JANIE ALISON WHITE
In ’84 I met a girl named Janie Alison White. I loved her like no other.
I made her my wife. We lived happily enough. I wrote; she cleaned.
And the love we made was the sweetest love I have ever dreamed.
In ’86 she began writing; I encouraged her. She was bored with cleaning;
I was bored with her. I’d been having affairs for a year; she’d been faithful to me.
And when I read her first poem I knew what had to be. She was better than me.
I began plotting her death. She wrote with pen and paper. She never made a mistake.
Her words were music haunting me from each and every page.
She asked my opinion of her work; I wanted to lie but I couldn’t.
I said it was good but she’d have to improve. And I’ll be damned if she didn’t.
She asked me how to get published. I told her I’d handle it.
I put my name on her poems. Something I’ll never regret.
One night as I sat beside her, reading her beautiful verse,
I realized she’d written enough; I wouldn’t need her anymore,
for she’d written with abandoned grace.
There was enough unpublished work to keep me forever famous.
I got my gun, blew off her head, dragged her remains to the attic.
Cut her in pieces: little pieces. What surprised me was:
each piece recited a poem. I turned on my tape recorder while
cleaning the bloody mess. I hurried to my typewriter,
transcribing from the tape. I heard a sound;
I turned and looked. Janie stood behind me, misty,
transparent, reading her poetry. “It’s pretty good,” she said.
“I know.” I published her pieces in a volume.
It won a Pulitzer Prize. I got a grant and fame and fortune.
I never lost my pride. How one carves his path in this world
should never cause regret. And Janie stands behind me,
reciting still in death. She has volumes to fill.
She’s pleased with the arrangement; at least she doesn’t complain.
She’s such a talented poetess. I’m such a happy man.
You might think I’m crazy. I know that I’m not.
Janie stands behind me; apparitions do not rot. I put her name on my old work;
that seemed to make her happy. Some of it even got published
but died quickly on the shelf. She didn’t seem to care.
I gained great wealth. But she won’t let me leave this desk
where I sit and write her prose.
When I try to rise her frozen breath pushes me back in my chair.
I’ll never leave this room. I’ll always have to write.
For Janie stands behind me. She never leaves my sight.
Yet sometimes when the moon is full I imagine she leaves this room.
I wonder, does she have a place to go? Perhaps a tomb?
I still transcribe her poems every day and every night.
My own could never compare to those of Janie Alison White.
The only lesson in this life that I have ever learned is to
take and take and take and take, leaving nothing in return.
Red Wolf Journal Spring 2014, and a fresh start
2 years ago