One-Track Mind

Thinking about how
sex is different, much more
different, now than it was then;
not materially — the strings still
bray, their ancient tongues still
flick the same — but structurally.

Thinking about how
to imagine being fucked from
behind, without gagging on a
principle: all sex is violence
except the kind that is saved
by a word; Mississippi means
“This doesn’t feel good to me.”

Thinking about how
this doesn’t feel good to me;
the mattress has a zipper that
rubs wrongly, reminding me
of a mouth too familiar that
is dry and uncertainly mine.

Thinking about how
often is not often enough
for someone* to masturbate
when someone is *a female.

Thinking about how
being female is a diagnosis
for dysfunction; how I come
and come and come to accept
that prescription for Prozac
in place of understanding.

Thinking about how
the whole is greater than the sum
of its parts, i.e., ❤ = you + me
or 1 + 1 = 3; how there’s no proof
that when two losers fall in love
they’ve the will to beat anything.

Thinking about how
you beat me once, and again,
not materially — but an injury
does not have to be physical
to get us thinking about how
the body works or does not.

Song of My Selfie

In 2013, “selfie” was named the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year. It is an informal noun (plural: selfies) defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

I.   I monitor myself, and sing myself,
and compose the truth you shall assume,
for an arched brow only means as much as it signifies to you.

I choose to discard my soul.
I cut ‘cross puckerbrush, and plant dandies
among the summer grass.

My teeth, every incisor in my mouth, chatter in the open air.
Born with a  jack-o’-lantern grin, of parents who loved me all the same,
I, now thirty-seven paces tread into solitude, begin,
hoping to survive shutter-death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
retiring reliance on cultural scripts, undocumented, but never
forgotten–I capture myself, for good or bad.
I permit the image to speak every hazard nature has imbued
and, in its irregularities, reap energy.

II.  The house is deserted as a chestnut, rotted from inside out.
With perfumes, I concoct the fragrance of myself, and like it.
The vanity would noose me by the nose, but I shall not let it.

The phthalates are not necessary; they are dangerous and disruptive,
odorless, and potentially toxic, but I am in love with the bouquet.
I will haunt the powder room, doused in chemicals and naked,
smelling of red dye, unpicked.

The stress in my bated breath echoes and swarms,
in buzz’d whispers, a scandal creeps the vine.

My active mind puts me at the party, sniffing on green leaves,
punching air into my lungs, sucking off cherries, and swallowing their pits
for kicks. The sound, O, the siren sound, of my chalky heels striking
the cellar floor, eager for a few light kisses, a few embraces,
an offering of arms.

In dreams, I play synesthetic: mouth open, tongue wagging in delight,
imbibing each balsamic beat, spit-shadows trailing my hill-sides.
The feeling of  weak acid cleansing the body, from inside out,
imitates health, and encourages me to rise.
At the trill of full-noon, I will rise to meet someone.

III.  I have seen how the gawkers are gawking,
with mock compassion, at my reaches and bends.
But I refuse the hands they offer to lend.

There was never any more protection than there is now.
Nor any more depravity than there is now.
And will never be more fornication on cable than there is now.
Nor any more hoots and hollers than there are now.

Urge and urge and urge.
Always the procreant urge of the world.
By God’s word, go forth and multiply.

I have heard how the doctors are doctoring,
the doc-talk of the baster and the twine.
But I refuse to be dressed for their holiday tables,
my cavity a mere incubator of precious stuff.

Sure as the most certain sure, the experts are plumb
in the uprights, well-entretied, braced in the beams.
A thousand acres sown with x chromosomes,
logic assumes I improve my sex–they promise.

My offspring will possess a ubiquity of things,
white towels swelling the house, crystal vah-zes
breeding dust mites in the den.

My offspring will be stout as a horse, affectionate,
haughty, electrical, with a soul so clear and sweet,
neither an inch nor a particle reminiscent of me.
By the word of Science, she will be progress.

IV. Menarche, the first horror, the beginning
of conjugal war, of feverish loins, of pit stains.

Pornographers surround me, people I meet,
around town, on the train, in public restrooms,
at the office, behind the house, or ward, I live in.

Their scopophilic gaze compounds me,
I am oddball, wastewater, womankind, nothing
fit for the respect of some boy, or sage, I love.

The thickness of one lip more than the other,
engorged like a grub, renders me complicit,
an actor in the defamation of myself.

A part in the hair, or breasts, I am splitting.
Apart from my cherry, I am broke.
She is my idol, my amour propre, my unitary self.

The serpents look down, are erect, or bent, at rest,
arrested, looking with side-curved heads, curious,
what will come next, tongues darting in and out,
enraptured by the game of watching and wondering.

Backward I trace in my steps where I erred,
but I find no such incrimination.
I have made no mockings or arguments,
I have witnessed and waited.

The First

We finger-fucked in Latin class,
and got away with it
by playing make-believe.

You were a concert pianist,
plucking the Bumblebee
in my panties.

I was an airline pilot,
preparing your cockpit
for the ascension.

We wasted our ripest years
playing bride and groom,
feeding off each other’s

Daddy issues, and
sharing everything but
the wet dreams.

You dreamt of MKs and
premeditated revenge
on mustaches, bottlecaps,
and Camel packs.

I dreamt of reading banned
books beneath streetlamps,
and lapping lattes at 9pm.

We thumbed rides off I-89
and hurdled over state lines
to bod-mod joints
in Vermont,
where they’d ink a kid
without permission.

You marked your body
ab imo pectore
in my name.

I marked your words
and hoped to die, survived
by warm-hearted man.

