Maxe Crandall

Red Ribbon

Her gown’s
a real sizzler

floor length
Bolshevik with
high-beaded collar

my little Galanos
nesting doll


Nancy Reagan
before me
in the
avant red
I adore

and shy away



What’s a little haute couture to the woman who denies everything?



Trippy kitten telephone wires

lead me back to the bunker

choir, my secret rage


From here,

I remind Nancy, on hold,

that allegiance comes with a price


Signed with a nice love always

“I voted”


(I can no longer give blood.)


Right up into the future,

what Nancy wears influences everything



Even me her groping styles determine all for instance

which window I open on which side of the house



What is a simple choice

for her — a
perky ribbon

on a casual pullover

worn in a waltz across the White House sod —


a yawn toward the
helicopter, her strident pilot,
uncertain hand to shade his eyes


Contingencies like these dictate my week’s reading


(Soul on Ice, Lolita,
a dash of Dickinson)


Another sequence of events demands I take up tennis,
possibly build a barn


Inside the barn, I discover

reading tea

verbena sacrifice

Mars in retrograde

shadow spells


Before long, I learn to call her on capture

conjuring long spirits
as if aircraft travel

gallant, as if


Through Nancy, I begin to see behind the image.*


*Not paranoia but the comfort of another dimension growing out behind this one
starts to soothe pains, suggest lovers to me. So elemental, our one and only catalyst is allure.




Eventually my trusty old post becomes a shadow of what it once was:


Dear North Americans,

I collect Nancy Reagans. Will accept doubles.
Payment in advance.

Seeking red ladies, vacation maidens,
stationary Nancys. Those who
read written upon.

will consider
damaged Nancys,

those involved
in her
rather hasty
in May of ’87,
to yellow.
Those aren’t her, aren’t really Nancys.

The wind is our streets, a romance behind us.

Love, Satan (just kidding) Satan


In 1991 AIDS takes on the color of Nancy’s party: a right republican red. At a certain point, everywhere you looked for AIDS you’d find Nancy Reagan, in any one of her elegant gowns.


In this one, she reclines
on a plush red couch
a drowned mannequin
washed to shore

She’s prostrate
in pointy shoes,
bloodshot costume


And folded craft-wise
one over the other over the other

her stilted pose,

her sudden emotionless face,

her maddening inability to lounge


At the center of her coil
that murderous pillow

like a gravestone: R period R period


The live self blinking behind the one represented,

the self that knows its others,

the Nancys.


And the questions


inside my mouth



and then


up against
the next hopeless era


What self is safe?

What self wants to be safe?

I’m no Prince Charles,
but I swear
I once
Ronnie request
of Nancy’s blank

Won’t you, Mommy,
my little devil,
slip into something
a little more…