Personal Break Through Poem “The Notorious, Glorious V.C.”

Dedicated to Miss Vonda Campbell, whose lost driver’s license is the sole inspiration for this poem. May your wait in line at the DMV not be too long.

Lady Vonda,

Jane Fonda’s long lost twin sister,

Raised by different misters.

Janey got Peter the actor

Vonny got Pete the plumber.

Trailer or mansion, though, don’t mean a damn

About how a daddy loves a daughter,

Vonda knows this,

She grew up all the same,

Your dame who

Smoked in the bathroom

While skipping PE,

Got her GED, and moved in with a burly

Man with a fly Trans-am,

Who goes by Darryl, Vonda calls him

Hairy Darry to her girlfriends,

But don’t worry, it’s a term

Of endearment, Vonny finds that the

Grizzlier the man, the more her engine revs,

Like a racoon to a dumpster.

Now it’s been over a couple decades

Since she ran away with Hairy Darry,

Hopping trailer parks, bright-eyed,

18-year-old Vonny lass is now one just for the

Memories, a matter for nostalgia any time a

White Snake tune comes up the radio,

She wears the same hair, though,

That’s a novelty of a mane which to

Lady V will never go out of style.

Her own set of wheels

Don’t peel the same as her ex fella’s,

She drives a beat up old Honda,

or Accord, one of those makes,

and the year very near 1989,

One of the years she refers

to as her glory days,

Each morning, or afternoon- depending

on how late she was up and who with

and how deep her and him

Might have gotten into talkin’,

or how deep into a bottle of tequila,

and other sorts of things people concern

Themselves with getting deep into,

You know what I mean,

Vonda definitely does,

Hell yeah, girl, oh for sure! Get yourself

Deep as you can go, feel good girl,

Long as that feller knows just who’s in

Charge.  I ain’t takin no more of that

Pain Darry took me to.  No lie, he started

out charmin’, then ended up a goddamn alarmin’

Monster worth less than the Dollar Store

Acrylic nails that my poor girl Janelle thinks she’s foolin’ us folks with-

for the last time Janelle, everyone knows,

and girl, you gotta get that cheap tacky ass down to

Sally’s. STAT, girl.  I repeat, STAT.

Anyways, next time any man, no matter

How charmful he is to me, or how many

Dents we put in the ground beneath my camper

What with all-night earth shaking love makin’,

I swear to Jesus Almighty that if James Dean

Himself rose from his grave and gave me all

the passion I could ever dream of, if Mr. Dean

Thinks for even a second he can lay a hand on

Me or any of my babies…he can pack up

That beautiful leather jacket and his torn jeans

Making me scream within myself because they are

Just doing something awful accentuating what’s packin’

up them seams, tight butt and something beneath that even

Tighter and long and makin’ me weep,

I know it’d make me feel so alive and in ecstasy for days,

More than any amount of coke, margaritas, or marijuanas

Could make me feel… make me weep because something so

Beautiful, all of that, I would have not the slightest hesitation

in pulling out my Pistol Paula, cause no sir, no

One hurts me, it’s not allowed.  You go on and

Take that miserable violence on down to the jail

Where you belong if you have it in you to

Touch a woman or a child in any form of anger.

No sir….

 

Good cars though,

Hence why that trusty ole wagon

Still gets Miss Campbell

to her nail salon, the diner she works at,

and across town

to the latest beau

Who’s been makin’ her swoon.

Name’s Bill, or Tom, or Larry.

He drives a Harley,

Has two kids from a previous marriage,

but boy, family’s tough, and Vonda knows

This all too well.  She’s got three of her own,

Now all grown. Dennis, Cindy, and Brent.

Cindy doesn’t talk to her mama Vonda no more,

Twinkie did not fall far from the box,

Both got attitudes like anacondas,

and they clash explosive like a firecracker

Dropped in a mug of Jack Daniels.

She breathes in her Marlboro every morning,

Washes it down with some Folgers,

And looks at her violet sofa that she’s had

Since her Hairy Darry days,

And she dazes,

a commercial with a hoity toity real estate lady comes on

And Vonda scoffs and takes pleasure

At where she’s at.  She loves her

Air.  It’s not glamorous, but it’s hers.  

She slips into those hot pink flip flops, brushes more

Clumpy black mascara over her lashes,

Flashes a glance at Paula, always

Thinks about packing her shiny weapon

When she goes to the grocery store.

Nah, she thinks, I’ll leave the ole girl here

While I go out to get my beers.

Vonda in her Honda,

Driving and thriving

On hairspray and southern rock

Flowing through the radio,

When they finish their errands at

The Food For Less, who knows

Where they’ll go down that road.

 

I chose this poem as my breakthrough poem because it’s the only poem I’ve written in shifting points of view, and also narrating a fictional character.  Vonda represents the “red neck” culture I grew up in, but immediately ran away from as an adult.  The biggest problem with this poem-… my good friend Dana (another creative writer) asked if the main point is to make fun of Vonda?  Or is it supposed to have a tone that empathizes, more than satirizes Vonda’s perspective?  I think the biggest challenge here is to not make a caricature out of Vonda when speaking from her perspective.  It is my intent to portray Vonda’s mindset, personality, and experiences that are equal, not patronized, next to my own demographic.  Still wrestling with this….

5 thoughts on “Personal Break Through Poem “The Notorious, Glorious V.C.”

  1. Consider reading work by Ai and Tyehimba Jess’ LEADBELLY, because these poets both use persona in their work, driven by a narrative. Gwendolyn Brooks writes a lot of portraiture poems–poems about people and their lives within particular environments. I ask: Why is Vonda talking? What does she need to say and about what? Why do you need her voice in particular? If this poem was half the length, what do you keep, what do you take away?

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    1. Noted on Ai and Tyehimba Jess as well as Gwendolyn Brooks- I’ve tacked those folks on the list. To answer your questions… I chose to have Vonda speak because she’s a household legend within my circle of roommates and friends. Vonda Campbell is a real person (that I never met) who’s driver’s license was left at my old job in St. Louis, and she never came back for it. My co-workers and I noted her big bleach blonde frizzy hair with black roots, heavy eye liner/mascara, about middle aged- she fit the profile of a southern Missouri “Hoosier”, the demographic that my childhoood communinity primarily consisted of. We would play out a southern drawl, playacting as we imagined what Vonda was like in person. Vonda represents a lot about where I was raised, but I felt like an outsider of, even in a bit of a snooty way I admit- but the older I get, the more I respect that sort of assertive, genuine perspective which I lack in my speech and the way I carry myself. Albeit a culture I don’t wish to settle within, there are strengths in that particular point of view that I admire.

      If the poem were half the size- which I’ve certainly grappled over and over with the matter of what I should cut/keep, I think I would pick just one point of view. I think I would cut the beginning 3rd person’s narration. Mainly because it’s Vonda’s voice I aim to capture and not an outsider’s analysis of Vonda’s story.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for that backstory! I agree with cutting the beginning third-person narration and focusing entirely on Vonda.

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