Denise Raike | WORKING TITLE


Why, it got so bad that they began to laugh before I opened my mouth.
—Dorothy Parker

It’s not just the gin, I can assure you.
An empty round of lives we bring to this

blank page of a hotel, whining to be
filled; the envy of every foyer and

curtain club that can catcall our names.
Can’t afford to eat but, boy, can we

swallow it by the shovelful and dish
the dearth of it too, leaving editors

swinging by a shoestring, sweating
bulletins, and us ready to strangle

if they sully one more word. I’ll pull
my punchlines ‘til they beg for mercy.

Dear Heart will pat my knee, urge forbearance,
patience aprance in patent leather. Oh,

I try, but true friends are few, honey,
and buried in ways I can’t explain.

Hemingway shut me up but good that night—
an aging Apollo in safari shreds, his

whiskeyed words rumbling down the mountain
of his ego, stinking of leopard carcass

in the snow. But so cool, always, and wow.
Harpo, my angel, knows when to stay mum,

when to honk. And the pantomimes they
gather us to their breast for on a whim

of Christmas, the boozy emboldened bellowing;
Sherwood, Edna, Woollcott gobbling up

the guffaws of the hangers-on, mouths
so wide I could shove this whole round table

down them, canap s, cocktails, wisecracks
and all. But that would only become

legend, outlive my long-impending death
and make them roar all the bloody more.

Mr. Benchley would smile, though,
be pleased. Ha.


Author’s Bio

Denise Raike’s work has appeared in The Ontarion, Diviners, Other Voices and on CBC Canada Writes, and has been featured on radio broadcasts. She lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario with one other human and three felines.