A woman gains control when she gets a rise out of a man, and her wrath is incurred when this is scorned. Better to play along, play along with this game—aware of it—for the outcome is always worth it.  The outcome is that little death, that “la petite mort”, which is the release, that spiritual release from the game, and all malice in the players of it.  A good player knows you don’t lose control when you relinquish it, and it’s fun—the objective—the whole point of the game.  For to play, to have others play with you, you must be gracious, good-natured.  What you lose called giving, so that you may receive what’s lost only in name.  Denny was a player—a natural.  A lucky beginner in his initiation.  The first time you play always an invitation, and you have to be open to see it.  You have to be open to a woman.  Sincere in your words.  For you will never match a woman when it comes to words anyway.  They know all their meanings, and how small they are.  If you asked Denny, he wouldn’t be able to tell how he acquired this wisdom, the wisdom to never uproar a woman, the useless and damaging drama that unfolds if you do.  He was just lucky in his initiation (maybe a woman mothered him), and after the initiation experience speaks for itself.  He never stalked, but soon he was stalked—his charming smile the irritating obsession of a woman trying to upset it.  He came to know how a woman is protected from what she can do, but how a man doing it would be perceived as a threat to chivalry, and in this superficial perception are all the uninvited—those lonely men dumbfounded by the game they never learned how to play.  Frustrated by how easy it is if you only know it, and act.

And Denny should have been an actor.  He performed his roles effortlessly.  This achieved without trying too hard to fake it.  All great actors are born liars, but you don’t call them this.  Instead you admire their art in a world of make-believe, their methods to the madness, and after all—that’s what the game is.  Never a dull moment to the veterans of it.  And if there ever was a how-to manual for it, in spirit it would be called the fun literature of fools.  Unrhymed to reason.  The free verse of a playful poetry—the language of ladies, and their men.

And so in their story, the story of their love affair—Bethanyand Denny—I must tell the beginning and the end.  The in between only a mystery to those never called to play in this mad game called love, if it ever existed only lovers on the stage know, in how heartbreak is so easily forgotten in what waits in the wings of the closing curtains.  And so that will be their story—their beginning and their end, for that is how a love story is told best, if there ever is to be poetry.  Bethany a bit of a poet, in fact why she went to New Orleans, meeting David Threnody there in the fall of 1946, was to sing—a blues singer in her own right.  The first hints of it in her voice maybe coming from her affair with Denny in the spring of 1942, when she was just eighteen.  The following from her journal, a poem written in the month of April, apparently soon after they first met—Denny doing a bit of business in Sissy Walker’s garden…

April 2nd, 1942

What does it mean when he smiles?

            Returned without wrath of my considerate aggression

Quelled in teeth that don’t bite, but bared—nude statues frozenly etched

by peaceful canine inventors in Egyptian pyramids honoring cats

            I see them as soft-stemmed white roses, smelling of my candy slavery taste

            to chocolate skin and the green bud of a drug

Lips not red to the red of blood, sanguinity in its fullness

            The turned up cheeks of angry clowns in remonstrance

to the weep and laughter of my own sins, all told in the carnival funhouse

of mirrored fools at play in the Lord’s prayer

My worshipper in the smile I’ve given him as temptation

            The notice of my own flower opening to his hard mystery

            as his sun-seed feeds my darkness, rooted in earth and moon sand

And so players we be that we may be

            staged in light and bedazzled by our reflexive victories in lines

The question of windowed eyes answering in the youth of an ardent mistake…