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Cole Porter Has a Nervous Breakdown

May 08, 1988|Phyllis Janowitz

\o7 There was much hope: cops and robbers racing in circles on flat, splayed feet, a white efflorescence, lush puffs of butter and salt. It was a strut down Main Street doing the Lambeth Walk, the Fox Trot, the Lindy Hop, the Conga for Madame La Zonga--tops of thighs long and limber over the cool silk run, a widely paneled vestibule furnished with swinging divans for chirpings after the ball, butter-brickle ice cream cones, strings of beads, a party line. After proms and flaming crepe suzettes it was--it is--nostalgia time. The price of all this fun? Someone holding someone at the mercy, unshelling the turtle, cringing the dog. Someone two in the kitchen, watering and salting the bouillabaisse, fingertips red with scorch, the jangled horn of our terminal cab coming to take us away from this abyss of bliss--the heart a plucked chicken clucking softly, "This is it. This is it."

\f7 From "Temporary Dwellings" (Pitt Poetry Series/University of Pittsburgh Press: $16.95, cloth; $8.95, paper; 80 pp.), Janowitz's third collection of poetry. 1988, Phyllis Janowitz, by permission.

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