Poetry by Tara-Michelle Ziniuk
I’m all blankets now
Trying to explain my misery or why I gave the book I hated a good review
or put $3 in the hat of the organization that fired me or
didn’t take a stand against celebrity cancer on Kickstarter. #queerfail
My closest friend tells me a film made her cringe and die, but on social media she’s all about it. We’ve got to find dates somewhere.
I write a will because I have a daughter but also because I want to die. I remove my rings and nail polish so that no one else will have to.
I tell him I can’t get hot for feminist porn; maybe we can go vegan as a compromise.
My daughter wants to put rocks in her vagina and suddenly I’m all about consent and do not consent.
She wants to know what a tampon is and says her dying balloon animal looks like a penis— it does. She tells me that girls go to school and boys go to work, and calls the Internet “the internship,” which it might as well be.
I want to explain power dynamics to you that include Power of Attorney and you watching.
I weave bright pink thread through sewing needles, embed each in his skin, from a distance pull them all out quick. Droplets of blood form and everyone wants to know if it’s [love or] AIDS art, but no one will ask.
I read an entire book about intimacy at the library like a book is going to help. I read the motorcycle driver’s handbook while I’m at it, in case.
After the party I want full verbs, no more apostrophes all casual-like.
After the party I will never bottom to you again. Not until I know I’m not just bottoming to the whole fucking table always. Even when I put my feet up on you like you are one.
There is something to be said for vulnerability, love as a radical act.
I call you darling because I wanted to be a drag queen. Because I wanted to be in early cinema. Because I wanted a proper black party dress and what I got was you and you got me off so easily, so early on.
I lose as many friends as possible this summer. Try to leave one of my best loves and he won’t let me. I tell him I am projecting and he tells me he knows and gives me everything I could have wanted from you.
You like that I hate cigarettes. Your girlfriend blows smoke in my face while she mixes the cocktail she should know is mine.
I buy every ticket out of town and dedicate my next book to Groupon for helping me out with that. I don’t even want to go to Ann Arbor.
You steep elderberries and lavender in vodka in the new apartment the two of you share. I’ve lived in my apartment months and haven’t opened a box. Ask me where a colander is, a cutting board.
I send a mass text of a photo, a close up of scratched skin (gone camping!) It’s allergies from poison oak, but I wonder if you see a cry for help.
I sit in a small city of swans and theatres, drink espressos in red light and eat undercooked rice bowls. Fill my pockets with trinkets from the loot bag section of the toy store—miniature rubber ducks, magnetic chess sets.
I go to a wedding. Everything but the marriage reminds me of you: hand stamped place settings, mason jars of caramel corn, beetroot chips and raspberry-lemon snowcones.
I have a meltdown in front of my friend’s toddler and she asks me to leave.
I am brought steak and cider. Everyone wants to talk about the art world, but sometimes a shed is just a fucking shed.
I run out of money and know I need a new toothbrush but want to buy something better.
I make sex goals that are all about hands and adornments: gel nails, knuckle tattoos.
I see the girl I hated most through all of our Montreal years. I think she is your partner and I am so glad she’s not that I hug her when she approaches. Everyone is confused, but no one as confused as her.
I read about Queercore from when I was four years old. Thank twitter for that.
I am furious when she thinks I have my shit together. It makes me feel like you’ve never talked about me, that all she knows is that I have a kid.
You say: You have no idea how much I defend you,
as though you’re saying something kind.
Tara-Michelle Ziniuk‘s third book of poetry, Whatever, Iceberg will be published with Mansfield Press in April 2017. Her work has appeared in make/shift, Joyland, Prism, Matrix, No More Potlucks, The Best Canadian Poetry 2016 and other publications. Born in Montreal, she currently lives in Toronto with her daughter. She regularly gets told her poetry is good for people who don’t like poetry; she feels mixed about that. Sometimes she tries prose.
by Trish Salah