It’s the last cornball western,
and there you are,
the only lady flute-player, I guess, in 300 miles,
sitting alone like a cup of herbal tea,
like an everyday empress in exile,
reigning at one edge of the cardboard, sagebrush, town.
Around the corner
sprawl the tinkling cafes and bars.
You make them seem provincial and unseasoned.
Their music blows in your window,
it piles up on your floor like dead flies.
It is time for me to arrive,
I ride into town, I plunge, I man-stride,
the unbroken spirit of Golconda!
Is every inhabitant out in the street?
Everyone glued to his window?
I hang like a cigarette held at the side of my mouth.
My yippee skids in the air like a red fiesta.
I throw up my Stetson,
it catches on a passing kite.
I shoot my pistol at the klieg-light sun,
my silver spurs rattle like last week’s wages.
On a wooden sidewalk like tired old scenarios
laid down end to end.
You pretend to be shy,
I pretend I’d rather be
bulldogging cows in the mountains.
Something has happened.
— marked by an exclamation point in the treatment
scrawled on the edge of the afterglow.
The sun staggers over the hill of the studio fly-loft,
the moon bends down and falls,
doubled like a shot.
The bonfire flying flakes of coal
pop high and vanish.
Whicker-whicker – you fold and unfold my sleep
like a well-played hand of five-card stud.
© Andrew Glaze, 1981, from I Am The Jefferson County Courthouse
My father wrote this poem for my stepmom Adriana Keathley Glaze.
The first time I met Adriana was sometime around Christmas. I had just turned 11, my mother had asked for a divorce a few months earlier, my father was attempting to date again, and it wasn’t going particularly well. I remember one disastrous day when he invited a female work colleague to join us at Brighton Beach for the afternoon, I was enjoying playing in the surf, and in a split second my brother managed to get completely lost while heading back to our beach blanket. The rest of the afternoon quickly turned stressful as we fanned out to look for him among the multitudes of beach goers. Eventually my father came across him, on the Boardwalk of all places, accompanied by a kindly older lady who was trying to help him find us.
Later that year, in an effort to keep busy and productive, he decided to audit an acting course as an educational exercise to improve his play writing skills. Early on in the sessions he told me there was a woman in the class who had caught his attention. The woman he’d noticed and was trying to get to know was Adriana. She also happened to be a ballet dancer, like myself, and was in the original cast of Camelot, the Broadway musical.
Eventually he invited her over to our apartment for a visit. It was around Christmas. At the time my brother Peter was living with our mother, and visiting us on weekends. My main memory of that first meeting is that Peter was so oblivious to everything else except his Christmas gifts that he knocked our Christmas tree over 3 times. For some reason my father recorded this entire event on audio tape. For years afterwards he enjoyed replaying the tape, which essentially consisted of repeated crashes in the background and me screaming “PETER!!!!!” every time our tree fell over. Clearly he found it very funny.
Amazingly enough, Adriana decided to stick it out with us. Once she and my father began dating in earnest, we would often meet her at the stage door of the Majestic Theatre at the end of a performance. Richard Burton had already left the cast of Camelot for Hollywood and Elizabeth Taylor, but Julie Andrews didn’t know about Mary Poppins yet, Robert Goulet wasn’t doing Vegas or TV yet, and Roddy McDowell was still playing the character of Mordred.
In 1962 they married, and my father and I moved out of our apartment in Greenwich Village to merge households with Adriana at 9th Avenue and 53rd Street, around the corner from her own original apartment. By the time my brother turned 6 he moved in with us as well. This was because our mother was in Europe touring with a theater troupe, and it was time for him to start school.
Adriana continued to dance ballet for many years, and in 1987 she was in the original cast of the Michael Bennett Broadway musical Ballroom. Eventually, she switched over to acting, and stayed with that for many years. Supportive of my father until his dying day, he dedicated at least two of his poetry books to her using her nickname “Cusi”.
Adriana Keathley Glaze in the wings of the Majestic Theater, circa 1960, during the run of Camelot. Photo by Dawn Mitchell.