Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Sheena is a Punk Rocker
She, Sheena of the Jungle, the pulp-paged comics’ great white queen,
she, Sheena, born in slumped-out England, born
for young Will Eisner’s tabloid-writing scheme,
born of Jerry Eigner’s drawing, Eisner’s jiggle-in-the-jungle dream.
Reborn stateside nine months later (the money was better),
reborn a soft-core smash-hit shiksa, Jumbo Comics break-out dame.
Born first in the blur of Eisner’s novel-reading dreaming —
she, Sheena, born first in Rider Haggard’s one-hand-novel She.
Sheena born in the blur of the movie-goer’s dreaming
when Jeffrey Hyman (he’d drop Jeff, and go by Joey,
he’d drop Hyman, and then go by Ramone) caught her
in a seedy New York retro matinee:
kitsch TV for downtown’s nascent highbrow-lowbrow scene.
She, Sheena of the big screen, born Nellie McCalla,
born the butcher’s daughter (fifth of eight), she couldn’t stay
in dull Pawnee, hopped it from her butcher father,
hopped the train from dull Pawnee.
Reborn in chic L.A., she, Sheena, she’d drop “Nellie,”
pose for Vargas, pose it well and beach-front, pose it well, and not for free.
“I couldn’t act,” says Sheena, “but I could swing from trees.”
A pinned-up blonde, improbable as jungle queen,
improbable as her build, her frame, her curving fame, as in:
her 39-19-37, she, Sheena,
a big-screen screen-test six-foot queen.
She, Sheena, born again when Jeffrey (call him Joey) made
his infinitely probable 2 minutes forty, his infinitely perfect
four-chord chart-this scheme. Teens drive it up to 81,
in England make that 23. The hopped-up numbers scream
they know it: Sheena is a punk rocker, Sheena is
a punk rocker, Sheena is a punk rocker now.
Robert Archambeau's books include The Poet Resigns: Poetry in a Difficult World (2013), Laureates and Heretics: Six Careers in American Poetry (2010) and Home and Variations (2004), as well as the edited collections Letters of Blood and Other English Writings of Göran Printz-Påhlson (2011), The &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing (2009), and Word Play Place: Essays on the Poetry of John Matthias (1998). He teaches at Lake Forest College and blogs at Samizdatblog.