We begged consent of our parents,
and mine named you Hamartia:
the downfall, the bad boy phase.

We begged consent of our parents,
and yours named me Femme Fatale:
the one who plants ideas

of education, insurrection,
and riding two-wheelers
without protection.

lovers are lunatics
who speak with tongues and teeth,
in a language of promises

too big to keep,
in a language of lies
they dare call poetry.

We turned eighteen
with the leaves, and
dropped our love in embers.

You enlisted your body
with one hand, and tied
the other for safekeeping.

I enlisted the help
of my better judgment
to find an exit worth making,

and made it.
ab imo pectore, ego contristo
for leaving you.

Ten Truths and a Lie [Monologue]

1) My third grade teacher, Missus Kara-Jane Crosley, singled me out and was always cross with me.

“You hang upside down on the monkey bars, wearing denim jumpers crafted from old overalls. You speak in gibberish of counting stars, and stand your ground when I say ‘No, only boys come from Mars.’ You come in late after recess time, and fumble the words of every nursery rhyme. Kayla, there are two types of people in this world: you and everyone else.”

 My Body lies over the ocean

My Body lies over the sea

My Body lies over the ocean

Oh, bring back my Body to me . . .

 2)   A child of the seventies, my father grew up pining for a color television, which was a luxury his family of factory workers could not afford. When I was ten years old, he bought me a twelve-inch set for Christmas, and displayed it like a trophy on the shelf above my head. Watching re-runs of

Sex and the City made staying up past bedtime feel all the more rebellious. I wonder how the children of the seventies learned what their parts were for.

3)  I removed my thorn-torn stockings, patched the wound with gauze and sap, and descended the stairs with an announcement caught in my throat:

“Ma-ma, I am a maple. Ma-ma, I’ve been tapped. Peter popped my cherry behind the sugar shack.”

“Oh, that’s nice honey, how was track?”

4) A daily dose of progesterone kept the baby away, and Planned Parenthood let me have it without parental consent or co-pay.

On October 30, 2010, the day Drew and I became exclusive, he flushed my pills down the toilet, called me a junkie, and swore he would rather be alone than watch me poison my body with artificial hormones.

He said, “I want to wear a condom,”

and I said, “Thank God for that.”

“Charge them with your card; don’t worry,

I’ll spot you some cash.”

5) “Joanne, we’re gonna need a vomit pan in here,” crowed the nurse, as I gripped the stress ball in my palm so tightly that she half-expected to see juice and clotted pulp dripping from my wrist. I retracted my limbs to keep them from whipping in the wind. I was a tortoise. I was a gyromancer. For once, I was in control.

The results arrived three weeks later, sealed in a broad manilla envelope colored like mustard: straight negatives. I breathed sweet relief into my cupped hands, still shivering with anxious anticipation. That bastard cost me fifty dollars, eighty-three cents, and an immeasurable sum of pride.Always buckle up before you ride.

6)  Before I turned vegetarian, and cut out all white foods, my favorite meal was barbecue chicken quarters, tucked into a warm bed of instant mashed potatoes. Hungry Jack ate his legs whole, and so did I, from drumstick handle to upper-thigh.

It may be said that “you are what you eat,” but I grew neither bird’s legs nor bird feet, so I switched to a diet of nuts and seeds, to end world hunger and fight disease.

7)  I broke three years of fidelity to have sex with an ex, and it wasn’t even as hot as I thought it would be. We fucked four times — in the men’s room at South Station, against the front door of his apartment, on the kitchen counter tops and, once more, under the shower(for the sake of conserving water). We fell asleep on opposite ends of the couch, each cradling a paper cup half empty with Honey Nut Cheerios, like grown-ups engaged in a real grown-up affair. That night, I dreamt I was an animal, and woke up with a tail between my legs. Home wanted to know where I had been, “How was your weekend? Did you have fun?” I laid down three aces, and waited for him to call bullshit, but he never did. I am a good girl who does very bad things, but only when I know that I can get away with them.

8) “Ms. Kennett, I understand that you prefer to be called ‘Lucy,’ is that correct?”

The receptionist donned a puzzled expression, as the patient paused to puzzle over her question, separating its syllables into columns, scratching plus and equals signs into the cheap pressboard desktop.

“Ms. Kennett?”

That time, I nodded, but neither confirmed nor denied it.

 [to be continued]

 9)                                                                                 [to be determined]

 event related to exploration of sexuality

 10)                                                                               [to be determined]

event related to intimate partner violence

 11)   I want to feel the force of my wrath and swing, smashing all the delicate things, but I resist, and in resistance, find strength.

 Bring back, bring back

Bring back my Body to me

A Love Poem

Reading her poetry stirred me up:                                                                                                   eye of newt, wing of dove — whatever.                                                                                           It did not matter. I would have fallen                                                                                               in love all the same.                                                                                                                               Yet, modest, she remained.                                                                                                                 She said: “In your presence, I can never                                                                               remember what to do with my letters;                                                                                           I connect consonant to vowel and                                                                                           vowel to consonant, but what comes out                                                                                   is not a language that I can recognize.                                                                                       Emily colored in her lips                                                                                                       with pencil-crayons, but always kept                                                                                           inside the lines; she was a “sometimes red,                                                                         sometimes deep magenta” kind of girl.                                                                                   She wore collared dresses and thimbles                                                                                   on her thumbs, with flushed cheeks that                                                                            seemed to say: “I know more of hugging                                                                               and kissing than I care to admit.”                                                                                                In her embrace, I was enveloped with                                                                                        the strength of a nightcap (fit snugly to                                                                                  my crown) and could never remember                                                                                    what to do with my Body.