Poem Inspired by Degas’s L’Absinthe

At the Nouvelle Athènes
on Place Pigalle
in the 9th arrondissement
of Paris, Ellen and Marcellin
show love for the Green Fairy,
who, in return, leaves them blue.

Autobiography of the Gimp

                         After Pulp Fiction (1994)

Everyone, they say, has a story.
         The weird guest at the party.
         The neighbor who lives alone
         and never leaves the house.
         The old baritone who sings
         opera on the street.

In Tarantino’s L.A. of hit men
         and fixers, I’m the one
         you want some dirt on.
         Was I beaten as a child?
         Did I run away from home?
         Does my crotch stink
         from the bondage suit?

My story begins the second
         you see me yanked
         out of the box.
          “Bring out the Gimp”
         is just another way
         of saying “It’s a boy!”
         The leather leash is
         my umbilical cord.

But if you hang me upside
         down and slap
         my bottom,
         I won’t cry
         like a newborn.
         I’ll giggle
         like a half-wit.

Think of me as an abscess
         on a squeal-like-
         a-pig Georgia
         mountain man’s
         sweaty face.
         I make what’s
         ugly uglier.

Joel Allegretti is the author of, most recently, Platypus (NYQ Books, 2017), a collection of poems, prose, and performance texts, and Our Dolphin (Thrice Publishing, 2016), a novella. He is the editor of Rabbit Ears: TV Poems (NYQ Books, 2015). The Boston Globe called Rabbit Ears “cleverly edited” and “a smart exploration of the many, many meanings of TV.”