Jean Kane
Patricia Bowman at the Ocean
Au Bar. Good Friday,  

the usual drinking with Michelle

when they came in. Big men—no—

  two of them were small but shone as if they’d sponged up

            the light of history

   in Teddy, who drank

           with all the thirst of Lent.

  Alive, alive-o, pour another, Willie, Patrick, with their uncle-father.

            Closing time, they said, come back to the house.

All of us ripped. Who wouldn’t go

           to the beach castle of careless winter parties,

where giants embraced the world?

                  Of course we went.

                  They weren’t strangers. They were old hopes

                   alive, the dream that never dies.

                   Teddy disappeared soon after we got there.

                   Michelle and Patrick wandered off.

Willie said let’s talk

      out on the beach
. We kissed.

The ocean roared no more than it ever roars

             when you’re chosen.

        The dark was cold and stumbly,

but he wanted to swim, began to strip.

I said no, I’d go back in

and I tumbled; he was dragging back by the ankle,

           my nose packed with sand, neck wrenched

against a choke, the slab of him

   killing my air. I screamed when he ripped

      my center, forced the ocean into me.

No one will believe you, he said

   beady-eyed, his lips pressed in a line.

   So you might as well shut up.

   He was almost right.

                     Oh she was wild, they said.

All her sockets must have begged
                                                       for a good thump.
  Imagine his spunk dripping

                         from her crusted beard,

the big-babied tunnel he had to plug

Shut. No one came to help

                       who was stronger than me, just a puny

                                 dress to be dragged off,

but I didn’t shut up.

                                                Did they think they were brave?

                                                That they left me shamed?

                                                That they were champs again?

I kicked that mess away.

Note: Patricia Bowman charged William Kennedy Smith with raping her at the Kennedy estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on Good Friday 1991. Later that year, he was acquitted of the charge.
Jean Kane
As Pakistan, Lee Recalls India, 1962

The last time I was blinded by my sister,

I rode an elephant behind my sister.

Understand, I tried to shield her

from that constant light. Throngs pined for my sister

as if she were a memory. Why not

be kind? I’d outshined my sister

with my pretty face, all of our lives.

That’s why I couldn’t see ahead. Mind you, my sister

learned to fold herself inside herself,

to leave the world with that hard smile. Find the sister

who never bested her again, who drank and cursed her,

me, Lee, hid in the dark, not blind, her sister.

Note: Lee Radziwill accompanied her elder sister, Jacqueline Kennedy, on a state trip to India and Pakistan in 1962. Though they were close at the time, Lee came to resent her sister’s status, just as the two countries have had a contentious sibling rivalry.
Jean Kane
Mary, at the End of a Rope
  If I do it, I’ll do it in the afternoon,

                                                       when nothing moves.

Four panes of light distract the barn wall.

    No hoots of kids push the hours out.

                                                                  No moon annuls them.

     I never wanted eternity to come in a cup, big drunk

                    sprawled bloat on the floor.  

Did I mention my husband used to be a falconer?

    Lover of wildlife, river scrubber.

He left me here the way a woman has to be left

     when all her eggs have dropped, broody hen

gone scraggled. What does she do

    emptied with the afternoon? Break its neck?  

Uncoil the length of it? Drop

              out of its beak, Mary,

                            dangle an inch or two.

Note: Mary Richardson Kennedy, the estranged second wife of Robert Kennedy, Jr., hanged herself in a barn on the family’s property in Bedford, New York, in 2012.
Jean Kane
Makeup For After: “End Times Girls Club”
Great grandmas knew
that old silk shatters.
That midnight gets green-eyed

left solo in a room. We say
play the tender buttons.
Loosen stays, the doomy undergarments.

When the rain still shudders down in sheets,
when the spit of sand sinks,
leaks spill away your face—

Wink away. Mix them with ashes, a little grease,
you’ll make mascara, stick in the smudge.

there’s nothing underneath.
Address the moment. Show the finger
to the shutter.

Note: Rose Kennedy Schlossberg is the daughter of Caroline Kennedy, JFK’s daughter and only surviving child. Rose, named after her great grandmother, created and appeared in the YouTube series “End Times Girls Club” in 2016. From a car, she gave the middle finger to a press photographer in 2009, in her great-uncle Ted Kennedy’s funeral procession.