Eileen Myles


An American Poem

I was born in Boston in
1949. I never wanted
this fact to be known, in
fact I’ ve spent the better
half of my adult life
trying to sweep my early
years under the carpet
and have a life that
was clearly just mine
and independent of
the historic fate of
my family. Can you
imagine what it was
like to be one of them,
to be built like them,
to talk like them
to have the benefits
of being born into such
a wealthy and powerful
American family. I went
to the best schools,

Each Defeat

Please! Keep
reading me
because you’ re going to make
me the greatest
poet of
all time

Keep smoothing
the stones in the
let me fry an egg
on your ass
& I’ ll pick up
the mail.

I feel your
absence in
the morning
& imagine your
instant mouth
let me move
in with you —
wrapping your limbs
on my back
I grow man woman
I see wild wild wild


I was 6 and
I lost my snake.

The table shook
I can do better
than this
and shambled
to the kitchen
to the scene
of the crime

I was green
I put my sneaker
down, little shoe

I felt the cold
metal tap
my calf

moo and everything
began to change.
I am 6
turned into lightning
wrote on the night

At 6, I was feathers
scales, I fell into
the slime of it, lit