Regular Poem: Is Your Unlikeability Holding You Back at Work?

13 Sep

these ads
i swear
how dare they

how dare they cut into me
with such a precise y-incision
hidden so easily beneath the blouse the mortician will slice in half and drape over my corpse

how dare they
see my insecurity of the week
and slap an attractive woman on it
just for spite

use my search history all you want
but stay away from my barely voiced anxiety
please
i beg you
a girl can take
only so much

“is your unlikeability holding you back at work?”

fuck you and the algorithmic psychic magic you rode in on

of course the answer is yes
but to my credit
my unlikeability holds me back everywhere

“you called me a
dumb
man
the other day” he says
“well it sounds like me but i don’t recall saying it”
“did you black out lmao” he says
“i talk constantly
i can’t remember everything i say”

“i know” he says “and you’re not subtle”
“i’m a loud bitch all the time
that’s why i can’t get anywhere in life”

this conversation
occurred way after this ad
but the ad is just so true
whether spoken or unspoken

a lot of versions of me exist
an infinite blinding stream of different same mes

earth 2 me is into bdsm
earth 17 me is a vegan health nut
earth 40 me is a nun

but even earth prime contains many mes
all the mes i am to myself
and all the mes i am to everyone else
all making the same jokes
with different people laughing or not laughing at them

“is your unlikeability holding you back in the theory of the multiverse?”

why shouldn’t it be

my unlikeability
is often my most memorable trait
so why shouldn’t it
carry over to any version of me

“i need you to be on your best behavior” she says
but there’s the rub right
all my behavior is pretty much the same
a baseline of
aggressiveness frivolity efficiency excitement excess
absurdity
contemplation

my best behavior
just isn’t the best
it’s not
nice enough
soft enough
accomodating enough
linear enough

i’m gaslighting myself
delusional
narcissistic
i really am as terrible as they all say
as evidenced by
memory 16b
intrusive thought 184
reaction 93 from trusted friend

“the way we grow is by self-reflection, taking responsibility” she says
i feel like a fucking kid as she lectures me
both because the things she’s saying are so basic and obvious
and because
my gut instinct is to protest that
those people who complain about me are just beyond stupid

what i actually say
is that once i’ve rubbed someone the wrong way
they’re rubbed that way forever
no right rubbing afterward is going to unrub them
because they’ve already decided
and they’ve already spoken
and they’ve already gotten me in trouble
no matter the severity of the initial offense
no matter the matter-of-fact apology i might issue

it’s not like i haven’t experienced it before
confronted myself
consulted myself
consulted others

and what i’ve ultimately concluded
is that we all sin and we all stutter and we all have flaws
but i’m so loud and visible
that some people just can’t forgive me the way they might forgive others
overlook me the way they might overlook others

i’m a hard woman
and an easy target

because who’s going to argue that i’m not hard

no one

it’s easy to believe i’m the way they say
the way they wrongly perceived
because
i’m not nice

i’m thoughtful
i’m pleasant
i’m funny
i’m truthful
i’m fair
i’m blunt
i’m sharp

but i’m not
nice

and what i’ve ultimately concluded
is that it’s the devil

he wants me to feel this way
this bad way
this marginilized undermined mean unworthy
thing
rather than the regular person i am

i’m a regular person
i have my own problems
why can’t people mind their business
and realize this
that their problems and my problems
are different and the same
and we’re all just trying to make a living
and also live
we’re all trying to just live

but of course
everyone reacts to stress differently
they made the best decision for themselves
and it happened to affect me adversely

they weren’t trying to hurt me

i wasn’t trying to hurt them

but we hurt each other
anyway

the difference is
(in my own fevered ruminations)
i was trying to ignore what i didn’t like about them
grow to like them eventually
give them a little room

but i don’t ever get any room
i’m not an acquired taste
just a taste you either like or don’t
black licorice cilantro quinine
it’s one strike for me

it’s the devil

when the sun’s shining but it’s still raining
they say
the devil’s beating his wife

i don’t remember getting married
but i’ve got plenty of bruises

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Regular Poem: Being Known

7 Sep

When I can make her laugh in such a way
as to
see her filled cavities
in her open mouth,

I know i’ve done right.

