Joni, Now You’re a Maneater

by Olivia Heggarty

Content warning: violence.

Each time I listen to
The Last Time I Saw Richard
I think about Joni’s parental coddling,
her stoical crying out, with that mother croon
to understand, to change, to soothe
him, over those violent, metatarsal
crashing piano parts.

If a man asked me when you gonna realise
they’re only pretty lies I’d grab his
skinny figure skating wife’s
fucking coffee percolator and
hope to God it was full. I’d like to smash
the hot hot glass over his sure-to-be balding
head, the tombs in his eyes would
reflect his near future, he’d be
Ebenezer Scrooging at my feet.

Yet, Joni asks him to listen to her quiet rebuttal,
she’s tender in her middle, like lamb,
like a coy confrontation for bad behaviour,
and I can see her hold her young kempt hand
over his damp one.
Listen, they sing of love so sweet, when you
gonna get yourself back on your feet?

When he recovers from the scalds and the deep
glass wounds from the fucking coffee percolator,
that’s when. Richard, if you told me I was
boring someone in some dark café
I’d bore your eyes right into your head,
twist and gouge and push and dredge
so you couldn’t even see women anymore.

Our eyes may be full of moon, Joni,
but his are full of earth – rich, dark, coffee
ground earth – oh, I can see us now! you stand
aghast beside your huge piano, your hand is on
your mouth, our fringes are blowing backwards in the wind
and I am grinning glorious lovely at the tombs,
at the dead, patronising eyeless stare
and you know now he never deserved to be

understood. We would laugh on our daily
visit to the gravesite yes we like roses,
have some for your coffin, yes and kisses,
here is the final blow to your head, pretty men
not anymore, eyeless dirt-headed Richard.

Blow this damn candle out, Joni.
Let’s write lightly with female joy; let’s
snap the wrists of men who try to change
our imaginations; let’s bite the cheeks of those
who laugh at us with money-greedy bellies.

Now you see as I do, the dead, patronising
eyeless stare, you know now he never deserved
to be understood.