The Pocketbook

"The Pocketbook" is the third song of Tom Cipullo's song cycle How to Get Heat Without Fire, which sets the poetry of Marilyn Kallet.

The recording of "The Pocketbook" is made possible through a collaboration between the Hampsong Foundation and SongFest. The performers are Sharon I-Chun Cheng, soprano, and Mark McNeill, piano, and the performance took place on June 19, 2010 at Pepperdine University.

Date: 2000Composer: Tom CipulloText: Marilyn KalletSong Collection: How to Get Heat Without Fire

Print vitals & song text




    The Pocketbook
    by Marilyn Kallet

    “Fluid Italian suede
    in garnet,”
    the copy croons.
    I memorize
    the Bergdorf Goodman
    the blonde with garnet lips
    carrying my pocketbook
    against her slim hip.
    570 dollars.
    One chunk of my daughter’s

    After weeks of foreplay,
    I sell out my family,
    dial the toll-free number.
    It’s miraculously easy,
    just ten “working days”
    and here it is, nestled
    in a silk carrying case.
    For days I hide it
    behind the recliner,
    playing peekaboo,
    trying it out when my husband’s
    not home.

    Nothing else in my life’s
    this beautiful.
    To keep it
    I would have to buy
    silk suits, tweed coats,
    a silver Porsche,
    a house on Park Avenue.

    My shoulders are unworthy
    of the strap
    in wine-red suede.
    I would have to have inches
    surgically added to my height.

    “American women carry
    their souls
    in their pocketbooks,”
    Edgar Allen Poe said.
    Not just my soul,
    my money,
    my identity,
    my credit cards.”

    This pocketbook soft
    and red
    like a womb,
    room where I could
    carry myself in comfort,
    be my own mother,
    be drunk with color,
    570 dollars.

    I could sell my
    wedding ring,
    break into neighbors’
    after two years
    in the women’s
    correctional facility
    there it would be
    waiting for me,
    fluid Italian suede
    in garnet,
    big enough to carry
    the collected works of Poe,
    O my fair sister, O my soul.

    Related Information

    Sheet Music

    How to Get Heat Without Fire

    Composer(s): Tom Cipullo

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

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