We are not all in Hollywood by Nancy Levinson


On the hotel dance floor

at a high school reunion

just a few measures into

a nostalgic Patti Page song

a tongue was thrust into my ear

like a striking snake. The wet flick

startled my brain (encased ever so near)

and bolted me backwards

across the room to the bar or the terrace

or the ladies’ room      the aftermath

escaping my memory as I’d escaped

the man named John.  I’d met him

only moments earlier introduced

by his wife Peggy

a close high school friend

twenty-five years past.



In the sunny kitchen of our home

avocado plants lining the sill above the sink

the children’s school drawings covering

the refrigerator door     my brother-in-law Leo

greeted me hello dinner smells so good

with a hug akin to a simian’s long arms

clinging for life     then Leo added

an extended deep sweeping back rub

until I could extricate myself

and feign a foolish moment

or nothing at all.



We were talking about Ferdinand Magellan,

my editor Lavinia and I, seated

in a small Greenwich Village restaurant.

Earlier we’d been in her office reviewing galleys

of my biography on the explorer’s daring

and perilous seafaring adventure.

As planned, her husband joined us

and we scanned our menus by light of

a cluster of votive candles,

placed our dinner orders,

and sat back each with a glass of wine.

With the arrival of salad plates also came

the exploring hand of the husband

up my thigh all the way up

the shock knocking me overboard

into a roiling sea as I swiftly shifted

in my chair.  I was not in Hollywood

yet deserved an Oscar for performing

as if nothing had just happened beneath the table

where also sat the woman/editor/friend

whose husband had groped me.


never was I promised a ticket to stardom

threatened with a job loss

felt need to call for help or seek counsel


Only quiet waves of sorrow washed over me

told these sad tales

while keeping bonds between women



Nancy is author of MOMENTS OF DAWN: A Poetic Memoir of Love & Family; Affliction & Affirmation, as well as stories, poems, and essays that have appeared in many publications such as Confrontation, Poetica, Rat’s Ass Review, River Poets Journal, Burningword Literary, Drunk Monkey and several anthologies, including Getting Old, Take Care, and Oasis.  She lives in Los Angeles. www.nancyslevinson.com

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