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Kiki of Montparnasse

After Man Ray’s Le Violon d’Ingres


Man, he thought he was smart.

Painted a pair of fancy Fs

on my back, exposed my arse.

Hold still cherie. Don’t speak.


Camera clac and voila: cello,

plaything, objet d’art. Tssk.

I ask you. The turban though

was my idea. A touch of class.


Eight years I posed in front

of his lens, stripped for the pleasure

of his Dada friends. Magnificent.

The sun has dressed you in lace.


Man, he slayed me. In the dark

room I was rayo-graphed, poured

over, gazed at by the bourgeoisie.

My own mother in Burgundy


disowned me. But it wasn’t all bad.

Half-cut on jag juice, we jitter-bugged

at The Dingo, downed jiggers

of Pernod, sang bawdy songs


with the avant-garde. We blazed

like comets, my American

man and me. Until the fights

began. True, blotto one night


I swung at a gendarme and

after I got bail saw my man

in the Café de Flore, a young

Sheba on his arm. So what?


Life goes on. I sang, wrote,

did the lot. Big timer. The duck’s

quack. Banned but not silenced

Queen Kiki of Montparnasse.