I so hardly do right anymore,

but those flashes of silver against enamel–
those flashes
when i can see her scars and not ask,
those flashes when she laughs and

looks

at me–

(I experiment.
First
it was bottom eyeliner
then both top and bottom
then just top
and now

no eyeliner.
She doesn’t wear eyeliner.

I don’t realize until later.)

We mirror
each other.

I’m sitting across her desk,
and she’s using my gestures.

But

she’s indulging me.

I’ve disclosed enough that she knows
what makes me tick
and scream.

But she also knows
what makes me
stifle that scream.

She talks so I don’t scream.
And she knows that.

She knew that.
She had known that.

(I called her.
I told her.
But she had already known.)

We mirror each other
because mirroring is so subconscious.
We talk organically
and mirror the same.
I see her in me
and me in her.

She’s indulging me,
but it’s gone on too long to be one sided.

(I had called.
I had warned.
I had been

a cute Cassandra.)

But her oracle of Apollo
is so forgiving,
and she knows me

somehow better than I ever conciously think
she does.

She knows.
I told.
But she had known before.
And I don’t tell.
But she still knows.

She’s not even a chiropractor.

But she gives a good cranial massage.
And she knows me
without saying.

Regular Poem: So Many Chiropractors

5 Sep

i know so many chiropractors

some girls break hearts
i break dryers

and
know chiropractors
but the one

(chiropractor
that is
dryers were just a red herring)

i submit myself to
the one i take off my boots for

is really more a therapist

(“california has the most psychiatrists per capita” she says [this is a different person entirely
not a chiropractor
to my knowledge anyway
just a passing person who said something that stuck]
“but your therapist is the one
you have on speed dial”
we both laugh
she continues
“the psychiatrist gives you the drugs

the therapist

is the one you call
when you can’t handle the traffic”)

my chiropractor
extends the time it usually would take to adjust my cranials
so i can rant about my problems
recommends me other chiroprators
who will execute
different functions
(specific accupuncture
for anger and sadness)
and urges me to ingest

oral arnica for my bruises
probiotics for my rashes
magnesium for my tight muscles

another chiropractor
i know (executing another differerent
non chiropractor function) says
“thank you”
and i say
“for arriving late and sounding bad?”
and she scoffs and praises my
alto harmony

somehow

i know so many chiropractors

and all of them
think i’m better than i am

my actual chiropractor
(the one who palpates my aching joints)
listens and embraces and encourages
and thinks me patient and tough
she’s heard me
and still
she believes in me

and these other chiropractors i know
why do they always know?

is there a database?
or are all chiropractors secretly
betazoids?

she thinks my head voice is pretty
(it is not)
she consoles me
(i brought it on myself)

i know so many chiropractors
and they’re all so good
to me

until what they don’t say
is what i hear

i’ve got a tender spot in my
lower right back ribs
(it can’t be adjusted away
it’s all muscle tension)
i’ve got a tender spot in my
upper right front ribs
(it can’t be adjusted away
it’s all muscle tension
brought on by your other
muscle tension
in your lower right back ribs)

essentially

“your ribs hurt because your ribs hurt”

i laugh and laugh

you’re sad because you’re sad

you’re angry because you’re angry

one terrible emotion validates the other terrible emotion
and it’s all the same
terrible emotion

if i’m patient and tough
i’m also sad and angry
my ribs respond either way

Regular Poem: You Don’t Have to Earn It

31 Aug

You don’t have to earn it.
It’s grace
that brings us here.
It’s grace
that matters.
“You don’t have to earn it,”
I say to myself.
“You don’t have to earn it,”
the song says.

Some bruises can’t be seen with the naked eye.
Some bruises
are deep.
Some bruises
are not bruises but
scars
and

memories.

“It’s 95 degrees in beautiful south Wichita. The last two weeks’ rain has given way to glorious sun and adventitious humidity and mosquitoes. The back yard is still only half mowed due to both physical moisture and mechanical deficiencies.”

It’s the mower from the black lagoon,
the mower Noah took on the ark.

