A Chingona Plays Miss Dinah Brand

À La Mode, 1976, by Asco (photographer: Harry Gamboa, Jr.)

I dare you to hear me
tell just which and what
sort of girl I was, always
had been, and why. You
may as well yes-yes me.
You’ll get no chance to
cut in. This is No Movie
and I’m the leading gal,
the femme fatale in cork
platform sandals, mis-
taking Woolworth’s
plastic earrings for
glam, mis-american,
which and what sort?
The kind who never
introduces the top six
buttons of  her dress
to their holes, whose
legs always cross
when she sits on a
table, who pats vanilla
pancake over her rich,
theatrical skin to lift
dark hair, dark eyes, dark
lips from the level
of   East Los Common
to revelation, and you’re
all in my made-up
fairy tale now, you &
these suave muchachos,
we’re all queasy in the
where is it 40s  50s  60s
70s brown beautiful
people pronouncing our perfect
English, accorded
zero-to-slivers of
silver screen glory.
I dare you, looking
in from the tangled
reel of the future,
say out loud what I’m
sitting on. Kitten-posed
on a table top in Philippe’s
Original Sandwich Shop,
Los Angeles, ’76, next
to the napkins and
sugar shaker, I’m not
afraid of the cleaning rag
wiping me out of the frame,
I take in the unedited
numbers that tumble
in one continuous shot
from my Now to yours,
and there’s a mestiza
born every minute, I
know where I sit:
right on top of a
pretty warm piece
of sweet American pie.
You can read the rest of the PINTURA : PALABRA portfolio in the March 2016 issue of Poetry. All images in this portfolio are courtesy of and with permission from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. À La Mode by Asco (photographer: Harry Gamboa, Jr.), museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment © 1976, Harry Gamboa, Jr. 
Source: Poetry (March 2016)
More Poems by Maria Melendez Kelson