Lips of Rose – Todd Portnowitz

She was known as Lips of Rose,
Lady Rose she called herself,
she was known as Lips of Rose
and she held love above all else.

And when her train reached Sant’Ilario
it was clear with her first step
to everyone there at the station
this was no missionary trip.

Some make love to kill the daylight,
some for money, some for fashion
Lips of Rose, O Lips of Rose
she did it only out of passion.

But passion, as we know,
it throws you headlong into life
without bothering to ask him
if he’s stag or has a wife.

And so it was that with the days
our Lady Rose aroused the hatred
off all the village bitches
whose bones she’d made away with.

But when it comes to small town gossips
they’re not exactly on the ball
and though they fumed with accusations
they were words and that was all.

Of course we all give great advice
feeling like Christ inside the Temple
great advice when we’re too tired
in life to set a bad example.

So it was that one old maid
all shriveled up in self-defense
brought upon herself the pleasure
of chiming in with her two cents.

Commanding all the wives’ attention
she spoke up with her complaint:
“Ladies, this bedroom perpetrator
must be punished by the state.”

So off they went to the Police Chief
and they said, “Now look, this harlot

she’s bringing in more customers
than the town’s new supermarket.”

And so came four gendarmes
wearing plumes, wearing plumes,
so come four gendarmes
wearing plumes and bearing arms.

It’s not unusual for pigs or feds
to tarnish their own name—
but not when dressed in formal uniform
and they hauled her to the train.

All the town was at the station
from county clerk to holy man
all the town was at the station
swollen eyes and hat in hand

to say goodbye to that good soul
who, without judgment, without doubt
to say goodbye to that good soul
who brought such love into the town

On a big yellow poster
in dark black ink
it said, “Farewell, O Lady Rose,
with you the springtime goes.”

But when the news is really news
it doesn’t need a paper route

like a stone flung from a slingshot
it flies from mouth to mouth,

and when her train hit the next station
there was twice the crowd there waiting
to blow a kiss, to throw a flower
to reserve another hour.

Even the priest, who spends his days
between communion and confession,
was quick to call this earthly beauty
to his side in the Procession.

So with the Virgin up in front
and Lips of Rose not far behind,
they paraded down the lane:
love, sacred and profane.

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