And

how quickly we go from hysterical laughter to “even this joy has been stolen from me”

crying and mowing and crying and mowing.

The crying is related to the mowing
but only tangentially–

the point on the circle that connects to the line
bypassing that circle.

Mowing is fraught.

It’s the grass and the gasoline.
It’s the physicality.
It’s the knowing

that everyone can see it on the front lawn.

Mowing is hard,
arduous, even.

Mowing is
mowing–
a blade and biceps,
cutting and cajoling.

I was granted this.
I was bequeathed this.
I didn’t

earn this.

Earning can be positive or negative–an exchange of currency–
a system of
supply and demand.

The Holy Father is no capitalist.

The exchange of goods and services
is all good and serviceable
as long as people are good and serviceable,

but we know
man is not that;
man is man is man is
narcissistic,

proclaiming himself

good and righteous and all-knowing and

god
unto himself.

But there is something beyond himself
if himself should ever consider.

You don’t have to earn it.

But you should want to.

The wanting to is a step.
And the grace is the grace
all the same.

The fig tree is cursed.
The woman is whole.
The fishers are fishers of men.
The water is wine.

You don’t have to earn it.

(I bribe myself
with people,
but
I don’t have to earn it;
I just
seek them out,
enjoy them,
enjoy
myself.

You don’t have to earn it.)

All religious systems
are based on merit–
gaining access, performing well enough,
balancing
the scales.

All but this one.

You don’t have to earn it.

You want
to earn it–
that would be so good for your psyche–
but you can’t
and don’t.

You don’t have to earn it.

You should.
You’re a good girl.
Until you’re not.

You don’t have to earn it.

You’re used to earning things.
That’s the way
the world works–
tit for tat, this for that. Supply and demand.

But the Lord supplies and demands,
widows and orphans and kings and pharisees.
It’s a paradox, a conundrum.

You don’t have to earn it.

And you can’t.

We can’t earn it,
only see it
accept it
love it
live it.

The grace is there and has been

there.

Solomon
started off knowing some things,
wrote some useful things, but at the end,

all those concubines got the best of him.

He earned it and then didn’t.

He earned it, didn’t earn it, earned it again–
well shit
that’s almost all
the Old Testament.

You don’t have to earn it.

I, personally, have earned nothing.
It’s easy to see it.
And maybe that’s a blessing.

You don’t have to earn it.
You can’t earn it.
You ought to want to earn it.

It’s easy and it’s hard and it’s
worth it.

I’m easy and I’m hard and I’m
worth it.
I don’t have to earn it.

It’s all grace.
It’s all
what it is.

I don’t deserve this.
I deserve better.
I deserve worse.

My deserving
is a desert
or dessert.

My derserving is irrelevant.

You don’t have to earn it.

Regular Poem: Tennessee Williams

17 Aug

it’s a tennessee williams night

all hot and humid and repressed

(it’s southern gothic
but not

yes to the ivy
no to a lot of other things)

it’s all lyricism and smoke and mirrors
semi-autobiographical heartache

(i’ve often been mistaken for a southern belle)

it’s a tennessee williams night

his later plays were too weird
he was too weird
and then he died
too weird even in death

but he is still known

for his hysterical ladies

i am hysterical in my own right
and people indulge me all the same

“i’ve always depended upon the kindness of strangers”

i’ve always depended on the indulgence of strangers

they’ve always just let me

be the center of attention
ask me questions
dare me to answer them

who else could get away with the things i say

do i actually get away with them
or am i only barely allowed to say them

if i were to encounter myself
would i indulge myself

it’s a tennessee williams night

deliberate cruelty is unforgivable

but we’re all
imagination
here

Regular Poem: Masochist

1 Aug

it’s not that i like pain

it’s just so much more dramatic
to feel bad
a more interesting story
to end it in injury
a better punchline
to be the one punched

but maybe i do like pain
cherish it as a tool for sympathy
exert it as an implement for control

but maybe i do like pain
as a reminder of bad decisions
a delayed punishment
i inflict on myself
vicariously

