“For Doris Day” by Walter Holland

Treacly representative of clichéd domesticity,
circa 50s, 60s, your blonde-haired wholesomeness,

sexy bright-white teeth and clean and perky
make-up, flirtatious next-door neighbor always

poised to launch into song; arrayed in pastel
dresses, doing chores in pearls— foolish and ditzy.

One to dream moony-eyed as loads of sudsy laundry,
carelessly neglected, bubbling to the ceiling, overflows

of frothy excess. Like Lucy with Ethel, one more slapstick
mishap to leave a royal mess. Yes, the well-suited man,

romantic lead, who’d always come your way, and by some antic
mix-up, be hooked on your looks, protecting you from cads,

roués—charming and harmless, the All-American lad, favoring
a close-up rather than your kiss—not one strand of handsomeness

amiss—no, I wasn’t so enamored of this: flicks of hetero-normative
myth. I believed more the you surrounded by bright microphones—

the “heart-throb,” in Paris, at your side: skeletal, weak—sunken
eyes, his shocks of matted hair; too breathless and defeated to speak,

as you repeat that shocking word “AIDS”—tearful but direct to the press,
devoid of that frivolity, that comic ruse of make-believe, a comic persona

so innocent and neat. Regardless of the way they’d dubbed in his love,
or kept you sweetly in the frame—you stood by your man.

—–

Walter Holland, Ph.D., is the author of three books of poetry Circuit (Chelsea Station Editions, 2010), Transatlantic, (Painted Leaf Press, 2001), A Journal of the Plague Years: Poems 1979-1992 (Magic City Press, 1992) as well as a novel, The March (Chelsea Station Editions, 2011). His short stories have been published in Art and Understanding, Harrington Gay Men’s Fiction Quarterly, and Rebel Yell, Some of his poetry credits include Antioch Review, Art and Understanding, Barrow Street, Chiron Review, The Cream City Review, Found Object, Pegasus, Phoebe, and Poets for Life:76 Poets Respond to AIDS. He lives in New York City.