Suzanne Lummis

Femme Fatale

It’s a crime story she’s in:
betrayal and larceny, few clues.
Someone stole what she lived for,
made off like a thief in the night or
high noon. What shall she do?
This: slip a heel on each foot
and set out, making a snapping
sound with each step.
The man she loves smiles
from the drugstore’s rack
of magazines, just in.
Looks like he’s wrapped his movie,
dropped his wife on a Frisian Island
and is flying his girlfriend to St. Tropez.
The men who love her finger coins
in the stale linings of their front pockets,
and whimper, What’s your name?
The job she wanted went
to the man who tells the truth
from one side of his mouth, lies
from the other—a bilingual.
The job she got lets her
answer the questioning phone all day.
Her disappointment has appetite,
gravity. Fall in, you’ll be crunched
and stretched thin as Fettuccine.
Watch out for her, this woman,
there is more than one.
That woman with you, for instance
checking herself in the mirror
to see where she stands—
she’s innocent so far, but someone
will disappoint her.
Even now you’re beginning to.
Even now you’re in danger.

First published in Solo 4, 2001


As writer, poet and influential teacher with the UCLA Extension Writers programSuzanne Lummis is among the best-known figures in the Los Angeles literary community. She was among the principal avatars of the Los Angeles and Long Beach based movement of the 90s, Stand-up Poetry, and, through her poems and essays, is associated with the Poem Noir, a sensibility influenced by the dark themes, chiseled beauty and striking dialogue of the black and white crime movies of the 40s and 50s. Her poems have appeared in The Hudson Review, Antioch Review, Ploughshares, New Ohio Review, Plume, The American Journal of Poetry and The New Yorker.  Her most recent collection, Open 24 Hours, won the Blue Poetry Prize and was published by Lynx House Press. Suzanne edited Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Pacific Coast Poetry Series/Beyond Baroque Books), one The Los Angeles Times’ Ten Best Books of 2015.