What Rough Beast | Poem for May 23, 2017

Aimee Herman
nasty like janet or the way one feels after a seven day bath resistance but also like that moment when you figure out the perfect way to describe yourself

I still don’t quite get it, but I’ve got my socks on and I remembered to brush my teeth and my hair is long enough for you to know without taking a peek beneath my trousers and my voice and smooth and sorry and hip sway and.

I can sing to you about the kaleidoscope of the muscles in my body, but that’s not why.

I can give you a paper cut with the strength of my words bleeding through my organs, but you’ll probably forget to listen.

I’m not sure.

I’m not sure if I’m nasty because my version of femalia is like Lombard Street, all zig-zagged and out-of-breath.

You want me to stuff my Feminist deep inside my pockets, and fix you supper. You want me shaved and simplified. You want me pink. Knees pressed. Porridgy girl.

On the other side of Woman is me. Buzzed tongue and vague.

A faint of genitals and unfinished and easily bothered and trying trying trying NOT to apologize.

Maybe I’m nasty because of what I’ve done to men.
Or because I used to carry along a cash register held tightly between my legs. Or because I don’t need you to LIKE or swipe RIGHT me.

Am I nasty because I am educated?

Am I nasty because I am queer? Or because I vote? Or because I am pro-choice? Or because I am not in search of a whistle? Or because I do not SMILE because you asked me to? Or because I press my breasts down because I’d much prefer you notice my brain stem?

Or is it simply because you just don’t know what to do with allthis.

I don’t either, and maybe that’s why I am so nasty.

Because I am more than just a symbol on a bathroom door.
More than the color of Barbie dolls packaged like pills with the wrong portion size. More than a procreator. More than a billboard, airbrushed and starved.

I still don’t quite get it.
But maybe the point is, we are talking about it.
About what it is to be ourselves, every version, every twist that turns into a question mark.

And anyway, being nasty is far more interesting than nice.
Because finally, you’re paying attention.


Aimee Herman is the author of the poetry collections meant to wake up feeling (great weather for MEDIA, 2014), The Body Electric (CreateSpace, 2013), and to go without blinking (BlazeVOX, 2012). Aimee’s poems have appeared in journals including cream city review and BOMB and in the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics. Nightboat Books, 2013). Aimee is a queer writer, performance artist, and writing/literature teacher at Bronx Community College.

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