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.