Marianne Betterly

When Marianne Betterly isn’t hip hop dancing, cooking quiches and soufflés, reading astrology charts or traveling to Rangoon, Kathmandu or Istanbul, she’s writing poetry. Her poetry has been published in “Hot Flashes,” “Hot Flashes 2: More Sexy Little Stories and Poems,” and “The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal.” She has received poetry awards from the Dancing Poetry Festival and Writers Digest. She lives in Kensington CA.


Three Poems (March 20, 2011. Issue 26. The SLAM & FLASH Issue!)

my scars are my tattoos
some ink their skin
with kanji or Tibetan  
for dharma, hell
my arms are white
flecked with freckles,
a mole, a scar or two

my scars are my tattoos
I wear knife wounds,
straight lines
on belly, arm,
permanent medals
of victory over death

I want to erase all other spots,
remove patterns and dots,
become blindingly white,
not a trace or
footstep marking time
my scars are my tattoos
why ink your arm
with a name, face or fleur,
a constant memory --
some day you may want to forget
I don’t want needled reminders
of passing passion
 your smile is embedded
on my wall of faces,
no inked portrait could ever replace
my scars are my tattoos

After hip hop class
on the crowded train,
I’m used to stares
when I once felt shame
of perspiration,
hair untamed,
in damp Danskins
I’m not the same.

They watch as I fan
my neck, chest and pearls
face pink from pas de bourrees,
head rolls, twirls,
ears throbbing Flo Rida rap:  
about apple bottom jeans
and Reeboks with the straps.

Like thirsty wolves,
they close in for the kill
some feel lust,
others a thrill,
all they want to do
is to sniff my musk,
taste my pheromones,
from dusk to dusk.
Who needs self-help books
that teach pouts & flirts,
make your Venus rise,
until it hurts
how to bat your eyes
at someone you just met
when all you
need to do is


my skin cracks
in parched desert lines
sucks water
no dampness remains,
only bone-dry tongue
& wrinkles
like dead butterfly wings,
ready to catch
drop of rain,
a tear.
spread cool salve
over face and neck,
absorb into thousands
of cells, 
on pachyderm skin,
diving deeper,
layers below in situ,
in hopes to
wake up tomorrow
to moist

perhaps a dream,
sales pitch
for $49 you can
have skin
softer than baby’s cheek,
repair years of
sunburn and worries,
rewind life
makeup and mirrors
can fill the cracks,
cover up crow’s feet,
frown lines;
surgeons can tattoo youth
onto cheeks and chin
a white mask
with a wooden Noh smile,
that desperately
wants to scream

The Legendary