When Daddy Hollywood Died

When Daddy Hollywood died
They harvested his organs
His heart from Marilyn Monroe
His brain from Jerry Lewis
His lungs from John Wayne
His eyes from Bette Davis
His liver from Humphrey Bogart
His bones from Rita Hayworth
His soul from Citizen Kane

They put him in the same coffin with Lenin1
To ward off decomposition atheist-fashion
A resurrection team of doctors and make-up people
And an engineering crew to keep Daddy cool

The day the summer lilies bloomed
we went to visit him:
the empty head
the caved chest
the refrigerated pump
the sightless sockets
the rotting fingertips
the foaming skin
the mouth whispering “Rosebud”

In the souvenir shop
they sold snow globes
and Jayne Mansfield t-shirts
next to the exit
and the Dr. T. J. Eckleberg sign2


1“The job of maintaining Lenin’s corpse belongs to an institute known in post-Soviet times as the Center for Scientic Research and Teaching Methods in Biochemical Technologies in Moscow. A core group of five to six anatomists, biochemists and surgeons, known as the ‘Mausoleum group,’ have primary responsibility for maintaining Lenin’s remains.” Read more here and here.

2The billboard eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleberg in The Great Gatsby seem to symbolize many things, including the loss of moral vision:

But above the grey land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic—their retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness or forgot them and moved away. But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground… I followed [Tom] over a low white-washed railroad fence and we walked back a hundred yards along the road under Doctor Eckleburg’s persistent stare… “Terrible place, isn’t it,” said Tom, exchanging a frown with Doctor Eckleburg.

F. Scott Fitgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)
Shay/Fireblossom's "Word Garden Word List #2 (Plath)" asks us to write a poem using at least three words from a list of words taken from Sylvia Plath's writings: I chose to use "Daddy," "exit," and "lilies."

31 thoughts on “When Daddy Hollywood Died

  1. This is genius! Last time I was in Russia I couldn’t go walk around the Red Square to see Lenin due to terrorism. It is well guarded/kept, having a red velvet rope to keep the line moving. Total side note: The one thing that I did appreciate was the memorial park historical museum where all the torn down statutes of Stalin, Lenin etc are located. I have advocated for something like that here in the States, so far it is falling on deaf ears. God bless you and keep your brain sharp for Him!!!!! Love and hugs!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are well-traveled! I’m glad we don’t have a “mausoleum” like that here in the States. So. Weird. But you’re right about the historical museum: we need to stop discarding those old statues in the name of “woke.” So glad you enjoyed my foray into la-la land! Thank you, Mandy. 💝.

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  2. fireblossom32

    Ah, clever woman. Lungs from John Wayne. They say that disproportionately many who worked on the movie “The Conqueror” ended up dying of cancer, including Wayne. This is thought to be because they were downwind from a nuclear test site. Chilling. Heart from Mairlyn…of course, perfect! Brains from Jerry Lewis, that made me laugh! And Bette Davis eyes, of course, it couldn’t be any other.

    An engineering crew to keep daddy cool. Perfect. What kind of cool, daddy-o? 😉

    I love all the notes from Gatsby and about Lenin. Who cares if the inside are soup or dust, as long as the outside keeps on truckin’? As the philosopher Jackson Browne once sang, “It’s who you look like, not who you are.”

    Thanks so much for being part of my word list prompt with this marvelous poem I loved it!

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    1. Shay,
      Thanks for the close reading of my walk through lal-la land.. I’m glad you caught the “cool,” and naturally philosopher Jackson Browne’s apropos as usual. I had this poem in mind when I woke up this morning, sort of like a waking dream, then putting it into words your prompt came in most handy. And why wouldn’t it? Plath, duh. 😀❤️

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  3. Dora, your imagination runs with some of the best from Hollywood. Fortunately, we can hang into their splendid work through film. Meanwhile, Lenin tries to maintain an eternal presence in a ghastly manner.

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  4. Gosh, D. You’re the creative one by far. I see genius in this. The words and their deeper meaning: phenomenal. And then you went and put together that image!? Spectacular!
    This is how it’s done. And done well. Thanks for showing me. You rock.
    Blessings, my sweet. xoxo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Selma,
      I’m eating up your generous helping of ego-boosting compliments in spoonfuls! Thank you, my dear. I think I was channeling a whole lot of modernism in this one, and Fitzgerald and Plath made a good team. 😉

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  5. This is just a delight–despite the bleak organ-harvested inner landscape–and each line builds from the previous, for a real feel of the emptiness and rot behind the glitter of that 50’s silver screen that said so much about who we are. All your stars are perfectly represented in their inner works. I like that Lenin got into the mix, to show the drifting idolatry of the crowd and glamour of the Role and the combined arrogance and vulnerability of the players is not just our country, but our species. Afa atheism equating to materialism, that isn’t what most of us believe. If anything is mocking us it’s probably trying to see a rational universe. 😉 A beautiful, intelligent and extremely effective poem, Dora. So glad you could join us in playing with Shay’s/Sylvia’s words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joy,
      Your comments always make writing my poems more rewarding than I can say. Thank you for your astute reading and the encouragement that gives. You’re right about our species, of course. We tend towards idolatry, lock, stock and barrel. The modernists mocked it, but left us with “hollow men.” (Except for Yeats). John Calvin said the human heart was an idol-making factory. Well darn if Hollywood didn’t go and build it! I see you read my prior comment and I confess to being guilty of gross over-generalization. I once was an atheist and it seared my heart to see how mankind cheapened itself continually in distinctly non-rational ways. Materialism included. Such a center cannot hold, as Yeats would say. Btw, I don’t think he would care much for my Fitzgerald/Plath mix. Not his style.🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love all the names of Old Hollywood classics; Great Gatsby is a book I read more than three times; love it. I need to watch both movies though…Gatsby is a favorite book of mine because it captures the times of the 1920s. I enjoyed this and I discern the message is how Hollywood like to “resurrect” these classics

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  7. I learned a lot in your poem, Dora! I had to read it three times, ha ha! It took quite a gothic turn halfway 🙂 I didn’t know about Lenin – why would they want to keep him preserved for so long? And I also don’t know enough about the actors specifically but I trust you chose each body part for symbolic reason. I totally get the Marilyn Monroe heart and the Bette David eyes though! 😀 Great narrative.

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