Female Gaze

In college, I took an aesthetic class
We read articles on the “male gaze”
And how it relates to sculpture

We investigated
The archetypal pose of a bashful young woman
Nude
No, naked
And turned away
A plea for modesty
Caught appearing unvirtuous
When perhaps all she was up to was
Wandering the family garden
Enjoying summer air on her breasts
Or
Trying on gowns before the party
And in comes malegaze
Uninvited
Judging
Odious

Sometimes, when I’m sitting alone in a bar
Or a café
I subject a man to my gaze
An unwelcomed disrobing of flannel shirt
And jeans
An inspection of beard and mustache
He runs his fingers through his hair
With both hands
Imitating high school movie dream boat
I wait for him to turn away
And wonder why he doesn’t

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DNS

You can make a comeback
From a failure
Your heart may be broken, but you are not
No one will quit being your friend
Your family will still love you as hard as they ever have
(Maybe harder)

You will wake up tomorrow
And you will put your legs under you
And you will put the pieces back together

You are a warrior
You bare the marks on your face
And you will bare this scar
In the same way a win leaves a mark

If you left it out there
If you spent every damned penny
They you should sleep hard tonight
Knowing you did everything you could

I promise you
Your wounds will heal
You will race again
And your heart will recover

But you will never forgive yourself

For not showing up

WILD

I want so desperately to be incorporated with you, Wild
But I am so aware of my own tame
I take my clothes off and beg to be consumed
But Wild is blind to my endeavor
TAKE ME
I scream
But the wind only howls and the birds only sing
And the water only rushes
I feel like Wild laughs at me but I know it’s not true
Is it so silly to want to be yours?
I am pitying myself
And I know it’s unattractive to Wild
I mix dust with river water
And paint myself clay-brown
I AM HERE
I beg
Only humid heat and woodpecker pecking
And sun beating
In a final display, I run
Sweat mixes with clay and streaks my bare belly
My hair tangles
My eyes dilate
My pores open
My lungs inflate
Everything is alive
And only in this state
I am taken

THE FEAR OF SOMETHING WONDERFUL

When the train is riding along,
Gliding effortlessly on its track
I get queasy, itchy, restless
Just thinking about the termination of the track
The cinematic station with the hankies and the hugging and the happy ending
Ick
If I see something adorable coming down the line, I am likely to set the train ablaze
The story, so far, goes:
Found the guy, the perfect guy
Guy wants kids
Guy would be great with kids
I can picture, in vivid detail
Our children and their
Chicken nugget-less lives
I can hear us calling their perfect little names
A sensible mixture of novelty and tradition
I can see our lovely home
A balance of tidy and lived in
And I want to set fire to it all

Where once was blood, risk, and desire
Now, neat rows of snack-pack celery stalks and peanut butter bites
I want to bake it all in a casserole a la Sylvia Plath’s head

I know
I am preprogrammed to disdain the conventional
In high school, I prided myself in the rejection of Dave Matthews Band
And Prom

But I know now
I am a victim of a system
That lets me believe I was inspired and revolutionary in my thinking
All the while, I was precisely in line with the
Algorithm’s projection
I listened to Kid A in an ’89 Ford Tempo

Now is the time I am projected to resist
Which is why, perhaps
Facebook keeps asking me if I’m nursing
Or if I’m planning a baby shower (Fuck you, by the way)

I am projected to resist
This
Lovely marital bliss

I ride the train
Watching from the rear as the engine car rounds the bend

Always assuming
I am both the passenger
And the conductor

A MEMBER OF EVERYTHING

It’s winter again in Ohio
And I have banished myself to bedroom Siberia
A white tundra of down comforter

Ohio is lovely but she is quite a grey thing
Her ad might say
“Come to Ohio, you’ll love our indoors!”

The problem with our indoors
Is missing out
On being a member of the everything
The risk of
Belonging only to yourself (or your pillow, or Instagram or a good afternoon wank)

And what a crime

But, if I can force myself to, I belong to the “out-of-doors”
I bravely shed baby blanket, bath tub, self-coddling
In favor or a renewed membership
To the everything

WET PINE TREES CLUB
I belong
EMPTY HOUSES ANONYMOUS
I am also a (secret) member
BLACK BIRD POLKA DOT SKY
I want to incorporate with you
SMELL OF DIRT, IRON AND FOG
I am with you!
FILTHY BUS BREATHING FILTHY AIR AT ME
I attend your board meetings
SCREAMING TEENS IN NEON BACKPACKS
I pay dues quarterly
DEAD QUIET, UNEVEN BIKE PATH
You are worth your drab meeting minutes

I implore you to give up
Your Netflix
Your tea and your cat and your foot rub
And
Brave the damp chill

If it had an ad
It would say
“The everything: Worth the temporary discomfort”

BURN THE MAP

Brautigan taught me to
Forget what I know
And learn from scratch
The tight edges
The loose curves
The dimple spots
The raw earth smells
Of my body
He told me to take off
The memory of knowing
How I feel about it,
All the hates I cataloged
And replace them with wonder
And I promise to

xanax

my anxiety has me by the ponytail
so much so
that after pacing the upstairs hallway
taking two showers and a bath
i finally get down to it
and take the pill i have stuffed into my old lady wallet
that i begged from a coworker on Friday

and now, all that i can think of
is that I am wasting
a perfectly good calm
on sitting at home

YOU SHOULD GO OUT AND SPEND THIS CALM
ON SOMEONE WHO WOULD APPRECIATE IT,
says my brain

obviously, this medicine is really doing the trick

Vastra Dhauti

sitting on the boat yesterday,
my cousin told me about this yogic practice
in which one swallows 22 feet of muslin cloth
and pulls it back up
to cleanse the digestive tract

my toes curled up into my sandals
and i smacked myself in the forehead

“it comes out all different colors” she said
“like, literally, everyone’s stomach stuff is different”

i have no desire to put 22 feet of cloth in me
but i do want to see what color the inside of my guts are
and i want to compare it to the colors of other’s guts
and i know what’s wrong with that

i have no idea what is living inside me

there’s no good science on probiotics
or all that Kombucha
i’ve been drinking

and there’s certainly
no definitive work on my
anxious nature
or inability to sit still

i wonder
if i had the courage
to swallow 22 feet of muslin
if it would be like sending a message in a bottle to someone
across the ocean
and getting it back immediately
as if to say,
hello, in there, are you alright?

and getting it back moments later,
to find out that i am not

EXTREME G

I clean my grandmother’s bread knife
She used to make pepperoni bread
Sliced it so artfully

A year and a half ago, blood covered her brain
And she slipped away from us
She was
So active
So agile
And one day, gone
Her hands cupped over foam arm rests
Fingers that used to sew and dig
Useless and doll-like
And though I smile when I look at her
I am biting my tongue to not cry

She was my hero
And I never knew it
Until she was gone
She was impervious to all things
Unshakeable
With honesty that made some uncomfortable
“Don’t particularly care for that”
She would say, regarding unwanted Christmas gifts
I didn’t know I wanted to be her until she became
This stoic shell of her former self
I didn’t understand that honesty, hard work and craftsmanship
Were anything of value
I was young and desired only novelty
Things like that we hovering
Just a few feet above my understanding

I mourn my unborn children’s loss
To never know such an exquisite woman
Such a pillar of love and farm-toughness
I stand in the kitchen
And clean her knife
So carefully