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.
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.
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….