The Death of Marilyn Monroe by Carlton D. Fisher

The Death of Marilyn Monroe

This skin has grown old—
the one I pulled on over the bones
of the girl I used to be.
That director kept telling me
over the sheet cake they brought to the set
as they sang “Happy Birthday”
and went home early for the day
he kept saying—
We could get someone better.
You can’t be a legend forever.
You can’t be Elizabeth Taylor.

They’ve built the pyramids twice for her.
I’m swimming naked in a pool on a soundstage—
every camera flashed a new memory of me
when I sat at the edge,
but they don’t feel like my father anymore.


Joe calls all the time.
Arthur calls not at all.
Misfit is all I ever was—
a miss-fit for them both,
the man who wanted to try on a homemaker,
the man who thought he could weave the tapestry of an intellectual
from rough cotton and bias.
I stretched at the seams,
tore along the selvage.
One would gladly try me on again
if I could fit the pattern he chose for me.
The other has left me for Salvation Army rags—
no one sews a sharp suit
from rough cotton.

And on the set of Something’s Got to Give,
the director reminds me
No one says ingénue.
No one says Lady Macbeth.
Dumb blonde.
The body by the pool,
porcelain skin that sometimes looks dead already
if I hold my breath.

The camera doesn’t see me anymore.

Joe calls all the time.

Arthur calls not at all.

Tonight the phone is off the hook,
one capsule at a time,
looking for the one that makes me sleep,
this skin that was brand new
is so tired now,
but sleep never comes,
and one day I will walk on a set,
and they will see the double is prettier than me,
or they won’t see me at all,
and they will roll film on space,
and even the camera
won’t see me.

How does a girl survive
when her father disowns her?

he kept reminding me,
You’re 36 now, Marilyn.
You won’t be a legend forever.
The red pills only make me tired.
They don’t make me sleep.
The blue ones burn my stomach,
powder on my tongue,
heat of the room on my skin.

I pull the nightgown off,
slide my hands over Marilyn Monroe,
her arms, her thighs,
the unnoticeable rise of her belly.
Mama never told me who my father was.
Maybe she never knew.
And if I am the daughter of the camera,
then shouldn’t there be some light left?

The green pills taste like sugar and starch.
Maybe I never sleep
because they don’t give me medicine anymore.

This is the arm of Marilyn Monroe.
This is the thigh of Marilyn Monroe.
This is the skin,
stretched loosely,
over the bones of Norma Jeane.

Sometimes, when it gets too quiet,
I hear that dead girl call to me.

Maybe orange, maybe white,
maybe with a glass of wine,
I will finally fall asleep.

the director kept saying,
shouting from behind the camera.

you old woman
on the set of Something’s Got to Give.

The wind through the open window.

The silence of the disconnected phone.

The taste of the red pill
dissolving on my tongue.

Something’s Got to Give.
It seems something is me.

Carlton FisherCarlton D. Fisher is a native of Northern New York. He sold cars (briefly, before deciding he had a soul and selling used cars was not a good way to keep it), worked for public television, and then finally found his dream job at a local college, where he teaches English. He lives with more pets than one human should probably own (not Animal Hoarders level, but not something most people aspire to) and is working toward his doctoral degree in Creative Writing. His work has appeared in Assaracus, The Paterson Literary Review, Lips, MiPOesias, OCHO, and other publications, and is forthcoming in Weave, The Good Men Project, and Out of Sequence: The Sonnets Remixed. He was a finalist for the 2014 Allen Ginsberg award. He is completing several manuscripts, including a collection of persona poems about the adult life of Marilyn Monroe.



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