Odessa takes her drink & pours it on the carpet just for laughs.

It wasn’t evil to feel complete, no heart had ever been imprisoned by that.

She wanders like a thunderstorm in a Texas flood.

A pantomine of circumstance wherever Red River runs.


Everybody’s got a double, & Odessa’s leads her where she must go eventually.

& beside this other there’s another, the way is not the way you think it will be.

Destruction is her kindness, it frees her mind from scripts.

Beneath the garments that she wears she is limitless.


West of Amarillo, when the moon shines on Highway 66.

Down by a deserted fireworks stand, Odessa tells a story with her body just for kicks––

A snake lies coiled, ready to strike, a woman in a skirt,

Hoping that she likes the feel once he gets a taste of her.


In Odessa’s code for hunger, you got to fill your mouth with holes.

There’s a fog over the station & a sparrow flies out a motel window,

but she don’t want to go.

Leaves blow in through curtains torn by life’s entanglement.

They scatter her most intimate thoughts & all their radiance.


She makes a wicked pecan pie & sings “My Funny Valentine.”

From a corner of her life, another side of Love streams down that no one can define.

So she paints it on her canvas as an unfamiliar land

Beyond the angels that cannot pierce the solitude of man.


   My funny Valentine,

Sweet comic Valentine,

You make me smile with my heart.


Your looks are laughable, unphotographable,

Yet, you’re my favorite work of art.


Is your figure less than greek;

Is your mouth a little weak,

When you open it to speak, are you smart?


Don’t change a hair for me,

Not if you care for me

   Stay, little valentine, stay


Each day is valentine’s day.


Horses stampede past her dressing room, spooked by an explosion

at the gunpowder factory.

Burning calendars fall from the sky in backward rhymes round a shattered refinery.

Revelation’s voices cast their spells intangible

And the mask they place upon her face, though transparent, is impenetrable.


No one had seen Odessa for years, but there’s a video of her at the gas station

In the Court of the Moon & the throne of the Queen of long green false nails

& life-like gestures.

What good is that white dress now, it can’t obliterate

That I am left to sign my name to her death certificate.


The future is an ocean, but many drown in the undertow & never reach the sublime.

The wet salt air coming down from the Gulf made Odessa feel so fine.

There’s a painting on her ceiling now & the figure in it weeps

For the lovers who within themselves behold their own deep purity.


5 December 1997


Spoken word version from Unspoken Words.

Copyright © 1998 by Jim Cohn.

“My Funny Valentine” copyright © 1937 by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart.

“My Funny Valentine” adopted version copyright © 1998 by Jim Cohn.