Zelda

By Leigh Stein b. 1984 Leigh Stein
I want Rattawut Lapcharoensap to write my biography.
I want him to come to my apartment when my boyfriends

not home. I want to make him coffee. I know that he
will want to tape record all of our sessions, and

after I die I want these tapes catalogued and archived
in the temperature controlled basement of an ivy league

university library. Additionally, I would like
my biography to have a neon purple dust jacket and

I would like Nancy Milford to grant us permission
to call the book Zelda even though there is already

a book called Zelda because it is about the life of Zelda
Fitzgerald. Maybe because it is just one word and

that word is a name we wont need permission; Im
not a lawyer. Also: I would like Martin Scorsese to direct

the movie based on the book based on my real life.
I dont know if any of you have seen The Departed yet, but

I just saw it last night and my life is almost exactly like that
except instead of Boston I grew up in Chicago, and instead

of going to police academy I toured with Cirque du Soleil.
If Rattawut could just get a hold of a copy of the screenplay

and make Matt Damon a female trapeze artist
who was born to Prussian immigrant parents in 1984,

Im sure hed have a good three, four chapters right there, easy.
Have any of you ever tried to think of all the different ways

you could disappoint your parents and then done them?
I chose the calliope over the violin; I ran with gypsies;

I dated a boy three years younger than me just because
he had an apartment and I didnt want to live

with my parents anymore. I want Rattawut to tell me
he likes my blue sweater. Maybe Ill sit next to him

while I show him old photographs and wait to see
if he puts his hand on my leg. I dont know what will happen

to me after I turn 23, but when my biography comes out
I will have to avoid the reviews and the interviews

and any website that gives away the ending.
I will probably have to spend a few weeks in a cabin

in Minnesota. By then, I will have broken up 
with my boyfriend in order to marry Rattawut

beneath a chuppah in the western suburbs of Chicago
because even though Im not technically Jewish,

my father is, and any tradition is better than none.
When Rattawut gives me my autographed copy,

Ill stay inside my childhood, making daisy chains,
enrolled in summer programs for the gifted and talented.

Ill concentrate on the photos of myself holding prize ribbons,
playing leapfrog, dressed up like Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

I wont read the chapters about my future addiction
to pain medication, my lepidopterophobia,

my failed marriages, my miscarriages, the fire
that will destroy all my manuscripts, my fall

down the stairs. I wont ever read the last chapter, 
the one that describes in vivid detail the flames

that will erupt from my fatal motorcycle accident
somewhere in the Badlands, how it will take weeks

for them to discover my body. I am only 22 years old. 
I want to fake my death on Facebook. I want a pony.

Leigh Stein, “Zelda” from Dispatch from the Future. Copyright © 2012 by Leigh Stein. Reprinted by permission of Melville House.

Source: Dispatch from the Future (Melville House, 2012)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Leigh Stein b. 1984

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Life Choices, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

 Leigh  Stein

Biography

Originally from Chicago, poet Leigh Stein dropped out of high school before taking courses at a community college. She also studied at Brooklyn College and in the acting program at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. She is the author of the novel The Fallback Plan (2012) and the poetry collection Dispatch from the Future (2012).
 
Stein’s poems submerge stark emotional reflection within landscapes . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.