“I’m Just a Bad Boy All Dressed Up in Fancy Clothes” (1957): West Poetry

by A. Jay Adler on April 23, 2013
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Another poem from John Spaulding, our featured poet in the spring issue of West. Read more here.

I’m Just a Bad Boy All Dressed Up in Fancy Clothes” (1957)

by John Spaulding

I’m just a bad bad boy
all dressed up in fancy clothes
a jive bomber a rocket 88
a war baby a cherry bomb
a rebel with no cause but me
The newest thing under all the trashy stars–
hotter than Tab Hunter, James Dean,
and, Sal Mineo, better start movin on
I’m a man lover who understands
the only real cupcake
is the cupcake of death
Johnny Ace got nothing on me
I am Xmas Eve in your home town
& all the animals that live
in that deep hole underground
I’m just a bad boy bad boy bad boy
ready to take away your summertime blues
Tattoos you can’t believe tattoos you can’t see
The darkness you dream of
The dreamboat you can’t have
I’m just a gay boy a gay boy a gay boy
Whose ass looks jacked in tight black slacks
I’m sweet as gumballs stolen from a candy store
I’m your peanut butter and jelly sandwich baby
your sugar daddy your 60 minute man
who loves to hear you cry
a real bad boy ready to pop your bubble
bring you trouble then say good-bye
and if you can’t dig that, Jack, you dead

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

A. Jay Adler April 25, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I have it on the authority of the authority in this matter that there are, in fact, the titles of ten songs of that era scattered throughout the poem. First person to identify them gets a lifetime subscription to the sad red earth, or maybe a bad bad boy, winner’s choice.


John Spaulding July 3, 2013 at 5:14 pm

I just heard from one of my readers that he found ten song titles in this poem. However, it turns out that five of his titles were not on my list, so I guess there are fifteen song titles in this poem! Who knew??
–John S.


A. Jay Adler July 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Maybe more, John. (Maybe some are ironic variations. 😉 What a perfect example of the author’s limited authority over his own text!


John Spaulding April 25, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Merilyn–Glad you liked the poem. Really enjoyed your story. I hope you married that guy!–John S.


Merilyn Jackson April 23, 2013 at 9:39 pm

I love that poem. What I consider my very first dance review was a story I wrote in 1985 about a guy who showed up in my courtyard one 2 am, barefoot and barechested. I watched him from my bedroom window in the soft summer night. He stood under the spot made by a floodlamp, picked up a stick, and twirled it like it was a cane. Then he flipped an imaginary top hat onto his head, tapped the “cane” onto the blacktop and started a shoeless softshoe while singing, “Baaad boy, I’m just a baaad boy, all dressed up in fancy clothes…”


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