I was a boy until they found me
lost in the woods. Then I was a
stupid girl lost in the woods.
The neighborhood kids were
just that, until one stripped me
down, one found my sex tapes,
one made me mouth the word
victim until the cable came back.
But I wanted something to fall
from my mouth in a gesture toward
inculcation. Narrative saturation.
With his toe, my brother pushed
away my drinking bowl until
I was a boy thirsting for its very tin.
I can’t tell if when the rapist
called me a ditz he meant me me
or this me, and I suppose this
is the sine qua non of ditzhood.
I have a necessary dumbness
I couldn’t live without, do you get it.
It was the dumbness over wine
and quiche last night that led
to my confessing to beautiful Amy.
My history congealed in the crust
the waitress cleared away.
The talkshow host retired
as I hung my damage to sound
all over the shitty velvet curtains,
contrapuntal and entire.
What velvet curtains, what ladder.
When we are ﬁnished, a leather
takes hold, and I am not long
for the slutty skirts of this world.
I never even owned a red hat,
not in my whole dumb life.
It matters how you speak of failure. The term lover.
I have never used this term outside poetry.
Why lover, monsieur croque, when what I mean is
dirtbag. I guess it lacks the pert trochee. The exact volteface.
I speak of failure the way one might salt meat, the water
of the animal comes up through the muscles to praise
your hunger with a meatsong. I fork my failures until tender.
Certain unreal terms: watermeat, failprotein, tearcartilage.
I have more feelings of being meat than being a lover.
There was a girl about your age who queened herself
in front of her personal mirror. Pushed back the skins
to get a closer look, queenly inspections a sign of choice propriety.
Desperate for narrative she consulted her gargoyle nook,
the pink cleanse underneath where no one dared ﬁnger.
She could wake up. She could be the kind of girl who woke up.
I placed this anecdote here like a toytruck on a carpet
to evoke something about place and the dumb decades of girlhood.
But I want to live inside the coils of a menstrual rug, and for salt
to sing me out of my troubled blood. Lately I’ve dreamed
of nothing but my girlfriend in a pink tulle dress collapsing
in the road. I wake up and pink lace crowds my eyes in hot yoga.
The naked women in this dressing room are my lovers,
the yoga bodies and the yoga bodies and the yoga bodies,
I place them on the back of an ampersand I’ll never use,
they ride away like galloping horses. &&&&&&&
These naked women virgin-oil themselves into horizons.
Grateful for the opportunity. I am the kind of sunset
that can store the world’s goods without a speck of responsibility.
Speak of failure, says the girl to her ﬁgurines. The term
failure of imagination is a failure of imagination
so don’t throw that shade on my legion of rich oiled twats
when the problem is clearly we’re beautiful shitty idiots.
I wrote a poem about a horse named Galaxy once (ugh)
and all the boys gave me treats they said, wow lady wow
wouldn’t you know it this is such a pretty, pretty poem
Why do you look so angry all the time.
Smile. I have placed your ﬂesh delicately in tin,
sealed it shut, designed a periwinkle label.
There is nothing to worry about. No one
worries over the image of a beautiful swan.
My spear cracked your breastbone with a swiftness
so exact I ran home to my wife to cry
in her lap over life’s constant perfections.
Her lap smalled with my tears of gratitude
and suddenly every limb smalled too on her.
What miracles! You can split birch with an ax
all day long but the women you want always stay
the same size? What are you doing, neon goose,
with your wild hair and your split tits and this hip
to waste ratio. Don’t look a man in the eye
if you don’t entertain the fantasy of a hack
hack hack of his [my] blade on your neck.
I smell your bottoms, your ﬂat feet orangeing
my cock into new and gradual deﬁnitions
of system. Men choose what animals bleed,
what animals purr. Because of me you’ll
never be the acid-spitting wife of nothing.
I want to digest your proteins but won’t:
you’re better in the package, better steeped in juice,
plum-sick and plucked until yonic,
in the connubial sweat of death and its promise.
Believe it that no one will taste the difference
in the way you chose to spread those wings.
Remember to smile for the fork and you’ll be
swallowed down with gold, gold soda.
Morning commute is sexual, my genitals quake
and yes my lord my breasts rise like a train out the tunnel over
a bridge. The aphrodisiac of mobility must be
what prompted the man this morning to snap
three pics of my ass from under my skirt. This is
freedom / I was standing / he was sitting / hallelujah!
The sound of the camera click is America ringing
in that we add the ghost of function to invisibility,
the click and the click and the unnecessary click
of devices, the underside of my ass trapped
in the intransigence of his photo gallery. My throat
when I saw myself unfamiliar myself blushed
and myself anonymously myself, yes my throat closed
and myself felt enormous. Felt enormous and sexual, lordy
he chose me! for his dark immaterials, should’ve fucked him
right there in the orange commute. Should’ve spoken up,
but I basically fucked him. Wasn’t taught to give lessons
to the men in whose intercourse meant a magic batter
of yes’s where no yes’s left my tight throat, wasn’t taught
what those lessons could mean and instead looked
down to my heels and away from my heels.
Dear Mickey Mouse, dear Minnie, when do you strip
off your gloves and lashes, and when does the border
between your distinctions end, and is this the height of your sex life.
Every day I exercise and I tone and I skinny myself
into a spectacular hell lathed in coconut oil: this is dignity
we’re talking, myself dignity. What difference could one blind ass be
to that lordly fapping, says the masculine syllogism, says who,
says I cowed between the myself of victim and righteous,
me a mouse wedged inside the bovine rumen
/of American transit, the death and life of, American America/
in a frenzy to be grateful for the chewed cud I am gifted.
My ass skin blooms a dinosaur blush before these dense lordly teeth.
I said nothing, left him with his art, I left him on the train with his art.
NATALIE EILBERT‘s first book of poems, Swan Feast, is forthcoming from Coconut Books in 2015. Her two chapbooks, Conversation with the Stone Wife (Bloof Books) and And I Shall Again Be Virtuous. (Big Lucks Books) are forthcoming later this year. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Kenyon Review, Tin House, West Branch, Handsome, and many others. She lives and writes in Brooklyn where she is the founding editor of The Atlas Review.