Marlenee Ice Cream Cones
Marlenée with L’Accent Aigu
by Ruthie Marlenée

Catholic school girl, pure as Our Lady
full of grace, plunged into the junior high
in Nixon’s birthplace,      Yorba Linda,
the Land of Gracious Living; the land where
metaphors, euphemisms and innuendos,
mixed, ripe and rotten as seventh graders are
lost on me like Mary’s little lamb; the land where
spin the bottle is for Sunday preschoolers.

I’m Cinderella’s slipper. I’m the lost shoe.
My name’s Marlenée with l’accent aigu.
“Whatever. Hey Marmalade! Nice outfit,”
says Lacey Lane, a lass with luscious locks
and a freckled derrière — French kissed Saul
all the way to third base. She asks straight teeth
white as snow — you can’t tell she’s crooked —
“Did you find that at the Goodwill?”

If you can’t join them, beat them at their
own reindeer games. It’s time to play ball!
School elections are just around the bend.
What better way to make a friend — or two?
Richard M. Nixon got his start here, after all,
in Yorba Linda, The Land of Gracious Living.
With paint, brushes, and construction paper
I coin a clever campaign catchphrase.

I tingle over my jingle suspended in the quad.
Wearing my hot pink pinafore, I place my hands
over an ice cream cone appliqué (rhymes with Marlenée)
Prouder with my slogan than the time
spent in Home Ec stitching on the cone.
It was either that, or the juicy-looking
ripe red cherries or the tongue logo
for the Rolling Stones.

“Oh my God!” Lacey’s words pelt me
like sticks and stones or cherry pits.
Look what the slut wrote! Says wing girl,
Wendy, as Saul swaggers by;
his yellow-flecked blue eyes,
like the school colors I’d painted —
flashing like a neon sign reflecting:

I’m blushing now — like a — well, like a virgin —
pink as my pinafore or the tongue Saul flicks,
“You’ve got my vote as long as I get my licks.”
I want to melt away      all the way
back to the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary Mother of God,
Pray for this sinner, now and
at the hour of my death. Amen!

Fallen from grace, fanny kicked, bases loaded,
I strike out. I lose the game. But with wounds licked
I laugh, at least no one will ever forget my name.
I’ll go down in infamy, or a poetry anthology
or a history book.
Yorba Linda will remember me for:
Go All The Way With Marlenée
Isn’t that easier than Nixon’s infamous
I am not a crook!

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: The attached photo is of me circa 1970 just before the fall in junior high and/or my fall from grace. I am eating an apple, holding its core. The Bible is on the table beside me.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was inspired to write this poem when I thought about my name and the problems others continue to have spelling or pronouncing it. Most recently, I had to point out the misspelling “Marienne” to the printers for the New York playbill of O’Neill’s Ghosts.

Marlenee Mariachis

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ruthie Marlenée is a native of California, mother of two grown girls. She has earned her Writer’s Certificate “With Distinction” from UCLA. She has a published novel, Isabela’s Island, and is currently working on her new novel, Curse of the Ninth, a paranormal thriller set in early Hollywood. She is the cowriter of the memoir I Am Menbe: A Young Girl’s Journey Out of An Ethiopian Mud Hut, which is currently under contract. Ruthie edited and rewrote the play O’Neill’s Ghosts (the story behind Nobel Laureate Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night), which just finished a run off Broadway. She is the ghostwriter for a children’s series about a Platypus from Tasmania and also won the contest and publication for her short, humorous story “Glow White and The Seven Nuclear Reactors.”