Edward Field

Poems featured on The Gladdest Thing

Mae West

She comes on drenched in a perfume called Self-Satisfaction
from feather boa to silver pumps.

She does not need to be loved by you
though she’ll give you credit for good taste.
Just because you say you love her
she’s not throwing herself at your feet in gratitude.

Every other star reveals how worthless she feels
by crying when the hero says he loves her,
or how unhoped-for the approval is
when the audience applauds her big number —
but Mae West takes it as her due:
she knows she’s good.

She expects the best for herself
and knows she’s worth what she costs
and she costs plenty —
she’s not giving anything away.

She enjoys her admirers, fat daddy or muscleman,
and doesn’t confuse vanity and sex,
though she never turns down pleasure,
lapping it up.

Above all she enjoys her self,
swinging her body that says, Me, me, me, me,
Why not have a good time?
As long as you amuse me, go on,
I like you slobbering over my hand, big boy —
I have a right to.

Most convincing, we know all this
not by her preaching
but by her presence — it’s no act.
Every word and look and movement
spells Independence:
she likes being herself.

And we who don’t
can only look on, astonished.

— Edward Field