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11 April 2015 @ 09:53 pm
I’m now capable of getting fat,
though I know very little about it.
The fat might have a captain
who has a beard and battle standard.
It might resent its station.
I’m not angry at how or why it marshals.
My first twenty five years
I couldn’t sit down at a table
and make more of myself
than there already was.
My friends would tell my other friends
who would tell more distant friends
how we went out for dinner
and I ate my mataar paneer
then what was left of their mataar paneer
then how I drove over the cement barrier
owners install to separate parking spaces
in what amounted to a small moon rover.
This was a story that even
the downtrodden working in the bar
in Iowa City where Jim
lost his mind the first time
could get behind.
It was good to be lovable
in the way animals eating trash
are lovable. To be
the skeleton feeding himself
in the film for the fiftieth time.
It’s still funny.
I love how orderly my memories
of this have become.
I love how forgiving
Lake Ouachita becomes
when you stop floundering
and let it carry you on your back
where the fat forms its flotilla.
It wants to help me, no doubt.
The fat is a millennialist,
a doomspeaker.
The fat is my father
when I’m sixteen
teaching me to change
the flat tire I’ll never have.
How to loosen the lug nuts,
to crank
the jack into position. He taught me how to tear
the road flares into sparks
to brighten in ominous light
the highway winding back
toward the lake.
My father watched my hands
as I slowly spun the jack
after getting it wrong five times.
I wasn’t sorry to have come
this far into the night
only that we had so little idea
how to go back.
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28 January 2015 @ 08:25 pm
The lanugo shines from you as a second skin, this
glittering milky fur on the curd of your heart. People

like us recognize each other from miles apart: the way
we carry our bodies, shivering dandruff that does not

touch the earth. Our souls are unwired, and we nibble
on them as if they were nails. I look healthy now, but I still

carry the voice tied around my wrist in an invisible balloon.
I am still cold, sometimes. I was the yellow bird, it chirps,

as the feathers fall from your hair. Your legs yield like the
summer the boy used to peel from the concave of my hip,

leaving a grease stain on the refrigerator door. I’d watch
him empty the Spezi bottle, the glass shed tiny pearls. Those

days, my head hung from the thirsty sky with the lucid purity
of starving to death. And everything was frail and absolute.

source
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28 August 2013 @ 10:35 pm
The fourth night I sway
on stage in the school
play is the night before
I'll wait in the hospital
lobby while my parents
sign me over to the doctors.
It's also the final night of the
show, the cast party. It's at
your house and your parents
have it catered. Piles of
white plates are stacked
throughout the house.
It's hard to stand without
fainting and people keep
approaching me with
full and helpful plates.
We all know why
I have an early curfew
tonight. You're down
in the basement with your
drum set barricading you
from the rest of us.
When I finally get down
there, I can't talk to you
over the snare drum
tantrum. Before I tried out
for the play, you helped me
practice my lines, winked
while the curtain first rose.
You've sat on the library steps
for an hour watching me nibble
on a banana and when Tony
Morales called me a slut,
it was you who held
his face in the sink until he
took it back. I'm not used
to being afraid while in the same
room as you. So when my
right arm prickles and then
numbs and my chest all of a
sudden feels like it's
splintering, like inside
some man is throwing
his shoulder against a door
again and again, I stick
my hand out, across the face
of the drum, and say Please
don't tell anyone but
something's wrong
with me and you hustle
me into your father's office,
call my parents and wait
with your hand pressed
to my breast bone.
You promise to visit me in the
hospital and I'll be strapped
to the metal bed before I wonder
whether your mom will drive you
or you'll take the bus. Right now,
I sit in the swivel chair, watching
you summon my parents and
I'm thinking about how grown up
and wise you are, how much older
than me you are. You are six
months older. You're not even
old enough to drive.
 
 
29 September 2012 @ 10:59 pm
“The inventor of the mirror poisoned the human heart.”
― Fernando Pessoa
 
 
13 May 2012 @ 01:42 pm

When did you begin to experience dramatic weight loss?

             The spring I turned sixteen, after experiencing

      a dramatic desire to lose weight.


What fueled this desire? Did you believe others considered you overweight?

              I believed others didn’t consider me very often. I felt

            too much, burdensome. In the window beside my bed,

         a hole broke through the mesh screen. I used to write

       help me on scotch tape across pennies and poke

     the coins through the hole. One day I decided

   This is stupid. There are other ways

 to ask for help. Thin was one of them.


How did you hope to be helped?

         Someone would take my shoulders in their hands

      and shake. They’d say Look what you’re doing to yourself—

    You have so much to live for. Or they’d promise You’re safe now.

  No one will hurt you again.


You desired attention?

         Rescue. Attention didn’t always get things done.


Do you acknowledge your life was privileged?

         I attended expensive schools. My face was pretty

     enough that men sat next to me on the train, even if other

  rows of seats were empty.


What made the weight loss dramatic?

          I left for summer camp and came home. Ten weeks

        I ate only rice, fruit, and small bites of fish. Castaway

      on an island, only it was New Jersey. At first

    everyone acted happy for me. I dressed up

  for school, tried out for the play.


