“To Carla With Love” by Art Heifetz

To say that Carla had problems with men
Was like saying the Sahara
Was a tad bit dry.
She made light of them herself,
But the wounds ran deep.
She wore them like a second skin,
Numbing them now and then
In rivers of alcohol.
We found her once,
Barely coherent,
In a pile of Jim Beam bottles
On the kitchen floor,
Her little poodle teetering
As she licked the linoleum.
Calamity Carla was a sobriquet
She richly deserved.

Her love affairs went down
With a heavy dose of irony.
Ramon, her Puerto Rican lover,
Had broken all his vows
Yet could not bring himself
To leave the priesthood.
She had crashed the motorcycle
Of the crewcut lawyer, Bill,
Into his office building wall
Just as his wife pulled up.
Visiting Joe’s artist loft
To surprise him with
A pumpkin and a jug of cider,
She had caught him in flagrant
With a flannel-shirted plumber.
Her lovers were always on the verge
Of giving something up for her,
As if every month were Lent.
This one, his failed marriage with two kids,
That one, his addiction to the bottle,
A third, his racing car career,
But promises came and promises went,
And still she found herself alone.

So when she phoned from California
To say that Mr. Right, a stunning
Wunderkind from the Valley
Had shown up in his Porsche
To pop the question,
We were elated.
Then the day before the wedding,
His life flamed out
In a head-on with a drunk
Near San Jose.
The caterer stayed on
To feed the mourners at the wake.

The last we heard from Carla,
She was living in the Mission
With a golden boxer
And a hirsute biker, Rolf,
Whose name
In flaming four-inch letters
Was tatooed on his back,
Just in case you forgot it.