but maybe i do like pain
because it’s easier
to feel guilty
than to change

“i’ve been trying to write this poem for weeks
but it keeps getting tangled and stupid before it
comes out”
“maybe it’s the subject matter” she says
“you’re reacting to external factors you have no control over” she says about something else
but they go together
in my brain they go together
(because i want them to
but i think she means them to)

i’m listening to the old testament again
(when you listen to the Bible every day
genesis to revelation to genesis to revelation
[a duty a privelege {part of my daily walk that’s so lacking in so many areas}]
you find
there’s a lot of old testament
and there’s something new to that old every
time)
and hosea was commanded
to marry a whore
(all very symbolic
[national identity, messsianic analogues, etc.]
of course)

but what was gomer thinking

did she love hosea
but kept getting drunk and re-downloading hebrew tinder
because she just couldn’t help herself

did she want to name her kids frederick and viola and robert
instead of
God sows and not pitied and not my people respectively

when hosea bought her back
did she barter for herself
hike up the price
play the odds

or did she know the whole time

did she know she was a metaphor
and did she like it
did she like the acts themselves
and the pain and shame and fun of them
knowing full well the ultimate
consummation and fulfillment of it all

did gomer know she was doing wrong
but that her wrong was a puzzle piece
a picture of the branch cut off but then grafted back in

or was gomer just an idiot asshole slut
who liked but didn’t like
pain

Regular Poem: Pin-Up Girls

25 Jul

i never get a regular compliment

“you’re the most symmetrical woman i’ve ever seen”
“you’re giving off lynda carter wonder woman vibes”
“you can take a punch better than anyone i know”
“you’re so thug to me”
“you look like the kind of woman who knows how to sew”

“you look like the kind of woman who would be painted on the side of a bomber plane in wwii”

(that’s my favorite)

i never get a regular compliment
just bizarre comments on my clothes, my accessories
that definitely mean you were looking
at my body
but didn’t want to seem like it

“oh? you carry two phones?” (you were looking at my butt)
“i like the way you cuff your pants; do you have to wash your jeans inside out to preserve the color?” (you were looking at my legs and butt)
“you’re tanning well” (you were looking at my tits)

i never get a regular compliment

every partner
i’ve ever had
has insisted

on my nudity

whatever they’ve thought of me
i’ve been better
to them
completely
nude

girls boys whoever

the first thing they do
is

undress me

maybe
they think
this is how they
strip me
of my power
if i won’t be emotionally bare
at least i’ll be bare naked

but there they are

confronted by my body
the body they wanted
to strip
the body
that is still there
the body
they’ve thought about all along
not some fantasy body
but the body in some fantasy
they’ve had

(i gave a strip tease once
she said i smiled too much
but it was so silly
why wouldn’t i
smile? [also
i was happy
and i learned to dance
from busby berkeley numbers

regardless]
i was wearing
red lace,

and when i was finally in her lap
she didn’t seem to mind)

“beautiful”
he says face deep
and it’s jarring to hear
something so ordinary

i don’t want beautiful
i want something weird
something

i’m accustomed to

my locker at work is adorned
with bad poetry
animals i don’t like in costumes i do

when my dad was alive
he had displayed in his kitchen
a lawyer he didn’t like
in a

pin-up

position (a place one might place
a pin-up; she wasn’t in thigh-high stockings or anything just
an advertisement with an
outdated portrait) as if
he really did
like her

because i did really
like her
or like the
idea of her

pin-ups
execute so many functions

(inspiration
a laugh a lark
but also
lust

i’d totally bang that lawyer
i would not bang the rabbit in the nurse costume
but maybe if the lawyer wore the nurse costume…)

but mostly they remind you of things
i guess

not like a string tied around your finger
but like
that spot in your ribs
that warms up at certain thoughts

i’m a woman painted on a bomber plane
i’m an advertisement pinned to a corkboard
a poem taped to a locker
a body disrobed and mapped by eyes and fingertips

it’s not all exactly the same
but it’s not not the same
either

we’re all
looking and not looking
looking and pretending not to look
not looking and accidentally looking

clear coat nail polish
highlighting and glistening
and chipped the next day

tight pants

what if i did appear
in leather pants
one day

no one
would be able to
handle it
it’d be too close to nude

i never get a regular compliment

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