Megamorph Ka-pow
by Joan Jobe Smith

I didn’t just metamorph
doo-dah diptera
I megamorphed, jumped over, pole-vaulted
from pupa stage to scutterfly
after that man left me with three kids and a fine-toothed comb and I
wearied into that go-go bar wearing my beige wedding suit just like
Doris Day wore in Pillow Talk and I
asked for a go-go girl job because I couldn’t take shorthand or type

and all shook up I expected the go-go bar owner to be a leering lech
smoking a Havana cigar who’d ask me to show him my legs
but it was the woman bookkeeper, mother of the bad-ass
bouncer in charge that day who hired me and said I had “class”
didn’t even notice my skinny kneecaps
peeking out of my nervous skirt, she viewed
I was a Girl Next Door type with that dorky hairdo
not even mascara on my eyelashes and she told me I didn’t have to
wear a French bikini, let it all hang out, unless I wanted to
a leotard was okay and she didn’t even see that my hips were too
scrawny to show off anything but pelvic bones

and so I went to work 8 days a week
Good Girl once taught to do what she ought to
pupa housewife who baked cookies, changed diapers
morphed overnight
no cocoon phase into a go-go girl ka-pow
but fascinated with all the fluorescent glow and beer flow
and those crazed runaway girls, those poor butterflies
who’d flutterfly-fled rotten stepdads who did bad things in the night
after Mom turned on the light on daughters gone blind
to megamorph into belly-buttoned sexpots in French bikinis
but it took me 2 years to morph brave enough to be seen
baring and bearing red sequins
and by then it was time to megamorph ka-pow again: quantum leap
surpass, bypass my taxonomic rank and specie
to a mightier deracination blast
toward the sky, moon, Mars and stars
and maybe the gods
to become a poet
and a writer.
     Oh, my.

IMAGE: The author as a go-go dancer in 1967.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Jobe Smith, founding editor of Pearl and Bukowski Review, worked for seven years as a go-go dancer before receiving her BA from CSULB and MFA from University of California, Irvine. A Pushcart Honoree, her award-winning work has appeared internationally in more than five hundred publications, including Outlaw Bible, Ambit, Beat Scene, Wormwood Review, and Nerve Cowboy—and she has published twenty collections, including Jehovah Jukebox (Event Horizon Press, US) and The Pow Wow Cafe (The Poetry Business, UK), a finalist for the UK 1999 Forward Prize. In July 2012, with her husband, poet Fred Voss, she did her sixth reading tour of England (debuting at the 1991 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival), featured at the Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull. She is the author of the literary memoir Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art & His Women (& me) (Silver Birch Press, 2012). Her writing is featured in LADYLAND, an anthology of writing by American women (13e note Éditions, Paris, 2014). Her poem “Uncle Ray on New Year’s Day . . .” won the 2012 Philadelphia Poets John Petracca Prize. Her latest book is Tales of an Ancient Go-Go Girl.