Ode to Norma Jean by Olivia Gatwood

I was always told that she was a hollowed beauty
Wrapped in a white dress
Red lipstick stains on her extra long cigarette
Her lace panties hugging her coke bottle waist
Like the children who never called her mother

These simplistic posters were plastered on best friends walls
Something pretty to look at before they went to sleep
To dream of romantic evenings in smoky clubs
Smiling at slick haired men dressed in sly smiles and pork pie hats

These photos of Marilyn Monroe
Made them feel like they had someone to look up to
Finally an icon who looked more appealing
Than the people in their textbooks

As she lay naked on Hugh Hefner's dirty sheets
Died blonde hair
Powdered cheeks
That alliteration of a name imprinted on businessmen's pleats

It's so easy to agree with the idea of such a woman
But why do we waste our idealistic adjectives
And raving tongues
As names like Bella Abzug and Billy Jean King slip through our palms

Ignoring the stories of women who never stripped for success
Whose faces aren't printed on the clothing in middle school hallways
Whose wearers believe that the person they idolize
will boost their amateur sex appeal

Revolutions are not made between supple breasts
They grow in the voices of women
who test the limits of their allowances
Instead of allowing society to limit them of their voice

Women whose rough skin and crooked smiles
were still photographed because their actions
deserved to be recorded regardless of their hunched poise
Beautiful for their working hands
Their raised fists

And while Marilyn drowns in the photos of herself
Society rejects her wrong doings
and rewrites the story of a country bumpkin who took Rosie's seat
A woman who made the men hard and the women harder

And when she left
We held onto her outlived name
like parched dogs licking our empty water bowls
Begging for just one more ounce of consideration

A person's life can never be copyrighted
As soon as that tombstone acts as their headboard
We rewrite the truth to create idols for our children
Simply erase the troubles the problems the defects
And write a new chapter of beautiful white toothy smiles

Convince ourselves that she made us stronger
and name her a revolutionary
That she lived a broken life and name her innocent
That she scratched sweet nothings onto paper and name her a poet
And forget the name her mother gave her

Norma Jean Baker you are NOT forgotten for your offenses
We look back to the fifties and beam at these sugary pin-ups
Yet we stare at the women on today's playboys and label them trash
But if they swallowed their lives maybe we'd label them heroes
And shun the men who call to them like meat

Who are these hollowed beauties of whom we so fondly speak?
Every man's dream but their own worst nightmare
Disregarding the pop portrait she was so pleased to pose for

The flash of the camera did not break her
She broke herself
And while they bow down to this face of naked photos
They dream to be hollowed beauties

But when they awake from this fantasy of sexy Sunday nights
She will only be something pretty to look at
before they go to sleep.

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