At first, others seemed to approve of the dieting?

          On the first day of school, he followed me from class

      to the lockers. We signed out scripts for the play

   in the library. He took more time to look at me.

Everyone took more time to look at me, all of a sudden, then.

 
 
 
17 March 2012 @ 12:18 am
The poet with the best body is hungry. The poet with the best body is
both a heavenly host above the table and the corpse being carved upon
it. The poet with the best body finds sushi in the dumpster. The poet
with the best body cashes her WIC check. The poet with the best body
eats emu and camel. The poet with the best body chose his lamb from
the field. The poet with the best body is trading her food stamps to the
babysitter. The poet with the best body has enjoyed a platter of Bagel
Bites. The poet with the best body has found a sale on Totino's party
pizza (88cents). The poet with the best body takes photos of all of his
meals. The poet with the best body serves fried chicken at the reading.
The poet with the best body posts pictures of himself in the restaurants
of Belgium. The poet with the best body has drowned his melancholy
in lucky charms and avocados. The poet with the best body has a
secret gourmet food blog. The poet with the best body posts her dress
size on the Internet. The poet with the best body could never have sex
with that woman again after he saw her eat that entire cauliflower
head. The poet with the best body feeds her child the only fruit. The
poet with the best body steals from the Golden Corral. The poet with
the best body is not as hot as she looks on the Internet. The poet with
the best body is incurable. The poet with the best body is naked on the
stage. The poet with the best body is in it for the love. The poet with
the best body could beat you up. The poet with the best body is
feasting. The poet with the best body has posted 147 mirror shots on
Facebook. The poet with the best body is sitting at the table.
 
 
04 October 2011 @ 09:32 pm
...she couldn't think of any feature or body part that she hadn't at some point doubted. There were days it all seemed wrong, and panic would well up in her so suddenly and so intensely that the alien shell reflected in the mirror would double over and vomit.
 
 
26 April 2011 @ 09:20 pm
from Cages

And sometimes my body disgusts me.
Filling and emptying it disgusts me.
And when I feel that way

I treat it like a goose with its legs
tied together, stuffing it
until the liver is fat enough
to make a tin of paté.
Then I have to agree that the body
is a cloud before the soul's eye.

This long struggle to be at home
in the body, this difficult friendship.

Jane Kenyon
 
 
28 March 2011 @ 04:05 pm
                         After Sebastião Salgado

How can she be beautiful? Eyes, ribs, the slope 
and angle of bone. The flesh itself is finished, 
so close it's come to the end

of hunger, a husk set aside, tied shut 
at the knees and ankles. Thumbs hooked 
with clean white cord. What used to be.

Famine in the Sahel, the eyes blown out.

She graces and wrecks the gallery walls
with her vanishing. Her lips dark with flies.

A man stubs out his cigarette.
	
           *          *           *

And yet the earth's haunches, its flanks of sand. 
Devious leaves and riverbeds, the pungent stars.

Something petalled and lush near the stone tomb 
where her eyes may yet open.

Swept clean. Someone has left a plate of salt fish 
and wine. This is arousal--how things live sometimes 
beyond great hurt. Elastic beauty. The lunatic flesh.
 
 
When you first wake up and the one good eye focuses on my face, I only ask if you understand where you are because that's how they handle comas on M*A*S*H - I don't expect to see your eyes travel across the white room, squint under the long tube of fluorescent light and decide heaven. You say, You swallowed the poison and I took the dagger and now we're two pillars in heaven. And I put my knuckles in my oath and press the button that will summon the nurse. When you say, You drank the poison and I had to follow, I argue No. You shot yourself and almost died. You would have left me behind and I would be so angry. This is the hospital where people will help you get well. And you say No. This is a play. This is when we stand together in front of God. You look beautiful.

Right now, I weigh eighty-four pounds. My skin is yellowing again and each morning my hair fills the shower's drain. Later, I will look back and wonder who let me in that room, but at this minute, I'm remembering our first date, how you told me you couldn't imagine marrying anyone who wasn't Jewish and I told you, just as earnestly, as gently, that I couldn't imagine getting through high school without killing myself. And you said, Well that gives us three years. Now I'm wondering who let me near you in the first place, why no one noticed me careening towards you and pulled you out of harm's way for a talk. What was the student council president doing with the girl who ate sandwiches at the civil war graveyard?

Back then, when you ran after me every time I tore from a room, I saw you taking care of me. Here you are bandaged. Here you are with your scalp stapled to your skull. Explaining you were only following me. Later, I'll understand the chemistry of mania and delusion. We'll blame all of this on LSD. And once I start eating again, I swear I'll began sitting at the table again for you. We'll promise I'll live if you live. I'll tell the story and say I couldn't watch him working so hard toward his old self without wanting mine back too. Couldn't watch him fighting to recognize the alphabet only to head home and ride the treadmill back to eighty pounds. But really, you did the thing I did other things in place of. You slid open a cardboard box and placed a bullet in the chamber. You found the way to hold it and then fired. The thing I couldn't do. And rendered my smallest gestures smaller and somewhat pointless.