Impromptu

By J. Allyn Rosser b. 1957
First there was Jim, clamping to my long black hair
             that nine-pound Cleopatra wig
             with nylon bands and bobbie pins.

Meanwhile I was on fire for Chad, who coached me
             a bit impatiently Tuesday nights
             on my Joan-of-Arc inflection.

Then Terence said I’d be perfect for the lounge-singer-
             turned-whore, and as it turned out
             that was a fairly easy gig.

Max signed me on soon after, claiming I was a natural
             for Eternally Aggrieved Girl,
             which in hindsight hurts me deeply.

So by the time you followed me back to the green room
             to wait in the hallway—whistling!—
             for my scrubbed face to emerge,

naturally I was wary, waiting for the script
             you never bothered to come up with.
             It was damned awkward sitting there,

nothing but milkshakes between us. Maybe, I thought,
             you’d assumed I was the one with a script.  
             Finally I decided to give Terence a call.

I didn’t like the way you looked at me so steadily
             with your chin resting on one fist,
             as if the table were a table, the boards

A floor. Listening there as if you meant it,
             as if something I could say were true, and every
             moment from now on would be my cue.

Source: Poetry (February 2010).

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This poem originally appeared in the February 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

February 2010
 J. Allyn Rosser

Biography

J. Allyn Rosser was born in Pennsylvania and attended Middlebury College in Vermont as well as the University of Pennsylvania where she earned a doctorate. Her works include Bright Moves (1990), which won the Morse Poetry Prize, and Misery Prefigured (2001), winner of the Crab Orchard Award. In 2007 she was awarded The New Criterion Poetry Prize for a new book of poems entitled Foiled Again, published in the Fall of 2007. . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Men & Women, Activities, Jobs & Working, Arts & Sciences, Theater & Dance, Infatuation & Crushes, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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