Gender & Sexuality

The X Man

His superpower was that his testicles manufactured sperm
with exclusively X chromosomes & that was ironic because
not only was he a beast to women but his 40 baby girls grew
up seeking men like the father they barely saw unless they went
to his studio to be painted which wasn’ t OK with their mothers
who were not only jealous but guilty of giving birth to girls
who were products of an X-chromosome-making monster
& would soon suffer at the hands of other monsters with X-
type sperm thereby assuring the continuation of suffering

Black Swan

After the second conference, I would be cast in the role of a young dancer with a prestigious New York City ballet company. I would be cast in the role of the mother, a former dancer now amateur artist, whose career ended at 28 when she became pregnant. I would be cast in the role of the exotic beauty who is more in touch with her sensuality. I would be cast in the role of the director, a cruel and demanding genius who would sleep with the ingenue. I would be cast in the role of someone selected to compete for the part alongside several other dancers.

Reading Ovid at the Plastic Surgeon’s

No one else with a book, the slick
weeklies gossip amongst

themselves on the side
tables as the ticker rolls the Dow

Jones down down down under
a profile of the marathon

bombers (the older, a boxer). Jove
argues for the removal of a race

of   peoples that do not please
him: What is past

remedy calls for the surgeon’ s
knife. They will take a hunk of my

cheek (cancer) & though I can’ t
see during the procedure, I imagine

the site as an apricot, bitten.
This is a survival mechanism —


There is no escaping the storm of roses
crisscrossed on the split-cracked wall
of a dead fountain arch.
There is no escaping their uterine balls,
expanding as a reminder of the children I never had.
If you listen carefully you can hear the vibrations,
the heart drone of their petal jaw-harps.
And there’ s no going back,
no indiscovery of Mars
or these red planets brooding before me,
light predators, sun-hatched
and bloodening like the fists of women
who have gone to war.

Of the Poet’s Youth

When the man behind the counter said, “You pay
by the orifice,” what could we do but purchase them all?

Ah, Sandy, you were clearly the deluxe doll, modish and pert
in your plastic nurse whites, official hostess to our halcyon days,

where you bobbed in the doorway of our dishabille apartment,
a block downwind from the stockyards. Holding court on

the corroded balcony, K. and I passed hash brownies, collecting
change for the building’ s monthly pool to predict which balcony

A History of Sexual Preference

We are walking our very public attraction
through eighteenth-century Philadelphia.
I am simultaneously butch girlfriend
and suburban child on a school trip,
Independence Hall, 1775, home
to the Second Continental Congress.
Although she is wearing her leather jacket,
although we have made love for the first time
in a hotel room on Rittenhouse Square,
I am preparing my teenage escape from Philadelphia,
from Elfreth’ s Alley, the oldest continuously occupied
residential street in the nation,

Dear Gaybashers

The night we got bashed we told Rusty how
they drove up, yelled QUEER, threw a hot dog, sped off.

Rusty: Now, is that gaybashing? Or
are they just calling you queer? Good point.

Josey pitied the fools: who buys a perfectly good pack of wieners
and drives around San Francisco chucking them at gays?

And who speeds off? Missing the point, the pleasure of the bash?
Dear bashers, you should have seen the hot dog hit my neck,

Three a.m.

Our cabdriver tells us how Somalia is better
than here because in Islam we execute murderers.
So, fewer murders. But isn't there civil war
there now? Aren't there a lot of murders?
Yes, but in general it's better. Not
now, but most of the time. He tells us about how
smart the system is, how it's hard to bear
false witness. We nod. We're learning a lot.
I say — once we are close to the house — I say, What
about us? Two women, married to each other.
Don't be offended, he says, gravely. But a man

This Corner of the Western World

Dark thing,
make a myth of yourself:

all women turn into lilacs,

all men grow sick of their errant scent.
You could learn

to build a window, to change flesh
into isinglass, nothing

but a brittle river, a love of bone.

You could snap like a branch — No,

this way, he says, and the fence
releases the forest,

and every blue insect finds an inch of skin.
He loves low voices, diffidence

on the invented trail,

the stones you fuck him on. Yes
to sweat’ s souvenir, yes to his fist