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adrienne rich

meditation on a smile in adrienne rich

“’[t]he only real love [i] have ever felt

was for children and other women.

[e]verything else was lust, pity,

self-hatred, pity, lust.’“

the phenomenology of anger, part 9




there’s something: you should know,

there’s something i just found

in the bottom of my backpack

in worn-out maggot threads

sprinkled in harsher textures,

crinkled memories

faded deposits

to be shaken out

in a hurry


one day soon


maybe they’ll wash away

in a monsoon

while i’m gone

and my pack can feel light with the worry,

and you’re done; and i’m gone


—redemption is only the slime

barely discernible, hidden in smiles

how do you swim in a paradox?

keen for a floss with contempt?


not at all aboard—

you buoyant—

stop feeling absurd

get off the phone

try another finger


you’ve been in that pack a few thousand years

in the waterproof

hands we keep forcing

to sew


in the under

of a filth

on which she was first

slapped to air


now i see you in your dirty abode, my dirty abode

musty in yellow

deformed as only you could


and i know, i fucking finally know:

i ran out of the pity

set special aside

for the sounds you make

the vernacular you climb and slide along

not large enough to hide beneath


there’s no lust on chapped memories,

and a smile is all i can plug.


just as self-hatred realizes itself in the bloodstains


gauze and gaze, gauze and gaze


thinly decorate the cycle:

the mirror, the only,

we know.