I Have Become the Person Teenagers Bring Their Poems To

A husk of a gentleman accompanied his husk of a wife into my OBGYN’s waiting room and looked at all the knocked up bitches and the not knocked up bitches and groaned, “I’m outnumbered.”

For a cool five seconds, I had no idea he was talking about holes versus hot dogs.

Ladies were chuckling and I was thinking, “Is he talking about people with long hair? Is he talking about people with real hair? He seems to be the only one here with a toupee.”

Then I got that he was humorously pointing out his transitory minority status, and I didn’t laugh because my brain shot to how despite the sea of clams he’d found himself amok in, men still run the world. Sorry, Beyonce.

“Does my not laughing at this old man’s joke make me a humorless feminist bitch?” my internal conversationalist began. Instead of indulging this talker, I returned to reading Judith Halberstam’s THE QUEER ART OF FAILURE.

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Yes, that’s a dead baby finch on the cover. The appropriateness of flashing this image to a group of pregnant women waiting to see their doctor never crossed my queer mind.

I met with my guyno, she sent me to have a blood test, the phlebotomist drained two vials from me, I left, drove through a Starbucks drive-thru, pulled up in front of school during lunch, ate my protein pack but made sure to skip its hardboiled egg, I have compassion for those who have to be  in unventilated rooms with me, and headed into campus with my bare arms showing evidence of having recently been needled.

In the afternoon, in the fluorescence of my classroom, a shaggy boy asked me, “Do you want to look at my poem?”

Of course I didn’t but I did and it was a Teen Poem, the Teen Poem that lives in every teen’s brain and comes out on college ruled paper with that lacy torn edging down the side and death, mirrors, and hell appear in it and the person who writes it channels this poem from every other teen who has ever written and will write this poem. This poem is inside everybody who goes through adolescence and has access to language.

“It shows promise,” I told the teen poet, and then a boy threw an apple in the trashcan and I told him fruit is not a toy and I made him take it out the trash and wash it and I’m going to find a way to feed him that apple and when I do, I’m going to imagine that I’m the stepmother from Snow White except with lip gloss.

Crossing the street on my way to my car after work,  the first line of a poem shot through my head: “I want to sell life insurance like Wallace Stevens…”

I wasn’t sure if he actually sold life insurance, but I felt like somewhere along the line I’d heard that he did something banal like that and I considered the art of megabanality and how I don’t want to ever just be a poet or writer, I want to be a poet/something very banal, so banal that’s its amazing. I also want to make a documentary about a girl who works at Walmart for a year and manages to keep her soul.

My dad fights with people at WalMart. Especially on the way out. Those people who ask to see your receipt. When he does this, I walk in the direction of McDonald’s, and I also want to visit a WalMart with paranormal actibity. Maybe that Walmart where people were stampeded on Black Friday.

Driving up the street that runs perpendicular to my street with this snatch of a Wallace Stevens life insurance poem in my head, I thought about how everything I’ve ever written doesn’t have to constitute art. Every single thing I do, and don’t do, can be my art instead.

I glanced at an abandoned toilet that’s been sitting on the curbside for the last week. Today, somebody left the seat up.

I thought about how when I text and drive, it’s art.

I thought about how when I pluck certain hairs, it’s art.

I thought about how when I make a kid fish an apple out of the trash, it’s art.

I thought about how when I protest old men’s humor, it’s art.

I thought about how when I think about Wallace Stevens selling life insurance, it’s art.

I thought about how leaving a hardboiled egg in my car for five hours is art.

I thought about how when I dream it’s art because the other night I dreamt that I was having heterosexual sex and enjoying it and isn’t that a performance?

And then, at home, I googled Wallace Stevens and learned that he didn’t sell life insurance and it made me so sad that he was a lawyer, I wanted him to sell life insurance, it would bring an added layer of indemnity to his sonnets, but I will make art by choosing to believe the delusion that Wallace Stevens sold insurance and or maybe owned a store called WallMart.

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8 comments

  1. That old guy’s brand of humor is my least favorite–“I’m going to pretend like I’m oppressed by [insert minority here] because just imagining that I might not actually be the one in power is so absurd it’s HILARIOUS.” Protesting him is good art. So is reading books with dead babies on the cover in an OBGYN office.

  2. I had a traumatic blogging day & I lost hope in the world. Then I read your most recent post and it cracked me up again and again. Your blog is art. So sorry to read about Saint Ignatious.

    1. Olga! YOU ARE AN AMAZING HUMAN BEING! So sorry that you had blaugma (blog/trauma), but I’m also glad my journey makes you laugh! You make me laugh! And smile!

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