of-pearl

knife in your ribs. My maidenhead?
How about your restraint instead.

IV. MADONNA

I am like Mary: I hold a Bean
in my arms for pictures. I made her,
mother her, lick her dirty face clean,
wear her in a slingpack. Officer,
you can’t take her. My house is pristine,
heroin use only a rumor,
and everything else best kept between
husband and wife. Oh, inquisitor,
the cameras are fickle: they’ll tail
you home in your brief flurry of fame:
the one who cuffed Courtney. She’s to blame
for endangerment, he’s the all-hailed
cop—until Buttafuoco’s in jail
and they turn away: bloodhounds, new trail.

*

Lisa Ampleman is the author of Full Cry (NFSPS Press, 2013), winner of the Stevens Manuscript Competition, and I’ve Been Collecting This to Tell You (Kent State University Press, 2012), winner of the Wick chapbook competition. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Kenyon Review Online, 32 Poems, Massachusetts Review, New Ohio Review, New South, Poetry Daily and Verse Daily.

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